Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hike, Palo Alto To Del Oso And Back

This is part of my Pacific Crest Trail hike preparation. Primarily it was to confirm if I can hike multiple days of 20 miles. It is also my inaugural backpack camping hike.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Ready To Go  Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Arastradero Preserve
Saturday: (03/22) Palo Alto to Long Ridge OSP.
I enjoyed a typical trail breakfast in the comfort of home, peanut butter pop tarts. I put on my fully loaded pack (43 lbs) for the first time and left about 0800. I walked up Page Mill Road, into the Arastradero Preserve through it to Foothills Park, through it to Los Trancos OSP, through it to Monte Bello Ridge, through it into Skyline OSP, and through it into Long Ridge OSP. I walked 19.6 miles with about 1900 feet elevation change. I stopped in Long Ridge OSP and just threw out my mattress and quilt. It was already dark because I hiked until 2000. I went to sleep to the serenade of an owl. On the way up I stopped at Arastradero Preserve and called Lou because I thought I had forgotten my map. She couldn’t find it where it had been at home so I must have it, somewhere?

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Charging My Cell Phone At Foothills Park  Palo Alto To The Sea And Back King Snake
I stopped at Foothills Park for brunch of trail mix. While I ate I put a little charge into my phone (GPS). As I started out on the trail I met the nice King Snake above. It is the most wrinkled snake I’ve ever seen. It must be taking baby steps. I stopped for my dinner in Monte Bello Ridge OSP. I had Tuscan bean soup and jerky. I pulled some water from a stream near where I had dinner and filtered it but it still tasted link pond, just clean pond. The stream I got the water from was just below a pond even though a nice spring is what feeds it on the other side of the pond. Lesson learned, get water from before a pond. As I was getting ready to leave, a ranger stopped by to make sure I wasn’t going to camp in the OSP, they don’t allow it. So, to make him happy I told him I intended to camp in Portola State Park. I didn’t make it there though and did spend the night in an OSP, just not Monte Bello. A short ways down the trail I crossed Stevens Creek and got some very nice water filling my water bottles and a 2 liter bladder.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Begin Los Trancos Trail Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Los Trancos Trail Poppies
Above the start on the Los Trancos Trail In Foothills Park (left). Some nice California poppies along the trail (right).

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Looking Back To PA From Loa Trancos Trail Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Los Trancos Trail
Ob the left above, a view back where I came from closer to the top in upper Foothills Park. On the right, in Los Trancos Preserve on the Ridge To The Bay trail.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Horseshoe Lake At Skyline OSP
Horse Shoe Lake in Skyline OSP.
This is the GPS track for the first day only. My phone/GPS battery was too low to do more and I couldn’t get it charged due to clouds, fog, and trees.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Clouds Over Portola SP
Sunday: (03/23) Long Ridge To Big Basin HQ.
I slept very cold. When I checked the thermometer it was 33 degrees but when I woke up at 0500 there was thick frost on everything. I probably could have made a snow ball. I had to pack my quilt and mattress away wet. I hit the trail immediately, it was so cold my fingers were useless. I thought we had left winter behind, not so. I just slept in my clothes. When I got up I put on my thermal top as well as my sun shirt. What a difference! Duh. I haven’t been able to find my Ibuprofen. Shouldn’t have forgotten that. There are a couple in the first aide kit if really needed. I didn’t feel at all bad this morning. 19.6 miles today. I hiked through Long Ridge OSP into Portola State Park. I used my headlite until I stopped for breakfast as the sun was about to rise. Before I entered Portola Park I intended to eat breakfast but I discovered my daybag of food had instant oatmeal. That would require getting out the stove for hot water. So I had some cheese that was for lunch that I could eat a walk with. At the Old Page Mill site in the park, I had the oatmeal for brunch. I nibbled trail mix the rest of the day and had the sausage that was for lunch as well.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Water Fall On Portola Trail Portola SP Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Portola Trail Portola SP
I walked through the park into Pescadero County Park and up to the 2200 foot Butano Ridge  I passed a very nice creek but failed to fill my water. I was looking for sun to stop and dry my quilt and mattress but never saw some until I was at the edge of Big Basin State Park. There was a big rock there at a road with plenty of sun where I laid out my quilt and mattress to dry. I also charged my phone a little. That was the first sunny spot since Long Ridge OSP. While I was there, a ranger came by and mentioned that the trail camp I said I was headed to wasn’t open yet. He asked where my car was and I said in Palo Alto where I started. He said he wouldn’t cite me but couldn’t say what other rangers would do. I was out of water and checked the campground and found no water so I hiked on another 6 miles to Park Headquarters. The closest place to camp. About half way to Headquarters I finally found a nice stream and filled a liter of water. Tasted good and made the hike nicer. I arrived at the headquarters trail camp at about 2000. I set my tent up then cooked a late dinner of mashed potatoes and jerky. They say to be sure to lock up your things in the nice lockers they have. One of the reasons they suggest it arrived to check out my camp as I was preparing dinner. A fat raccoon. I estimate I hiked over 25 miles today. My phone’s battery was dead and there was no sun until I stopped to dry things. So no phone, no GPS track of today’s hike. I’m in no real hurry tomorrow. I only have 1o.5 miles to the beach and there is a campground there that is open. 27 miles today.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Obstruction On Skyline To The Sea Trail Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Bridge On Sky Line To Sea Trail Near Berry Creek
Monday: (03/24) Big Basin HQ to the beach at Del Oso then return to Big Basin HQ.
I enjoyed sleeping in until after 0800. I broke camp and then walked down to the ranger station to pay. I had a little difficulty because the bike/trail camp wasn’t open yet. The ranger didn’t want to take my money? Odd. I finally convinced him to take it. He also confirmed there was camping at Waddell Creek Del Oso by the beach but only full priced $33 instead of $6 Trail Camping Fee. OK. I started out about 1000.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Bench With View Of Berry Creek Falls
I stopped for lunch overlooking Berry Creek Falls. I had tuna and cheese wraps.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Waddell Creek In Big Basin SP Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Log Crossing On Sky Line To Sea Trail
I continued out to the beach arriving about 1430. Along the way were some stream crossings. th one on the right at the far end of the trail was quite interesting crossing on a long narrow log. Too high to use poles for balance and too narrow for good balance. I made it.

Palo Alto To The Sea And Back View Of Ocean Sky Line To Sea Trail Palo Alto To The Sea And Back Kite Surfers At Del Oso Beach
No camping to be found at the beach end. Odd, two rangers have confirmed it? In a week all these trail camps will be open but I also have learned they must be reserved. Not good for me. I’d have to plan ahead. I decided to hike back to HQ and possibly stealth camp along the trail. I stopped for dinner at 1800 at the same place I had lunch over looking Berry Creek Falls. I had rice a roni chicken soup with jerky and hot tea. I filled my water bottles in the creek and continued on. At 1945 I had to turn on my headlite. I was back at Park Headquarters about 2030. Since the Trail camp was a no no, I tried their regular camp. Turns out it was closed as well. Too bad. The open camping at Park Headquarters is a few miles from HQ. I stealth camped at the trail camp I used last night. There is an owl hooting as I write this. Well, this trip may be quicker than planned. I should make it back to the ridge at Saratoga Gap tomorrow. I have to find another stealth camp site and then get home on Wednesday. This has been a good training hike. By the way. Today I found my map and Ibuprofen right where they were supposed to be. I thoroughly checked for them where they belonged previously and it wasn’t there. Gremlins on the trail. 21 miles today.

Tuesday: (03/25) Big Basin HQ to Saratoga Gap.
I rose at 0700 and had oatmeal for breakfast then broke camp. Since they don’t want my money I didn’t even stop by to pay as the camp was closed. I was on the trail by 0900. I filled up my 2 each 1 liter water bottles as well as a 2 liter bladder from a faucet as I was leaving. I don’t intend to run dry again at the top. I hiked up the Skyline To The Sea Trail. Actually it should be the Sea to the Skyline for this direction. Not too many people hike up as it is a 3000 climb from the beach. I came from the beach on it last night so today it’s only 2100 feet. Lots of hikers do hike down. It was an arduous climb. I enticed myself up the trail by checking my altimeter and rewarding myself ever 100 feet with a drink. I had to provide some extra rewards because the trail actually drops down from 2000 feet to 1500 feet a Waterman Gap and I got thirsty. I had trail snacks and stopped for a late lunch at Waterman Gap Trail Camp. It had started to rain intermittently several miles back. I finally had a cell signal so I called Lou and said I’d be at Saratoga Gap at the top of the hill by 8 pm. It is raining and I’ve proven enough for this hike. Let it rain. The hill seemed to go on forever but when I checked my map and altimeter about 1750 I knew I’d arrive at the top much earlier so I called Lou and she started to head up. I actually arrived at the top at 1810 and waited in the cold, fortunately the rain had stopped. Lou arrived about 1850. She was slowed getting there due those darned commuters cluttering the road. Only 17 miles today. 84.6 miles total for this trip. I lost five pounds on the hike. Now just four more hikes or a really long one to loose the rest of the weight I need to loose.

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