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Turning the day around.

 Yesterday did not start out well.  We'd slept poorly.  It was hot.  I'd made myself a to-do list of things I absolutely did not want to do.  I was miserable.  Finally, in the afternoon, I decided I absolutely had to get out of the house, and I woke Larry up (he'd gone back to bed) and told him so.  I suggested we go to a waterfall we'd been to a bunch of times, because it was a longish drive (with AC) and we could put our feet in the water once we got there. He suggested Thacher State Park, because someone had told him the ride there was supposed to be fun on a motorcycle, and he wanted to check it out.  As long as it wasn't in my house, it sounded good to me.

As soon as we were on the road, I felt better.  We got iced coffee.  We went down through the agricultural country, We saw hawks, and cows and corn.  There was AC, It was perfect. 

I had absolutely no expectations going to the park, but that too ended up being perfect. It was after 5 by the time we got there and it had cooled just a couple degrees, but it was enough to make things bearable. It's along the escarpment trail, and we did a little walk, Indian Ladder trail, along the bottom of the cliffs.  Gorgeous views, interesting rock formations, cool little streams, caves.  Couldn't have asked for better.  

On the way home, we stopped at a tavern for beer and great little pizzas. 

The weekend continued.

While I was at work last week, I got an email from Nicole telling me to look into Breakneck Ridge, because it looked so cool.  Indeed!  We decided to take a trip down to my parents' and do the hike, and that decided that Sunday was the day.  So after hking out from Jockeybush on Saturday afternoon, and after showering and hanging out for a little while at one of Brian's birthday cookouts, Larry, Ian and I packed up the car and headed down to my parents'. Nicole and Gwen planned to meet us there the next morning. 

The weather did not cooperate.  We thought about waiting it out, but eventually decided that hiking in the rain wouldn't be so bad.  And it wasn't!  It was great!  It only rained sporadically, and for the most part not very hard.  Without the rain, it would have been hot, so it may have worked out for the best. There were a few places where things were slick, but we always managed. 

Most of the times I've done this Breakneck, I've just gone up and back down the same way.  Going down is scary and hard, and with everything so wet, I didn't think it was the best idea.  We went down the yellow trail, which I've been on before, but I'm not sure I've been on the whole thing.  It was also a really neat trail, following along the bottom of some cliffs. 

The yellow trail hit an old road, and we took it toward the river.  My dad had told me that it brought you out further south on 9D, but there was another trail that split off to the right that came out closer to the tunnel.  I found something that went to the right, but I don't know if it's what he had in mind.  It eventually petered out, but with Breakneck on one side, Bull Hill on the other and 9D and the river on the third, we just couldn't get very lost.  We eventually came out to the driveway of a house on the slope below Breakneck, which spit us out right at the tunnel.  Perfect!

Like 50% of the the populations, we wanted to camp out this weekend.  Unlike the rest of the population, we didn't arrange it ahead of time, and campgrounds were full.  We decided we'd hike up to Jockeybush lake and camp there.  Packing in is a hell of a lot more work than car camping and we hadn't done any of that work until I got off work, which fortunately at 3 instead of the usual 5.  Even so, we didn't get to the trail head until 8.

Fortunately it stays light so late that it wasn't quite dark by the time we got up there.

I was already in the car, all set to go, and Larry came out unto the porch to ask if I'd brought matches.  Oh no!  I hadn't!  He went and got them.  I got to the campsite a few minutes before Larry and Ian did, and as I began to gather firewood, a thought occurred to me.  When he and Ian showed up, I asked if he'd put the matches in his pack, and after some hurried searching it was decided, that no, he'd just thrown them in the car.  I was determined to have a fire that night, and decided to hike back out (1 mile each way) to get them. 

Night hiking was better than I thought it would be.  I had a headlamp, and could pretty much cruise along.  Having just done it with a pack on it felt pretty easy, although I'm sure I took more time than I would have in the light crossing the rocky or mucky parts.    It helped that the trail markers were reflective. 

I think it was 10:30 by the time we got around to starting our fire.  Nothing could ever taste as good as those hot dogs we made.

We did not much of anything the next morning.  I was up earlier than Ian and Larry.  We'd left the hard-won matches out overnight and they were wet from dew and couldn't start a fire until the sun was high enough for long enough to dry them out.  I read.  Larry napped.  Ian found a snake.

The horseflies were fierce.  In the afternoon we packed up and headed out. 

Kane Mountain Fire Tower

 I want to hike a high peak or two this summer.  There are a couple that I'm in shape to do if I walked out the door tomorrow, but most of them would be rough.  I'm sort of trying to get in shape to do them.  Kane Mountain is short and nearby and I had the idea that, with the days so long, I could go hike it after work.  That didn't happen this week, for logistical and weather reasons, and Larry suggested that I could go yesterday, so I off I went.

It turned out to be remarkably easy.  Too easy, in fact.  I think after that brutal stretch on Crane Mountain, everything is going to seem easy to me for a while.  I went by myself, and I think being able to go exactly how fast I wanted to made it easier.  I had my GPS on, and my moving time was 15 minutes.  In all, it took 26, including applying bug spray, stopping to sign in, take pics, etc. There were good views from the top of the tower.  I got lucky with the weather.  I went when I did because it looked like the best chance for no rain in the afternoon, and I hit it just right. The trails were streams, it had rained so much that morning, but I never got rained on.

Once I was up there, I was sort of sorry that I didn't have more to do.  There's a longer trail up the mountain, but I'd never done it before and didn't have a guidebook and was too nervous to lit out on my own not knowing where I was going.  Now that I'm comfortably at home, I think I could have done it, especially since I had the GPS with me and knew my starting point, but at the time it didn't strike me as a good option.  I decided to go down the trail on the other side of the mountain, which I had been on before and comes out very near the state highway.  I couldn't remember how long a stretch on the highway it was between there and the road where I had parked on, but I didn't think it was so far as to be unwalkable, and I knew there was a store where I could go in a make a call if it turned out I was wrong.  Turned out the stretch of highway was 0.35 miles, and another 0.6 along the side rode.  Very doable.  All told I added less than a mile.

It started raining on my way home.

A tale of two hikes.

A co-worker's comment the other day made me wish that I'd been better about keeping up with writing about our hikes.  He mentioned how many miles he logged per year.  I have no idea how much hiking I've done and now I couldn't even figure it out if I wanted to because I haven't kept track.  But I can always start this year, with our first 2 hikes of 2011.

April 24th, Easter Sunday, Ian and I hiked Crane Mountain.  There was still lots of snow.  In fact, we tried to get to the trailhead via a seasonal road and had to back track because I simply could not get up a snowy road.  Even from the more improved approach, we had to part .4 miles from the trailhead, as that road was still snowed in.

The trail began on the south side of the mountain and wasn't too snowy.  It started off easy enough, but eventually hit a very steep section.  As all the snow was melting, it turned out to be a steep, stream-like section.  Waterfalls everywhere.  In a role-reversal, Ian bounded up the trail while I called to him to wait up.  It was hard.  Above the waterfall/trail, the grade leveled out some, but the snowpack increased.  It was still pretty rough going.  Near the top, there were 2 ladders to help negotiate especially rough patches of trail.
We had lunch at the top.  There were great views, but it was windy and cold, so we didn't stay too long.  On the way down, Ian spotted a garter snake.  I wouldn't let him pick it up because I don't know enough about snakes to be sure it wasn't poisonous.
I'm not sure how far the hike is, because my GPS gave conflicting information, but if I go by the trail guide, it was 1.8 miles each way with a 1150' elevation gain.
The following Saturday we hiked up Hadley Mountain.  Ian brought his friend Alicia.  This hike was about the same length, but with about 1500' elevation gain.  Sound harder, right?  It wasn't.  It didn't have the same intense steep sections as Crane, and I felt like it was much easier going persistently up.  We also went slower, which may have something to do with it.  I don't know if it was the weeks time that made the difference, just the orientation of the trail, or the fact that we were a little bit lower and farther south, but the whole mountain was snow free and reasonably dry.  Quite a difference!

It was a gorgeous day, and we had great views of the Great Sacandaga, which was very flooded.  We stopped at one park on the way to the trail, and the lake level was up to the picnic tabletops.  At the the top of Hadley there's a fire tower which you could climb up, but the very top was locked.  We ate lunch and a explored for a while at the top.  

On the way down, I looked for and found my first geocaches.  It's fun!  

And so it ends.

Saturday was our last day in San Francisco.  We got up early-ish to do some last minute laundry and cleaning.  We picked up Matt, bought some doughnuts and a crappy map and headed south to see some more coastline.  I don't know the names of the places we stopped, and maybe they didn't have names, but they were great.  First was a beach that we reached by scrambling down a very steep slope, which someone had rigged up a rope along.  The beach had cliffs at either end, and some neat rock outcroppings that we explored. We saw anenomes that we stuck our fingers into.  Ian got all his clothes wet, of course.

Next stop had an entirely different type of rock, this weird conglomerate with huge rounded rock in it.  There were great tide pools and we saw starfish and sea urchins and all different kinds of seaweed.  We all got a little wet there, from waves crashing up on the rocks.  Someone else was coming in as we were leaving and he pointed out whales to us!  That was pretty cool.  We were too far to tell what kind, but we saw lots of spouting an an occassional back roll up.

Our next stop was at Gazo's Grill for lunch. (Good, but unremarkable.)  After, we went over to the beach across the street, which was packed with kiteboarders and seagulls.  Ian and Matt had fun chasing the gulls.

We got back to the city in time for a stop at Humphry Slokum ice cream.  I got canteloupe cayenne sorbet and vanilla to counter-balance the spiciness.  Larry had a plout cardomom sorbet and special breakfast, made with bourbon and corn flakes.  They specialize in weird but appealing flavors. 

The next 21 or so hours after that were spent travelling.  It all went smoothly, but it's a long time and we're all messed up and exhausted.  I have about 1000 pictures to sort through and decide what's worth keeping, what's worth posting, etc.

Day eight and nine we ate.

And ate and ate.

We had a late start on Thursday, after getting home so late the night before.  We slept in for a while, and then we had laundry to do from the beach.  It was after lunchtime by the time we picked up Matt and none of us had eaten yet.  He brought us to a Hawaiian lunch place.  Four dollars for a burger, fries, and a drink.  Good cheap food.  It was delicious.

Next we went to the Golden Gate park to do some exploring. First up was the Japanese tea garden. We had a beautiful walk around the garden, followed by tea and moshi, little sweet cakes.  After that we drove around the park some more, seeing what it had to offer.  We stopped for a while at the beach at the end and watched the surfers.

Thursday night, Matt took us out to Azisa, the Morrocan restaurant he works in.  Having an insider with us, we were treated like kings.  Such amazing food.  It may have been the best meal we ever had.  We were served 5 or 6 courses over 3 hours.  Perfect little dishes with amazing blends of flavors, starting with a chantarelle soup, and finishing with a sampling of desserts including a goat yogurt sorbet, plum sorbet, blackberry mousse. 

We spent that night at Matt's as Kathy needed her apartment for the night.

This morning (or maybe it was afternoon) we had breakfast at Dottie's True Blue Cafe, a great little breakfast place with a long line.  Matt waited for us while Larry, Ian and I went off in search of part of a hostess gift.  We couldn't find it in time, so we headed back and ate piles of tasty food.  I had the bacon, tomato, green onion, blue cheese scramble with potatos and toast.  Mmmm.

Over breakfast, we planned our afternoon to try to squeeze as much in as we could.  We found our hostess gift and went to over to Samovar Tea Lounge, because we just couldn't miss it.  We split up from there.  Larry took Matt first home to get ready, and then to work.  Ian and I caught a cable car, because it was on Ian's must-do list.  While waiting in line we got advice from a drunk guy hustling for tips.  He told us to walk up half a block from the turn-around and get on there. He promised it wouldn't be full.  Sure enough, it worked like a charm.  We missed half a block and a least an hour wait.  Can't complain about that!

On our first day touring the city, Ian wanted a mask from Chinatown, but we made him wait, sure he would want souvenirs from every stop along the way.  As it turned out, the mask is the one thing that stood out for him, so we said we'd go back and get it.  The cable car went right past Chinatown, and since I now knew how easy it is to get on and off the cable cars, we got off and went and got Ian his mask, and got back on the next Cable car we came across.

Once we got back to the north end of town, I realized that I didn't have the keys to the apartment, so we had to find stuff to do until Larry got back.  We had just enought time to visit Coit Tower before it closed.  I felt a bit like we cheated because we took a bus that brought us right up to it instead of walking all those steps.  Unfortunately, the fog had rolled in by the time we got to the top, so the views were limited, but we still saw enough to make it interesting.

Now we're just trying to get ourselves set up for leaving tomorrow.  We'll have some laundry to do in the morning, and some cleaning, but we're hoping to leave ourselves enough time for an outing before our flight tomorrown night.

Day seven we ventured forth.

What a perfect day! 

We met up with my friend Betsy in Muir Woods.  We walked around in the redwoods for a while, and hiked up into the adjacent State Park where we found a nice little picnic spot and chatted with an 82 year old park ranger. I enjoyed catching up, and Betsy had some neat field guides that we had fun using to identify some of the trees.

Next we headed down the road to Muir Beach, where Ian actually got in the frigid water.  I stuck my feet in the Pacific for the first time. It was a beautiful cove, with cliffs to either side. Ian played waterbender with the waves while the rest of us relaxed.

We left Betsy after Muir Beach and poked our way up Highway 1 on the coast for a while.  First stop was the Muir Overlook, probably no more than 2 miles up the road.  It was the site of World War II lookout bunkers, and had gorgeous views of the Muir Beach and the Bolinas pennisula, and Point Reyes further in the distance.  I was somewhat shocked to see San Francisco so close.  I hadn't really thought about it, but all day I felt so un-urban.  It was surprisingly to realize what a short distance we'd come. 

I'd hoped to see the sunset over the Pacific. We didn't have a map with us, so we were just taking guesses. We ended missing it, but we were in such a beautifuly spot, that I didn't care a bit. We ended up in the tiny town of Bolinas, where the Bolinas Lagoon meets Bolinas Bay.  Currents were swirling every which way, making interesting patterns in the waves.  There were lots of surfers out, and people with their dogs.  Ian made a friend of one and ran up and down the beach playing fetch with him.  We probably hung out there for a couple hours, but it was finally getting pretty dark and cool and we started heading back down the coast.

It was 8:30 and we hadn't had dinner yet, so we randomly picked a place we passed in Stinson Beach, the Parkside Cafe.  Oh, it was amazing.  We had the best fried calamari I'd ever tasted, perfect clam chowder soup.  Everything was almost too good to believe.

As the final punctuation on an already perfect day, we pulled over to the side of the road on a particularly secluded stretch, turned off the headlights and looked at the stars.  It was so clear we could see the Milky Way.  Everyone but me saw a shooting star.   

Day Six we explored.

Loved, loved, loved the Exporatorium.  We spent all day and only left when they closed the place down.  That place is right up my alley.  There's too much that I enjoyed to describe it all, but it was all hands on sciency stuff.  Ahh.

We met Kathy (our host) and her boyfriend for dinner at an Irish pub that serves Indian food.  It was all delicious.  

Now I'm tired and am going to bed.

Day Five we took the bus

The plan today was to go to the Exploratorium.  We figured parking might be hard to fine so we took a bus.  We got there without much trouble, although I got a bit confused while trying to get into the building.  We ended up walking all the way around the back, past a quarter mile of empty parking spaces.  Have way through, a thought occurred to me: what if they're not open Mondays?  Sure enough.  So we decided to hit the Academy of Sciences instead.  Fortunately we had a good Muni map with us and figured out a way to get there.  Sort of.  We counted on 2 buses, but it ended up taking three, but we got there eventually.

I enjoyed the Academy of Sciences, but we're getting pretty tired from all the on-the-go.  I nearly fell asleep during the very interesting planetarium show.  The sea horses were a highlight of the aquarium, and Ian enjoyed a side-bar that gave you a shock like an electric eel.

For dinner we randomly chose a restaurant from the guide book that was pretty close and cheap, called simply Taiwan Restaurant.  It was good.  We were hungry.  From now on, I will order black bean chicken.  Mmmm.

The restaurant was right across the street from Green Apples, a great used book store.  We browsed for a while, and then had dessert at Toy Boat Dessert Cafe, also just down the street. Old-fashioned toys lined the walls. It was fun.

Somehow, the evening was just what we needed.  We've been on the go so much, and I certainly don't want to just sit around the apartment, but we're getting really TIRED.  It was nice to just hang out in a couple block area for a while.

Two more buses, and we were home.  I'm just waiting for laundry to finish and then it's bed.