Thursday, December 31, 2015

Condon Peak BLM Area

Thursday: (12/31) Another 32 degree morning. Granola for breakfast. I chiseled the ice off the windshield of the Jeep and moved it from in front of the RV. I then cleaned the condensation off the inside of the RV windshield and drove over to the dump and rid ourselves of the water from our recent showers. That involved breaking an ice seal on the cover of the dump. The water hose wasn’t flowing due to the cold. I’m glad all I was doing was dumping the gray water. Also glad I was the first to arrive. Probably messier for all those following me, at last six. We packed up a snack and headed off in the Jeep for a road trip. I was looking at possibly driving the back roads to the New Idria Mine site and on to Holister.
Condon Peak BLM Area 1231151145a_HDR Condon Peak BLM Area 1231151154_HDR
We headed SE on Coalinga Road. The road goes past the two campgrounds we scouted last year. We continued on to the Condon Peak Recreation Area. There were a couple of nice campgrounds there too. One was right where a gate stopped us from continuing on to the mine. We were surprised at all the ice on the road on the way there and more surprised at the frozen creek by the campground.
Condon Peak BLM Area 1231151143a_HDR
This tree was in one of the campgrounds. A limb seems to be confused.
Condon Peak BLM Area 1231151221c_HDR Condon Peak BLM Area 1231151242_HDR
We continued on to Coalinga. There is a historical marker there that indicates where bentonite was found. it’s the state gem of California and found nowhere else in the word but near the sign. On the way we also saw a bobcat cross the road and a llama that had gotten out of it’s pasture. We stopped at the next house and told them of the loose llama and they were going to advise the owner. In Coalinga we stopped at Perko’s restaurant for lunch. I had a nice tri-tip jalapeno sandwich with potato soup and Lou and Dawn shared an omelet with pancakes. I traded my soup for their pancakes. We had traveled over 70 miles on the nice back roads. We then headed back on Highway 198 and Highway 25 to our camp. It didn’t seem as cold this evening as it has been. Hope that means a warmer day for tomorrows hike. Since I don’t intend to be up at midnight to celebrate New Years Day’s arrival, we cerebrated at 5pm, midnight London time. Good enough. Tomorrow’s hike is over 14 miles of a lot of cross country steep non trail so I’m off to dreamland early. Tomales for dinner.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Pinnacles NP, North Wilderness

Wednesday: (12/30) Back to the cold. 32 degrees this morning. Only 11 hikers for today’s hike. Once moving the cold wasn’t bad and after an hour or so the temperature improved and the rest of the hike was perfect.
Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151141a_Pano
We hiked out along the North Wilderness Trail and back through the Balconies Caves again.
Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151120_HDR Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151145_HDR
Greak group of hikers.
Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151249_HDR Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151325_HDR
We enjoyed lunch with a great view of the peaks across the ravine. I did pickup a hitchhiker, a tick probably during lunch. I thought it was too cold?
Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151325a_HDR Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151403a_HDR
Nice oak forest and even some ice around.
Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151426_HDR Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151431c_HDR Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151437b_HDR Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151437b_HDR
The caves were dryer today.  Longer hikes bring out the best, hikers. We enjoyed a different hike today through some nicely forest riverbed areas followed with a good climb up the mountain and a nice lunch on top. We made great time.
Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 1230151442_HDR Pinnacles NP North Wilderness Loop 91451518355469
My GPS track showed 10.8 miles with 2260 feet of overall elevation gain. Link to my GPS track. Another nice hike. The usual breakfast sandwich this morning. Trail lunch of tuna salad and crackers. Artichoke mushroom Parmesan cheese chicken over rice for dinner.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pinnacles NP, High Peaks-Balconies Caves Loop

Tuesday: (12/29) 42 degrees again this morning. I met my 13 fellow hikers at the Visitor Center and we drove up to the old Pinnacles TH.
Pinnacles NP High Peaks Tunnel Juniper Canyon Balconies Loop 151135_Pano
We hiked back on the Old Pinnacles Trail to the High Peaks Trail near the top we stopped for lunch with one of the Condor Naturalist who was doing the radio ranging of the birds.
Pinnacles NP High Peaks Tunnel Juniper Canyon Balconies Loop 151049_HDR Pinnacles NP High Peaks Tunnel Juniper Canyon Balconies Loop 151135b_HDR
We continued on the Tunnel Trail then onto the Juniper Canyon Trail to the Chaparral parking area. Another break then on to the Balconies trail and trough the cave and back to the start. No condors seen today just a nice hike.
Pinnacles NP High Peaks Tunnel Juniper Canyon Balconies Loop 151254a_HDR Pinnacles NP High Peaks Tunnel Juniper Canyon Balconies Cave Loop 91451418936084
While we passed by many of the same places the views were entirely different today. The caves were fun as well.
Pinnacles NP High Peaks Tunnel Juniper Canyon Balconies Loop 151349b_HDR
On the home stretch we passed through the Balconies Caves.
My GPS track showed 8.4 miles with 2910 feet of overall elevation gain. Link to my GPS track.   I enjoyed a nice shower and another cheese burger for a late lunch early dinner. Lou and Dawn were off all day to Holister for a look around. They didn’t plan on an early return.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pinnacles NP, Condor Gulch-High Peaks-Bear Gulch

Monday: (12/28) 42 degrees when we got up this morning at 0730. We had a good rain this morning at 0430. Rain really helped the temperature. I fixed egg, cheese and sausage sandwiches for breakfast. My hiking group members are almost all present by the time I walked down to the Visitor center at 0915.
Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151106_HDR Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151108a_HDR
We all carpooled up to the Bear Gulch trailhead and started up the Condor Gulch Trail. The views were crisp due to the rain but some clouds were above hugging the hill tops.
Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151113_HDR Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151113a_HDR
When we got up on the High Peaks Trail the sun poked through the clouds giving us a great view of the western part of the park. The clouds still obscured the Eastern side.
Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151114a_HDR Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151123_HDR
I had 16 fellow hikers present. We stopped for lunch at the top where we had a close encounter with some condors last year. None were to be seen today.
Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151131a_HDR Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151132c_HDR
High peaks trail has interesting passages.
Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151132_HDR Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151134_HDR Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151251a_HDR
A really fun section.
Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151134a_HDR Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151315_HDR
We continued on to the Bear Gulch Reservoir and then back on through the Bear Gulch Caves to our start. On the last of the trail a few of us got a glimpse of a condor flying up at the top of the mountain. Timing is everything. We really lucked out with the lighting conditions on the rocks for photo perfect views.
Pinnacles NP Condor High Peaks Bear Gulch Loop 1228151348_HDR
Near the bottom of bear Gulch Caves a hippo was lurking.
My GPS track showed 5.8 miles with 2200 feet of overall elevation gain. Link to my GPS track.  I was dropped off back at camp by 1430. I had a ham and cheese sandwich for an additional lunch and showered. In the afternoon we got some sun at camp. Lou made cheese burgers for dinner.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pinnacles NP, Bear Gulch Hike

Pinnacles NP  Bear Gulch Hike 1227151230a_HDR Pinnacles NP Bear Gulch Caves Hike 1227151137a_HDR
Sunday: (12/27) 22 degrees last night, 30 degrees when we got up at 0730. It never really got warm at all today. The fern leaf encased in ice was interesting.
Pinnacles NP Bear Gulch Caves Hike 1227151237_HDR Pinnacles NP Bear Gulch Caves Hike 1227151247c_HDR
We drove up to the Bear Gulch nature Center and looked around. Ranger Jenny was there with a volunteer from Santa Cruz.
Pinnacles NP Bear Gulch Caves Hike 1227151245_Pano
Lou borrowed a hiking stick from the volunteer and we hiked up Bear Gulch to the Reservoir through the caves and back on the Rim and High Peaks trails. Lou made the hike with no problems, about 2.1 miles with some crawling and steps through the cave. The ice enclosed fern leaves and ice cycles were interesting. Lou made biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Chili sizes for lunch. Ham and potatoes with bean salad for dinner.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Cold Pinnacles Visit

Saturday: (12/26) Granola for breakfast. We were up early to start our final preparations to depart.We pulled out a little after 1000. Lou was off in the Jeep to Costco for a couple of things. I was off to the gas station to get LPG and gas. Lou stopped by for gas there as well then She was off to Costco and i was off to REI. I picked up some hiking clothes so I don’t have to worry about washing clothes between hikes since they would be slow drying in freezing temperatures. Lou met me there and we hooked up the Jeep and were off South. Traffic was really backed up on Hwy 101 leaving San Jose. We got off the highway as soon as we could in Morgan Hill after poking along for half an hour or more. We stopped in Gilroy at the Longhouse Restaurant for a very late breakfast about 1400. After another quick stop at Walmart we were off toward Holister with another traffic backup leaving Gilroy which we lost when we exited on to Highway 25 going on to Pinnacles National Park. We pulled in to the campground a little after 1600 and set up. The weather was nice all day but as the sun was going down so was the temperature and in 30 minutes it had gone for nice shirt sleeve weather to on the low side of cold. Lou prepared tomales with coleslaw for dinner.
Pinnacles Ranger Talk 1226151902_HDR
We went to thee campfire where ranger Jenny ran a game of jeopardy with questions about Pinnacles National Park. She and her partner work at a Glacier Bay NP in summer and here in winter.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rain Delays

Saturday: (12/19) Some rain over night and in the morning. Too wet to work outside. I made corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast. I took a drive down to San Jose to pick up some things at Dawn’s place. I also checked the drainage pump there. All OK. I stopped for lunch of a quesodilla at  La Victoria Restaurant and bought some of their famous orange sauce. I also did some Christmas shopping on the way and stopped for bread at Sprout’s market. When I got back home about 1400 I started to work on the form for Lou’s old shed. I got distracted by some electrical repairs. Not much accomplished. Tomales for dinner. We watched the Democratic debate in the evening.
Sunday: (12/20) Leftover hash with eggs for breakfast. I did get ready to get outside to work but when i went out it had started to rain. It wasn’t supposed to do that until late afternoon. Oh well, fun inside instead. I spent all day gleaning photos from all my computers and jump drives and collected them on my newest laptop. When I brought most of them over previously i was missing most of 2010 and 2011. We went to Alaska in 2011 and Lou wants some photos printed out for the walls. I now have a good collection from 2003 to present. Not worked on today but on my list is to digitize all my old printed photos, negatives and slides as well.  A PBJ sandwich for lunch which I’ve been craving recently. While it did dry out later in the day I remained at my photo project to complete it. Something done is better than lots of them not done. Spaghetti for dinner.
Monday: (12/21) A drizzly morning with more drizzle and some rain throughout the day. I had the last of the hash for breakfast. I added some photos to this blog for the past week’s posts. I then went outside and moved the last of the shelves out of the shed and did some other cleanup. I also moved the load of concrete bags from the Jeep into the shed. Only an hour or so of work. It was drizzling all the while and picked up to some rain as I finished moving the concrete. We decided to go out to lunch. Along the way we also decided to checkout the Hobby Town store to see if they had a quadcopter Lou wants. Since we were headed off to Sunnyvale we had lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. The store didn’t have the copter so we headed over to Fry’s Electronics. They had a whole section with 20-30 different drones but not the one we want. We then stopped for a look at HD supply. We were checking for shelving to see if they had what we should have gotten before. They didn’t. Interesting what we do to stay out of the rain. A nice nap finished my day. Lou was busy sewing. I spent some time collecting Alaska photos from our trip for some collages for Lou.
Tuesday: (12/22) I tinkered at the computer most of the day. The weather forecast had indicated little chance of showers in the morning but the day turned out the opposite with almost no rain in the afternoon but rain in the morning. I was able to prepare my forms for the shed footing. These rainy days don’t make for really productive days. Lou was busy sewing. Tomales for breakfast and dinner with a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch.
Wednesday: (12/23) A granola morning. No rain today. Lou and I made a shopping run this morning. I then got busy on the shed rebuilding project. I set my form and poured the concrete. I was finished with the pour a little after noon. The final finishing wasn’t until about 1800 though. It took forever to dry. I covered it because we expect rain tonight. Lou made a nice ham and cheese chibata sandwich for lunch. It was really nice with some of the orange pepper sauce on it. Otherwise I lounged around watching TV and tinkering on the computer. Lou was busy smoking some ribs today and they made dinner with some rice and artichokes.
Lou's Shed Concrete Footing 1224150910_HDR Lou's Shed Concrete Footing 1224151336b_HDR
Thursday: (12/24) It rained last night including a really good pour at first light. Tomales for breakfast. I got out early and stripped my forms from the shed and poured some base concrete that I had removed. It didn’t need finishing because I’ll be pouring a cap on the whole floor to level it. I was fighting rain while I poured the concrete so I just covered it as the rain became heavy. I won’t be doing any more for the rest of this and next week due to our trip and the holidays. Lou and Dawn were off to San Francisco to the Jewish Museum to use a couple of free passes Dawn had. They also stopped by the Hiller Aviation Museum. The shop there had gotten some of the quadcopters that Lou wanted.  I sent out final email reminders to all my hikers for next weeks hikes. There is no Internet at the park. I finally got away for lunch at the China Wok in Sunnyvale about 1400. I then did some shopping before returning home about 1700. Dinner was a ham and cheese sandwich. I got all my presents wrapped before Lou and Dawn returned late.
Lou's Shed Concrete 1225150927_HDR Lou's Shed Concrete 1225150927_HDR
Friday: (12/25) Christmas Day, Nice! We had a leisurely morning. I went out and removed the cover from the concrete. Everything looks good. Lou made biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
Christmas Tree 1225151048_HDR
We had a grand opening about 1000. I received a really nice coupon book from Dawn, good for hugs, kisses, my control of the remote, etc One coupon was really nice and will help on our coming extended trip.We went to an early Christmas dinner at the Black Bear Restaurant in Sunnyvale with Ernie, Cecilia and Courtney. We spent some time in the afternoon preparing to depart tomorrow. Lou had made some cheese cake yesterday which was desert today.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Rancho San Antonio Big Loop

Rancho San Antonio Big Loop_445209717 Rancho San Antonio Big Loop_445209727
Friday: (12/18) Breakfast from L&L Hawaiian, my sausage egg an cheese English muffin and a maple bar. I met my 14 fellow hikers at Rancho San Antonio County park and Open Space. We did a nice climb up the PG&E Trail onto the slippery Quarry Trail then down on the Black Mountain Trail to the Chamise Trail and back to our cars via the Rogue Valley and Lower Meadow Trails.  Nice wide trials were good for conversation. Nice to finish before the expected but not realized rain. Elevation change of 1816 feet. Overall climb of 4382 feet. Nice green hills.
Rancho San Antonio Big Loop_445209624 Rancho San Antonio Big Loop_445207771
Great views with the clear cold air. Most of the group is on the right. Two hikers took a spur hike up to Black Mountain Peak, about 2 miles additional and they missed the picture.
I stopped by Home Depot on th way home to pick up some more bags of concrete mix. Then I hurried home, showered and joined Lou, Dawn and Ernie at Marie Calendar’s for dinner.