September 25, 2010

Dublin Hills Hike

For the first weekend of fall we decided to go hiking. We were hoping for nice weather but it turned out to be a very warm weekend. Despite the weather forecast we decided to go to Dublin Hills for our hike. Dublin Hills is EBRPD's newest park and is located just a short drive from I-580. We parked at the Donlan Point Staging Area, which has a good sized parking lot, restrooms and picnic tables. The trailhead here is hard to miss. We started our hike on the Calaveras Ridge Regional Trail, a dirt trail. It starts off fairly flat, following along a new housing development. After half a mile we took a detour up to Donlan Point. After climbing for a quarter of a mile we reached the peak. Here we were able to see views of Dublin, the freeway and the edge of Castro Valley. We made our way back down to continue on the main trail. We could still see views of the city of Dublin from here. The rest of the trail consisted of rolling hills and remained exposed. Because of the hot weather we decided to turn around after just over a mile. We saw a few lizards and a snake. There were a few others on the trail but it was not busy by any means. After 3.25 miles total we were back at the parking lot. It was a nice easy hike, it took us about an hour and 15 minutes. We definitely plan on going back to the park, possibly for a trail run. It will be nice when the construction on the nearby housing development is done so that you don't hear the noise at the beginning of the hike and when the remaining future trails are completed.

September 11, 2010

Tracy Bean Run

On Saturday the 11th we headed to Tracy, CA for the Tracy Bean Run. The run is named for the Tracy Dry Bean Festival that happens annually in downtown. The Bean Run used to also be an annual event but hasn't happened in several years. So for 2010 the Tracy Chamber of Commerce brought it back. We parked at nearby Tracy High and walked over to city hall to pick up our race bibs. There was a very long line for both pre-registered and race day registration. They were really in need of some more volunteers. They also ran out of race t-shirts. Since this was the first year they had the event in a while they were expecting about 200 runners, but in they end they had 350. The race started about 15minutes late due to the registration line but alas we hit the streets. The 5k and 10k started at the same time and made its way through the downtown Tracy area and finished back at city hall. After the race we walked over to the Dry Bean Festival which was just getting underway. We meandered through the festival to the main stage where the race awards were to be given out. After the awards we once again walked around a bit before heading home. Currently this is the only race that takes place in Tracy. Hopefully they will do it again next year, and be prepared for an even larger number of runners.

September 4, 2010

Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton NP

While in Grand Teton National Park we decided to hike up Cascade Canyon. The hike was recommended to us by a friend and is one of the most popular trails in the park. To start the hike you need to head over to Jenny Lake. There is a visitor center at Jenny Lake, along with restrooms and a general store. There are two choices to begin the hike as the trailhead is actually across the lake from the visitor center. One of the options is to walk two miles around the southern part of the lake and the other option is to take a shuttle boat across. The shuttle boat costs $10 for a roundtrip ticket and the ride only takes about eight minutes. The shuttle operates daily from 8am to 6pm with boats leaving every 15 to 20 minutes.  We elected to take the shuttle boat across to save us from a few miles of hiking. Once across the lake we began the hike up. About half a mile into the trail we reached Hidden Falls, a pretty but small waterfall. We took our pictures and continued on. Another half mile on a very rocky trail got us to Inspiration Point. This gives a great view of Jenny Lake down below. Up to this point in the trail was the most difficult part of the hike, where most of the elevation was gained. This first mile tends to be extremely busy. The hike to Inspiration Point is the most popular hike in the park. The good news is that probably 90% of people turn around at Inspiration Point. We were of course continuing on up Cascade Canyon. From here the trail follows Cascade Creek up the canyon. The rise is very gradual and easy to hike. There are alternating sections of shade and exposed areas. The trail gave us great views of the the canyon itself. We saw small waterfalls off to one side along with great views of Teewinot Mountain and Mount Owen. We reached our turn around point which is known as Cascade Fork. From the the fork you can go to the right and travel another 2.7miles to Solitude Lake on the North Fork Cascade/Lake Solitude Trail. Going to the left would take you to Sunset Lake and to other connecting trails via the South Fork Cascade/Teton Crest Trail. We sat on the rocks at the fork to take a break, along with a few other people. For most day hikers this is the turn around spot, while there are many backpackers who pass this point and continue on. We threw our packs back on and began heading back. We didn't see much wildlife on the hike mainly just pika and a snake that we almost stepped on. Just before Inspiration Point we took a brief detour off the trail where we get a better, unobstructed view of the lake. Once we got back to Inspiration Point around one in the afternoon the area was really busy. We headed to the dock and jumped on a boat back across the lake. The out and back hike ended up being nine miles roundtrip with an elevation change of about 1100 feet and took us five hours with a 20 minute break at the fork. This was probably the easiest nine miles we have ever hiked. We definitely recommend this hike to others. Its popularity is well deserved. If you want a post hike meal head over to Dornans at Moose Junction for a pizza and beer like we did.

September 2, 2010

Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone NP

The hike to Mt. Washburn peak is the most popular dayhike in Yellowstone National Park so we couldn't visit the park without doing the hike. There are two options to start the hike, the first is to start at the trailhead on Dunraven Pass on the Grand Loop and the second is drive to Chittenden Road and start the hike from there. The trail from Chittenden road is slightly shorter and more exposed. We chose to start the hike on Dunraven Pass, which is at 8859 feet elevation. There is a parking lot there for about 20 cars and RV's, it fills up quick so its best to get there early. There is also a pit toilet. After layering up and grabbing our bear spray we headed out to the dirt trail. Most of the trail is an old road that is no longer used so it's wide in most parts. It starts with a steady climb right at the beginning. Since it was a cold morning and had been cold that last several days, there was some snow and ice scattered throughout. Going up the trail we went through several alternating sunny and shaded areas. Very soon on we could see great views of the Yellowstone Caldera. We were pleasantly surprised that we didn't have to put in too much effort before reeping the rewards of this hike, the views. After a few switchbacks we came across a group of young bighorn sheep on the cliffside. These were the first and only we saw on our trip so we took time for pictures.
A little further up the trail we saw our first pika. It was smaller than we had anticipated and after more pictures we pressed on. Mt Washburn Peak was in clear view at this point, along with the fire lookout tower. After circling around the peak on gravel trail we made it to the top. The 360 degree view at the peak was amazing. The clouds from earlier in the day had cleared. We could see Hayden Valley, Yellowstone Lake, Canyon, and nearby mountain ranges. There was a large space at the peak to take a break and eat, as we found many people doing. We joined them for our break while continuing to admire the views. We also explored the building and were able to enjoy even more views on the balcony on the second level. There was a fire lookout tower, interpretive displays, calling card pay phone, public telescope and a display of the caldera. There were also several pit toilets here that were surprisingly clean.  After about one hour we headed back down the trail. We saw the sheep again on the way down as well as a marmot. As it had warmed a bit we had to shed some of our layers.
The views were great on the way back since the sky was clear. We took more pictures on the way down and much of the snow and ice we had seen on the early part of the hike was now gone. After about 4.5 hours total we were back at the parking lot and it was nearly full. The 6.4 mile hike was great and the views were also. We can understand why this is such a popular hike. We recommend getting to the lot early and making sure you layer up for the hike as the weather can change without notice and afternoon storms are common.

September 1, 2010

September Events

Here are a few things going on in September

9/1 to 9/4 East Bay Hills Thru-Hike and Ride on Ridge Trail
9/4   10k on the Bay, 5k and 10k races at Hayward Shoreline
9/5   Run on the Sly 8 mile, Half Marathon, 20 mile and 50k trail race
9/11 Tracy Bean Run 5k and 10k races
9/11 Best Buddies Cycling Challenge from Carmel to San Simeon
9/11 Hike or Ride the Ridge Trail in Santa Cruz at the Ridge Trail Cruz
9/12 Buffalo Stampede 10mile race in Sacramento
9/12 Walnut Festival 5k and 10k races in Walnut Creek
9/12 Drag-N-Fly 5k, 10k, Half Marathon Trail race in Contra Loma
9/12 Tour de Tahoe Cylcing event around Lake Tahoe
9/18 Tracks to Trails Biking Event on the Iron Horse Trail
9/18 Back to School 5k and 10k races at Shadow Cliffs Park
9/18 Redwood Regional Park 10k, 20, 30k, 50k trail runs
9/19 Sunday Streets Bike Event in San Francisco
9/19 Aflac Iron Girl at Lake Tahoe South Shore
9/25 National Parks Fee Free Day
9/25 National Public Lands Day
9/25 Run to Break the Silence 5k in Sacramento
9/25 HERS Breast Cancer 5k, 10k races in Fremont
9/25 California Coastal Clean Up Day
9/25-9/26 Bike MS Waves to Wine Ride from San Franciso to Sonoma

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
   Bike Maintenance Basics
     9/1 Brentwood
   Car Camping Basics
     9/16 Brentwood
   Adventures in Nepal and India
     9/14 Berkeley

Elephant Back Mountain, Yellowstone NP

Our second hike in Yellowstone was Elephant Back Mountain. From the Canyon Lodge we headed over to the Elephant Back Mountain trailhead. About half a mile north of the Lake Village turnoff on the Grand Loop Road is parking for the trail with room for several cars. This hike headed right into the woods and we remained covered by the trees from the sun. The trail is a lollipop loop. After about one mile on the trail we reached the fork. We headed left to do the hike clockwise as recomeneded by the guide book that we had read the night before. The loop section is where most of the elevation of the hike is gained. After climbing up we reached the ridge at 8600ft that gave us an amazing view of Yellowstone Lake and the surrounding area. There were several logs there that provided the perfect spot to sit down and take in the scenery. We of course did just that and took several pictures. Our phones even beeped with new emails as we had cell reception atop the ridge, something we had been without during our stay in the canyon area. After our break we continued on the loop and descended. As we approached the end of the hike we were lucky enough to spot a doe and three fawns. We of course took out the camera and took several photos. They didn't seem bothered by our presence at all. We continued on and spotted a buck right before reaching the road. The hike totaled 3.5 miles with an elevation change of about 800 feet.