Outdoors in the time of COVID19

I’ve been kinda bad about posting lately, for a variety of reasons. The main one is that I’ve been breaking the law to go outside. Often when something isn’t allowed you have two choices: complain loudly and make it less likely you’ll be able to do that thing, or silently go about your business and no one will care or notice despite its legal status. When it comes to the outdoors recently, I’ve generally chosen to do the latter. Given I live in San Mateo county, even driving 10 miles away to visit a park with good trails is technically illegal. It’s hard to reconcile how an isolated trail with little traffic 25 miles from my house is worse than a busy one within the legal range.


Berryessa Peak
My wife on top of Berryessa Peak, April 2020.

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15-Mar: Mt Olympia and “waterfalls”

I’m an avid skier, and it’s dumping snow in the Sierra right now. The Tahoe snow forecast’s headline reads “Snowpocalypse“. You’d think I’d have my skis on my car right now. But where am I? On call for work, confined to the Bay Area. However, not all is lost! In second place on my list of favorite outdoor activities is waterfall chasing, so I’m not completely out of luck.

Ha! Sam forgot to check the stream flow again!
Chris is pointing to the “waterfall” we found in Wild Oat Canyon. Compare it to this picture in the same spot. Also, all the plants you see in this photo are poison oak. Photo Credit: Olivia Allen-Price


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14-Jan-20: Garden notes

Greens are probably my favorite thing to grow in winter. Not because I like eating them, but because whenever we buy lettuce or arugula, we can never use it all. Half the bag goes bad, and it often looks wilted & sad even on the day you buy it. Greens usually yield well, there’s no pollination shenanigans to worry about. And the shelf life isn’t a concern because it’s alive on your porch. Anyways, it’s been a while since my last garden post. I gotta write all the tips down from last season so I don’t forget.

Seedlings on Nov 23rd

I planted a half a planter of seeds. Three rows on the left are mizuna, one row of swiss chard, one row of snapdragons, and the far right row is Johnny jump ups that didn’t do diddly squat. All the snapdragons germinated, but their seedlings didn’t go anywhere.

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30-Dec: Uvas Canyon Tour

Uvas Canyon is a very popular park in Santa Clara county, mainly because it requires no effort. It’s a great place to bring kids or old folks, as the best scenery only requires hiking about a mile round trip. This convenience creates crowds, and during the rainy season the park requires that you obtain a parking reservation on the weekend. And driving through Sveadal, you see a multitude of “No Parking” signs, so I wouldn’t count on going if you don’t have a reservation.

Uvas Falls
This is the quintessential scene in Uvas Park: riparian habitat and cascading water. Upper Falls on the park map.

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29-Nov: White Hill & Cascade Falls (sorta)

My November featured some pretty cool hikes: Half DomeNorth Peak, the Marin Headlands. All were great fun, but you can read about those in a million places. There’s zero surprises if you do your research well. The most interesting (to me anyways) hike I did in November was a 13 mile trail run in Marin that totally did not go as planned.

White Hill
White Hill is really more of a beige, but its grassy slopes provided nice views as we jogged along.

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15-Oct: Castle Rock after work

One of the things I really enjoyed about training for the Rae Lakes loop is that it caused me to explore the local area a lot more. I decided to continue this idea, exploring areas within driving distance from work until daylight saving time forced me back into the gym. Castle Rock was probably the best of these post-work excursions.

Goat Rock Summit
The summit view south from Goat Rock is unobstructed, which is pretty uncommon for the Santa Cruz mountains.

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7-Sep: Rae Lakes Loop trail run

Let’s start at the beginning. My wife sends me a one line email, simply saying “Want to run the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim?” I countered with “Well, the Rae Lakes Loop is much closer to home, and about the same level of difficulty. What about that?” I suppose when you’re a member of the participation trophy generation like us, you have to keep upping the difficulty of participating to feel accomplished. Thus we set out to run 42 miles & 7K vert of alpine scenery in a day.

Middle Rae Lake
Middle Rae Lake & the Painted Lady. The Painted Lady is a striped granite spire on the north ridge of Mt Rixford, that in my opinion, doesn’t resemble a lady in the slightest. Photogenic though. Photo Credit: Olivia Allen-Price

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17-Aug: Tower Peak trail run

I knew going into the morning of the 17th that Tower Peak could be a sufferfest. My wife, Olivia, and I have been training for some long runs for a while, and this one was going to be the first true test of our fitness. Bob Burd made the round trip in 14.5 hours, and while we were going to run the trail portion, we’re likely much slower on the off trail portion than he. So I figured 14.5 hours would be a good time to aim for. We came in at 15:45, a monstrously long day.

Tower Peak
17 miles away, the halfway point of our journey (Tower Peak) sticks out on the horizon.

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28-July: Echo Peaks

The Echo Peaks are sorta obscure. They aren’t on any peak lists that the various clubs make, they aren’t particularly high in elevation, and the Cathedral range is generally the domain of Serious Climbers. Every other peak in the immediate area has at least a class 4 rating. But if you’ve got a group with a variety of ability levels that want to get their feet wet, this is the spot.

Echo #7
My friends and I, deciding against the knife edge on Echo #7. At this point we had tagged 5 of the Echoes, so there was limited enthusiasm for straddling the top of this one. Photo Credit: Chris Bruot

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21-July: Tuolumne River Waterfalls trail run

The classic waterfall backpacking trip in the Yosemite high country is the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Most people do it in 4 days from White Wolf to Tuolumne Meadows, and some of those people pay REI $1200 for the privilege. In my opinion, you should do it for free as a day trip from Tuolumne Meadows. If you check out the map of the area, all the good waterfalls are in the last 9 miles of the trip. So my wife & two friends decided to skip the first 24 miles (that are known for rattlesnakes), and we did the 17 miles in 7.5 hours as a trail run.

The last waterfall on the GC Tuolumne is 9 miles away, no need for backpacking weight, permits, or 4 days on trail.

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