Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stebbins Cold Canyon - Hiking

Distance - 4.75 miles
Time - 4 hours
Trails - Homestead and Blue Ridge Trail

We decided to go with one of our Meetup groups to Stebbins Cold Canyon to finally check it out. It's one of those hikes that's near by but unless you know where to park, it's difficult to find. Now it seems so easy to find! lol We met up with the group in Davis at 9:00am and were on the trail by 9:30am. We started with eight but one person had to turn around when it started getting a little too difficult and two people ran on ahead at a faster speed than the bulk of us wanted to travel. It took us about 4 hours with our stops and taking a casual pace.

Here is the description listed on the Meetup:

Here is a brief description:
Stebbins Cold Canyon Trail - The full hike is a 4.75 mile loop hike up Cold Canyon and then to the Blue Ridge with spectacular views of Lake Berryessa and the surrounding area. Lots of steps and rocks. A great workout!
Length/Degree of Difficulty:
•Loop trail - 4.75 miles, strenuous, elevation gain of 1500 feet 
•Trail Condition: maintained, traihead well marked but otherwise unmarked, trailbed obvious, footing rough along ridge.

What I didn't attend closely enough to was the word "strenuous!" lol I'm not sure we would have gone had we noticed that so it was good we hadn't. The hike ended up being beautiful! There were definitely a lot of steps  to climb and rocks to shinny over but the view of Lake Berryessa and the rest of the valley below was just incredible. The sky and lake were both so blue... different shades.

We stopped quite a bit to catch our breath for photos and to take in the views. The air temp changed periodically so that it would be so hot and then we'd walk through a cool spot. At the top we even got a little chilled. That kept things pretty comfortable overall.
As usual, coming down was such a relief at first. Then that started getting painful too. Tired legs definitely make the downhill more difficult. And Bozo with her bolted together knee was enjoying this part less than any of us. Thankfully it was pretty quick and we got back to the cars. I would definitely recommend going the direction that we did. I'd rather climb up the stairs and up the bulk of the rocks going up than going down. The Blue Ridge side also seemed a little more exposed so I imagine it being very hot climbing that side.
Afterwards we headed to Winters for some beer (Bozo, Arlene, & May), a Coke (Daphne), and an iced coffee (me) along with sandwiches and wraps at Steady Eddy's Coffee House. Very good reviews on the sandwiches and the drinks.

Definitely a great hike to be done again and again... now that we know where the trailhead is!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sly Park Recreation Area - Day 2

Bozo got up around 6am to go down to the lake to reflect on her past year and to think about her next year. I stayed in bed! lol She came back to the tent and we ended up sleeping until about 9am. We got the fire started and began thinking about breakfast. Rachel and Natacha showed up around 9:30am and started getting set up in Site 64.

LJ showed up about an hour later. After settling in a little we had to figure out how to spend our one full day there. It seemed a little cold to be in the water so we decided to hike to the waterfall. Rachel stayed behind to get some work done. Boo! I know that feeling!

Trail Map for Sly Park Recreation Area
The hike was about 2.4 miles roundtrip and was beautiful. We were on the lake much of the time and then along a river that ended/began at the waterfall. There were a lot of people playing in the water and sunning near the waterfall. We put our feet in the water and it was VERY COLD! No thanks! lol It did feel good on my feet but no interested in submerging. Bozo, Natacha, and LJ walked across the river and climbed up to the waterfall. I tried to watch them but couldn't see through the trees. It looked a little dangerous from what I could see so I'm probably glad I didn't see them!

Sly Park Recreation Area Waterfall
We were a little hungry on the way back. We'd eaten a container of almonds among the four of us so that wasn't enough food. What were we thinking? We did have plenty of water so that's a good thing! Passing by one of the campsites, we saw a boy, maybe 9-years-old, who captured a gosling in a fishing net. The mother goose hissed at him and went after him and he finally let it go. But he was laughing and the woman he was in front of didn't do anything about it. LJ and Bozo talked to a ranger who happened to walking past so he went over to the campsite to speak with the boy. It's very hard to see young people doing things like that without anyone correcting them. In general, it's hard to understand people who don't value wildlife. I could go on and on but I won't.

Back at camp I think Rachel was getting a little concerned about the amount of time we were gone. We sat for a little while and then started getting things ready for dinner. Bozo had prepared chicken with vegetables and then just plain vegetables to be heated in the fire. Rachel and Natacha have a solar cooker and had been making a lentil dish all day. LJ brought meatballs and watermelon. So we had a meal with lots of variety. Natacha had also made a spreadable cheese out of cashews with no dairy. I love that stuff!

After dinner we had a cheesecake also made from cashews with no dairy. SO GOOD! They'd brought some candles for Bozo's birthday too so we got to sing Happy Birthday and then eat way too much dessert. As it started to get dark, we played a word game in which each of us would write down 5 words or phrases on 5 different pieces of paper. Then we each take a turn trying to get our team to say the word. The second round is the same words but you can only say one word to get your team to say the word. Then you can only act it out. It was actually a very fun game... made more so by our choices of words and very silly descriptions and acting.

Once it was dark, it was time to settle in around the fire and chat. The loud group above us was eerily quiet! I think perhaps others had also complained about them and assume they were warned that they would be kicked out if another complaint came in. OR... the previous night was fueled by alcohol and they were using it tonight. Either way, it was the kind of environment I prefer for camping.... QUIET!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Sly Park Recreation Area - Day 1

We left town around 2pm and made quick time up to Pollack Pines area. We did stop at a Starbucks in Placerville to grab some coffee for the evening. We were in the Sierra Spur Area of Sly Park Recreation Area in Site 63, which is a small area with sites close to and with a great view of Jenkinson Lake. The sites were a little slanted so it took some doing to get our tent in a position where we could at least sleep level. The rest of the tent was on an angle. Granted, we did use our REI "Queendom" Kingdom 6 so it's not a small tent to maneuver.

We got everything set up and Bozo pulled out the chicken fingers that she had prepared and a fresh salad. That definitely made things easier than setting up and then having to cook right away. It took us a little while to be able to relax but eventually we had the fire going and rested. We were waiting for Natacha and Rachel to get there knowing it would be a little later in the evening when they would arrive. Eventually we got a text from them that they were having car trouble and would be coming up in the morning.

The weather was perfect! It was in the low 70s when we got there and the low 40s at night. Perfect!

During our relaxation, a group above us on the hill became louder and louder. Eventually the music was so loud that they had to yell at each other to talk. I felt like I was at a bar instead of camping. Instead of hoping they would quiet down, which we often will do, I called the gate house and complained. They got to the group really quickly and things quieted down pretty well. But then through the evening people from the group would be at the bathroom near our site and would make comments. The ones I heard were, "Wah wah wah" and "Oh, those are the people that don't like us." So nothing really significant but I thought it was strange they knew who had complained. People can be vindictive so it didn't feel safe that they knew who we were. They continued to be noisy through the night off and on but nothing like the "bar scene." The best was "Shhhhh" periodically through the night. lol Oh... and these people were in their 30s! lol I guess we stereotyped and assumed they were 20-somethings. Sorry 'bout that!

Stayed up until midnight...  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOZO!

When we went to bed, I listened to my iPod to help me sleep and block out the noise. But I made the cardinal mistake regarding listening to relaxation mp3s. I had only listened to them when I couldn't sleep and felt somewhat anxious. So I had trained my brain to feel anxious and wide awake when I turned on that particular music. I switched over to the book "Blink" and with the reader's calm voice, I was asleep very quickly!