A Chill in the Air: White Sierra & El Corte de Madera

A chill was in the air here in Silicon Valley this week, unlike any I’d felt since spring. The lack of light coming through the curtains, at my normal wake-up time, told me that summer is passing.

On thursday evening I sent out my periodic “here’s my hiking plan, please join me” e-mail to about 20 friends. I can’t plan much more in advance than that, and I usually get about 4 others to join me.

At 9AM on sunday we met at the “CM08” gate of El Corte de Madera Open Space, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. (General info: http://www.openspace.org/preserves/el-corte-de-madera-creek Trail Map: http://www.openspace.org/sites/default/files/map_ECDM.pdf

It was chilly! A few weeks back I connected with White Sierra, a local outdoor clothing company. They provided me a few complimentary items for evaluation, including convertible zip-off hiking pants and a flannel shirt. They’d been sitting at home, waiting for an opportunity to try them out. In the summer I usually wear shorts and a long sleeve runner’s shirt. On this day, I was glad I brought the warm stuff!

Off into the beautiful redwoods the 6 of us went. (Did you notice the three people on the left, studying the ground? Yup…Geocachers! https://www.geocaching.com )


The park is quite popular with mountain bikers, as all the trails are open to bikes and nicely graded (and quite steep!) All the cyclists we encountered were careful and polite. We even had a good conversation with a few of them, as three of us in the group also ride mountain bikes.

Below, you’ll notice three people who couldn’t seem to stay on the bridge. Yup! They’re called “trolls” and there’s a cache under there somewhere.

If you’re not familiar with this area, notice the stately old redwood stump on the right. Most of the redwood forests around here were clear-cut around 100 years ago, particularly after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, when there was a huge need to rebuild the city.


The photo below is a bit washed out, but it’s a good overview of what much of the park looks like: smaller, second growth redwoods in steep canyons. I highly recommend parking at one of the lesser-used gates, versus the bigger parking lot on Skyline. You’ll avoid the starting point for most cyclists and get into the quiet canyons quicker. (If seeing bits of plane crash debris is interesting, you can find them on the “Resolution Trail” if you know where to look. The story is here: http://www.mishalov.com/dc6-crash-kingsmtn-2july05

The lower part of the park borders on the property of Neil Young. (Yeah, you know: The Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Cinnamon Girl…) Some people claim to have heard him jamming from these trails. Here’s a bit more about the nearby roads and his property: https://alpharoaming.com/2014/02/26/neilyoung/

Here is a map and GPS track of our 14 mile and 3000 vertical foot hike https://www.strava.com/activities/700880179


Oh yes, back to the clothing that kept me from freezing on this hike, at least until the sun warmed things up a bit. White Sierra’s “Trail Convertible Pants”


…and the comfy cotton flannel shirt. One person commented that it looked like a classic Pendleton pattern. (Being cotton, you wouldn’t want to take it on a trip that might involve wet weather. For fair-weather hikes and casual wear, it’s great!)


I’ve been using a pair of Columbia zip-off pants that I bought at REI a few years back. They’ve served me well and I was interested in a direct comparison. The White Sierra zippers worked easier, as did the belt buckle. I also liked the generous amounts of Velcro on the pockets, versus the smaller Velcro bits on the Columbia pants.


Also (below) the White Sierra pants have both a vertical zipper and a horizontal Velcro flap at the bottom of each leg. This helps in converting the pants to shorts, without removing your boots or shoes. All are thoughtful design features. (The only advantage I’d give Columbia is the waist button is riveted, versus sewn.)


White Sierra just introduced their fall clothing line, which can be ordered on-line. Their Sunnyvale HQ (right off Central Expressway) has an outlet store, with significant discounts on overstock and clearance items. Sign up for their mailing list. https://www.whitesierra.com

The husband and wife team that founded the company in 1979 sounds alot like other Silicon Valley success stories, except they’re not techies. They’re clothing experts! Their interesting story is here: https://www.whitesierra.com/pages/family-heritage

That’s it! Enjoy the hike, say hello to the mountain bikers, dress warmly, and maybe stop for a snack or rehydration at Alice’s on the way home! http://www.alicesrestaurant.com


About AlphaRoaming

Random outdoor roaming: hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking & plotting more of the above Grew up on the edges of the Adirondack mountains of New York, just a bit west of Vermont. Now living in Silicon Valley and venturing out when and where I can!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Chill in the Air: White Sierra & El Corte de Madera

  1. White Sierra says:

    Thank you for sharing this! We love to see people take the White Sierra product out exploring to “find your outdoors!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s