Monday, September 29, 2014

The Long Way

My husband and I wanted to walk down the other side of Rocky Ridge in Las Trampas. We started the climb up the parking lot side of the ridge by the Elderberry trail. We had taken that trail down from the ridge on our last hike here. While making the ascend, we came across some cows.

One of them took an interest in having a close up taken and started to come over closer to Ming. While Ming got a closer shot of the beast, I quickly went up the hill with MeeOk. I wasn't about to become best friends with 375.

Meeks wanted to pay a visit to her favorite watering hole, but I wouldn't let her since I knew she only wanted to roll in the cow pies.

Ming slowly climbed the hill ahead of us.

We made it to the top. MeeOk helped me up the very last couple of steps with a steady pull. It was her way of telling me to hurry up. Since Ming had gone around the bend, she could no longer see him and she didn't like to be left behind with me.

Once we found a spot to rest, I took a breather. I'm already tired and this was just the beginning of the long hike for the day. Yes, that is the trail that we just climbed directly behind me.

As we walked, I kept noticing the fossils in the rocks that are embedded in the trail. Signs of sea life that existed millions of years ago in this region. The hills were once a sea floor, but earthquakes have pushed that sea bed up.

I also spotted a survey marker for the boundary of Alameda and Contra Costa.

We started our descent to the other side of Rocky Ridge by the way of Devil's Hole trail. A good name for this trail since the climb down was very long with many outcropping of rocks. Some say, where the devil walked he left rocks.

As we wandered through switchbacks, we passed by numerous rocky formations.

This was the first California poppy that I have seen in years growing outside a garden. I'm so taken by the contrast of its delicate beauty next to the brownish grays and harshness of the surrounding dirt and rocks.

Somewhere down to the left of the green foliage was the trail head that led us back up out of the canyon, but at this point we were still making the descent to that trail head.

After resting at the bottom of the canyon, we started our climb up by way of Sycamore trail. I only saw California Oaks and Bay trees along Sycamore trail.

This trail was grueling. MeeOks was very patient with me. She just wanted to get back to the car.

We took a rest and viewed where we had traveled in the course of the last three hours. Somewhere down there was trail.

We kept trudging up the hill hoping that the next bend would be the junction to the ridge. Sadly, the ridge was off on the right.

I took another rest. While resting under the shade of an old oak, we drank some water that Ming carried in the Camelback. Meeks enjoyed all the water breaks that we took in the day.

We finally made it back to the top of the ridge. The rest of the trip was a 1.40 mile descent back to the car by way of the Rocky Ridge View trail. The trail heading up the hill along the ridge was the portion of the Rocky Ridge trail that we didn't take since we took the Long Way.

Totally hike was 7.38 miles, which took us 4 hours.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tolman Peak

Tolman Peak is known for the UA Flight 615 that crashed into the peak back in 1951. I have hiked a portion of the trail that takes one to the peak when my son was very young, but we never climbed to the top of the peak.

Last weekend, the gang and I made the climb to the top. Tolman Peak is just behind and to the right of Ming's head. Before we make the climb, we stop by the cattle corral that sits on land that was once part of the Dry Creek Ranch owned by the Meyer sisters of Alameda.

Meeks looks back at something that she either hears or get a whiff of, while I take note of the location of the cattle corral down below.

Meanwhile, the boys are admiring the view. Not far up ahead on the trail is the marker for the South Loop Trail. We take that trail instead of continuing up the Tolman Peak Trail that leads to the crash site.

Everything is so dry and brown on the ridge. So, I was very surprised to see these tiny plants thriving.

We make it to a spot on the peak where a bench is located. The haze and smog makes if difficult to see the bay.

As we start our descent, I point out that the green side of the next hill is covered mainly with California Oak and Bay Leaf trees. That side of the hill faces north, which is why it is more lush in vegetation since it has less exposure to the hot sun. One good way to tell north from south, just look at the vegetation on the hills.

Soon we are under a canopy of Bay Leaf trees. Meeks eagerly heads us down the trail and back to the car.

The entire loop was 4.51 miles. Next time I hike this trail, I will make the ascend from the South Fork Trail.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Doing a 360 for the Views

This past weekend my husband, MeeOk, and I took a walk along the Rocky Ridge at Las Trampas in the East Bay Parks. It's a climb to the top. I'm so out of shape that I had to stop often to catch my breath. One would think I'm climbing in the Sierras the way I was breathing going up the hill.

This was the start of the climb. Still easy going for me. My husband and Meeks had no trouble doing the climb.

I quickly got a shot of Ming as he took a brief stop in the shade. I think he was asking me how I was doing.

Once at the top of the ridge we were rewarded with views of the Bay Area. Looking east is Mt. Diablo.

Turning 180 degrees provided views west to the Bay. The marine layer of clouds were already starting to roll back in that day.

While walking along the ridge trail, we came across a small verdant patch that receives nourishment from a spring. Meeks took a lick of the water, while I cooled off in the shade of the huge California Bay Laurel.

This is what the leaves look like up close. The plant is in the same family of the Bay Leaf used in cooking. It too can be used for cooking, just a bit strong.

The surrounding area is all dry and brown, which is the normal look for the California hills in the summer. Luckily for us there was a breeze to keep us cool.

We headed south along the trail. The little oasis behind Ming is the entire bay tree.

As we walked along the trail, I noticed some lupine growing. The lupine must be getting moisture from the daily fog bank that covers the hills in the evening and then rolls out early morning.

Just before our descent, I take this shot of the views southwest. Somewhere off along the left of the path is the junction to the trail that we took back to our car.

The two mile descent along the Elderberry trail took us by a cattle trough, numerous dried up streams, and Corral Camp. I didn't get any pictures of that routine since my phone's battery was low. Here is a map of the route: Rockey Ridge View trail and Elderberry trail. Total trip was 4.59 miles.

Meeks back in car ready to head home.