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.

Lone Hiker

Day 7, Friday, July 24, Park City, Utah

Last night, I studied the trail map and decided that I would do one last hike in Park City before departing for home.  I woke up fairly early, had a piece of Cinnamon Swirl bread from the Great Harvest (yum), packed up my waist pack and headed out for Holly’s Trail which starts at the back of The Canyons Resort.   The hike is rated as “Most Difficult” with a 900’ gain in elevation in four miles.  The clerk at the resort did not recommend the hike up, as mountain bikers tend to ride fast down Holly’s trail, but I did it anyway.


The initial climb through a dense area of tall grass and wildflowers was easy as there were many switchbacks.  There was a bit of overcast so the sun wasn’t beating down on me yet.  Hiking by yourself, you have to be more aware of your surroundings.  Because you’re not having a conversation with anyone, you notice every sound and movement in the forest.  I got used to the sounds of crickets and chirping birds, but when I came across a different sound, I’d jump.  I’d feel my heart race a little faster and panic kicks in for a brief moment until I remind myself to calm down.  Sometimes, the sounds from the motion of my pants startled me.  I’d stop every so often to make sure it was my pants and nothing else lurking around me.  I’ve seen two snakes already this week and do not want to come across another.


As I made my way up to the Red Pine Lodge, I kept wondering when the “most difficult” part of the hike would be.  I made short stops along the way to take pictures of wildflowers and admire the beauty that surrounds me.  Because it was so early in the morning, I came across only three mountain bikers.  The hike was way easier than I thought – I didn’t get run over or attacked by any animals.

About 3 miles up, I stopped at Lookout Peak where I took a short break to enjoy more of the scenery.  I was on the ground setting up a self-portrait when I heard “Would you like me to take your picture?”  Mind you, I haven’t seen or heard anyone on this hike, so the voice startled me and put me in a bit frenzy.  Where the hell did these people come from? I composed myself, took my self-portrait and then decided to let the kind gentlemen take my picture.


In about another mile, I arrived at the Red Pine Lodge, used the restroom, got my free ticket to ride the Gondola down to the base, and asked for directions/recommendations for the next part of my adventure.  At this point, I’m feeling super … feeling like I can definitely tackle my goal for today: to hike out to a spot referred to as “Ninety-nine 90”, 2.5 miles from the Red Pine Lodge with a 1800’ gain in elevation.  This hike has is rated as “Most Difficult” and because of the gain in elevation in such a short distance, I’m thinking that this second leg will be difficult.  I found my way to the Tombstone Trailhead and start the climb.  The initial ½ mile was easy.  No big deal.  And then the ascent begins.  Damn.  My legs are starting to burn and I’m breathing more heavily.  Part of this trail reminds me of the hike to Half Dome in Yosemite – lots of pine trees with very few switchbacks.  There is no one else on this trail.  I am drenched in sweat.  Every time I stop to catch my breath, flies swarm around me.  As I continue to climb, I reconsider my plan … the loose rocks make each step harder.  A bunch of What if questions cross my mind and I decide that I would turn around at the top of Tombstone (1.6 mile, 900’ from the Red Pine Lodge).  The top of Tombstone is covered with all kinds of scat and I no longer feel like I’m in the forest.  Happy with my decision to end my hike here, I take several self-portraits before making the descent.