Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, December 2021

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #269 December 2021

Hi everyone,
Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Sorry if you’ve gotten any extra emails about our newsletters. It’s because of our change to wordpress for sending out the newsletter through my website www.susandalcorn.com We have a few more things to learn!

Contents:
#1. Three Books I Highly Recommend:
#2. “Footprints the People”— Barbara Anderson’s humorous podcast on hiking
#3. At 83, ‘Nimblewill Nomad’ Sets Record on the Appalachian Trail
#4. Camino: Train schedule (new service) Madrid to Galicia. 
#5. Andrew Skurka: Have fun while learning about backpacking from an expert
#6. Camino news: Yikes! Part of the arch at San Anton fell on a school bus
#7. The youngest calendar year triple crowners!
Regional San Francisco Bay Area:
#8.New Year’s Day Sonoma County Hike
#9. Bay Area Ridge Trail: Peninsula. Skyline College to Mussel Beach.
#10: Reminder: King Tides on coastal areas

Articles:
#1. A. Three books I can recommend: First is my Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Hikers Share Tales and Trails, which would be perfect for anyone who enjoys an inspiring, interesting, and entertaining book full of stories of adventuresome women. All of the 32 women are 45 or older—some have been “firsts” in the hiking world, all are excellent role models that have much to offer newer hikers. Link here

Heather Anderson’s latest newsletter announced that she has now received the 4th printing of her book, Thirst: 2600 miles to home. She also is offering a course in January called, “FKT 101: Basics for Planning and Completing your First Fastest Known Time Course.” Link here

From her website, “National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Heather Anderson is the only woman who has completed the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails each three times. This includes her historic Calendar Year Triple Crown hike in 2018 when she hiked all three of those trails in one March-November season, making her the first female to do so.

“She also holds the overall self-supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the Pacific Crest Trail (2013)–hiking it in 60 days, 17 hours, 12 min, which broke the previous men’s record by four days….” “She also holds the female, self-supported FKT on the Appalachian Trail (2015) in a time of 54 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes, and the Arizona Trail (2016) which she completed in 19 days, 17 hours, 9 minutes.”

Yosemite Complete Hiking Guide by Elizabeth Wenk is out! This book includes every trail in the park and many in adjacent wilderness areas—more than 1,000 miles of trail. As with the previous edition, there is a detailed introduction to the park’s natural history, human history, and of course planning material, most of it entirely rewritten. In addition, there are new maps for every hike. There are lots of new geology and biology sidebars to enhance the trail descriptions. Link here.   (Thank you, Jaunting Jan for the news!).

#2. “Footprints the People” is an entertaining podcast with Barbara Anderson (contributor to Walk, Hike, Saunter). She writes, “thought you might enjoy or possibly laugh at my interview for a British podcast on Long Distance walking….. “Footprints The People Podcast Barbara Anderson ” GOOGLE if you cannot reach Spotify. Link here.

#3. 83 year-old ‘Nimblewill Nomad’ Sets Record on the Appalachian Trail. M.J. Eberhart, better known to hikers as Nimblewill Nomad, hiked into Dalton, Mass., on Sunday, November 7 to become the oldest known person to hike the roughly 2,190-mile trail miles of trail from Georgia to Maine. 

“Eighty percent of it is mental grit,” he said. “And that is why so many people fail.” He was celebrated by many at the finish line, including former record holder “Grey Beard,” (Dale Sanders, now 86) who had held the title since 2017. Grey Beard had driven up from his home in Tennessee to walk the final miles with Nimblewill Nomad

Nimblewill Nomad did the entire hike, in sections, in one year. He actually began hiking from his home in Alabama, which is further back—doing day hikes—until he reached Georgia to jump on the AT on March 1, 2021. He averaged about 10 miles a day. He had previously completed the AT twice—1998 and 2001-2. There’s more in an article by Christine Hauser in the New York Times. Link here. 

Earl Shaffer is the first known person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one, continuous journey, which he did in 1948.

#4. Camino interest: Train schedule (new service) Madrid to Galicia. Follow the link to the schedule. The labels at the top of each train schedule can be confusing, so here are their meanings:
LMXJ — means Monday through Friday
LMXJS — Monday through Saturday
LMXJD – Monday through Friday and Sunday
diario — daily
Link to credit 

#5. Andrew Skurka Adventures: “Our 2022 trip schedule is now available. April/May: Grand Staircase-Escalante in southern Utah; May: Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado; June/July: Gates of the Arctic National Park, Brooks Range, Alaska; July: High Sierra, California; September: Olympic National Park, Washington (new for 2022); October: West Virginia during peak fall colors.”

If you aren’t acquainted with Andrew Skurka, here’s info about him: “I’m an outdoor athlete, writer, and guide. In my twenties I hiked 30,000+ miles from sea to sea, around the West, and in Alaska. Since then I started a guide …” from his website at https://andrewskurka.com

Apply for a 2022 trip starting Monday, December 13, 2021 [places will fill fast]. 
Benefit from:
“Next-level instruction. We will help you develop the skills and knowledge necessary to lead the group and to undertake similar trips of your own in the future. The learning starts months before with our Plan Like A Pro course, and continues with an extensive field curriculum.
“Expert guides. We combine extensive first-hand backpacking experience with excellent people skills, relate-able family and work lives, and a passion for teaching and for our trip locations. It’s truly an all-star team.
“World-class locations. Our venues are among my all-time favorite spots, and we know where to find spectacular scenery, refreshing swimming holes, fascinating archeological sites, blissful off-trail travel, and secluded campsites.
“Cohesive groups. We painstakingly match applicants who have similar physical abilities and outdoor experience, and we try to give each group a balance of genders, ages, and other biographical details. Our groups frequently feel like “tramilies” and plan trips together afterwards.”

#6. Camino news: Yikes! Part of the arch at San Anton (on the Francés route) fell and landed on a school bus. Luckily no one was injured. Article here.  

#7. 21-Year-Olds, Sammy Potter and Jackson Parell, Just Became the Youngest Calendar-Year Triple Crowners. To make their way through the challenges of weather, they bounced around on the three trails — over 7,000 miles of hiking that covers the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. 

They started on January 1, 2021 on the Appalachian Trail’s southern end at Springer Mountain. In February the moved over to the Continental Divide in New Mexico; they moved over to do a section of the Pacific Crest Trail headed south from Kennedy Meadows. They finished their record-setting hike on October 22, 2021. There is more to the story, which you can read at link here

Flyin’ Brian Robinson was the first person to complete a Calendar-Year Triple Crown in 2001. And, as mentioned earlier, Heather “Anish” Anderson, was the first woman to do so.

Regional Bay Area:
#8. Jack London State Historic Park First Day Hike. The park, in California’s Sonoma Valley, kicks off the new year with Ninth Annual First Day Hike – January 1, 2022.  The trek can be either a personal challenge to make it to the park summit or the first step in a commitment to a healthier new year.  Either way, it is designed for all fitness levels with guides to help hikers return to the parking lot at any time. First Day Hikes are held throughout the country, supported by America’s State Parks, and at parks statewide with California State Parks.

The hike begins at 10 a.m. and will conclude at around 2:30 p.m. The roundtrip route is eight miles long and moderately strenuous. Participants will meet in the Ranch parking lot, to the right of the park’s entrance kiosk.  The hike will be cancelled in the event of rain.

Reservations are required https://jacklondonpark.com/events/ and can be made at First Day Hike 2022 | Jack London State Historic Park (jacklondonpark.com). Tickets are $10 per person, in addition to $10 per car entry fee (up to nine passengers).  (Thank you Laurie Armstrong Gossy for the news.) Photo: Jack London’s Wolf House.

#9. Bay Area Ridge Trail. While waiting for longer days to complete the Nifty Ninety Peak Challenge, we are enjoying doing sections of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Our most recent hike was on the S.F. Peninsula in Pacifica. What a delightful segment—from Skyline College to Mussel Beach. Short as most of the sections are, but from our start at the southern end of the walk, we went through the GGNRA Milagra Park, with displays with information about the former Nike Launch site that was there during the Cold War era of the 40s and 50s, and then onward along wonderfully well-groomed trails that took us to a spiral (related to a labyrinth) with outstanding views all along. Then down the hillside to walk along the cliffs above the ocean north to the end at the picturesque Mussel Rock. It’s about 4.5 miles, but we did a bit more to see the off-trail views. Easy, going north is downhill.

#10. REMINDER: King Tides near you? “A King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides. Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is “pulled” back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits. Higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and when the Moon is at its perigee, or during specific seasons around the country.” National Ocean Service info. 

Here’s a Bay Area walk you can take with Berkeley Path Wanderers: “King Tides Walk: History and Rising Seas.” When: Sunday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. Leader: Susan Schwartz. Sea Breeze Market, 598 University Ave., Berkeley.

“During one of winter’s highest tides, enjoy a relaxed loop around Berkeley’s restored “meadow,” with short spurs. We will walk rain or shine. Dress in layers for quick-changing weather, and expect puddles, muddy or even flooded paths, and crossing a construction site. Sorry, no dogs allowed in part of the area we will cross.
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Thank you everyone; enjoy your holidays. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign” yahoo.com

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
https://www.susandalcorn.com
https://www.backpack45.com

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
Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago
We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers
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.

 

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

 
Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #264. June 2021
 
View from Berryessa Peak Trail, CA
View from Berryessa Peak Trail, CA #NiftyNinety (Ralph Alcorn)

For all its material advantage, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled.  Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten.  The open road still softly calls. Carl Sagan 
(Thanks, Marcia Powers, for reminding us of this great quotation.)

Contents:

1. Redwood SkyWalk, Eureka, CA
2. Jenner Headland Preserve
3. REI opening up more classes and events
4. Strength training and you
5. Food for thought — healthy hiking
6. No ferry across Edison Lake to Vermilion resort
7. Colour the trails
8. Update on our Nifty Ninety Peaks challenge
9. Dirty Girl Gaiters 
Read More

The Ridge Trail Beckons!

Ridges to Bridges 2021

Ridge Trail hike near Carquinez Strait

The Bay Area Ridge Trail is an ambitious goal. As envisioned, it would circumnavigate San Francisco Bay with a continuous trail — for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians — of 550 miles. Currently, 390 miles have been acquired and made available to the public. 

2021’s Ridge to Bridges
Because of precautions and restrictions due to due to COVID-19, the annual Ridge to Bridges this year is self-guided. Participants choose from “curated Ridge Trail options in 4 locations around the Bay Area” and complete their outings on their own schedule, at their own pace.
Read More

Continue reading “The Ridge Trail Beckons!”

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. 

10 Favorite S.F. Bay Area Hikes

While I certainly haven’t done every possible hike in the San Francisco Bay Area the following 10 parks and trails have yet to fail me:
1.  Mount Tamalpais State Park: Steep Ravine and Matt Davis
2Point Reyes Ntl. Seashore: Pierce Point

3. Marin County Parks: Cascade Falls
4. Marin County Parks: Mount Burdell
5. El Corte de Madera Preserve: Tafoni and more
6. Mount Diablo State Park: Mount Diablo
7. Mount Diablo State Park: Mitchell Canyon 

8. Diablo Foothills (EBParks): Diablo Foothills   
9. Sunol Regional Park: Camp Ohlone Road 
10. Coyote Hills Regional Park: Tuibun, Bayview and more 

Marin County 
Mount Tamalpais State Park: Steep Ravine & Matt Davis

7 miles round trip, elevation gain 1,781. You’ll find redwoods, waterfalls and cascading streams, wildflowers, views back toward the Pacific Ocean, and a fun ladder to climb on this hike from Stinson Beach to Pan Toll Campground and back. 

Read More

Point Reyes Ntl. Seashore: Pierce Point Trail (aka Tomales Point)

Tule Elk, Point Reyes

9.7 miles out and back, but within the first couple of miles, you are almost guaranteed to see tule elkbirds, and wildflowers, so you can shorten the hike if you wishThe views along the narrow peninsula are spectacular–Tomales Bay to the east, Bodega Bay to the north, and the Pacific Ocean on the west.

Read More

Cascade Falls, Fairfax

Cascade Falls, Eliot Nature Reserve. Marin County Parks, Fairfax. 3 miles out-and-back. Easy.  Best in winter or spring shortly after a rain, which gives the stream a boost. Delicate wildflowers in springtime. Excellent for young children and beautiful enough to be enjoyed by any age. 

The most direct and easiest trails to follow (especially if the alternative trails lead to the part of the wide stream with no bridge) are the Cascade Fire Road and the Cascade Falls Trail. 

Read More

Mount Burdell, Mount Burdell Open Space, Marin County Park, Novato.

Rainbow from Mt. Burdell, Marin County

A lovely 5.2 mile loop rated moderate.  The highest point is Mt. Burdell, which is 1,558 ft. — an 1,118 ft. elevation gain. 

Good on a mild winter or fall day, better even on a spring day when the grass is green and the wildflowers are out. Summers can be very hot and there is little shade so be prepared with plenty of water if you choose to undertake this hike on such a day.

Read More

San Mateo County

El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve, Tafoni and more, Woodside

Tafoni formation–El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve

Moderate four-mile loop using the Tafoni, Fir, El Corte de Madera Creek Trails. This lovely hike through the redwoods also has a couple of unique features. One is a commemorative marker to those who died in a plane crash here in the 1950s.  Another is the intriguing sandstone Tafoni sandstone formation, which is about 1.5 miles out from the Tafoni trailhead. 

Read More

Contra Costa County

Mount Diablo State Park: Mount Diablo, Walnut Creek

The very peak of Mt. Diablo, which is accessed from inside the Visitors’s Center

As mountains go, Mount Diablo’s summit isn’t terribly high, 3,849 feet, but it is the highest peak in the Bay Area. It also–if you pick the right day, generally in winter or early spring after rain has cleared the skies–offers outstanding views. On a clear day you can see not only the surrounding valleys and hills, but also the Sierra Nevada 135 miles to the east, Mount Lassen 185 miles to the north, and the Farallon Islands, 27 miles west of San Francisco.

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Indian Warriors in Mt. Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County

Mitchell Canyon/ Back Creek Loop,  Mount Diablo State Park, near Clayton. 

Strenuous, some hills, about 7 miles, 1700-foot elevation gain. On this beautiful hike, you’ll pass through narrow canyons, groves of  groves of Coulter pines, birding areas, rugged mountain scenery, and enjoy expansive views. In the spring, you’ll find that the shaded north exposures are alive with a succession of wildflowers. 

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Diablo Foothills Regional Trail (EBParks), Walnut Creek  

Diablo Foothills, EBParks, Contra Costa County

This challenging hike of 7 miles, elevation gain 966 feet, begins in a neighborhood. Passing into the park, you will soon enjoy walking through oak woodlands, rolling hills, rock outcroppings, and a seasonal creek.  My favorite time to do this hike is springtime–or anytime that it is not hot!

My favorite part is Pine Canyon–even though I have yet to see the resident peregrine falcons there, you can see their white guano (droppings) on the cliffs below their nests. The cliffs themselves are actually in neighboring Mount Diablo State Park and portions of other trails that enter the park from the canyon are closed seasonally to protect the nesting birds. 

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Alameda County

Camp Ohlone Road, Sunol Regional Park, Sunol. Hike to Little Yosemite

Short and sweet, this moderately-easy hike that can be extended if desired.  Approximately 3-4 miles out-and-back. Best after rain, hot in summers, but lovely anytime (just don’t expect the 2,425-foot drop of Yosemite Falls. 

The W Tree in Sunol Regional Park
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Tuibun/Chochenyo/Lizard Rock/
Bay View/Soaproot/Red Hill/Nike/Bay View again. Coyote Hills, EBParks, Fremont. 

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont 

A moderate loop of 4.77 miles that takes you on the Bayview Trail around the Coyote Hills where you’ll see the evaporating salt ponds of San Francisco Bay. You’ll also walk a marsh area–often teeming with waterfowl. and other birdlife. Coyote Hills is a unique park that sits where Alameda Creek flows into San Francisco Bay, and is considered sacred by the Ohlone Native Americans.

Read More

I hope you enjoy some of these hikes. We are very lucky to have so many great trails in the S.F. Bay Area. For more trails, check out the Nifty Ninety Peaks posts. Click here.