Tag Archives: hiking

Hiking a section of the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail

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Had a great time hiking a section of the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail west of Pardee Reservoir outside of Valley Springs. Beautiful day for it – clear blue skies with hardly a cloud in the sky. I took off from the Rich Gulch Trail Access Point. From there a hiker can try out a couple of different sections of the trail. (A bit of caution for anyone driving the three miles down to the access point, the one-lane county road is in horrible shape with some of it claimed by the stream below the road. Drive with caution and reduce speeds or you might end up in the stream.) Former co-worker Alex Breitler suggested these trails and for that I thank him.

It was a little crisp at first and I hiked in shade most of the day, but I saw no one – no one – the entire time. Saw a couple of boot and dog prints, a couple of cow plops, but that was it, except for a few small birds. Very scenic and very remote for not being all that remote. Some sections of the trail were strenuous, that’s for sure, but overall enjoyable. Several steep sections – probably too few for this guy – featured stone stairs. I appreciated them.

This was the first time on an East Bay MUD trail and am sure I will return often. Ran into one of the EBMUD rangers on the way out – Ranger Greg. Nice guy with knowledge and willingness to chat. The trip was well worth the $10 annual permit fee.

This was the second hike with my Vasque Mantra 2.0 GTX shoes. I love ’em. They did great and my feet never tired. Already planning to hike the heck out of them and get another pair. Or maybe I’ll just get another pair. Also, first time with a new pack – Camelbak Francone LR 24 with 3-liter water bladder. As I normally do for a first-time hike on a new trail, I overpacked and my shoulders began to feel it by the end of the day. I think with a few adjustments to the suspension system, it will work out very nicely. All in all, very pleased.

Learn more about the trail at the EBMUD recreation site for its Sierra Foothills Trails.

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Returning to my roots – the great outdoors

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Hiking a low mountain in Maine to California redwoods

 

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir, 1901

Growing up in rural Northern Maine, I was outdoors more than in. It was the thing to do. Camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, canoeing, sailing and more in the summer.

During the winters I was still outdoors – snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing – but spent a bit more time indoors. After all, it was winter in the deep, dark North Woods of Maine and being inside was about survival. I’m not completely crazy.

Behind my childhood home on the hill overlooking Portage Lake and the small town of Portage was a now-feral hay field and beyond that was a mountain. Not much more than a hill, really, especially by the standards of the Sierra Nevada or Rocky Mountains. It was no Mount Shasta or Mount Whiney. Just a plain, low mountain, ancient and worn, and covered with soft and hardwoods. More ancient than the Sierra or even the Rockies, I seem to recall. Just worn down over time. But in my youth it was a place for adventure and play and escape, with no limits to childhood imagination.

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From that field and mountain, I imagined exploring African jungles and Australian outback. I survived and thrived on countless imaginary deserted islands and roamed the American West ridding it of outlaws. From that spot in Northern Maine, my imagination allowed me to explore the world, rescue heroines and the underdog, and rid the world of the Nazi scourge. In my imagination, at least.

But there are times to imagine and there are times to simply do. I climbed all over that mountain in my backyard and countless others over the years. After a period of aimlessness at University of Southern Maine, I went to Chico State on National Student Exchange. I went for a semester … years ago. And I simply stayed.

Chico was nicely located for outdoor activity – close to hiking, camping and water sports, big on the bicycle culture. The only thing Chico is missing is the ocean. Sea and surf and salt air would have been wonderful there. It was also close to the Sierra Nevada.

But during the first holiday weekend I was in Chico, a group of NSE students and I took a road trip in the opposite direction as the Sierra. Instead we went to Crescent City along the North Coast, stopping to hike among the towering redwoods and along stony beaches. Later I worked as a wildlife firefighter for three summers, putting me deep into the outdoors, sometimes hiking and working in protected wilderness few people get to see ever.

Landing in Vacaville after working at a series of small newspapers, Lagoon Valley Regional Park and Rockville Regional Park were good places to stretch my hiking legs. Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley was another favorite place to lace up my boots and simply walk among the trees.

Being outside and hiking have been my life.

Until a couple of years ago, that is. I combination of a knee injury and series of girlfriends who did not share my love for the outdoors limited my exploration. Even limited my adult imagination, I suppose. I did not go to the forest and mountains for far too long. I should have visited the doctor sooner to work to mend the knee and left those disinterested girlfriends behind to go to the forest and mountains. I did neither.

But time passes and knees mend. Thought of disinterested girlfriends fade quickly. I’m back to hiking. And I’m loving it again, just like I always did.

The latest hike last weekend took me to Calaveras Big Trees State Park for the South Grove Trail. And, yes, there are very big trees in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park – giant sequoias, ponderosa pines, sugar pines, incense cedars and white fir, with Pacific dogwoods, leopard lily, Hartweg’s iris, crimson columbine and more. The foliage was passed peak when I hiked the South Grove Trail and the Bradley Grove Trail, about 10 miles of hiking. But I will go back to hike a few other trails.

I plan to hike for decades to come. On the Bradley trail, I ran into two couples and they all must have been in their 80s and there they were hiking. A lifetime of activity means a life worth living.

I’m glad I’m back to hiking. It has been a part of my life since I was a small child climbing that low mountain. It’s part of me. It always was. It always will be.

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

Watch Your Step: A Hike on the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park | Trailmix, the L.L. Bean blog

L.L. Bean and Acadia National Park are truly Maine fixtures. And I’m becoming a fan of the L.L. Bean blog.

Our Employee Outing Club takes dozens of trips every year – everything from skiing and snowshoeing in the winter to hiking, paddling and camping in the summer. A recent trip took a group of L.L.Bean employees up the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park, where a steep and rocky hike led them to picturesque views of Down East Maine. The Precipice Trail is the most challenging hike in the park and only recommended for experienced hikers who aren’t afraid of heights! These L.L.Bean employees were ready for the challenge.

Read more of this entry in the L.L. Bean blog and see some great photos of Acadia National Park.

100 Classic Hikes a treat for the eyes, feet | Bangor Daily News

100 Classic Hikes a treat for the eyes, feet | Bangor Daily News

Happy Hikers | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Happy Hikers | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Fall hikes immerse you in nature’s wonders | Bangor Daily News

Fall hikes immerse you in nature’s wonders | Bangor Daily News.

European nations approve Appalachian Trail extension | Bangor Daily News

AUGUSTA, Maine — The North American leg of the International Appalachian hiking trail got a major boost Thursday as chapters in several European countries endorsed the project, which promises to become the world’s largest trail network.

Trail clubs in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, England, Ireland and Wales formally joined the International Appalachian Trail during a meeting in Aviemore, Scotland, IAT officials said.

The IAT is an extension of the Appalachian Trail, which extends from northern Maine to northern Georgia along the Appalachian Mountains. The IAT begins near Maine’s Mount Katahdin and extends through eastern Canadian provinces. Hikers can continue on the IAT by crossing the Atlantic Ocean by boat or plane and picking it up in Greenland and Iceland, IAT officials said.

“By joining, they [the international chapters] will set up a trail in their territory,” IAT geologist Walter Anderson said. “Now we have jumped the pond.”

Click for the rest of the story by Glen Adams of The Associated Press in the Bangor Daily News.

 

Pieces of Maine will turn up just about anywhere

I’m sitting in the Troke Branch Library in Stockton, Calif., using the WiFi for the continuing job search. A guy and a woman just sat down at a nearby table and he is wearing a Bar Harbor sweatshirt. It makes me homesick. Pieces of home turn up just about anywhere.

If he and the woman weren’t in a rather involved conversation, I’d ask to take a photo and post it.

There was another time not long after I first moved to California that I was wearing a T-shirt from an ice cream shop – I forget the name but I believe it was in Saco and the shop was in a railroad Cushman car. The T-shirt had an image of the railroad car and I was wearing it while hiking with friends in the redwoods. A passing hiker said, “Hey, I’ve had ice cream there!”

See, pieces of home turn up just about anywhere.

Camp!/Swim!/Hike! | DownEast.com

When Maine’s state park system was created by the legislature in 1935, it consisted of a single area of land. Since then, it has grown to more than forty diverse properties, from ocean and lake beaches to picnic areas and campgrounds to trail-laced mountains and lush forests. To celebrate the state parks’ seventy-fifth anniversary and to guide you to the place that suits your mood, here’s a play list — play as in walk, boat, swim, and splash. These suggestions are somewhat whimsical. Most parks are, after all, destinations for many different kinds of activities, not just the ones highlighted here. Find out more about an individual park’s natural features and facilities at the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands Web site, www.maine.gov/doc/parks, or call the bureau at 207-287-3821 and ask for a brochure.

Click for the rest of this piece by Virginia Wright in Down East Magazine.

Outdoor Recreation, Sports and Adventure

 Maine offers breathtaking walking and hiking opportunities in all seasons and for all levels of ability. Whether walking a sandy beach, discovering beautiful garden paths, hiking wooded or mountain trails Maine presents truly exhilarating ways to experience the great outdoors. Here’s a link to the Maine Office of Tourism website.

Outdoor Recreation, Sports and  Adventure.

On Mount Katahdin, sharing a family tradition| Bangor Daily News

On Mount Katahdin, sharing a family tradition| Bangor Daily News

Program helps Mainers become First Time Campers

First time campers relish home comforts | Lewiston Sun Journal

Raffle winner pitches first camp in Camden Hills | Bangor Daily News

To learn more about the state parks, visit the Maine Department of Conservation website at: www.maine.gov/doc.

Worth the hike, and so worth protecting | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Worth the hike, and so worth protecting | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Maine mountain trails still snow-covered | Bangor Daily News

Maine mountain trails still snow-covered – Bangor Daily News.

Keith’s ride, Part 8: So far, the road ends with a Honda CRV

[This is the eighth of eight or so blog entries on the cars and other vehicles I have driven. So far. It may or may not be of interest. Enjoy. Or not. It’s your choice. – KM]

Isn’t it always the way. You start a project and something gets in the way – job search, reading, laundry, and just plain distraction and procrastination.

I’ve been trying to finish off this series of blogs on the vehicles that I’ve driven over the years and there seems to be something in the way each time I sit down to write. I do want to finish off the series, especially since I’m so close to the end. So far, anyway.

But, frankly, I’m not sure it was worth the wait.

Despite that, here it is in all its glory.

* * *

I was disappointed when I lost the Rodeo in the crash. I liked it well enough, it was dependable, it provided some presence and power on the road compared to my previous rides, and I hadn’t been forced to spend that much time and money on maintenance and repair.

Granted, the gas mileage was not great with the Rodeo and over the years I had become more concerned with what the Rodeo and vehicles like it were doing to the environment. I was feeling guilty and a bit embarrassed that I was contributing to a problem that we can no longer ignore. Every little bit done to reduce those emissions will help.

Despite that guilt and embarrassment, I had planned to drive the Rodeo for at least another year before looking for a new ride. I had been trying to pay down some credit card bills and I wanted to direct my money toward that and not toward a new vehicle just yet.

But, alas, it was not meant to be.

Stockton’s mass transit system got me around for a couple of weeks after I lost the Rodeo, but that got old pretty quickly.

* * *

A friend in Vacaville who works with several auto dealerships there tracked down a deal for me on a lease of a 2008 Honda CRV. She had been driving an older version of the model and loved it.

I had always liked the looks of the Honda CRV and the Toyota RAV4, but I could never afford the popular vehicles. They are fairly compact, yet the driver and passengers sit fairly high for better visibility. They were both stylish and dependable, notwithstanding Toyota’s most recent cataclysmic problems.

Honda always seems to hold one of the stop spots in customer satisfaction surveys so I figured I would not be disappointed. And to this point I have not been.

Picking up the CRV was a bit bothersome, I suppose, because the dealership had limited color selection in the model I could afford. Remember, this was before the ugly economy came crashing down around all our heads. People were buying cars, especially brands like Honda, so I knew that getting the color I wanted was going to be hit-and-miss.

I waited at the dealership three hours or so after signing the paperwork, because a dealership employee had to drive to Sacramento to trade a CRV with one at a dealership there for one that was the proper color, sort of a metallic blue. The wait was worth it to get my first ever “new” vehicle. Each of my previous rides had been used vehicles.

On the good side, the dealership took care of returning my rental car, which was nice of them. And the deal was and is pretty good.

After finally getting the CRV, I drove it to my friend’s home in central Vacaville so she and her husband could give it a lookover. They liked it enough to offer me dinner. Well, they probably would have offered me dinner even if they hadn’t liked it.

I believe it was the following day that I first drove it to work and parked under the Crosstown Freeway parking structure across the street from The Record building. I was a touch nervous leaving it out there since The Record is not in the best neighborhood, but it was going to be daylight soon enough and the guard shack for The Record was just across the street.

Later that day or within in a few days – the memory fades soo quickly – we heard scanner traffic in the newsroom that the van belonging to an accused child molester had been spotted on a levy road pullout west of north Stockton, a place where local police are called often because of dumped stolen vehicles. I drove the CRV out to check out the report. It was nice to be driving my own vehicle again after having been forced to drive The Record’s fleet vehicles.

It was a nice day for a ride – sunny, but not too hot, which are rare days in California’s Central Valley in the spring, summer and fall months. Typically, the sun bakes the valley floor and those who dare to tread on it.

The reason for the ride was not so great – chasing down an accused child molester.

Every law enforcement officer and half the reporters in the county were looking for the guy. I seem to recall that someone at a nearby restaurant or a passing boater had reported the van, thinking it had been abandoned. So, it wasn’t a surprise that when I arrived there were at least a San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputy or two and an equal number of California Highway Patrol officers.

It didn’t take long to learn that the accused child molester had killed himself in his van parked in a turnout at the end of the levy road. Of course, we couldn’t see that from where the police kept the media, but that is just as well. I’m never in the hurry to see brain matter splattered all over the inside of a van.

* * *

There have been far, far more trips in the CRV that were positive and pleasant, trust me. It must have been a few weeks later that trip to the levy road that I took my first real roadtrip in the CRV. Friends and I have been going to this same campground in the Sierra Nevada for the past 20 years or so for long Memorial Day weekends. Actually, the friend who helped me get the deal on the CRV has family living in the area so she’s been going up there all her life.

For some reason, one lost from my porous memory, I was unable to make the extended part of the trip. But I figured I could drive up for at least part of a day.

I took off from Stockton much later than I had planned, which was a bit of a miscalculation since I decided to use a loop that I had mostly not driven before.

I headed out of Stockton on Highway 4, a mostly two-lane ribbon of asphalt – sorry for the cliché description of a plain, old road – and into the Sierra Nevada. Up in to the mountains and through towns such as Cooperopolis, Murphys, Arnold and the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Dorrington, Lake Alpine, and over Ebbets Pass. It is a truly beautiful winding road through some very scenic trees, mountains and valleys.

After going along the East Fork of the Carson River for a while, I turned onto state Highway 89 and up and over Monitor Pass. It is another beautiful and scenic stretch of road that goes up and over Monitor Pass into a valley where the West Walker River flows. I then took U.S. Highway 395 south – through or near places such as Coleville, Walker, Topaz Lake – to Bridgeport, a lovely and historic ranching community.

I turned onto Twin Lakes Road and to Annette’s Mono Village. The place is set back on the eastern short of the upper of two lakes. In many ways, it fits what I imagine a ’50s-style camping resort looked like, with a log cabin for a restaurant and bar, regular barbecues for guests and other family friendly events, and a place to buy bait and beer. There are areas for tent campers and various areas for campers with travel trailers and RVs, and there are lodges and motel-style rooms.

From the campsite you can hike into the Hoover Wilderness located in the Inyo and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests. Trailheads located in Virginia Creek, Green Creek, Robinson Creek, Buckeye Creek, and the Little Walker River provide access to trails within the Hoover Wilderness.

This is the U.S. Forest Service’s rather conserve description of the Hoover Wilderness:

“Bordering Yosemite National Park along the Pacific Crest and falling away to the Great Basin to the east, the Hoover Wilderness is a spectacular piece of the Sierras. Soaring peaks, glistening lakes and lush meadows are just some of its awesome spectacles. The headwaters of the East Walker River can also be found in the creeks of the Hoover Wilderness.”

It is much, much more beautiful than that.

Bodie State Historical Park, Mono Lake, and Mammoth Lakes are within easy driving from Bridgeport, as are other scenic areas.

But this roadtrip did not include hiking, visiting ghost towns, or visiting lakes, briny or otherwise. I was here for a very quick visit, but it was the trip itself that was the goal.

With a touch of envy, I hiked from the parking lot of Annette’s Mono Village to the “usual spot.” For years, we had selected the same spot to camp, one slightly uphill from restrooms and shower facilities – yeah, I know it isn’t exactly roughin’ it – in the shadows of jagged mountains and a huge dead sugar pine. That’s where I found the usual suspects and I hung out for a while visiting with friends that I usually see only on this annual trip.

But I didn’t stay too long, despite every effort by my friends to persuade me to stay overnight. I wanted to complete the loop and get back to my own bed. I had taken off from Stockton much later than I had wanted and the trip up into the Sierra had taken quite a bit longer than I had anticipated, so I needed to get back on the road.

For the return portion of the trip I turned off just shy of an old California Department of Transportation yard onto state Highway 108, also known as the Sonora Pass Highway, which took me near the U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center. I have a feeling the men and women assigned to the facility were getting a much needed and much appreciated holiday weekend barbecue – I could see the smoke and smell what had to be delicious burgers and dogs. And long lines of marines lining up for chow.

Soon after passing the base, I began the steep, winding incline. It is an incredibly beautiful, scenic and dangerous road, made more hazardous when drivers of oncoming vehicles attempt to take their half of the road from the middle, which happened several times.

But the trip through the Sierra was well worth it. There are few places quite like the Sierra Nevada for raw scenic beauty.

This leg of the trip took me through the Sonora Pass and down into or near the Sierra and Mother Lode communities of Dardanell, Wagner, Cow Creek, Bumblebee, Strawberry, Cold Springs, Long Barn, Sylvan Lodge, Mi-Wuk Village, Confidence, Twain Harte, and Sonora. Then it was onto state Highway 49 – yep, Highway 49, as in 49ers, in Mother Lode gold country – to Angels Camp and then state Highway 4 through Cooperopolis and back into Stockton. It was a long day.

* * *

I took several shorter roadtrips after that, usually involving meeting a friend for golf or simply to stretch my legs, as it were.

Those trips ended about a year ago, unfortunately. I could no longer justify the cost of such trips after I was laid off. I do so very much look forward to more trips in the future once I find a new job and get back on my feet financially.

OK, the bottom line is that the Honda CRV is not a particularly sexy ride. But it is practical, gets great gas mileage, is an ultra-low fuel emissions vehicle, and is, well, a Honda. I am happy with the CRV, at least for now.

See you on the road.

Rides of My Life … so far

Part 1: Jeep Commando

Part 2: VW Bug

Part 3: Dodge Duster

Part 4: Chevrolet Caprice Classic

Part 5: Nissan pickup

Part 6: Suzuki Sidekick

Part 7: Isuzu Rodeo

Part 8: Honda CRV

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