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|Cumulative climbing:||520 feet|
Low Tide Beach Walk, December 22, 2019 - I almost did not do this event. The forecast was for rain, and I was comfortable at my desk working through my "to do" list when I received an email from Anna Lynch offering to carpool over the hill if I could get myself to her mother's house where she was spending the weekend. The idea of driving over the hill myself during a storm was not appealing, but Anna's invitation was just enough to prompt me to action.
I called Anna to confirm that I would join her and her mom in the carpool, and then got my hiking things together. Then just as I got out the door a wet shower passed overhead, and it poured rain. "Well, it will be an adventure," I thought.
When we arrived at New Brighton Beach, the roads were dry, and Alice and Ron were right behind us. Shortly after we arrived, Dave, Paula, and Delton arrived, and then Karen, John, and Mac.
We started with the exciting part, the low-tide walk at the base of the cliffs. Today's low tide was only barely below average, leaving little dry land between the sea and the cliff. More than once we found ourselves scrambling for higher rocks as the surf roared in, and in several spots we had to time the wave action to get past an obstacle.
Near the start while crossing Tannery Creek the group got separated from Anna and Katie, who was having trouble crossing the stream either by jumping across a narrow but swiftly-moving channel or by balancing herself on partially-submerged rocks in the stream slightly uphill. Katie also hadn't changed into shoes more appropriate for walking on uneven terrain.
Anna and Katie would return to their car to get better shoes and to find a support stick that would make traversing the cliff bottom easier. I regretted that I hadn't brought my own hiking sticks that I knew would make this part of the hike easier.
Following a brief discussion we decided to return along the cliff top rather than hazard the return trip at the base of the cliff. I called Anna's phone and left a message not to expect to see us returning the same way and to return with her mom the way they had come if they weren't yet half-way to Capitola.
A couple minutes later as we were starting toward the Capitola Stairs, my phone rang. Anna and Katie were about 10 minutes from Capitola, so we decided to wait for them back at the benches. Ten minutes was a tad optimistic, but soon we were all together.
We took a second group photo with everyone before starting again for the Capitola Stairs. From the top of the stairs we walked along Grand Avenue and would have taken the footpath that continues between Oakland and Hollister Avenues if the path itself hadn't already been partially-claimed by the sea. We took neighborhood streets eventually to Escalona Drive where Dave had recalled a footpath leading to the railroad tracks on the opposite side of Escalona Creek.
We eventually found the footpath and made our way across the muddy channel to Grove Lane and then onto a trail that was perched at the edge of the cliff top. We stopped for a final group photo before continuing along the muddy, crumbling cliff top, then along the railroad tracks for a short distance before dropping down to the parking area for New Brighton Beach.
After saying our goodbyes to Dave and Paula the rest of us continued on a short out-and-back beach walk as far as Borregas Creek to the south. Borregas Creek had cut a channel directly between the pilings of the last two houses on Los Olas Drive. As we returned north along the beach we were treated to a beautiful sunset behind the clouds to the west.
After our walk we enjoyed a hearty dinner at Dharma's before returning home.
|Cumulative climbing:||1950 feet|
Sunol Regional Wilderness, August 10, 2019 - Our primary goal for the day was to traverse the approximately one-mile segment of the W-Tree Rock Scramble between Jacobs Valley on Camp Ohlone Road and McCorkle Trail.
We started from the main trailhead of this East Bay Regional Park off Geary Road, then started on the Canyon View Trail that quickly climbed a few hundred feet above the canyon, offering a nice view of the canyon. Along this trail we encountered several parties of hikers.
After cresting a ridge the Canyon View Trail descended gradually to Camp Ohlone Road, losing little elevation as it headed southeast. Eventually we came out onto the road and continued a short distance before encountering the aptly-named W-Tree, marking the start of our scramble.
At first a well-worn use trail started up the west bank of the seasonal creek bed, now dry. But, a short distance from the W-Tree the trail disappeared into the creek bed, and our scramble began.
The scramble was like a dry creek-walk. Most of the way was Class 2. At a few spots one required some care to avoid poison oak, and at a few other spots we paused to consider the easiest way over or around a taller obstacle. In a few places some Class 3 moves were required.
Where a large leap was required there was usually a way around that allowed for smaller steps. Since this was our first scramble of the year our bodies were not accustomed to the muscle workout required to pull us up over boulders and past chock-stones. So we usually sought the easiest path past an obstacle rather than the most challenging. None of us wished to tire quickly and weaken to the point where we might not be able to continue.
Progress was slow, but we enjoyed the route-finding puzzle and the adventure of finding a new problem to solve around the next bend of the creek-bed. Temperatures were warm but somewhat humid, making some of the more extreme moves uncomfortable because our pants were sticking to our legs.
About half-way up we encountered cow-patties in the dry creek-bed, and I noticed a cattle trail heading up the east bank. I made a mental note of this, should we be forced to retreat. We could probably exit the creek-bed at this point and make our way cross-country to the nearest parallel trail, the Backpack Road about 0.4km to the east, saving ourselves the time and trouble of scrambling all the way down to Camp Ohlone Road.
All was going pleasantly until we got about 3/4 of the way up the scramble only to encounter a 20-foot high dry waterfall. At first there appeared to be no easy way past this wall.
While I was busy examining the water course for possible hand and foot holds, Stella found a way up one of the boulders that got her most of the way up the east side of the waterfall. The west side was a high cliff that looked impossible.
Frank followed her up the boulder to search for a route around the waterfall. Two or three routes looked possible. The first of these squeezed through an opening beneath a small chockstone. It would require removing our packs. But according to Frank the opening was tight. The second involved climbing atop a pointed boulder behind the lower one Frank and Stella had climbed from the bottom of the waterfall. Frank was unsure he could down-climb this second boulder should we find the way blocked further up stream, so he didn't attempt the maneuver. The third involved climbing smaller steps over some penstemon plants that were growing on a narrow flake next to the waterfall itself. This last route appeared to be the easiest technically, but a slip could send one tumbling down the face of the waterfall.
We decided not to risk either of these on this trip as we were all getting weary. So, we retreated to the spot I had seen the cow-patties, then climbed out of the canyon, following a cattle trail over a ridge just north of a volcanic pinnacle (that might itself make for an interesting climb on a future trip) and down to the Backpack Road.
We hiked up Backpack Road to McCorkle Trail and then paused for a late lunch where the trail crossed the W-Tree Rock Scramble creek bed. After lunch we decided to explore the upper end of the scramble below McCorkle Trail that we had missed.
We started down the scramble, encountering a few Class 3 problems, but nothing too challenging. It wasn't long before we arrived at the top of the waterfall. From this upper vantage point I could see that the "tunnel" route under the chockstone Frank proposed earlier was indeed quite a squeeze. I imagined myself getting stuck in the narrow opening. The chockstone looked small enough to be removed to enlarge the opening. But, that sort of "route gardening" is frowned-upon in wilderness areas. The climb up the backside of the pointy boulder did not appear to have good hand/foot holds, but the climb up the flake next to the waterfall looked do-able if scary. The hardest part of that route appeared to be mental: ignoring the sheer drop to one's left while climbing.
Our lunch break had given us some energy but not more time. We also felt that our muscles had enough to carry us back up the scramble to our lunch spot but not enough to try any of the extreme moves necessary to get us past the crux of this route either up or down, so we decided to save traversing it for another visit when we were fresher and in better shape for scrambling.
We were satisfied we had now seen the entire lower segment of the scramble, and we knew that the waterfall was The Crux of this route, there being no other major obstacles along the route.
We returned up the creek bed and soon found ourselves at our lunch spot. We turned left on McCorkle Trail and continued as far as Cerro Este Road onto which we turned right.
I hadn't studied the route profile in detail before our hike. Perhaps if I had not confused "Cerro" with "Caballo" I might have expected a relentless climb instead of the frequent passing of four-footed beasts.
When we arrived at Cerro Este Overlook, I was happy to find a commodious bench. We all sat there for several minutes to enjoy the view and the cool breeze. At this point due to weariness and the late hour we decided to return to the start via the shortest route rather than to continue our full planned route out to Vista Grande and Flag Hill.
We continued on Cave Rocks Road to Indian Joe Creek Trail that we descended as far as the trail that cuts over to Hayfield Road. We finished our descent on Hayfield Road that deposited us a near the trailhead.
That evening and the next day I reacquainted myself with Ibuprofen.
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