Point Reyes – Coast Camp to Glen Camp Loop

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore

First backpacking trip of the year and I’m happy to report that it was a blast!  This was a great way to test out some of my new gear, practice setting up my tarp shelter and deal with a little rain.  We drove over on Tuesday morning and picked up our permit from the Bear Valley Visitors Center around noon.  From there we headed over to the Laguna Trailhead and headed down the Coast Trail.  The trail was exploding with wildflowers since the weather had been so nice in the previous weeks before we got there.

Not sure what this is, but it was pretty

Not sure what this is, but it was pretty

Lupine in full bloom

Lupine in full bloom

Beautiful Iris

Beautiful Iris

Something called a Firecracker?

Something called a Firecracker?

Looks like purple fried eggs

Looks like purple fried eggs

Right at Coast Camp, you are greeted with a trail down to the beach; a nice place to stop after the first couple miles. But the first really gorgeous views you get are at Arch Rock. We took a moment here to take some pictures and have a snack. Simply amazing.

PRArchRock03

View from Arch Rock

PRArchRock01

View from Arch Rock

Next we continued on the Bear Valley Trail toward the Glen Camp Loop Trail which brings you into a beautiful canopied forested area. This section of trail follows a creek lined with mossy trees – quite a relaxing walk.

Bear Valley Trail

Bear Valley Trail

And finally after about 10 miles of hiking we arrive at our camp for the night: Glen Camp.  Comprised of 8 sites, Glen Camp is the most inland of the backcountry camps in Point Reyes (which also makes it the easiest to reserve for a more last minute trip.)  It also has a couple of pit toilets, trash/recycling bins and potable water.  We were quite comfortable in spot number 7.

View from Site 7

View from Site 7

Glen Camp

Glen Camp

The boys decided to share a tent, but I was prepared to practice with my bivy sack and tarp shelter.  After waking up to rain and the fact that I was completely dry, I’d say it was a success!

Tarp Shelter with Bivy

Tarp Shelter with Bivy

After a very casual morning (the boys got up around 9:30am whereas I’d been up since 6:30am enjoying some quiet time), we packed up and headed out of camp to finish out our last 8 miles beginning on the remainder of the Glen Loop Trail.  This section was actually more of a access/fire road then a trail so we took advantage of being able to walk next to each other for a change.  After a short walk we arrive at the junction for the Glen Trail.  This trail was a very welcoming forested area and a fairly flat portion which proved to be helpful considering what we would encounter next on the Baldy Trail.

Glen Trail

Glen Trail

Glen Trail

Glen Trail

Me on Glen Trail

Me on Glen Trail

Holy crap.  Straight.  Up.  Hill.  It seemed like it would never end.  Fortunately the reason for all of that climbing is made clear when you reach expansive views of the coast and Drakes Bay.

Coastal View

Coastal View

Coastal View

Coastal View

Coastal View

Coastal View

Happy Girl

Happy Girl

In the end, I think we had a very successful trip.  I can’t wait to get out there again.

I definitely learned a few things:

  • REI is like Home Depot.  When you think you have everything, you find yourself needing to go back to buy what you forgot or return/exchange what you though would work.
  • Breathable hiking boots are definitely not water resistant to hiking through miles of wet grass and brush.  I had soggy feet in a matter of minutes.
  • I need a more packable sleeping bag.  Not only does my synthetic 20 degree bag weigh over 5 pounds, but it was like wrestling a hyena trying to fit it into a compression sack small enough to fit in my pack.
  • Trekking poles are amazingly useful and versatile pieces of equipment.  I don’t know how I would have made it up the Baldy Trail without them.

And in case you were wondering, of course we took craft beer and it was definitely worth the extra weight.  Also, check out my Gear Reviews section now that I’ve had the opportunity to test some of my gear!  Cheers!

21st Amendment Brew Free or Die! IPA

21st Amendment Brew Free or Die! IPA

Jenkinson Lake – Sly Park Recreation Area

Walter E. Jenkinson

Walter E. Jenkinson

I’ve been lucky lately to work in locations that lend themselves nicely to a hike or trail run afterwards.  Last summer I did a half marathon trail race in the Sly Park Recreation Area, which is about 60 miles West of Lake Tahoe.  It was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done (keeping in mind that I’m a marathon runner), but it was beautiful.  So knowing that I was going to be working out near that area, I took advantage of planning to hike the 8.5 miles loop trail around Jenkinson Lake.  I later agreed to work a job in the evening, but didn’t want to forgo my hike, so the hike quickly became a trail run (done in half the time!)  And I’m so glad I went!  If you want a nice mellow trail (at least during the day mid-week) with picturesque views of the lake, trees, and Sierras, this is a real treat!

Bumpy Meadows Trailhead

Bumpy Meadows Trailhead

I started out from the convenient parking lot at Bumpy Meadows just off of Mormon Emigrant Trail Road.  $5 to park and plenty of spaces mid-week, although I was informed that occasionally during the off-season this parking area is closed (mainly due to snow) leaving parking options to the main road with much fewer spots.  From here you’re pretty much a few steps away from the lake.

Jenkinson Lake

Jenkinson Lake

The trail follows the shore of the lake pretty much the entire loop except for a few places when it turns into a road through the very popular campground areas.  The trail is well established and very well marked especially at the points where the horse trail splits and reconvenes with the main trail.  I did however run into some unexpected short, steep climbs.

Good for hill training!

Good for hill training!

And then I spotted something which made me think about being more prepared with bug spray!

Yellow Jacket Trap

Yellow Jacket Trap

The next few miles of the trail were marvelous bringing me across quiet sitting areas and creeks with the comforting sounds of rushing waters.

Meditative Spot

Meditative Spot

Park Creek

Park Creek

Park Creek Bridge

Park Creek Bridge

A nice day for sailing as well!

Sailboat on the Lake

Sailboat on the Lake

I’ve definitely decided I want to do this loop again.  It’s a little ways from Sacramento, but totally worth the drive and a great place to stop going to and from Lake Tahoe.  I was a very happy girl yesterday!

Post Trail Run

Post Trail Run

 

 

Sweetwater Trail, wait… what?

This past weekend in Sacramento was gorgeous! Since I was out in the Folsom area on Saturday, I decided to go for a quick hike near Folsom Lake. With my 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Sacramento book in hand, I set out to find the Sweetwater Trail which is about 10 miles North of Highway 50 near El Dorado Hills. I followed the directions exactly and was pretty sure that I’d found the appropriate parking area; however, when I walked down to the trail head this is what I saw…

Brown's Ravine Trail Head

Brown’s Ravine Trail Head

It was already close to 3:00 pm and wanted to get in 6 miles so I thought, “What the heck,” and started down the trail.

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

All in all it was a great day and a nice quiet hike. I still prefer the Auburn State Recreation Area to the Folsom Lake Recreation Area for hikes, but this was a nice excuse to get out while I was in Folsom. Oh and did I forget to mention why I was in Folsom? The REI used gear sale. Yes, guilty as charged, but look forward to some gear reviews from me soon!

Upper Bidwell Park – Chico, CA

I had a job out of town on Friday, so I took the opportunity to check out a hiking area in Chico, which also happens to be the home of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (more on that later!)  I consulted with a few of my Sacramento friends who had previously lived in Chico about where I should go to hike and they told me, hands down, Upper Bidwell Park.  The land for Bidwell Park was donated by John and Annie Bidwell in 1905 for recreational use.  It turns out that Annie, being a strong supporter of prohibition, mandated that there be no alcohol allowed on the premises and no public picnics on Sundays.  Although the alcohol mandate still applies today, I highly doubt that people aren’t allowed to picnic on Sundays judging from the amount of people that were enjoying themselves there on Friday.

Upper Bidwell Park Trailhead Map

Upper Bidwell Park Trailhead Map

I started out parking near Horseshoe Lake, which wasn’t much of a lake, but more like a giant mud puddle.  However, people were kayaking around in it, so I’m guessing it has some depth.  From Parking Area B, I hopped on the North Rim Trail.

North Rim Trail

North Rim Trail

I decided I wanted to practice carrying a little more weight, so I strapped on my day pack with all of my overnight stuff in it, and headed up the trail.  It was a gorgeous day (around 75 degrees!) and plenty of people were taking advantage of the trails.  I quickly hiked toward the junction to Middle Trail which would take me by Monkeyface, a rock formation that apparently looks like a monkey’s face, but I couldn’t see its resemblance.  Regardless, I continued down Middle Trail and to the top of Monkeyface.  I encountered a grandmother and her grandchildren having lunch at the top – cute!  From there I caught the remaining loop section of the North Rim Trail, and followed it right back around to the Parking Area.

View from atop Monkeyface

View from atop Monkeyface

Lone early wildflower

Lone early wildflower

All in all I hiked about 3 miles in 1 hour carrying my 20 lb pack and I felt great!  Aside from the hiking, I was able to enjoy a few beers at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company before heading out of town!  I’ll leave you with this mouth watering picture.  Until next time – cheers!

Left to Right: Double-headed Ruthless Rye, Ovila Quad, Fungoo, French Saison

Left to Right: Double-headed Ruthless Rye, Ovila Quad, Fungoo, French Saison

American Canyon/Dead Truck Trail

Today I was able to get out for a quick 2 hour hike near Georgetown in the Auburn State Recreation Area (about 30 miles East of Sacramento) on the American Canyon Trail.  This is a easy to moderate 5.3 mile loop trail with a great amount of shaded sections (great for the summer heat in Sacramento!)  And although I wasn’t able to find the trail that lead to the waterfall bragged about in my guide book, it was still a nice hike.  It covers some of the sections from the Western States Trail which hosts many annual races including horse and trail running.  This is a great beginning trail to take occasional hikers on; they won’t be bored and will have a decent challenge.  For more experienced hikers, this will be a breeze.  I look forward to more hikes in this area.

American Canyon Trailhead

American Canyon Trailhead

Hoboken Creek

Hoboken Creek

Wendell Robie Trail Marker

Wendell Robie Trail Marker

And the fun begins…

So remember that post about how excited I was to have my first backpack and was heading to REI to ask them to fit it to me?  Turns out the clearance that, just so happens to be calling me to buy it and kick off my planning, Osprey Kestrel 68, doesn’t fit.  Poo.  The one time it works against me to be skinny and short.  When I cinched it up the hip pads were touching each other giving it no room to get smaller (as I will inevitably loose more weight while on the JMT trip.)  AND my torso measures at 16 and the Kestrel’s smallest set up is 18.  So there I was starting over with the part I’d thought I’d got checked off my list.  Fortunately a wonderful employee named Katie came to my rescue.  She very quickly pulled a few packs down that fit the bill of a Women’s XSmall.  I tried the Gregory Deva 70 and that was a quick no.  After filling the pack with 25 pounds worth of sand bags (of varying weights) and putting it on, I was immediately greeted with a very unpleasant protruding “support” in my lumbar region.  Ick.  The other remaining options were the Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 SL and pretty much nothing else in the size I was looking for.  After trying the Deuter and not loving it, Katie called her co-worker Jason for back up.  He promptly suggested the Osprey Ariel to which Katie promptly contested that it didn’t come small enough.  To prove it she brought out the list of all the backpacks that REI carries and it said the Ariel, at it’s smallest, was 18.  Jason then saved the day by letting Katie and I know that that was simply a misprint.  It did indeed come in a 16 and they happened to have one in stock for me to try.  After going back and forth between the Deuter and the Osprey, I decided to go with… the Osprey.

Osprey Ariel 65

Second time’s a charm?

The Deuter felt like it was pulling backwards from my chest strap with the weight in it and I simply couldn’t give up all the great feel and features of the Osprey pack.  Hopefully this pack will serve me well.  I look forward to getting to know it better on several trips this year, including the Tahoe Rim Trail.  Cheers!

Gear, gear, gear

So now that I’ve decided to finally get out there, I need gear.  I went to the library and checked out what seems like a gazillion books on trails and beginning backpacking advice.

Backpacking Books

A little out of control, am I right?

The problem with borrowing these types of books from the library is that they’re mostly outdated.  Some of the trail books are fine as not too much has changed with those (and I can verify the information with what’s online) but the updates in recent years to the gear, especially with the ultralight movement, have been phenomenal.  I’ve been scanning these books for general information, but mostly end up relying on resources from the web.  I’ve found some great blogs and review sites like Calipidder.com and BackpackGearTest.org which have helped me narrow down some things.

The other morning I was hanging out in bed checking my email and of course I had an email from REI for another clearance sale.  Normally I’ll browse what’s on sale and not end up buying anything; however, this time I noticed a backpack on sale.  I did a quick search for some reviews on this particular backpack and most everyone had good things to say about it.  So I bought it.  And it arrived in the mail today. Behold!

Osprey Kestral 68

Osprey Kestrel 68

My very first backpack, exciting right?!  Now my only problem is that I have no idea how to size it, so I think I’ll head down to REI in the next couple of days and ask them to help with fitting it to me properly.  Doing so also gives me an excuse to browse all the other things I’ll be needing to buy over the next couple of months.  Well that does it for now, I’m off to read some more.  Plus it’s Sacramento Beer Week and will definitely be out drinking some amazing craft beer later.  Toodles!