Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waddell Creek

Waddell CreekMonday we went to do some afternoon biking in Pescadero County Park but missed our turn-off and next thing you know we're out of the mountains and on the coast. So instead we went south along the coast until we got to Big Basin and did part of the skyline to the sea trail.

I took a GPS track but we didn't go all the way and I would like to take the complete track. So we'll be back. Five miles of it are opened to bikes, we did just over three before turning back and driving down to Santa Cruz.

It ended up being a wonderful day for a scenic drive.

Waddell Creek Skyline to the Sea Trail Skyline to the Sea Trail Waddell Beach

Monday, May 18, 2009

Eaten Alive at Lion's Spring

The Trail InWent on a quick over-night backpacking trip in Henry W Coe State Park over the weekend. I haven't backpacked in 8 years and Donna has never been camping, let alone hike-in camping. We had lots of new equipment to test out.

We wanted to get into the Frog Lake site but it was already taken so we settled with a very close site called Lion's Spring. It was only 1.2 miles in, the last half of it on a very faint trail down into small canyon and through lots of tall grass. Unfortunately that meant ticks and I had to pull one off when we got to our site.

The site is on an incline except for a very small section for a tent. The incline and trees made us feel very closed in, like camping on the side of a hill. It was cozy and secluded, but there was nowhere to walk to except down or up. The spring is supposedly year round and it was trickling nearby. Knowing we had water was nice and I drank our water liberally and re-filled (filtered of course) from the spring.

As we got there the flies came out and there was too many of them. Later on the mosquitos came out in droves. Their collective buzzing was amazingly loud. I opted for a sweatshirt even in the heat just to keep them off my arms. We spent the entire night in the tent, only coming out to cook dinner.

Sunday was even hotter than Saturday and almost just as many mosquitos. We ate breakfast, packed up, and got out of there as fast as possible. Donna ended up with 20+ bites (big ones too) and I just got a small collection on each elbow (guess I missed a spot with the repellent).

Doesn't really sound like a good trip but in reality it was just nice to get away, despite the fact we were confined to the tent and had a miserable time with bugs. Henry Coe is very dry and very hot and I will avoid the place now that summer is almost here. Maybe in the fall and next spring I'll be back for more backpacking.

Henry Coe Henry Coe Campsite Friend

I can still see mosquitos when I close my eyes.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quicksilver Almaden Park

IMG_1857Been pretty rainy here which has been ruining some of my trip chances. We made it to Arastadero two weeks ago but it was pretty uneventful other than my girlfriend's first real off-pavement adventure. It was a short trip (4-5 miles) but good experience for Donna.

This week I decided to go to Quiksilver Alamaden State Park which is fairly close to home in the hills south of San Jose. Back in February I had attempted to bike here but it ended in embarrassment. The problem with Quicksilver is to get to the trails you have to climb up a few hundred feet and I pushed myself too hard from the Mockingbird parking lot for the first ride of the year.

So I decided this time to start from the Hacienda parking lot and planned a loop route just over 11 miles long. It was a hot day and there is little shade so I was glad to get an early start.

The climb up was rough but not nearly as bad as the Mockingbird entrance or the Joseph D. Grant loop last month–which was just brutal. I told myself I would not get off the bike until a half-mile up and then as I hit the half-mile I realized I might be able to actually make it up. In the end it was a 1.25 mile 400 feet climb. Not a bad grade.

Once up into the park I took Randol Trail which was very nicely shaded–the only shade I got that day–and very flat. It was a much needed rest on the legs and an enjoyable trail. Just after 5 miles it joins the Mine Hill trail at Guadalupe Reservoir. I took a quick break here to take some photos and I could see to my left that I had a big climb ahead of me to the top of the park.

The Mine Hill trail goes up, and up, and up. Every time I looked down at my GPS to check the elevation I was sure I was near the top. At 1,300 feet I thought there couldn't be much more, but it turned into 1,400 feet which then turned into 1,500 feet, and finally as my legs turned to jelly I topped out at 1,650 feet on the Castillero trail. There was a bail-out a mile back or so if you keep following the Mine Hill trail, but I was committed to the track I drew.

I took a break at the old Rotary Furnace for a few bites to eat. I was very glad to be done with climbing although I had mapped out a leg off the main loop that goes to an old cemetery, unfortunately: downhill. A glutton for punishment I decided to go through with it and ride the cemetery trail and as I went down I knew that was probably a mistake. The cemetery is old,and overgrown with no markings on any of the graves. It wasn't the photo-op I had hoped for (old cemeteries always look better in my head.)

Trying to get back up to the trail was just too much and I ended up walking the bike. My legs could stand no more. The remaining 2 miles back to the car took me only about 10 minutes of riding as I rocketed down and out of the park.

The fast, weaving downhill was a great reward for all the work. Check the GPSies link below for the elevation data, this route is mostly uphill and would be hell to try in reverse (although a long relaxing downhill would be fun.) Quicksilver would be a fun playground for bikes if it didn't have so much elevation change, there is only one flat trail in the whole park. It's littered with old mining structures and shafts which are cool to see.

IMG_1858 IMG_1041 IMG_1855 IMG_1034

Click for Route:
GPSies - Quicksilver Loop