Jun 7, 2010

Training for Kili

In August, I'll be doing my best to hike to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak. In the meantime, I've been trying to hit the trail whenever I can to make sure I'm in the best shape I can be in. The better shape I'm in, the more fun I'll have.

Pinnacles Day Hike Elevation

Last Monday, May 31, Memorial Day, Cristin and I joined @JeremyShapiro and Emily to hike around Pinnacles National Monument. Our route climbed from the east entrance up the High Peaks Trail, descended from the peaks on Tunnel Trail and Juniper Canyon Trail, and then looped back along the mellow Balconies Trail through Balconies Cave, a Talus Cave formed by rocks falling into a V-shaped valley. The whole trip was supposedly around 9 miles, of course with as much elevation change as we could find in order to prepare for the climbs we expect on Kili. The graph on the right is the elevation profile that MyTracks recorded. The GPS bounces around a bit though so the total distance of 12 miles is an overestimate. We were on the lookout for some California Condors, but failed to find them. The area was starting to get a bit hot for the summer, but still not too bad. Hopping into a dark cool cave in the middle of the afternoon was still an appreciated break from the sun. A few photos that I snapped with my cell phone when I remembered can be found here: Pinnacles Photos.

Ohlone Backpacking Day 1, Elevation

This past weekend, June 5-5, @JeremyShapiro, Ryan Moulton and I loaded up the backpacks and went for a 2-day trip in the Ohlone wilderness, hiking from Del Valle to Stewart Camp. Since it's a training mission, I opted for plenty of comforts and extra water, my pack weighed in at right about 40 pounds. While only 6.5 miles (again MyTracks is incorrect), The route was quite steep and exposed for much of the way as you can see in the elevation profile on the left. We ate lunch in the little dip you see around 1,800 ft, alongside a shady brook in Williams Gulch. Then it was more climbing up to the final ridge.

Nearing the campsite, we saw a small cairn indicating a path the bottom of Murietta Falls. We dropped packs and wandered down to find that the falls was only a trickle at the time. There was a small pool at the bottom with several small snakes in it trying to stay cool. The basalt rocks on top of which it flowed were fairly unusual looking for the area, and since two of us are regular rock climbers, we decided to free climb the falls back to our packs instead of hiking back up the path. The climb had several large ledges so it was fairly safe, but the climbing was sketchy in places, we thought we might need to downclimb a couple times. We eventually made it up the falls with only minor injuries, and startling only a handful of snakes. A little extra adventure for our adventure.

Another half mile of mellow trails and we reached our campsite, only to find someone else already in it. We held the reservation for this site for that night. The other group we found in our campsite had a reservation for the next campsite over - another 4 more miles. After completing the 6 miles of strenuous climbing, they had found themselves unable to continue on, so they squatted in our site instead. Fortunately, we found another spot just a short distance further down the trail that had been used as a campsite before and while it was smaller it turned out to be an even better campsite. A rock outcropping above the site provided some great flat spots to cook food and enjoy a fantastic view of the bay area, overlooking Livermore, Oakland, the SF Bay, San Francisco, and even the Pacific. It was possibly the best view we saw on the trail, and we only found it because someone else had stolen our campsite. We hung out and watched the sun set, the lights of the cities come on, satellites and shooting stars flying by overhead, and airplane traffic starting the descent into SFO. Ryan played the role of cameraman for this venture, you can find more photos over at Ohlone Backpacking Photos.