Friday, January 25, 2013

Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve

This is a great little hike relatively close to home. Lori and I have hiked here at least 30 times over the past couple of years. During the summer it is hot and dry but during the winter it is lush and green.

From: UC Davis Visitor Guide

Here is a link to the official website.

We spent a couple of hours hiking the 4.5 mile loop counter-clockwise. I find that people usually hike the loop clockwise and it is not uncommon to get stuck behind slow, oblivious groups of people. Hiking in the opposite direction keeps this to a minimum.

The day was sunny, bright and pleasant. We worked up a pretty good appetite and had a great time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mt. Tamalpais

Lori and I headed out to Mt. Tamalpais recently. It is about a two hour drive from where we live and is located just north of San Francisco. The close proximity to 'The City' means that it is very popular and can be very crowded. We went on a cool January day and there was some chance of rain forcasted.

The drive out was a bit tedious and Lori got a little carsick. She took over the driving on the windy road that leads down to Stinson Beach, where the trailhead is.

After parking and finding the beginning of the trail, we hiked up Dipsea trail. There was a small group of girls hiking behind us, they were talking so loudly that we started getting annoyed. After unsuccessfully trying to hike well ahead of them, we finally let them past and enjoyed the relative peace.

Photograph of map at half way point

There were not a lot of people on the trail compared to normal but it was still well used.

Traffic Jam at The Ladder

The rain started around 2pm and came down fairly steady. Lori had brought her rain jacket (smart) and I brought my wind jacket (not as smart). I did eventually get pretty wet on top but surprisingly my REI pants, that I bought for traveling in, were remarkably dry. I think because they are so light, that my body heat was drying them out as they got wet. I really like these pants, they very comfortable, if you want to learn more you can find them here: REI

We finished the 5 mile loop in about 2 hours and made it back to the car wet but happy.

Our belly's were reminding us that we hadn't eaten since breakfast and we were really excited to go to the Indian restaurant in Dixon on our way home. Our friend Rakesh says that this is the closest to Indian home cooking he has had in the US and we all agree that it is very tasty.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter in Yosemite

I decided to start off the New Year with a little romp in the snow. I was planning on doing a trip like this last year but due to scheduling conflicts I was never able to pull it off. Thankfully, an outing was organized by some friends over on and I decided to join them.

If you have not heard of Backpackinglight, and you are interested in backpacking, you really should check it out here.

The snowshoeing portion of the trip was for three days but I wanted to add a couple of extra days to check out the Yosemite Valley and take some photos. I generally avoid the valley because of the traffic but it is dead quiet during the winter.

El Capitan overlooking the Merced

I spent two nights in Camp4 and there were only a couple other people staying there. It was chilly, lows around 20 F but during the day it warmed up to the mid 40's and was quite pleasant. I really enjoyed walking around with my camera, taking photos and enjoying the views.

Bridalveil Falls

Twilight Bridge

On Wednesday it was quite overcast and I found it difficult to get a shot without the sky being totally overexposed. About and inch of snow fell during the night and the next morning everything was covered with a beautiful layer of fresh snow. Thursday brought mixed sun and clouds and made for a spectacular day.

Reflecting on the Merced

I cant say enough how great it was not to be surrounded by crowds of people, I think this is the best time of year to visit the Valley.

Emerging Giant
Winter Trees

The ride up to Badger Pass was slippery but the tire chains did what they were supposed to do and I arrived without trouble. I met Rick in the parking lot, we chatted while getting our gear packed and I think we were both waiting to see if anyone else would show up. There were supposed to be 7 or 8 people going in that day. With a temperature of 18, it didn't take long to break out the puffy clothing. After taking our time getting ready we decided not to wait any longer and headed out to Dewey Point.


The trail was clearly marked and we made good time, I was on snowshoes while Rick was on his skis. He looked like he was having a great time, especially on the downhills, I am definitely going to have to try skis next time.

Overlooking Dewey Point
Looking East

We made it out to Dewey point in about 2 hours, the clouds started coming in and so visibility was spotty. We found a campsite that was protected from the prevailing wind and set up. About and hour before dark, we were wondering if anyone was going to show up but we were soon joined by David, Kat, Jacob, Marc and Rick. It was great to see everybody again but it was all business until shelters were up and food was being prepared. As soon as the sun went down temperatures dropped and we all wanted to have a warm bed to lie in and warm food in our belly's.

Marc organizing in the morning

Many of us had not camped in temperatures this low before and so I think we were all curious as to how well we would sleep. Personally, I was a little nervous that what I brought would not be warm enough. My bag is an old Taiga down bag that I bought in Vancouver about 14 years ago. I cannot remember what it was rated at, maybe 15-20 but down tends to lose loft over time and 14 years is a long time. But I was warm enough, slept well and woke refreshed even thought temperatures fell to around 0. I did have some really weird dreams though, seems like that happens when I sleep at altitude.

The next day was great, sunny and clear. We were joined by the rest of the group in the early afternoon. Jack, Jeremy, Brian, Chris, another Jack. Everybody got their shelters set up and it was great to see the variety of tents and tarps that people brought with them.

We chatted, cooked food, enjoyed good company and the beautiful outdoors. I dont know if it warmed up that night or I was just better acclimatized but it didnt feel as cold. Thermometers still read a low of around 0, and if you didnt keep your water bottle in the sleeping bag or buried deep in snow, it would freeze solid.


I didnt really want to leave on Sunday but my time was up and it was time to get back home. We all hiked out in good spirits, with new friends and old. I am already looking forward to the next trip.

Hardy Folks