Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, April 2021

Prime Hiking Season is HERE!
 
Indian Warrior
 
Question for you hikers out there: Why is everyone exhausted on April 1? 
 
Because we just finished a 31-day March. (Thank you, I guess, Distractify.com)
 
In case you wondered, there wasn’t a March issue of this newsletter; I needed the extra time for hiking in order to see the wildflowers emerging. Don’t miss out on this prime hiking season!
 
Contents:
1Treeline reviews and backpacking gear list
2. Grand to Grand Ultra
3. Anish’s podcast on her newest book, Mud, Rocks, Blazes. Interviewed by Jennifer Pharr Davis
4. Film screening and Q&A of Wesley “Crusher” Trimble’s short film, “Within Weakness.” 
5. New edition Sierra South by Elizabeth Wenk  
6. Ivar reports from Santiago weekly’ the March 22nd report had hopeful news.
7. Marcy del Clements new book of poetry and prose about Appalachia.
8. Regional: California: Tom Courtney suggests a California Walkabout
9. Regional: Northern California: Envision ‘The Great Redwood Trail’ 
10. Regional: SF Bay Area: Bay Trail: Osprey and the Lone Tree Point Bridge Installation.
11. Regional: SF Bay Area Ridge Trail: Ridge to Bridges. 
 
Articles:
#1. Treeline Review. I am a fan of Treeline. I know that the founders, Naomi Hudetz and Liz Thomas, started the company (in large part) to help others choose gear wisely. They don’t take advertising and they recruit other hikers to give honest reviews. So I expect that their 2021 PCT Gear list will be well vetted. There is so much useful information for hikers here in their “PCT Strategy & Gear List for 2021”! https://preview.tinyurl.com/y7ggb4ka
 
#2. Grand to Grand Ultra: Looking for an extreme challenge? Check this out: Grand Canyon, USA. September 19 – 25, 2021. Self-Supported Foot race, 6 stages, 7 days, 171 miles (275 km). “Aloha and howdy! As we reflect on the past year and our need to cancel three races, we wanted to reconnect with everyone and let you know that we continue to plan ahead for G2G 2021. The vaccine roll-out gives us hope that things will get back closer to normal by the summer and that governments will institute protocols to keep everyone safe while permitting us to do the things we love.
 
“Whilst we can see difficulty in holding mass participation events, particularly indoors, we are hopeful that our stage races will fit the bill for safe, organized outdoor activities. We have been busy developing and updating our own Covid-19 protocol to keep all our participants, staff and volunteers safe.
Registration is currently open for:  Grand to Grand Ultra. Be sure to check out the cancellation Policy – Covid-19.” https://g2gultra.com/g2g-homepage?idU=7 
 
#3. The book launch of Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail, by Heather “Anish” Anderson, was held virtually on March 25, 2021. Heather: “Everything looks a bit different this time around. In 2019 I was honored to give a presentation for the Mountaineers at their sold-out clubhouse event BeWild as the book launch for my first book, Thirst. While I miss the energy of the in-person events, I’m excited for the virtual book launch of my newest book Mud, Rock, Blazes.” 
 
The book launch was facilitated by Mountaineers Books and hosted by Jennifer Pharr Davis. It was co-sponsored by REI and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. You can listen to the podcast here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6agii56uLKI&t=38s
 
In case you haven’t followed what incredible accomplishments Heather has achieved, here is a partial list: In 2013, she set the unsupported speed record (no one bringing her food, etc. while on the trail) on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon and Washington. 
 
In September 2015, Heather broke the unsupported speed record on the 2,180-mile-long Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Maine to Georgia. Anderson completed the entirely self-supported thru-hike in 54 days, 7 hours and 48 minutes. 
 
She has received the ‘Calendar Year Triple Crown” after becoming the first woman to hike the entirety of the Continental Divide, Appalachian and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trails in one calendar year (in 2018.) 
 
You can also follow Anish on Instagram (@AnishHikes). 
 
#4. Treeline Review did a film screening and Q&A of Wesley “Crusher” Trimble’s short film, “Within Weakness.” A blurb about the film, “Cerebral palsy hinders Wesley Trimble’s strength and coordination on the right side of his body, but it hasn’t thwarted his goal to climb all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. Along the way he discovered great strength within weakness, though tragedy taught him these adventures could cost him everything.” Here is the link to watch his film in HD. 
 
Wesley asked Treeline to share Disabled Hikers as a resource for anyone interested in learning more about how to advocate for great accessibility in the outdoors. “
 
#5. New edition Sierra South by Elizabeth Wenk. The consensus is that it is worth it to get this updated guidebook from Wilderness Press. On PCT forum, Ethan wrote, “Over 100 pages added to each volume with GPS coordinates for everything.  Routes verified and changed where time has shifted things. Details about recent fires. More details about side trips, geology, plants.” 
 
#6. Ivar reports from Santiago weekly. This is from March 22, 2021, and is more encouraging news than we’ve heard for a while. Click here
 
#7. Shinrin-Yoku by Marcy del Clements. Marcy writes that she has a new book with her poetry and prose based on her travels. “It’s an anthology of all my work printed in Appalachia, since the early 90’s.” The flyer is here; to reserve a copy send message to editor, pdhowe2@gmail.com  
 
Marcy, my long-time readers may remember, was one of the amazing backpacking women featured in my “We’re in the Mountain Not Over the Hill.” https://tinyurl.com/Marcyflyer
 
Regional: S. F Bay Area and Beyond
#8. Highlight: California. Tom Courtney has two Inn to Inn Hiking Guides: Walkabout Northern California and Walkabout Malibu to MexicoLink here.
Walkabout Northern California: Hiking Inn to Inn includes:  The Marin Coast; The Mendocino Coast; Crossing the Sierras on the Emigrant Trail; San Francisco to Half Moon Bay; Lassen Volcanic Park; Point Reyes National Seashore; Tahoe Basin; Monterey Bay; Lost Coast Circumtambulation; Sierra Foothills; Carquinez Straits.
 
Walkabout Malibu to Mexico includes: Exploring the Malibu Coast; Santa Monica to Santa Catalina; Santa Catalina to Newport Beach; Newport Beach to San Clemente; San Clemente to Oceanside; Oceanside to La Jolla; La Jolla to Mexico
 
Tom writes: “Is it Safe to Hike from Inn-to-Inn?
For most of us, the trails feel like the safest place these days.  Most hikers wear masks and distance when they approach others and a breeze cleanses the air.  Inns and B&Bs have added safety measures.  Here are some suggestions for a safe inn-to-inn hike:  Check lodging websites for safety protocols.  Contact your innkeeper or host for more details.  Ask about dining options – outdoor, takeout, delivery, and preparing meals yourself.  Bring hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.”
 
Featured to the north: Spring Inn-to-Inn Hikes: Walkabout the Marin Coast. Hike the coastal bluffs and forests of America’s western edge.  This moderate 41-mile, 4-day Walkabout starts in Marin Headlands and hikes to Point Reyes National Seashore.  The trail passes through three coastal hamlets: Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, and Bolinas, each offering interesting inns and wonderful cuisine.  Walk the trails of the Coast Miwok and a stretch of California’s wild and beautiful coast right at the doorstep of the San Francisco Bay Area.”  
 
Featured to the south: Oceanside to La Jolla:
Hike a gorgeous stretch of the Southern California Coast on this three-day, 28 mile adventure.  You will join scores of beach lovers on lively, popular strands, then hike long, secluded beaches.  Savor a stroll on miles of pristine beach under the 300-foot cliffs of Torrey Pines State Park.  Hike the rugged bluffs of La Jolla Peninsula.  Enjoy long days hiking along and swimming in the wild and beautiful Pacific.”
  
9. Regional: Northern California. Lisa Hettler-Smith is keeping us up to date on the progress to create ‘The Great Redwood Trail.’ In a recent virtual event, State Senator Mike McGuire asked everyone in his remote audience to close their eyes and “Imagine a strip of land roughly 50 feet wide and running for 320 miles, from the edge of the San Francisco Bay in Marin County through the vineyards of Sonoma County, showcasing the stunning beauty of Mendocino County through the redwood- and oak-studded hills of the Eel River Canyon, and then you’re gonna end your hiking adventure on the fog-shrouded shores of Humboldt Bay.” link here.
 
10. S.F. Bay Area: Osprey AND Bay Trail. “Just a few weeks ago, on February 18, Rosie completed her annual migration and returned to the Point Potrero’s Whirley Crane to reunite with her endearingly quirky mate Richmond, an event greeted with jubilation by the thousands of fans who follow the couple’s adventures on the Golden Gate Audubon Osprey Cam at sfbayospreys.org
 
“Richmond is one of just a few Ospreys around the Bay who don’t migrate in the fall. Instead he stays close to his namesake town for carefree winters of fishing on the Bay, paying occasional visits to the nest site while awaiting his mate’s return. This year’s reunion marked the start of Rosie and Richmond’s fifth season of nesting together at the Whirley Crane. The pair have fledged ten chicks since 2017, all banded for identification, and at least two of those banded offspring have been seen around the Bay after their own first return migrations.”
 
And on the Bay Trail: “A new bridge completing a 4-mile stretch of the SF Bay Trail from Lone Tree Point in Rodeo to Wilson Point in Pinole was installed in early March.” 
 
“This trail will eventually connect to the future Hercules Intermodal Transit Station. When the final SF Bay Trail gap from Pt. Pinole to Wilson Point in Richmond is completed, this stretch of trail will run 30 miles from Rodeo to Oakland.” The project is expected to be completed in summer 2021.”
 
#11. SF Bay Area Regional: Registration for the “Ridge to Bridge” fund-raising event and challenge for the Bay Area Ridge Trail is now beginning. Member can sign up today; April 12 for the general public. The self-guided events will take place over many weeks: April 1 to June 5, 2021.  
 
“What is Ridge to Bridges (and how is it different from past years)? Ridge to Bridges 2021 is a self-guided trail event for hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians. Choose your own DIY adventure! Register here. 
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Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent—and I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community.  
 
Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn 
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
Author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago. 
 
Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.
To subscribe, unsubscribe, or send a message to this (almost) monthly newsletter, please email Susan at backpack45 “at sign” yahoo.com

 

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, January 2021

“Hope, sanity, compassion, thoughtfulness, health, recovery — it’s time to WELCOME 2021!”  Couldn’t say it any better than how friend Katie Williams recently posted it on Facebook!

The trails await — though many are muddy!
Alviso Slough Trail (near San Jose, CA)

Contents:

1. The “New” Cathedral in Santiago
2. Pacific Crest Trail — time to apply for permits coming up soon!
3. Bay Nature: “What’s it like inside a Woodrat Nest?
Regional, SF Bay Area:
4. Bay Trail extension coming to Richmond, CA
5. The Alcorns explore new and old local hiking trails
6. Two rewarding hiking challenges for you

Articles:
#1. The “New” Cathedral in Santiago: Big happenings in Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral is open to the public again. Ivar, who hosts a Camino forum and manages the Casa Ivar in Santiago, has also been doing a weekly podcast about what’s happening pilgrimage-wise in Santiago. He recently took a walk through the cathedral and gave us a look at the restoration of what he calls the “New” Cathedral. Have a look here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2sSUoL8tDk&feature=youtu.be 

And in further good news, we learn that the Holy Door has been opened and the Holy Year has begun. 2021 is a Holy Year, but because of COVID-19, the pope has expanded the definition and the “year” now continues through 2022. Very good news for those who will not be able to walk the Camino, or otherwise visit the Cathedral this year, but might be able to next. Ivar wrote, “As you might have seen, we will also have a holy year in 2022, so no hurry. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/pope-agrees-2022-also-a-holy-year.69116/ 
 
Another resource for keeping up with what’s open and what the conditions are on the pilgrimage trails and in Santiago, go to American Pilgrims.org
 
#2. Pacific Crest Trail Permits: Very good news! It appears that the USDA Forest Service and Pacific Crest Trail are going to issue permits for PCT hikes of 500+ continuous miles of the trail this year. You’ll be able to apply online starting on Jan. 19, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time.
 
There is a great deal of other important information on the PCTA website. The site also asks hikers to consider whether it is wise to hike the trail during this period when COVID-19 is still very much with us. Link here
 
Springtime in Section A of the PCT.

Northbound permits for trips starting anywhere from the PCT Southern Terminus at the Mexican border to Sonora Pass will be issued at normal levels of 50 permits per day from March 1 through May 31. Southbound permits for trips starting from the Northern Terminus will be issued at normal levels of 15 per day June 15 — September 15. 
 
If you are on Facebook, you’ll find a lot of information on the PCT Section Hikers group moderated by Jaunting Jan. If you are eager to have good information on the John Muir Trail, look at Inga Aksamit’s Facebook group. She administers the group and the site does a great job of explaining the often confusing rules and regulations of the JMT permitting process, etc. 
 
#3. Bay Nature: “What’s it like inside a Woodrat Nest? When recently walking around our nearby Lafayette Reservoir, a friend and I were talking about wood rat nests, which can be seen from the popular walking trail. So, when I saw this recent article in Bay Nature, I was pleased to learn something new about these cute critters. 
 
Pack rats are also known as wood rats, and even trade rats. I knew that the nests were commonly used for generations (some have been documented at being used for 60 years or more.). And this time of year, when most nearby lower-growing vegetation is bare, it is pretty easy to spot their homes —3-6 feet high, up to eight feet wide, and made of branches, bark, and grasses—but also sometimes wires, glass, and author Michael Ellis adds, old shoes. 
 
Compartments and trading:
I was also intrigued to learn that rats’ homes have compartments—separate chambers for giving birth, sleeping, and pooping. I was also intrigued to learn that the things that they swipe from humans—as disparate items as shoes, jewelry, and gum wrappers—may end up being woven into their homes’ walls. The “trader rat” moniker is appropriate because sometimes they may be carrying home one shiny object, encounter one it finds more appealing, and trade.
 
Rats are one of the few mammals that can eat the leaves of toyon. The toyon leaves are highly toxic to humans and most other animals because they contain cyanide compounds. But the packrats store the leaves in one of their many pantries until the leeching process breaks down the toxic ingredients, which makes the leaves safe for them to consume! (From Bay Nature, Winter 2021. Michael Ellis.) 
 
#4. Regional, SF Bay Area:
Friends of the Bay Trail in Richmond shares great news. The City of Richmond and East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) have been awarded $2.2 million for building 2.5 miles of Bay Trail along the shoreline from the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Trail to the northern border of the City’s Point Molate property at Stenmark Drive. For details, see the CA Natural Resources Agency press release below about award of these Prop. 68 Recreational Trails & Greenways program grants.
 
These grants complete funding for construction of this $6.5 million project when combined with Plan Bay Area Priority Conservation Area grants of $2.2 million, EBRPD funds from Measures CC, FF & WW, and funds provided to the City by Chevron in 2009 as settlement of litigation over underpayment of utility user taxes. EBRPD has funded design plans now at the 65% preliminary stage, approved a Mitigated Negative Declaration under CEQA and applied for the major permits required. Construction should be completed by the end of 2021.
 
This will be more than a multi-use trail. It will provide the first public access to this shoreline, other than Point Molate Beach Park, since the Huichin tribe of Ohlone dwelled on this stretch of San Francisco Bay shoreline. The first mile of trail from the RSR Bridge will follow a shoreline easement granted by Chevron to EBRPD, while the remaining 1.5 miles will be on the City’s Point Molate property. Click here for more news.
 
#5. The Alcorns explore new and old local hiking trails: Like I’m sure many or most of you, we have not been traveling afar recently. However, we are blessed with a good range of hiking trails throughout the region. The EBRegional Parks District (across the bay from San Francisco) is the largest urban regional park district in the US. 
 
Whenever I consider the options we have, due to the individuals, informal groups, environmental organizations, and governmental agencies that have fought to safeguard our open spaces, I marvel at the vision and tenacity displayed. Beyond that, it has been the public as well as private donors who have funded our wealth of recreational sites. 
 
In December, we hiked primarily in wetland areas — Coyote Hills Regional and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Fremont), Arrowhead Marsh/Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional (Oakland); Corte Madera Marsh; Alviso Flood Plain (near San Jose) — because this is bird migration time. We also watched, a couple of times, a murmuration, an incredible display by tens of thousands of starlings swooping and weaving incredible patterns in the sky before they landed in nearby eucalyptus trees at dusk. 
 
Murmuration (starlings) in San Rafael, CA

#6. Two of the 2021 hiking challenges in the Bay Area
#PixInParks Challenge. Santa Clara County Park System. Complete all seven featured hikes and get a tee shirt of bandana. Parkhere.org 

#Trail Challenge 2021. East Bay Regional Parks. There are twenty featured trails, you choose whichever ones you want to compete and “to complete the challenge, hike five of the 20 trails – or 26.2 miles of trails within East Bay Regional Park District.”
 
The “twenty featured trails are now available on the AllTrails app. First download the free app, sign-up and log in, then go to https://www.alltrails.com/lists/ebrpd-trails-challenge-2021 and click on “Copy to my lists”, followed by “Continue in App”. The featured trails will show under ‘Lists’ in ‘Plan’. The app indicates where you are on the trail, enabling easy return to the trail if you stray from it. You can also record your hikes, and share your photos, comments etc. with others.” More info here. 
 
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Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent—and I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community.  
Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn 
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
 
Author: Walk, Hike, Saunter, which is now available in both print and Kindle versions!  
Also: Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago. All are available in both paperback and Kindle versions.  
 
Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.
 
To subscribe, unsubscribe, or send message to this (almost) monthly newsletter, please send a message to Susan at backpack45 “at sign” @yahoo.com

Bills Hill at Henry Coe State Park

Bills Hill at Henry Coe State Park
 

FINALLY we were able to tackle a new Nifty Ninety Peak. And it was great fun! The peaks in Henry Coe have posed, and continue to pose, a challenge to us for several reasons. They are all rated as difficult. Most of the trails are steep and long.

Timing can be tricky. Spring can be beautiful with wildflowers galore, but the trails can be slippery and water crossings difficult. Summer days can easily hit 100 or more and water sources can be limited. Fall is usually great, but wildfires become a concern. Winter temperatures often drop below freezing. 

And even though Henry Coe is the largest state park in Northern California, it is more than 1.5 hours from us. Some of the trailheads are even farther, and not all of peaks are accessible from the same entrances. 

But the first week of December, Ralph and I decided to scout out Bills Hill. I, for one, couldn’t stand waiting any longer to resume the Nifty Ninety challenge. We entered at the Hunting Hollow entrance (about 10 miles east of Gilroy, CA) and parked in the large, unpaved parking area. We then took the Hunting Hollow Trail out through the valley for about two miles. 

We initially missed the turnoff to the Bills Hill’s narrow dirt trail. The large pile of rocks that had indicated the turn at one time had been scattered. Ralph rebuilt the cairn and then we turned to head back to our car. We wanted to come back when our hiking buddies — Tom Coroneos and Patricia Schaffarczyk — could come with us.

‘Scouting’ has its rewards
Though this was not the day to hike to the peak, it did have some peak moments. On the way in, we were stopped dead in our tracks when we spotted a bobcat in a large grassy field. At first the cat was crouched next to the entrance of a squirrel’s tunnel. Then it casually walked through the short, tan grass to the far end of the football-sized field and disappeared into the scrubby brush.


Bobcat in Henry Coe SP

On the way back out,near an old, weather-beaten windmill pumping water into a nearby tank, we saw the largest covey of California Quail we’d ever been lucky enough to see. We  estimated 60-80 of these tufted, handsomely feathered birds. They were running about peeping, whistling, calling, and making their barking alarm sounds. (Click here for a good display: “The California Quail” by Peter Steuart. Click here.) 

When we got back to the dirt parking area, I got to talking with another hiker who was returning from a hike to another Coe peak — Willson’s. He had done Bills Hill previously so I asked him about it. “It requires some scrambling,” he said. 

In the week that followed, I kicked myself for not asking for clarification. How much scrambling? Did he mean the whole distance, or did he mean the last 20 feet to the peak? It had been so long since we had done a hike rated as difficult that I wasn’t sure if I could do it. The question about the scrambling bothered me as well as reading that there was lots of poison oak and ticks. 

Later we climbed the last leg of the route to Bills Hill using the fire road.

Finally...
we set a date and Tom and Patricia were enthusiastic. Per the COVID-19 restrictions at the time, we drove in different cars, wore our masks or distanced depending on what was appropriate. We couldn’t have picked a better day. This is a park that can be brutally hot in summer, freezing in winter. This day it was 50s and 60s — perfect for an ambitious hike. 

We set out again on the Hunters Hollow Trail and then turned right onto the Bills Hills Trail (the rock cairn was still there). We had to duck under a few low oak tree branches, but it was easy to follow the trail — for a while. It helped that there were green or pink ribbons indicating the trail from time to time.

Where did it go?
And then, with Patricia in the lead, we ran out of trail. She continued ahead, descended several feet into a steep canyon, but then came to a stop. We considered the cross-country ascent that would be required on the far side. This could NOT be right! Maybe the others could have climbed up the other side, but I doubted that I could. 

We backtracked, looked around, and saw that far off to the right was a barbed-wire fence. We decided to follow it up the hill. And sure enough the plastic trail ribbons once again began to appear. The trail was moderately steep and I was very glad I had my hiking poles — especially along the stretches where the trail was covered with a couple of inches of leaves.

We tried to avoid the thin, bare branches that hung over the trail — not able to determine which were poison oak and which were other scrub. We never did see any sign of ticks. 

Ralph holds the wire while Tom crawls under.

We reached Osos Ridge

From Osos Ridge, we could see Bills Hill a short distance to the south. Our narrow trail continued along to our left (south), but we had read that the barbed wire fence just ahead of us was not the park’s boundary. It was still park property, not private, making it was legal to crawl under the fence to follow the wide dirt fire road south to Bills Hill. Trail ribbons confirmed our choice. 

With our goal in sight, we followed the undulating road and made the last steep ascent to the summit — a flat, rather bare area except for a few oak trees bent over time by the wind. In the spring the area would likely be covered with bright  grasses and wildflowers and on a clear day it would offer extensive views to such regional peaks as Pinnacles, Mount Umunhum, and Mount Hamilton.

But this day it was hazy, and we didn’t care a bit — we were quite content basking in the bit of sunshine we found, eating our well-earned lunches, and taking photos. Ralph and I were very happy that we had checked #80 off our list of challenging Nifty Ninety Peaks.

Coming back down the hill went quickly. We tied some plastic ribbons to mark the turn in the trail that we hadn’t seen when we went up. In a few places we slowed to search for bare dirt to walk on rather than slippery leaves, but it went without incident. Back on Hunting Hollow, Tom and Patricia were again in the lead and they managed to see the bobcat where Ralph and I had seen it previously.

Hiked Dec. 6, 2020. Approx. 7.5 miles rt.

Taste Testing at Kelly Brewing Company

Patricia and Tom get the sampler.

As has been our custom after our hike, we looked for a brewery on the way back home. A stop in Morgan Hill at Kelly Brewing Company for beer accompanied by pizza from the food truck out front hit the spot. It happened to be the final day that outdoor dining was allowed before another of the COVID-19 shutdowns in the SF Bay Area. So, another perfect day on the trail — and at a brewpub!

Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails

Fields of lupine

My new book, “Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails” will be published this fall.

For years, I have thought about writing a new book about women hikers; Covid 19 and its restrictions has helped it come to pass. It’s not that I wanted to be told to shelter-in-place, or to have to cancel exciting travel plans, but at least this time has provided an opportunity to do something creative at home. 

Walk, Hike, Saunter…
is for hikers, especially women, who are looking for motivation, encouragement, information, and inspiration to put on their trail shoes and get on hiking trails here and abroad. It features the contributions of thirty-two wise women, all 45 years of age or greater, who share their sometimes humorous, occasionally frightening, always open stories of the joy walking brings to their lives.

How and where—the sharing begins
They tell where they hike, and how they keep going when things get tough. The stories they tell are the ones they would share at hiker gatherings and around a campfire (if time and circumstances allow).

There’s more to come!
We’ll soon be posting more details about the book here—in particular the names of some of the women who are included. If you are active in the long-distance hiking community, you’ll recognize several because of their extraordinary feats—such as earning the Triple Crown Award for completing the Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest Trails.

However, there’s something for all hikers
Walk, Hike, Saunter is for anyone who hikes—whether in their neighborhood, on the paths in their local parks, or along long-distance trails in the U.S. or abroad.

This has been a wonderful project for me because of all the generous and accomplished women I have been able to work with—hearing their stories has been inspiring—and helped me stay (somewhat) sane during these trying times.

I am very excited that we at Shepherd Canyon Books will soon be able to share Walk, Hike, Saunter with readers.

Cheers, 
Susan Alcorn

 

Gratitude for our trails

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Sunol Regional Park, Alameda County, CA

Here in the S.F. Bay Area, the days have been so mild with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s, it’s hard to believe that it’s almost Thanksgiving. However, when it starts getting dark at 5 PM, and colder, we realize we have to work a bit harder to fit hikes into our shorter daytime hours.

This reminds me that I have much to appreciate about where I live, why I try to support environmental causes, and how grateful I am for the thousands of people here who work to protect our environment.

Sunol Regional Park, Alameda County, CA

In particular, I am reminded of the importance of the regional parklands around me, which…

  • provide hundreds of miles of trails that I can hike. 
  • bring ever-changing displays of flowers, trees, and other plants. 
  • have quiet places to clear my head and exercise my body.
  • inspire my writing and photography with its scenic beauty.
  • support wildlife—from ladybugs covering entire branches; herons stalking their prey; hawks soaring overhead; flickers hammering cavities in tree branches to build their nests.  
  • offer the opportunity to gain perspective on our place on this earth.
  • allow free, or inexpensive, visits to all who want to come. 

And, people are instrumental in what happens…

  • by envisioning the setting aside of parcels of land to create parklands.
  • when they work to acquire properties that would otherwise turn into developments.
  • by volunteering to help with fund-raising, to interface with the public at the kiosks and gift shops, and by organizing work parties for weed control.
  • when they become park employees that build fences and picnic tables, clear out invasive plants, repair storm damaged trails and roadways, and educate park visitors. 
  • by voting in tax measures to support and improve our parks

Galen Rowell, photographer, climber, author (1940-2002) in  Bay Area Wild: A Celebration of the Natural Heritage of the San Francisco Bay Area wrote,  “The San Francisco Bay Area holds the most extensive system of wild greenbelts in the nation, with more than 200 parks and other protected areas lying within forty miles of the city.”

We are truly blessed to live here.