Hike-a-Week : Silver Lake Trail

Trails : Silver Lake Trail to Bald Mountain, Park City, Utah (3rd hike this week)

Mileage/Hours : 2 miles / 2.5 hours

Rating : Strenuous

Elevation Gain : 1,300 ft (Starting elevation 8,100 ft)

The trails are lined with wildflowers and alder trees.

The hike up was extremely slow (2.5 hours).  We stopped frequently to catch our breaths and monitor our heart rates.

This stretch was brutal – did not look like it would ever end.

After 2.5 hours, we met up with Julie and Karen who were at the top waiting for us.  They left us in the dust!

While Karen and Julie started the trek down the the mountain, Kaye and I spent a few minutes enjoying the spectacular view of the surrounding area and the occasional cool breeze.

Instead of hiking to the bottom of Bald Mountain, Kaye and I caught the Sterling lift down.

We stopped at the Royal Cafe for mint lemonade and sweet treats.  We found a nice spot in the shade and enjoyed our cold mint lemonade while waiting for our friends to reach the bottom.

Total miles logged so far this week : 15 miles

Hike-a-Week : Fantasy Ridge, Park City, UT

Trails : Holly’s Trail to Tombstone Trail to Fantasy Ridge Trail.  The trailhead is at the Canyon’s Resort in Park City, Utah. (And yes, I’m really in Park City!)

Mileage/Hours : 9 miles/6.5 hours

Rating : Moderate/Strenuous

Elevation Gain : 2,350 ft

The hike began with a gradual climb through a series of switchbacks.  I felt the gain in altitude with every step so the climb up was quite slow.  I hiked this trail last year and remember running up certain stretches — that did not happen this year.  Took frequent breaks to slow down my heart rate and take deep breaths.  Since my mind and body were preoccupied with breathing, taking careful steps and monitoring my heart rate, I took very few photos during the first 4 miles of this hike.

At lower elevations, there were an abundance of alder trees throughout the forest.

Our adventures would not be much fun if we always stayed on the “well-marked trails.”  We ventured onto the service road and after a tenth of a mile trekking downhill, we decided that we took the wrong trail and had to backtrack uphill.  Going up was a real pain.

Our goal : to get to ninety-nine ninety feet (starting from seven thousand feet) — the highest peak at the canyons resort.

A more realistic goal : hike to Fantasy Ridge at ninety-three fifty feet.  The trail map described the last part of the Fantasy Ridge trail to ninety-nine ninety as “a knife edge ridge requiring some technical climbing over talus rock.”  Ummm … I am all about being safe so that bit of information basically decided my goal for me.

Can you see why we didn’t go to ninety-nine ninty?  That’s Julie in the photo — she made it a hundred yards past me and quickly turned around.

While Julie trekked along the ridge to see the “knife edge,” I found a nice resting spot.

The climb down was much easier and faster than the hike up.

Funny story : As I knelt down to place my gorillapod on the ground and set up my camera for this self-portrait, I felt a liquid travel down my leg and onto my skirt.  I panicked for a moment and thought, “What the heck?  Am I peeing in my skirt and not know it?  Do I no longer have control of my urinary system and urine is flowing freely out of my body?  What the heck is going on?”  I stood up, puzzled at this mysterious liquid.  Then it hits me and I start laughing hysterically — the liquid is water and it is coming out of my other bladder (the Camelbak).  I must have squeezed the nozzle attached to the straps of my backpack as I bent down to set up the shot.  Ha!

After the hike down from Fantasy Ridge and Tombstone, I decided to ride the gondola down to the resort while my friends Karen and Julie hiked an additional four miles.

I was thrilled to return to our Presidential Suite for some much needed rest.

Hike-a-Week : Stinson Beach

Start/End : Stinson Beach

Trails : Dipsea Trail to Steep Ravine Trail to Matt Davis Trail

Mileage : 6 miles

Rating : Moderate/Strenuous (It’s really only strenuous when you hike off the trail.)

The next time you’re out on an adventure, remember some of these gentle reminders …

When you’re out hiking, remember to look back.  The views are spectacular going forward but once in a while, stop and look back to soak up the beauty that surrounds you.

When you’re out hiking, remember to snap a photo with your hiking partners.  I love the Gorillapod for self portraits and group shots.

When you’re out hiking, adventures occur at every turn.  I have been on many trails but very few compare to this one — the ladder in the middle of the woods is so freakin’ cool!

When you’re out hiking, remember to look up.  Looking down is important in preventing a misstep or a potential fall, but looking up is helpful in preventing head-on collisions with tree branches and trunks.  Let’s just say that a few of us experienced more head-on collisions than we anticipated.  But hey, it’s all part of the adventure.

When you’re out hiking, be prepared for weather changes.  We experienced chilly canopies to full sun exposure to foggy, damp conditions.

When you’re out hiking, embrace nature’s beauty.  Check out this gnarly tree!

When you’re out hiking, remember to stay on the trail — the real trail, not deer trails or trails made by others who want a shortcut.  This could turn a moderate hike into one that is quite strenuous.  Oh, when you’re going downhill, remember that sliding on your behind is sometimes an option.

When you’re out hiking, remember to bring people who enjoy hiking, make you laugh, support you when you’re having difficulties on the trail and know how to deal with wild animals, like mountain lions and snakes.  We did not encounter any wild beasts, but we really worked as a team to get down the mountain.  We landed on our bottoms a few times and took some beatings from rocks and trees, but together, we all made it safely down the steep climb.  These ladies made for one heck of a wild and fun hike.  Thank you for an unforgettable hiking experience.

Hike-a-week : Back Creek/Mitchell Canyon Loop

Mount Diablo State Park

8.5 miles in 4:45:00

Rating : Moderate/Strenuous

Elevation Gain : 1,800 ft

Notes :

  • Second hike of the summer
  • Well marked trail; saw about a dozen other hikers
  • Came across two rattle snakes — freaked us out and delayed our hike a bit
  • The climb to Murchio Gap was steep (never thought it would end) and we were tempted to turn around.  Glad we didn’t.  Forged on and enjoyed the climb down.
  • I always hike with a camera but we accidentally left it at home.  It was somewhat of a liberating experience — enjoyed the freedom to admire wildflowers, butterflies, and surrounding beauty without the constraints of a lens.  I occasionally pulled out my iPhone to capture a few images for Project Life.  (Did ya the number of photos in this post?)
  • More sun than shade but the weather was awesome so it made for an enjoyable hike.
  • PB & J on multigrain bread + mango + carrots + nuts + cranberries = perfect hiking food
  • The twenty bucks I spent on a bladder turned out to be the best purchase ever.  Forget carrying water bottles in fanny packs/backpacks.  The camel pack is the way to go.
  • The map in our hiking guide lacked the necessary details for a successful hike.  We took a picture of a couple’s trail map with our iPhone to help us navigate our way to the trail head.  We did NOT get lost.  Note to self : pick up a detailed trail map at the Ranger Station before heading out for our next adventure.
  • Jewels + I agreed that rattle snakes + steep climbs definitely add to the adventure.
  • Our next hike will be on flatter terrain.  What was I thinking when I picked the first two hikes of the summer?  Both were rated strenuous + had crazy elevation gains!
  • Enjoyed a well deserved pomegranate pick-me-up smoothie at the end of the hike.

Hike-a-week : Hello Auburn.

Hello first hike of the summer.

Hello training hill.  Your steep climb kicked my butt!  For over a mile, I gasped for air with each step and took frequent breaks to rest my legs.

Hello wide open fields.  Hello beauty.

Hello sunshine.  Hello shadows.

Hello nature.

Hello fresh air.  Hello cool breeze.  Oh, how I love you so.

Our 5 mile hike was more like 8.5 miles.  We made a couple of wrong turns and had to backtrack.  (The last time my friends hiked in this area, they were lost and had to contact the ranger for rescue.  We knew better today so when we decided that we made a wrong turn, we backtracked and eventually made our way out.) At the end of the hike, we stopped at the Auburn Recreation Area office for a detailed trail map.  It will be handy for future hikes.

Summer is definitely off to a great start!  I am so grateful for summer vacation.

Weekend in the City

Saturday : May 15, 2010

Drove to San Francisco.  Traffic was a real pain once we got to Berkeley.

Stopped at Scrapbook Territory in Berkeley where I picked up some new goodies.  Love, love letter stickers.  My new favorite — the wood grain letters from Calico Studio and Cosmo Cricket.  And the Tiny Type letters, also from Cosmo Cricket, are also fabulous!

Shared a burger at Barney’s Gourmet Burgers.  The burger was alright but the sweet potato fries rocked my world.

Drove to the SF Design Center to pick up my race packet + t-shirt.  Was not impressed with the sports expo.

Paid $3.50 to park the car in the Union Square parking lot to use the restroom at Macy’s.  Since the $3.50 covered us for an hour, we decided to do a little shopping.

Met up with my brother’s boss to pick up keys to his apartment.  Hung lives in a charming apartment complex in the heart of the city where parking can be a real pain.  The lots are expensive and street parking can take anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes!  The parking spots are small, drivers are aggressive, and the traffic is horrendous.  I now remember why we don’t go to the city very often.

Perused the aisles at Timeless Treasures, a cute, quaint antique store filled with lovely vintage home furnishings and sign letters. Joan, the store owner, has been collecting vintage sign letters for 11 years and has an quite an impressive collection!

I love the combination of letters in “you rock.”

I purchased a large vintage metal highway letter “A”.  The letter, complete with the original reflectors, came from highway signs in New York.   Can’t wait to put it up in my scrap studio.

For dinner that evening, I devoured a bowl of cioppino at the Woodhouse Fish Company.

Sunday : May 16, 2010

I was up at 6:10 a.m., getting for the race.  Tried a new brand of yogurt and decided that I didn’t like it.  For breakfast, I ended up consuming a piece of chocolate, a handful of dried apricots and a serving of caramel rice crackers.

Left my brother’s apartment at 6:50 a.m. and walked two blocks to the bus stop, hoping to catch the bus to the starting line.  Waited for a few minutes at the bus stop and then realized that the buses going by are part of the express line and do not stop along the route.  I walked about 15 blocks to the starting line, amused by the vibrant display of costumes that filled the streets.

It was a chilly morning but 60,000+ people made their way to the wildest and craziest race known in America.  I found Corral D, which is close to the back of the pack, and squeezed my way through the crowd to get myself as close to the starting line as possible.  My goal was to have fun while running a decent race (preferably under 1:24:00) so I worked my way to a comfortable spot in Corral B/C.

The people behind me are in Corral D.  And that’s just the beginning of Corral D — it extends several blocks back.

The party began well before the race.  By the time I got there, thousands of people filled the streets, dancing and singing while guzzling alcoholic beverages.  There were plenty of tortillas and beach balls flying through the air, hitting people in the face and shoulder.  A ton of tortillas ended up on the ground and on the soles of our shoes.  I feel for those volunteers who signed up to clean up after.

This event is really a big celebration of humanity.  People of all ages, walks of life, sizes, and shapes filled the streets wearing vividly colored wigs, skin-tight superhero costumes, and ballerina tutus.  A team of vikings ran the race clad in horned hats and wielding plastic war axes.  A school of sharks maneuvered their way through streets with impressive fins on their heads.  The streets were filled with spectators who photographed and cheered on the runners.  Some of the spectators set up camp along the park and had parties of their own — guzzling down drinks and seeking free hugs.  I was impressed by the team of youth centipede who, in the end, left me in the dust.  Some bared it all — revealing way more than anyone wanted to see.  (OK, the running in the nude thing bothers me a little.  I mean, no one wants to see all of your body parts that are supposed to be covered up bouncing along the streets.  Plus, I really don’t need a naked body brushing up against me when I’m out for a run.)

I’ve run this race five times now and the Hayes Street Hill continues to be a challenge for me.  (This photo was taken before the hill.  I handed my camera to a walker — she walked forward as I ran backwards for this shot.  Such fun times.)

I turned on my Garmin five minutes before the race only to have it die.  Completely out of batteries!  Since I’m so used to pacing myself with the Garmin, running without it for 7+ miles was challenging.   Plus, the eye catching costumes and crazy partiers along the street guzzling beer at 8:30 in the morning kept me pretty distracted.  By not eating a good breakfast and forgetting to drink water along the way, I found myself out of fuel at mile five.  I walked more than I wanted to and resorted to eating the  sport beans in my pack to provide me the energy to finish the race.

Finished the 12 k (7.45 mi) in 1:27:40.  Not as strong of a finish as I hoped but I had a great time.

Edited (5/18): According to the official ING Bay to Breaker race results, I completed the race in 1:25:06.  Of the 60,000+ people who were out there, I was the 9,875th person to cross the finish line!  Because I was part of the first ten thousand to cross complete the race, my name appeared in the Monday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle!  Wooo hooo!!!  Must find a way to get myself a souvenir copy.