January 16, 2011

Mt. Diablo Hike - Falls Trail

It had rained a bit during the week so we decided to go check out Falls Trail at Mt. Diablo State Park, hoping to get a good view of the falls. The trailhead for this hike is at the Northeastern corner of the park, on Regency Drive in Clayton. There is very limited parking here as it is basically a dead end street in a residential area.  There were quite a few cars when we got there in the morning but there was still room to park. It was a busy trailhead with people coming and going. We walked down the hill to the dirt path leading into the park. Just past a metal gate the path split into two, we took the one to the left towards Donner Canyon Road. It was a wide fire road. We got to some mud soon after but it was manageable. The trail quickly climbed and it did so for the rest of the first half of the hike. We hit several other muddy spots with some of them encompassing the whole width of the road. Still, not too bad for a January hike. As we kept climbing in the mud we couldn't help but think about the hiking poles we had left at home, would probably bring them next time. The trail followed close to Donner Creek and as we passed a few junctions on our ascent we kept on the fire road.
The fire road is also open to bikers and equestrians, although we didn't see either on our way up. As we climbed we got better and better views of Mt. Diablo summit. Looking back we also got great views of Donner Canyon on this clear sunny day. Eventually the road ended at Cardinet Junction where we turned left onto Cardinet Oaks Road. Here the trail descended a bit before we had to cross a creek. The water was several inches deep and a hiking pole would have been handy here too. After the creek crossing and a few switchbacks we made our way to Falls Trail. At this point the road narrowed significantly, just wide enough for a single person.

After a short way on this hillside path we were able to see the falls in the distance. Although small, it was good to hear and see the rushing water. As we descended a bit we got closer to the falls. After several pictures and a break we continued on.

 Crossing the creek again led us to a few more falls, although smaller than the first. The path took us uphill then downhill again and as we stopped to take a picture of a small creek we noticed we were surrounded by thousands of ladybugs. They were on the ground, in the shrubs, mossy rocks, pine cones and trees. Had we not stopped for a picture we would have easily missed them. We had never seen anything like this before. Mesmerized by the large number of them, we took our time watching and capturing shots of the ladybugs before moving on.

Again we followed the path uphill before turning right onto Middle Trail. Middle Trail was narrow as well but the vegetation was much taller than on Falls Trail so views were obscured. After about half a mile we turned right on Meridian Ridge Road which delivered us back to the wide Donner Canyon Road. Thankful to be going downhill we retraced our steps on the fire road. We noticed that the mud had dried a bit and there were several more people out enjoying the trail compared to when we had last been on the road. We did encounter a couple of bikers on our way back to the trailhead. As we got back to our car there were cars waiting for a spot to be vacated. As busy as it seemed now, we were glad we had arrived in the morning. The total hike was about 5.5 miles long and took us up (and back down) 1200 feet. It took us just over three hours, which included a lengthy stop at the waterfalls and at the ladybug area.

January 12, 2011

Hood to Coast

Last night we headed to the movies for the special one night showing of the movie Hood to Coast. The documentary is about the annual Hood to Coast relay race in Oregon. The event is a 197 mile relay race from Oregon's Mt. Hood to the beach in Seaside, Oregon. Teams consist of 12 runners who each run 3 legs varying in distance from 3 to 8 miles. Hood to Coast is the largest relay in the country with 1000 teams each year. HTC was started by Bob Foote in 1982 and has been run every year since. The movie focuses on 4 teams and their journeys to conquer the race. From a team of beginning runners to a team of veterans who run the race every year. A team of women over 50 whose one member collapsed and nearly died doing the race the year prior and a team who runs in memory of a family member and friend who suddenly died the prior year. The movie is full of emotion, humor and inspiration.  The movie is great and I recommend everyone see it. These stories had me wanting to register for HTC as soon as I could get home. If you live in the bay area and don't want to have to head to Oregon there are similar relays close to home. "The Relay" happens at the beginning of every May and runs from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. The Ragnar relay will put on its first Nor Cal race in September running from SF to Calistoga. Now I'm off to find some teammates.

Hood to Coast Race
Hood to Coast Movie
The Relay
Ragnar Relay: Napa Valley

January 2, 2011

New Years Run

My first race of the year and my first trail race ever was the Brazen New Years Run at Lake Chabot Regional Park. There were 5k, 10k and half marathon races, being my first trail race I ran the 5k.  Entry fee into the park was $5 but there was plenty of street parking just outside of the park if you were willing to walk. Race entry fee included chip timing, race t-shirt, finishers medal and post race snacks. There was also an option for $5 off the entry fee to opt out of a t-shirt. There were park restrooms near the start/finish and two portapotties but more would have been helpful. The weather was less than ideal but what was to be expected for a New Years run, wet and cold. There was a ten minute delay for all race starts for reasons I never learned bout. All three courses started on a muddy grass area and then quickly onto a paved trail. The 5k was an out and back course on the East Shore Trail. With the exception of the start and finish, the route was completely paved. There were some rolling hills that could definitely slow you down but not bad for what I expected at a trail race, although I did overhear that this course did not have as much elevation change as typical trail races. There was one aid station for the 5k, just before the turnaround point. Luckily the rain stayed away while I was on the course. Once finished I was given my finishers medal and headed to the snacks. There was no shortage of food including fruit, bagels, coffee, hot chocolate, water, cookies, candy, etc. Age group medals could be picked up from the awards table once results were up so that was a plus. The course was good, weather was what I expected and the race piqued my interest in doing more trail running.

Brazen Racing

January Events

Here are a few things going on in January

1/2    Brazen New Years 5k, 10k, Half Marathon races at Lake Chabot
1/8    Winter Trails Day at Kirkwood
1/8    Andrew's Run for the Children 5k in Modesto
1/9    California 10 in Stockton, 10k and 10 mile races
1/11  Hood to Coast movie, one night only showing
1/18  Registration opens for EBRPD's 2011 Trails Challenge
1/22  St. Joseph's Run for Wellness 5k in Stockton
1/29  Coyote Hills 5k, 10k, Half Marathon races
1/29 Galt 4th Annual Winter Bird Festival

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Snowshoeing Basics
    1/11 Fremont
    1/11 SF
    1/12 Concord
    1/13 Santa Rosa
    1/13 Mountain View
    1/19 San Carlos
    1/24 Saratoga
    1/25 Berkeley
  Learn How to Tune and Wax Your Skis/Snowboard
    1/3 Saratoga
    1/5 Concord
    1/11 Berkeley
    1/12 San Carlos
    1/13 Brentwood
    1/20 Mountain View
    1/25 Fremont
    1/26 San Francisco

REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
    1/1 San Francisco
    1/15 Berkeley
    1/15 Corte Madera
    1/22 Saratoga