Schulties Road, Laurel, Redwood Lodge, Skyland Church (Los Gatos, Summit Road)

Back a few years ago, when I first started using Strava, I followed alot of local cyclists to discover interesting new routes, preferably with wide shoulders and few cars. One of those routes I spotted was Schulties Road and Redwood Lodge Road. These roads are on the Santa Cruz side of Summit Road, east of Highway 17.

It was a beautiful ride back in 2015, and it became even more interesting when the road suffered multiple mudslides during the winter of 2016-2017. They have not been repaired in 2 years, and Santa Cruz County has no immediate plans…

Here is my previous blog post, from 2015, with a few different pictures, plus Holy City: https://alpharoaming.com/2015/11/17/schulties-road-and-the-laurel-train-tunnel-los-gatos-mountains/

Bicycle up Old Santa Cruz Highway from Los Gatos, or park along Summit Road, for an easier day.

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Where Old Santa Cruz Highway meets Summit Road, you’ll see the sign, below. It politely tells you that going straight is not the way to get to Santa Cruz. Go straight!

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Head slowly down some bumpy pavement. When you get to the fork in the road, take it! (left)

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It’s closed to cars. Keep peddling, I hear banjos! There are a total of four places where the road is not passable by cars, but fine for cyclists who can carry their bike a few hundred feet.

Below is a beautiful scene, from the road, where SoCal palm trees meet NorCal redwoods and grapes.

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Another warning, before the first closure, below. The really bumpy pavement becomes packed dirt. I took it slow on my 23mm skinny tires, and it was fine/

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OK, so here you are at the first closure. An easy hike-a-bike, if it hasn’t been raining recently.

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The same closure from the other side. You can see where the slide came down the hillside. The below truck is owned by a family that is stranded between two closures…and has been for two years! Their truck takes them a short distance from their driveway to where they need to walk to get anywhere.

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The second slide I did not get a picture of, but the local residents have made a nice little log plank to make the walk easy.

After that, you’ll arrive at the former town of Laurel. It used to be timber harvesting town. It now has only a few homes, and an abandoned train tunnel, back behind that telephone pole. (Private Property.)

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In Laurel, take a left onto Redwood Gulch Road, and descend a bit more, past additional “Road Closed” signs. You’ll come across the below scene, where the road appears to dead-end into someone’s driveway. This is your third closure of the day! Walk to the right of the vehicles, behind the middle orange cone. IMG_5225

It feels like you’re walking into someone’s yard, but that’s where the road was. The steep, but clearly defined path is there, and I waived to the homeowner as I passed.

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Down, down, down you go, to the fourth closure of the day.

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Rideable with a bike, but too narrow for cars, and gated on both ends. The Private Property sign, below is puzzling, on a public road. Possibly it refers to the land to the left.

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Redwood Lodge Road is quite steep after this final slide, eventually taking you out to Soquel San Jose Road. Go down SSJ Road a bit, and turn left on Stetson Road. Dig out your navigation device, and make your way up to the historical Skyland Church. http://skylandchurch.com/ (The dinosaurs are across the street!)

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The church was built in 1891, which is quite old, in California terms! There is a bell tower in the parking lot, to the left. On the clear day I was there, Monterey Bay and the Monterey Peninsula were visible to the left of the church (below)IMG_5238

From the church, you can close your loop back to Highland Way and Summit Road, including a stop at the Summit Store’s outdoor tables. (Check out the single slice pies and cakes, next to the coffee counter!) https://www.summitgrocerystore.com/

More info: Ray Hosler’s ride on Schulties Road, in early 2017, right after the slides. https://rayhosler.com/2017/05/21/santa-cruz-county-still-digging-out-from-winter-storms/

Ray’s more recent ride, which reminded me to go again! (He always talks about Jobst Brandt. Jobst was a local local cyclist who did alot of long and interesting rides.) https://rayhosler.com/2019/04/14/two-roads-immortalized-on-jobst-rides-fading-away/

A big PDF of the church’s history, published a few decades ago: http://skylandchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Skyland-Church-the-First-Hundred-Years-Fast-Web-Searchable.pdf

If you want to see what inspired me to seek out 8 train tunnel portals, in one day, read this! (I drove from one to the other!) http://coursetrained.blogspot.com/2008/08/lost-tunnels-los-gatos-to-santa-cruz.html

My Strava track, starting and ending in front Burrell School Winery, near the Summit Store. https://www.strava.com/activities/2359880228

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Martin’s Beach (near Half Moon Bay)

Martin’s Beach is a scenic little cove, on the coast, a few miles south of Half Moon Bay. For years I have been hearing about the legal challenges to reopen beach access at Martin’s Beach, which was closed when Vinod Khosla, a wealthy Silicon Valley individual, bought the whole place and closed public access. The battle was between private property rights versus historical access and coastal access laws.IMG_4248

I’d been past the closed gate a few times, and knew that people had recently parked on Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) and walked down, without any problems. There was a break in our lengthy, wet winter, and I was itching for a bicycle ride. Over the hill I went. Up Kings Mountain Road from Woodside, where it intersects Skyline Blvd.IMG_4235

It becomes the even more peaceful “Tunitas Creek Road” on the coastal side of Skyline Blvd.IMG_4237

Just after the road flattens out, about 2 miles from the coast, is the fabulous Bike Hut! Water, coffee, tea, snacks, porta-potty, and a place to rest and maybe chat with other cyclists. The nicely restored building was a small garage or barn, with a hanging / sliding door, now painted in stripes! (My previous write-up here: https://alpharoaming.com/2014/05/05/bike-hut/ )

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Turn right when you get to the coast, and be sure you check your map. The street sign was missing. Below, the gate was open, and the “Right to Pass” sign at the top was new, and less threatening. There is an old sign below that new one…IMG_4242

It’s about 1/4 mile down the street, from the gate to the beach. Just below the public parking lot, which may try to collect $10 from you, the scenery gets beautiful!IMG_4244IMG_4245

Below is the view from the northern end of the cove, looking south. There’s about 30 modest homes and cabins of assorted “casual” architecture. I saw nobody there, and very few vehicles, on a cool weekday morning. Mostly vacation or weekend homes, I guess.IMG_4246

A nice sign, between the Bike Hut and the coastal highway. You’ll notice it heading back, but not headed westbound.IMG_4250

I was quite chilly on my final descent back into Woodside. As I stopped to warm myself a bit, I notice this photogenic dirt island, on Kings Mountain Road, highlighting how steep these roads can be!IMG_4253

That’s it! Go visit sometime. You can leave your car on Highway 1 and walk down, or drive down to the parking lot and see if there’s room and someone collecting money. I imagine it may be quite popular in the summer!

My route: https://www.strava.com/activities/2200133723/embed/14192a8cb1bc90fd1dca7b2e46af03c859b961ce

Wikipedia “Martin’s Beach dispute”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinod_Khosla#Martins_Beach_dispute

Yelp, with more pictures: https://www.yelp.com/biz/martins-beach-half-moon-bay

Surfrider Foundation, with a bunch of historical legal news links at bottom: https://www.surfrider.org/priority-campaigns/open-martins-beach

October 1, 2018: Supreme Court refuses to hear his appeal. CASE CLOSED! https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Supreme-Court-refuses-to-take-up-Martins-Beach-13271592.php

THE END!

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Cataract Falls @ Mt Tamalpais (in the rain)

A brief post to freshen-up my blog. My last post was about 2 months ago, and this hike was quite fun!

A little circle of friends was talking about climbing Mt Tam, to the summit, for the Northern California Sixpack of Peaks Challenge. https://sixpackofpeaks.com/norcal/ When rain appeared in the forecast, the hike shrunk into something more manageable, with waterfalls..and fewer intrepid hikers.

How did I plan this and how did I get there? I was chauffered in a new Tesla Model 3, to the trailhead, with no planning whatsoever. (Thanks, Sam!)

Somewhere north of the Golden Gate Bridge, we hiked:

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Water, and more water!

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Sorry…not my usual blog post quality. (Actually, I’m not sorry! I want to post the photos and don’t have much of a story to tell.) If you’re pressed for time, just do the first few miles (CCW direction), then go back the way you came. The best part generally is the first few miles. Enjoy!

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American Heritage Museum (Collings Foundation)

Back around 2000 I heard whispers, on the internet, of a collection of military tanks in nearby Portola Valley at the “Pony Tracks Ranch”. It was not open to the public, but some groups were getting private tours. I tracked down a few crumbs of information on the internet, and left a telephone message to ask if the Studebaker Club could have a tour. (Yes, I own a 1963 Studebaker convertible that my grandfather bought new. I rode in it when I was a baby!)

Jacques Littlefield, the billionaire with one of the best collections of “toys” in the world, promptly called me back, and we were in! We had an amazing tour, led by Jacques himself, of his huge collection of about 200 tanks. It also included his restoration shop with Russian-language manuals, a (very serious) hoist to lift the turret off a tank, and other such exotic tools to restore these beasts to full operating condition.

Fast forward a few years, Jacques passes-away at a relatively young ago of cancer, and his wife wants the stuff outta there! His “Military Vehicle Technology Foundation”, with a group of loyal members, is disbanded and the collection went to auction.

A quick overview of the former collection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfPRdmXCKXI and one of many longer YouTube videos of the former collection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWU0AsxOQiQ

Fortunately, the same awesome Collings Foundation, which has a WW2 warplane tour every year, stepped up and bought the best parts of the collection. It was all trucked to the Boston suburbs, and beautifully presented in this new building!

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Just inside the front door, it honors Jacques:

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Below is the address and website, should you wish to plan a visit! (Note they are in a “pre-opening” phase right now in late 2018, with very limited hours.)

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Jacques’ space in Portola Valley, was a massive garage, in the hills above Silicon Valley. Below is what you see upon entering the new space:

(A few items are not from Jacques’ collection, including 2 airplanes and the amphibious landing craft at lower-right below (PA45-18). It was purchased from a fisherman in Normandy who had still been using it since the Americans left it behind in 1945…)

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Some really rare stuff, sorted by military campaign or theater.

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Heavy on German and American armor, there is a little bit of Soviet hardware, too! (The signs explaining what each item is have not been added yet. “Coming soon”!)

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Below is one of two SCUD Missile Launchers that Jacques owned. This one has Iraqi markings. (Jacques told me a great story of how his first one was hung-up in Customs at the Port of San Francisco for a very long time. He had to document that it was not capable of operating if it was going to be in private hands. The second one he bought went right through!)

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The exhibits do not discuss winners and losers, and right versus wrong. The goal is to preserve the lethal hardware, and present it in a historical context.

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My favorite quote of Jacques’, which explains his fascination of these machines, I saved from the defunct website of the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation:

“For me, the important part of the tanks is understanding the industrial know-how that allowed them to be built, and then document those findings. There may not be much appreciation for them now, but hopefully after I’m gone people will look back and say, ‘Thank God he saved these historical vehicles instead of just letting them rust away and disappear forever.”

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The large camouflaged tank, below, to the right of the Soviet tank, was Jacques’ prized German “Panther”. It spent 70 years at the bottom of a river in Poland. Jacques acquired it, and restored it to operating condition! (Here is the restored Maybach V-12, being fired-up for the first time. Jacques is the bald guy, to the rear https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VZQVLQAk94 )

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All of the tanks have had their barrels cut and reattached so as to make them incapable of firing properly. Jacques used to hold an Open House every year for his neighbors and law enforcement. He knew his hobby was unusual, and he knew his neighbors did a double-take every time there was a new “toy” being trucked thru the neighborhood. Opening the gates and letting them look around was a really good idea!

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Where did he get these? Well, just like old warplanes, they are sold to collectors by small countries who often use them for many years after the original countries have moved on to newer stuff. Some the items are a bit trickier. The first SCUD Missile launcher was from, I think, the Czech Republic when the Soviets pulled-out. The second one was left when the Iraqis were pushed out of Kuwait.

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One of his other stories that I recall, was hearing of a vintage WW2 American tank that was owned by a warlord in Bosnia, back in the 1990s. He sent someone there, with a big wad of cash and said “buy it”! Due to the fragmented war in the former Yugoslavia, it was quite a task. It included paying-off other warlords to allow the tank to pass thru their territories, on the way to the port.

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The below German tracked troop carrier is huge! The top of the grille is about 7 feet off the ground.

IMG_2935Many of my pictures are from the elevated walkway. You’re also able to walk to within a few feet of each tank, on the lower level, and look at it closely. They have plans to keep at least some of them operational and take them outside for public events.

Should you decide to visit, be sure to check their hours and days at https://www.americanheritagemuseum.org/ I believe they are now closed until April 2019, when they will have their formal Grand Opening.

Here is a link to the Collings Foundation’s annual magazine, with discussion of both the tanks and their aircraft: https://issuu.com/collingsfoundation/docs/2018-collings-foundation-annual-mag?e=35563074/65926028 The aircraft collection is quickly expanding, as well. New additions include an iconic twin-tailed P-38 Lightning, an F-4 Phantom, and a 1914 Curtiss.

Enjoy your visit, and tip your hat to the memory of Jacques, who did indeed create a collection that is like nothing else.

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Ugh! Let’s do it again! Mount Sizer (Henry W. Coe State Park)

Back in August, I saw a post on the Henry W. Coe State Park Facebook page, asking about doing Mt Sizer. The first bit of advice was NOT IN AUGUST. After answering some questions, we decided to do gather a few friends and do it in October! So it began…three of my friends, and two new ones I hadn’t met yet, arriving at the Henry Coe HQ parking lot at 8AM in mid-October. (I also planned to do this hike before the end of 2018, to qualify for the “SixPack of Peaks” challenge https://sixpackofpeaks.com/#howitworks so setting a date was a helpful motivator!)

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It was my 10th time doing Mt Sizer (once with a loaded 60 pound bicycle https://alpharoaming.com/2013/10/05/bikepacking-henry-coe-state-park-day-1/) My three friends had all done it before. It’s a challenge every time…especially since we were experiencing a heatwave that day. It was forecast to be 85F in Morgan Hill, and likely a little more on the ridges of the park. One friend bailed-out due to the weather, and one woke up with a headache (really…?)

First stop: Frog Lake! (Yes, somebody drained the swamp.)

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After peering over the edge, down into the valley, where the “Shortcut” is, we went down…to the bottom. We spent a few minutes discussing how dry it was. I looked a few feet downstream, where I had seen hundreds of hibernating ladybugs in the past. That spot was empty, but we did see a few random ones flying around.

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OK, check your clocks, and record your uphill “creek-to-bench” (C2B) time. It’s about 1500 vertical feet, over ~1.2 miles. (A Geocacher started measuring his C2B time, so others now do too. I also use it to record my 9 prior visits: https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GCFD2F )

The picture below, unlike most, really does show how steep the road is.

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Finally…THE BENCH! My time was “acceptable”, being 3rd out of 6 in the group, and because my “hiking mojo” has been low for the past year, or so. My lungs were not complaining, like they usually do…it was my legs this time!

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I actually didn’t take a picture of “the summit”, as it’s not much more than a bump on Blue Ridge. The scattered pine trees on the ridge provided a little shade!

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Looking down a side road, to the east, from near the summit: (That’s me, on the road, looking like part of the tree trunk!)

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After awhile, we turned right onto the Jackass Trail, and headed downhill to Poverty Flats, where we would experience our second big climb of the day.

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The fall foliage was in full color! (This being the dreaded Poison Oak!)

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We paused for a bit at Poverty Flats, but not long…we calculated that we’d be running out of daylight. Up we go!

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Below is a park sign, at a trail intersection. We’re still about a mile from park HQ and our cars.

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That’s it! About 18 miles and 4000 vertical feet, over the course of 11 hours.

Strava GPS track: https://www.strava.com/activities/1917472612

Aerial flyover: https://www.relive.cc/view/1917472612

Facebook link, with photos: https://www.facebook.com/phunti/videos/10155962862946376/

Additional info from a friend, who hiked it awhile back: http://calipidder.com/wp/listing/henry-coe-mount-sizer/

I didn’t take many pictures myself. Many of these photos were used, with permission, from www.DryFJ.com and Sam D. Thanks!

THE END!

 

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Alleghany, CA – Jeeping to a Gold Mine!

A few weeks back, I again visited the heart of the northern Mother Lode, including Alleghany. With a posted population of 58, I was told it’s more like 20 year-round residents. 18 miles up a lonely ridge from Highway 49, I visited a retired Silicon Valley engineer who first started coming here on weekends about 50 years ago!

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The town includes this building, below, which has a part-time Post Office on the right, and the Underground Gold Miner’s Museum on the left http://www.undergroundgold.com/ (open occasionally…)

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There’s also Casey’s Place, which is a circa-1890 bar and restaurant. That, too, is pretty quiet. https://www.yelp.com/biz/caseys-place-alleghany

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Last, but not least, there’s the Volunteer Fire Department, with my friend’s Jeep in front. He’s also the “radio guy” for the Fire Department, being from Silicon Valley, and all that…

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There are several historical and/or operational mines in the area. The “Sixteen to One Mine” is the oldest hard rock mine in America, founded in 1896. http://www.origsix.com/

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There’s also the Ruby Mine, (currently For Sale https://www.rubymine.com/ ) which is still producing, and the Plumbago mine, which we’re going to see, as we hop in the Jeep, and descend 2000 feet to the bottom of the canyon!

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Below, is the bottom of the first canyon, at Kanaka Creek, near the Ophir Mine.

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Those red roofs, below, are buildings at the lower Plumbago Mine. I was told that a few years back, the place was cleaned-up reeaaallll nice, just before they helicoptered some deep-pocketed investors to look around.

My friend was also part of the first crew to use metal detectors in the old Plumbago tunnels. They found $1 million in two days, though the mine owners got almost all of that!

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Down we go, even more…it’s a shelf road, built for mules! I only took photos on the easy parts. I was not holding a camera on the more exciting parts of the road!

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Finally…we reach the bottom of the canyon, where Wolf Creek joins the Middle Fork of the Yuba River. The cabin, below, was built in ~1925, using wood strips from an abandoned redwood flume from the 1880’s. (Flumes carried water downhill, often for many miles, to be used in large-scale sluicing operations.)

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Below, is the roof of the cabin. My friend stabilized the old structure, about 20 years ago, and lived in it for awhile.

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I should have taken more pictures, but I didn’t…the river and creek are quite scenic and peaceful. It’s not recommended to go into the canyon alone, though. The road is rough, and there bears and a few odd characters that live in the canyon, at their claims.. If you go to the town of Alleghany, call ahead and see when Casey’s and/or the Museum are open.

Also consider a small side-trip to Forest City. They took $200 Million in gold out of the ground in about 10 years. The town had 1000 people at one time, and the mine tunnel included an underground steam locomotive (cough! cough!) Today, it’s a crumbling historic Dance Hall, plus a few homes. It’s also a Registered Historic District. https://www.sierranevadageotourism.org/content/forest-city-national-register-historic-district/siee4a502e56807fbb36

The End!

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Peter’s Creek Grove @ Portola Redwoods State Park

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Entry sign, before the Visitor’s Center

I haven’t organized a group hike in awhile. Partly due to other things going on, and partly because I’m running out of good ideas. It was forecast to be over 95F, and I had some friends interested in Peter’s Creek Grove, so…let’s go to the redwoods, where it should be cooler!

We made the deceptively long drive, west from I-280 on Page Mill Road, over Skyline, then the long descent into park HQ. We planned on it being a bit cooler, and it was! (Park website: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=539 Park brochure and small map: https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/539/files/PortolaRedwoodsWeb2016.pdf

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Image from the sign at HQ

It was warming quickly, which reminded me of a prior hike closeby, on a warm day. It was to the natural crude oil seep in “Tarwater Creek”. On a warm day, it was evaporating and giving off a smell. An easy hike for another time! https://alpharoaming.com/2013/08/31/up-from-the-ground/

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A bit of a warning, at Slate Creek Trail Camp, when turning north

A bit after the left turn at Slate Creek Trail Camp, your next interesting stop is at a 1941 Buick Super Sport Coupe! It’s a few feet off the trail, to the right, at N 37° 16.033 W 122° 11.382 (If you’re a Geocacher, the details are here: https://coord.info/GC4NG8J

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A burned-out shell, leaning against a younger tree

7 of us eventually made it down into the Grove, and near the water, the temperature dropped considerably! And yes, we saw trees!

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“lookee that big tree”

These trees are some of the only virgin redwoods in the area. They did not meet their fate at the nearby “Page Mill”. Page Mill was a shingle cutting operation, owned by “Mr. Page”. The more famous Page Mill Road was his route from the mill to the port, on San Francisco Bay, from where he shipped his shingles.

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Crossing Peter’s Creek, with a huge tree and root ball behind us

Heading out of the grove, one of our group noticed this very active wasp nest. I went the closest, for a picture, but I moved very slowly and carefully!

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Yes, a real wasp nest, with alot of activity on the right side

A very thoughtful friend brought a 22oz beer to share, but we had to improvise for cups!

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Water bottles + pocket knife = drinking cups!

That’s it! Have fun…oh, there was alot of poison oak! Here’s our Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/1658000109

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