2017 – The Big 65

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It is fitting that I begin with the end in mind.  This is a shot from hike number 65 of 2017.  I’ve never hiked this much in my life…or, taken as many pictures.  This shot was taken at the high point of the Folger Ranch Loop Trail in the newly opened La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve in the mountains of San Mateo County.

My longest hike:  La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve – I hiked the Harrington Creek/Folger Ranch Loop for a total of 9.1 miles!

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This shot is taken from the top of the long climb up the Harrington Creek Trail to the upper pond.  I waited at the top for about 12 hikers who were behind me.  One of them slowly passed me at the top and, after stopping to suck in some air, coughed out, “that’s a grinder!”  So, there you go, my new name for this section of the trail is, “The Grinder.”

Greatest total elevation gain: Deer Springs Trail to Suicide Rock in the San Bernardino National Forest = 1,928 Feet!

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The view from Suicide Rock looking south west.IMG_1421.jpgHere I am dangling my feet over the edge….I’m surprised that the picture isn’t blurry!  LOL!

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Hiking amongst giants!  Muir Woods National Monument

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Best spot to stop and watch hawks soaring above a valley:  Sierra Vista Trail, Sierra Vista Open Space

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I nailed my personal challenges this year:

  1. I completed Santa Clara County Parks “Magnificent Seven Challenge” at the John Nicholas Trail, Sanborn County Park, Santa Clara County Parks (above).

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2) I also completed the 52 Hike Challenge on the spectacular Mt. Umunhum trail, which is part of the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.

Finally, I became a member of the Volunteer Trail Patrol for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Preserve.  I really enjoy meeting and helping hikers, bikers, and equestrians while I’m on the trail.  I plan on keeping up this “calling” in 2018!

Phew!  2017 was quite a year for me on the trail.

I completed 65 hikes that totaled 261.6 miles.  The total elevation gain for all 65 hikes was 32,997 feet.  My average hike was just over 4 miles.

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So, what’s in store for 2018?  I would definitely like to improve my iPhone and SLR photography.  So, look out for more pictures to be posted this year.

I also plan on going after the 52 Hike Challenge and Magnificent Seven hike challenges again.  What are the challenges you are going to take on this year?  Any suggestions for me?

I’ve also signed up to run my first Spartan Race this upcoming March!  This will be my first OCR race!  I haven’t done a pull up in 20+ years…so, training for this race should be….interesting!

As always, if you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

The Thursday Picture – Sweeney Ridge

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Today’s Thursday Picture was taken on the Sweeney Ridge Trail that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  Located on the San Francisco Peninsula, I like hiking here when it is warm in Silicon Valley.  I can almost always count on a cool sea breeze here when I hike in the late afternoon.  The views of the Pacific Ocean are spectacular!

This was Hike #40 in my 52 Hike Challenge for 2016.  I’m up to 49 hikes with just over a week of 2016 left.  I better get going!

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

 

 

 

 

The Thursday Picture – TBT Alpine Pond

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Today’s Thursday Picture was taken about a year ago.

This is a view of Alpine Pond, which is adjacent to the Daniels Nature Center in the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve.  This preserve is one of my favorite places to hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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The views west from the Ipiwa Trail, which is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, are fantastic.  With over 10 miles of trails, from easy to challenging, the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve is a good place for every age group to enjoy some time outside.

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View of Horseshoe Lake from the Sunny Jim Trail.

After parking in the large gravel parking lot at the main entrance off of Skyline Boulevard, take the Sunny Jim Trail to the connection with the Ipiwa Trail.  Enjoy the great views of the Santa Cruz Mountains while you follow the trail to the Alpine Pond.  Loop around the pond and head back the way you hiked in to the preserve.  This makes a nice 4 mile loop with a total of 600 feet in elevation gain.

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Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve is only about a 45 minute drive from California’s Oldest Public University, San Jose State University, which is located in the heart of downtown San Jose.

 

So, where are you hiking this weekend?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

 

 

The Thursday Picture – Flume Fun


Today’s Thursday Picture was taken on the Flume Trail at St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Located just minutes from downtown Los Gatos, California, this preserve sees heavy use by hikers, bikers and families.  I typically park at Vasona Park and hike the Los Gatos Creek Trail up to St. Joseph’s Hill.  There are some steep sections of trail…so, hiking here can be a good workout.  However the scenery so close to an urban area makes the sweat well worth it!

My hike: A nice 7 mile loop with 650 feet of total elevation gain.  Park at Vasona Lake County Park.  Take the Los Gatos Creek Trail south to the pedestrian bridge at Church St.  Cross the bridge and hike through the parking lot past the historic Forbes Mill.  The Los Gatos Creek East Trail head is located just to the east of Forbes Mill.  Follow this trail that runs parallel to Los Gatos Creek for about 1/2 mile.  The trail will end with a short climb up a hill that leads you to the Town Of Los Gatos’ Novitiate Park.  This park borders St. Joseph’s Hill OSP and the Flume Trail head.  Head south on the Flume Trail for a little over .5 mile and continue to the end of this trail where it intersects the Jones Trail.  Continue south on the Jones Trail for a mile where you will exit the OSP and walk north along Alma Bridge Rd. for .5 mile to Lexington Dam.  Hike down the paved trail that traverses the north side of the dam where it connects back up to the Los Gatos Creek Trail.  Follow the Los Gatos Creek Trail for about 3 miles back to Vasona County Park!  This was hike number 16 of my quest on the 52 hike challenge!

 

Where are you hiking this weekend?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

The Weekly Photo Challenge – State of Mind

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The Weekly Photo Challenge – State of Mind

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
― John Muir, The Mountains of California

 

We had been in the field most of the day.  Checking the condition of a bridge and a ranch road.  We were figuring out what repairs were needed.  Finally, we stopped for lunch on a crest that overlooked the hills rolling down to the Pacific Ocean…and, to take a deep breath and just look around.

You too can visit the La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve …but, entrance to this preserve requires a permit.  Visit the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s Permits page to find out how you can enjoy La Honda Creek OSP.

It looks like rain this weekend in California.  Put on your rain gear and get outside.  Where are you going to hike?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

 

 

 

 

The Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic

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The Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic

I took this shot on my last hike of 2015.  This trail was on a tree covered island that had several interesting caves to explore.  The trail also had two options available to make a water crossing…

Now, I am typically an optimistic person.  Half glass full kind of guy.  So, I don’t need too much at all to remind me to stay optimistic.  I guess this picture would sum up one of the reasons that I am optimistic:  When in doubt, I always choose the barrel bridge over the easy detour on firm ground.  I like that “12 year old me” comes out every once in a while.

 

Where are you hiking this weekend?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

Climbing Kamet in the Himalayas

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2015 was a big year for me hiking.  No, I didn’t actually climb Kamet in the Himalayas.  However, the total elevation gain from all of my hikes did add up to 25,407 feet!  Kamet, pictured here, rises up to 24,446 feet.  Kamet’s elevation is the closest that I could find to the total elevation I gained while hiking over the year.

Of course, I didn’t need any oxygen on any of my hikes!  So, how did I do in achieving my hiking and photography goals for 2015?  As a reminder, here were my goals posted last year at about this time:

For 2015, I will hike at least 20 times for a total of 120 miles and complete at least 20 “training” hikes around my neighborhood at the base of the Sierra Azul Mountains here in Northern California.  I will also venture further out into the East Bay and up the San Francisco Peninsula to discover more trails, take more pictures, and write more about my adventures.  Finally, I would also like to hike in any OSP of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) that I have not yet visited and explore more trails in the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority lands!

My year started out in one of the Open Space Preserves (OSP) that I have not visited:  Thornewood OSP in the Santa Cruz Mountains above the Town of Woodside.  I’ve now hiked in nearly every preserve of the MROSD.  You can tell this was my first hike because I have very cleverly provided a clue…

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I did fairly well on my goals.  I actually went on a total of 20 “Regional Hikes” for a total of 105 miles and 39 “Training Hikes” for a total of 107 miles.  My Regional Hikes took place in the parks and open spaces around California that I visited.  As you can see, I’m still working on my outdoor photography skills.  I’m getting better at composition…but, light still gives me trouble sometimes!  Typical of my Regional Hikes was my 3rd hike (7.3 miles/1,089 feet elev. gain) at Russian Ridge OSP :

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My 7th hike (3.9 miles/16 feet elev. gain) along the San Francisco Bay at Ravenswood OSP at Cooley Landing was my hike with the smallest elevation gain:

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My 9th hike (8.6 miles/2,500 feet elev. gain) took me to the top of Tahquitz Peak in our San Bernardino National Forest .  This was my hike with the greatest elevation gain.  The hike was challenging, but the views from high up in the Sierra Mountains were spectacular:

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In fact, like 2014, I hiked in some beautiful places and was able to spend a lot of time working on my outdoor photography skills.  Here are just a handful of my favorite shots of 2015:

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Unfortunately, one goal that I didn’t accomplish was to hike in the East Bay Regional Parks.  This will be a goal that I will carry over to 2016!

So, where will I go in 2016? I’d like to explore even more of the great trails at the Mid Peninsula Regional Open Space District, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, the Santa Clara County Parks, the California State Parks, and the National Parks here in California.  To help ease my “engineering brain” which compels me to assign numbers to my hikes, I’ve signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge.

I do know that whether the trail is flat…or, I’m squeezing by a railing on a trail up in the sky, DSC_6432

I will be having fun challenging myself while I explore California!

 

“I only went out for a walk…, for going out, I found, was really going in.”- John Muir

 

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Thanks for visiting my hiking / photography blog!

– Dale

 

As always…

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.