Most hiking blogs are incredibly positive. The photos they upload to Instagram are carefully curated, maybe they have aspirations on selling you gear. Whatever the motivation, they never have a bad review of anywhere, and as such the information they provide is of limited utility. I do not own an Instagram account, and the only redeeming quality of this blog is honesty. So for the three of you who read this, here is an honest opinion:
This past weekend, I hiked from the Boronda trailhead to Mocho falls and it sucked. All of this was my fault, of course. May is late to be hiking in the Ventana Wilderness. But the Sierra Nevada is snowbound after a big winter, and my wife was tired of skiing, so I decided to give a shoulder season Ventana hike a try. The flies, heat, and rattlesnakes couldn’t be that bad, right?
The average hiking blog is a little intense, and I certainly fall into this category. People who like hiking enough to write about it tend to want to go all day. However, given welcome conflicts with ski trips & family and unwelcome conflicts from work, I’ve recently had to spend my time outdoors in bite sized chunks. These hikes are good for when family comes over, you want to have a picnic with friends, or you’ve just got a few hours.
March 31st – San Bruno Mountain, South Face: 2 miles
I was on call for work most of March, so I decided to hit up all the local wildflower spots. The wildflower season in the Bay Area was pretty late & muted, but the best spot was the southern face of San Bruno mountain. The sunny south aspect, rocky soil, and volunteer efforts made for a great wildflower hike.
Lupine, poppies, and 360 degree views.
Apparently Oxalis pes-caprae is invasive. Kinda puts a downer on the great flower show.
The less popular south side of San Bruno mountain is probably it’s best side.
So my one reader (hi Mom!) may have noticed that I have about twice as many hiking posts as I do gardening. The obvious reason for this is that gardening is harder. I’ve hiked maybe 100 times in my life, but I’ve gardened half-seriously for maybe 6 growing seasons. There’s a reason the best gardeners are old ladies.
Self seeding plants might be my new favorite thing. I got lazy and only planted about half my containers during the winter. And in the other containers, flowers I had grown in a previous season decided to pop up (alyssum, marigolds, and violas). The one downside is that it’s hard to sort out what’s a weed and what’s a flower with so many plants popping up.
Much like last year, a beautiful February day lead us back to the Ventana Wilderness. Hiking in the Ventana is much harder than the Sierra, as ticks, poison oak, encroaching brush, and erosion are all trying to ruin your trip. But the waterfalls were great, and the views of snow capped Santa Lucia mountains while enjoying warm weather were worth it.
I was feeling pretty lazy that Saturday morning. My wife and a friend were going skiing at Heavenly. But given that my season pass is for Sierra-at-Tahoe and the roads were supposed to get bad, I decided to sleep in and go cross country skiing instead.
I have a love/hate relationship with Henry Coe State Park. The most fulfilling hikes I’ve done have often been there. The park is a huge swath of former ranch land that’s been left to be reclaimed by nature, and nature’s doing a fine job of that. My first ever backpacking trip was there, and it’s quite scenic in winter & spring.
However, almost every trip I make there manages to cause me some sort of physical pain. On my first backpacking trip, it was hauling so much gear (up the infamous shortcut & climb out of poverty) with my high school backpack that the straps ripped. Items hauled include a glass bottle of wine and canned tuna, I was not ultralight back then. There was also the previously documented, salt deficient hike to Pacheco Falls. Grizzly Gulch Falls had long been a goal of mine, and the park made me pay for it in it’s usual way.
The Shoreway “Environmental Center” (read: dump) in San Carlos gives away free compost to residents (and they’ve never checked my ID, so they give it away to anyone). It has become a staple of my garden routine, before I start planting the next crop. They have shovels & bags there, just tell the guy you’re there for compost and start shoveling.