Saturday, August 9, 2014

Berry Creek Falls - Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Berry Creek Falls
Berry Creek Falls Trail Run
Skyline to the Sea Trail
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Boulder Creek, California
Mileage - 10.2
Time - 1:46
AEG - 2,576 ft

Big Basin has been on my short list of places to visit while making the rounds in the bay area, and I was certainly treated to something special this morning in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Big Basin is the oldest state park in California, founded in 1902, and is home to both old and new growth coastal redwoods.  One might say that Berry Creek Falls is the main attraction in this area, and I would agree if it wasn't for the natural beauty of the trail itself. It's hard to capture everything into a single photo or even a collection of the best shots.

I began my run from the park headquarters making a quick one mile ascent on the famous Skyline to the Sea trail to the first junction. From there it was all downhill (mostly) to Berry Creek Falls.  There was a surprising amount of flow considering it hasn't rained since March. I can only imagine how it would appear after a nice rainfall. I didn't stay long as I wanted to travel further down the Skyline trail and get enough mileage in to reach ten for the day.  With all that descent in the beginning I wondered how difficult the return trip would be. The trail was gradual enough to allow me to run most of it back to the main park.  I passed numerous hikers and backpackers and the general consensus was that everyone was having a good time.  Maybe that was because they were headed downhill??  Anyways, if the opportunity arises I urge you to visit this park, it's top notch!  The entrance fee is $10 per vehicle, there is a visitors center, campground, general store, cafe, bathrooms with running water and trails of varying difficulty.  Go check it out!

Park Headquarters

Nice signage everywhere

Redwoods near Berry Creek

Redwood Trail


Monday, August 4, 2014

Freel Peak - Lake Tahoe Highpoint

Freel Peak - 10,881 ft
Freel Peak Hike
Carson Mountain Range
Humboldt National Forest
S. Lake Tahoe, California
Mileage - 10.25
AEG - 2,932 ft
Time - 4:56

After a big event like the SF marathon, I always like to take a little down time to relax and recover. By down time I mean hike the tallest peak surrounding Lake Tahoe.  I suppose we can call it active recovery, as the trail gradually rose up a slope that was drawn out over five miles to reach the top.  Well, the last section was a bit steep (1,000 feet in 1 mile), though not technical and we took it pretty slow.

I planned a weekend of hiking and camping with my sister Val and her fiance Josh, it would be their first time climbing anything of this magnitude and going above 10,000 feet.  I think it might have been the perfect way to get them started peak-bagging, though they may have high expectations after this one!  This trip had all the makings of a perfect hike; great weather, subtle elevation gain, unmatched views of Lake Tahoe and just challenging enough to feel a sense of accomplishment, though not overwhelming to the point it becomes unpleasant.

Tahoe Rim Trail
I'll let the pictures do most of the talking, I will include a trip description for those interested since there wasn't a great deal of information online.  Starting from Horse Meadow, there is a small jeep road that leads West across a stream that you'll want to follow for the first half mile until it turns into single track. Stay to the right and begin climbing a few hundred feet until you reach Armstrong Pass, which will also be the one-mile mark and the Tahoe Rim Trail intersection.  Go right towards the sign indicating Starr Lake.  From here the trail veers toward the lake and goes uphill subtly for the next 3.1 miles.  A good view of the lake finally becomes visible at the pass, though the landscape and rock formations should hold you over until then. There is a sign indicating you have one mile left to reach the peak, and the toughest section awaits.  Continue on until you're standing on the summit and enjoy the view!

Josh, Val and Boone at the TRT junction.

Freel Peak is in sight.

Enjoying the view on the summit.

Jobs Sister and Jobs Peak in the distance.