This blog has MOVED!

Please visit for the most updated content. All these posts and more can be found over at the new URL.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gettin' Away Part II

After the adventure with Erin went so very well, last weekend I tried it again!

I've day-hiked the Ohlone trail and ridden Farley on it in the past. In fact, I consider it part of my essential Tevis training because of it's extremely challenging elevation changes in the first 5 miles. I figured it would be a good place to do my first overnight backpacking adventure because:

1. I knew the first half of the trail I would be hiking
2. There are designated camp sites
3. Permits were required (and enforced)
4. I was unlikely to see a bear or cougar because even though the trail is very secluded, it is in the middle of the bay area.

So how did it go?

This picture was taken before the sign in. It took my 1/2 hour to go one mile.....No biggie, I *knew* the elevation changes were the worst in the first 5 miles according to my trail map and having day hiked it. AND I had checked my hiking book and this was rated a *4* for difficulty on a scale of 1-5. My hike with Erin had been rated a 3, so this wasn't going be *that* much harder right? (remember this...)

I made it to Strommer spring in one hour. Pretty good considering the climb.

Here's me looking cocky. I knew I needed to go UP to Rocky Ridge, DOWN to William's Gulch, UP UP UP big burn to Schliper's Rock (or however you spell it), and then I was golden to Maggies 1/2 acre where I would spend the night (having hiked almost 10 miles).

So it ended up that the elevation map showed only gross changes to major landmarks and failed to mention the HUGE mountains in between them......*sigh*. I would have known this had my topographic map reading skills not been a wee bit shaky.

It was hard - harder than ANYTHING I've ever done before. I found myself cursing the trail, cursing the trail maker, cursing myself for this stupid idea, and wondering if I could talk myself out of the misdemeanor if someone found me camping on the side of the road, *not* in one of the designated camp sites.

I fact, I was feeling quite sorry for myself (I was at mile 8) when I almost stepped on this:

Yep - that would be a rattlesnake. In the middle of the trail. This picture does nothing to show you the scale of this sucker. Easily the biggest rattlesnake I've ever seen - it was between 4-5 feet long and was so big around, I couldn't have put my hand around it.

It was in the middle of the trail, I was walking on the side. Since it was a wide jeep road, that was clear, I was not as diligent about my snake watching as I should have been. I was wearing shorts, walking along, feeling sorry for myself. My trekking pole was between me and snake, and I probably have it to thank for avoiding a snake bite. The snake struck at me, missing me probably because it was distracted by my pole. The pole then gave me an additional point of balance as I instinctively lunged to the side. It was a very very close call. The closest I've ever been to getting bit, as I'm usually very consciousnesses.

I finally reach the camp after 10 miles of hiking. Very very good time for a very rough 10 miles. I found myself muttering about a "4" and how I thought I was in better shape. In fact the thought that this trail was only a 4 is what kept me going - after all, it wasn't like it was a 5 or anything....

Here's where we get to jump ahead. I checked my book again after getting home after the hike, and actually this hike was a FIVE - meaning it was extremely challenging. I feel better about my "performance" after reading this, but I'm glad I didn't know it at the time. If I knew it was a 5, I probably would have spent more time resting and I really didn't have time - I wanted to get to camp in time to eat and set up before dark.

The night was uneventful and I woke up feeling surprisely fresh - especially in light of the fact I knew this was going to be a much easier trip back. When people thru hike this 30 mile trail they usually hike it the direction I would be going back, as it's considered easier.

Packed up and ready to go!

I took my time going back, taking some side trips to Murrieta Falls (all dried up this time of year), and to see one of the other campgrounds.

At one point I looked behind me and saw something following me....

I didn't know they had burros here! Just one male, with a BLM brand on his neck. He was very cute - looked more like a mule than a burro or donkey.
The trip back was 12 miles and took me ~ 5.5 hours.

A very enjoyable, if tiring weekend. I think I'm ready to see the trails from the back of a horse again.


  1. YAY MEl!!!

    Dam, you are crazy enough to ride tevis and then pack a level 5 trail 2 weeks later!? Endurance and Cross Country Skiing do it for me :)

  2. Well, I think I have reached my physical limit. I won't be doing any more level 5's (even by accident, LOL) with a 25 pound pack until I'm in much better shape or have more time to do the distance (I had planned on 5-6 hours to do 10 miles, but in reality at 4 hours I was done with the trail...I should ahve slowed down substantially and probably taken 7-8 hours).

  3. HA HA HA! Hike with you! Aiee! Gobble gobble, BONK! That was the sound of my head hitting the floor after thrashing around in panicked hysterics thinking about accidentally hiking a level 5 trail with you!

  4. Oh come on - I already told you I would gladly do the following for the chance of having a hiking partner:

    Rest breaks as often and as long as you wnant them.

    Your pace

    Your trail

    I'll even carry a heavier pack!!!!!

  5. I need to practice a couple more times...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.