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(Trail map 27)
This is a repeat of a hike we did last year.
The trail here is full of large Douglas Firs and a few groves of Redwoods (no true giants though).
Trail highlights include the landslide from '82, the Foul Pool, and the Hidden Lake before the steep descent down Rocky Ridge to the Bon Tempe dam.
Van Wyck Creek was flowing due to two previous heavy rain days this month. It's been a record-breaking amount of Oct. rain here -- even
though we had only two days of the precipitation.
At the right: the view towards the north over Bon Tempe lake from Rocky Ridge fire road. (That's either Bald Hill or Pilot Knob between the two fir trees.)
Left: One of the largest Douglas Firs on the Kent Trail along Alpine Lake. Its main branch alone is bigger than most trees!
(Trail map 26)
This is the same hike we did last year. Right: starting out.
This Saturday morning we started (7:10 a.m.) ten minutes before sunrise. It was awesome and the weather was perfect. This hike starts at sea level and tops out at 1310' after 2.7 miles of steep fire road.
ROUTE: Chicken Shack fire road to the top, then Ponti F.R. to the bottom (very steep, fast descent). The whole hike is just under two hours.
Short Line SF RR - Carl Nolte SF Chronicle article.
Blind tasting and judging of four Zinfandels by a panel of 8 judges (four couples):
David, Heather, Cindy, myself, Sean, Meghan, Adam, and Grace.
May the best Zin win!
PDF - Scoring Sheet we use for the wines.
The Zinfandels all bottles emptied and their score totals from all 8 judges (200 pts. was the max -- over 145 is a GOOD score). The highest rated wine, the 2006 Mauritson Zinfandel Growers Reserve/Dry Creek Valley scored an average of 20.5 from each judge; 2nd place scored an average of 18.6 pts.
WINE Ave. score ------------------------------------------ ---------- Mauritson '06 Dry Creek Valley Growers Reserve 20.5 Ch. Montelena '06 Calistoga - Napa Valley 18.6 Mauritson '07 Rockpile Westphall Ridge Vineyard 18.5 Joseph Swan '06 Russian River Valley 15.4From the Mauritson website:
(Trail map 25)
Cindy on Blithedale Ridge, fog is still evident at the tree line at 1,100'.
The hike started out cool, with a high fog/overcast conditions which burned off within two hours. The first mile along Dawn Falls Trail (out of Larkspur, parking at end of Madrone Ave.) is through a pretty Redwood grove alongside (dry) Larkspur Creek. I am sure after the heavy rains of Oct. 13-14 the creek and falls will really be running. The trail goes up and connects to the Southern Marin Line fire road that skirts Baltimore Canyon. From that fire road is a level hike and then take the H-Line road steeply up to Blithedale Ridge and the roller coaster section to the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo trail bringing us back down to Southern Marin Line and steps retraced back to the trailhead on Dawn Falls & Madrone Ave..
( Open Space map of Baltimore Cyn) The trails and fire roads are as dry as can be, actually, they are the driest of the years before any of the rains hit, which they will in full force in a few days (and yes, heavy rains happened all day on 10/13, first rain of the new season).
(Trail map 23)
Saturday morning - this hike starts at mile marker 4.83 of the Fairfax-Bolinas Rd., above Alpine Lake and a mile below the Pine Mtn trailhead dirt parking lot
used by so many mountain bikers.
Photo at right: (Kent Pump F.R.) Route: start where the Old Sled trail starts at the road, mile marker 4.83, a little rough and steep to get to the trailhead (1 km on this trail), it is rather run down and lots of poison oak. Take the narrow trail up to the Oat Hill fire road (junction marked by three power poles). Turn left and head up and down Oat Hill, taking a right at Old Vee F.R. (see the map above). Take Old Vee steeply down to to the flat and level Kent Pump F.R., turn right and walk to the pumping station and tunnel for the water pipe that connects Kent Lake to Alpine Lake. Hike up the steep trail along Carson Creek aqnd the redwoods to the falls viewing areas (very dry right now of course) and keep on the new trail to Oat Hill F.R. and back to the junction with the Old Sled trail and back to the road. The falls are probably awesome in winter, never seen them (yet, but we will).
I can think of no cooler, more fun, challenging & scenic bike commute than the one I have between San Rafael and downtown San Francisco.
You have to suit up for 2-3 microclimates: (see typical photos at the left & right)
0. Early morning chill leaving San Rafael
1. Winds in the afternoons leaving SF - stiff, cool head winds on the Marina & Crissy field
2. The Golden Gate Bridge - can be cold and Very foggy, often wet when it's low fog
3. Sausalito to San Rafael - usually hot, winds can be calm or crappy head winds in the afternoon
It's just over 3 hours roundtrip (total distance about 59 miles) at my high cadence, training pace -- I usually hammer it pretty hard all the time, thinking agressively like a racer.
Live GGB cam link here. I've posted this link before. I've crossed this bridge over 150 times this year, with about another 30 or so before I wrap up the year (it gets too dark and wet the week before Thanksgiving, and I can resume it, weather permitting, in late January).
Facebook update: 119 Friends of me: 'westcoastken' now.
(Trail map 22)
Sunny and 8+ miles... A repeat from our 10/25/08 hike.
Hikes starts out by parking along Cascade Drive in Fairfax then walking into the Elliot Nature Reserve and the Cascade Fire Rd. along the very dry Cascade Creek -- you start the two-mile climb up the Cascade FR ("Repack" to the mountain bikers) to the San Geronimo Ridge FR at the junction, in the midst of the dwarf Sargent Cypress grove. We saw one hardcore MTBer (see photo) climbing Repack (for sure one of the TOUGHEST in the county) and he was not from the area. He was having a good time!
"The windswept [San Geronimo] ridge has a high-altitude feel, accentuated by the presence of a forest of dwarf Sargent Cypress trees. Interspersed along the way are patches of the rare Marin Manzanita, and in the rock gardens between the shrubs are lovely jewelflowers and other delicate blooms in abundance.
"This area was once slated for development. Considerable local support for its preservation resulted in its acquisition by the Marin County Open Space District. The preserve was named in honor of Gary Giacomini, a long-time west Marin county supervisor who was instrumental in orchestrating the deal that saved this land from development. Recently, the lush redwood canyon formerly known as Bates Canyon was renamed to honor Willis Evans, a tireless environmental advocate who spearheaded local efforts to preserve coastal streams."
"Nearly five miles of the San Geronimo Fire Road run along the southern boundary of this preserve. This road, extending from Peter's Dam [Kent Lake] (at the Shafter bridge crossing on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard) to Azalea Hill on the Bolinas Fairfax road, is among the most scenic (and longest) fire roads in Marin. Hikers, bicyclists ... wishing to link together longer outings should consider exploring this road that connects with our White's Hill and Cascade Canyon Preserves, as well as many popular trails and roads in the MMWD watershed." - from the Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) Web page.
Love the three wineries we visited today: A. Rafanelli, Mauritson, and Papapietro Perry.
A. Rafanelli chardonnay hanging on the vines in Dry Creek Valley. Maybe a week or less from harvest.
Mauritson's tasty zinfandel hanging on next to their winery.
You can see some of the grapes have already become raisins.
We tasted many red wines today and just simply loved the zins from Mauritson (they tasted 6 excellent zins on their menu, highlighted by their Rockpile offerings -- we loved the '07 Westphall Ridge the most), Rafanelli (of course! tehy were pouring the 2007 Zin), and Papapietro's (also some very nice pinot noir there; however, we loved the '03 Russian River Zin as tops). (at the left: pinot noir in the Papapietro tasting room)
All three places were friendly and helpful and highly recommended. We had sandwiches for lunch at the Dry Creek General Store.
Tahoe National Forest hiking: started off of Alpine Meadows Road, steep the first 1.5 miles up then a nice trail to Five Lakes. An out & back hike starting at elevation 6500' culminating at 7550' at the Lakes. Sunny and hot conditions.
A repeat of a hike from June 2008 -- Ellen, Jeff, and their two sons joined us.
(Trail map 17)
We started in Ross (had to park on the road, at Lagunitas Rd. & Willow Av.), then walked by the very wealthy mansion estates into Natalie Coffin Greene park and up to and out of Phoenix Lake and to the summit of Bald Hill in hot, sunny weather -- total distance was 7.1 miles.
Chugging with Mt. Tam in the background, standing on top of Bald Hill (1140').
Nice view of Phoenix Lake underneath Tam.
Bald Hill trail getting near the top.
Wine judging of four pinot noirs -- three are from Russian River Valley and one from Santa Lucia Highlands (Monterey Co.).
Wines as they were ranked: the most each wine could scored was 150 points -- this would be a perfect 25-point score from each of the 6 judges. First place (Stemmler) scored 123, while the last place scored just 71. How much did these wines cost? They varied from $26 up to $40.
Here is a blog link to a prior Pinot judgment we had, March 2009.
Here is a blog link to a prior Zin judgment we had, May 2009.
The Judges - cheers! from Harmony & Rich, Heather & David (just married 4 weeks ago), and Ken & Cindy.
We will pass through each bottle twice (blindly) and scored on a five element, 5-points each scaling system for each wine: Appearance, Aroma, Body, Taste, and Finish. A perfect score from one judge would be 25 points. The wine bottles are randomized and held in a brown paper bag to conceal their identity. Everyone has preconceived notions of a wine if they know its label and origin. This method largely rids the judges (who are also the ones who brought the wine) of any bias.
PDF - Scoring Sheet we use (from WineCountryGetaways.com).
Order my 12-month calendar for 2010. I don't think I make a penny on this, it's only $21 to buy, incl. shipping.
For now I'll make photo calendars at Shutterfly.com as they seem decent enough. If they don't pan out (primarily the image QUALITY) I'll go somewhere else, and maybe even profit a couple bucks per calendar sold there.
UPCOMING Calendar projects of mine for 2010:
(Trail map 16)
Most of this hike was in the fog -- the fog was thick between elevations 900' - 1900'. It starts with a long climb from Stinson up Matt Davis Trail to Ridgecrest (at the Coastal Trail) - so, here we go:
At the right: hiking up the Matt Davis Tr., through the fog, in the mature Douglas Fir forest. Often times it was like rain coming down with the fog condensing on the leaves and branches then dripping -- lots of mud on the path. It took us a steady 65 minutes from the time we left Stinson to the top where Davis junctions with Coastal.
Coastal Trail - almost to the junction with Willow Camp trail -- this is the highest point of the hike, 1820'.
At the right: large Douglas Fir, this unique individual is an icon of the Matt Davis Trail. [Douglas Fir on Wikipedia] These Pacific Coast varieties are also called Coast Douglas-fir or Green Douglas-fir.
Pretty flowers - on the Willow Camp trail, just above Stinson. I wish I knew what these flowers are named. Email me the answer? Thanks to Denise, she reminded me the answer: Naked Ladies "Amaryllis" or the "Belladona Lily", a native of South Africa, thus an exotic to Marin.
Photo: 40D, EF 85mm 1.8 lens at f/5.6, 1/400, ISO 200
At the right is a typical chugging pose -- hydrating with the Lipton Energizer drink in my handy Nalgene bottle.
Foggy view - on the Willow Camp trail heading down to the beach, which is still almost two miles distant.
If I feel I want to have backgrund music like Metallica's "ORION", then yes, I can -- which is why when you enjoy a stay-at-home picnic with "free" food & red wine, you are in charge, livin' large, as B-Real raps:
So you wanna be a rock superstar? And live large, a big house, 5 cars, you're in charge Comin' up in the world don't trust no body Gotta look over your shoulder constantly.Planning our Sunday hike, for tomorrow: either homebase it at homeslice Stinson Beach, or else off Limantour Road towards Mt. Vision as a long loop. At the right: - Rapper M-Mac Scissors-G inside graffiti-strewn, coastal D-fense pillbox.
(Trail map 15)
We started in the Muir Beach parking lot and climbed up Coastal Trail, down into the Pirates Cove Ravine and back up and out (steep); then we took the Coyote Ridge Trail/Fire Rd, left down Green Gulch Tr. through the Green Gulch Farm/Zen Center (lots of vegetables growing in their fields) and back to the parking lot--a lot of fog, some sun, and all fun!
Congratulations to Alberto Contador (SPA), Andy Schleck (LUX), and Lance Armstrong (TEX) as they comprised the Top Three of the Tour de France for 2009. What a fun race it was this year--but, 2010 looks to be even more exciting when Lance has his own USA RadioShack team while Contador considers his options -- Garmin/Slipstream perhaps?
At the right: view of the coast through the fog. Once we reached the highest point of this hike we had just barely poked through the fog layer. Right after that we descended down the Green Gulch trail and through the middle of the Farm & Zen Center. The parking lot was full when we returned. Most people start their days so late--could never figure that one out.
Muir Beach - looking back at the beach from the first nice vantage point on the Coastal Tr.
Left photo: Hwy 1 - snaking down to Muir Beach.
Facebook update: 112 Friends of 'westcoastken' now, and wow...in a virtual way -- friends, colleagues, close relatives, siblings, photographers, and serious cyclists.
Updated my SFGH E.R. total medical costs from the single day of 4/27/09. Wow!
The race is nearly over -- only three more days with just one, Saturday's Mt. Ventoux, that really matters or will
make any difference in the overall win. Unless there is some sort of bizarre disaster, Alberto Contador (Astana)
has now won his 2nd Tour. It would've been his 3rd but his team was prohibited unjustly from competing the
Tour last year. Lance Armstrong showed up and didn't embarrass himself one bit. As a somewhat reluctant
teammate of Contador Lance did play a true team role as Alberto proved the strongest on the 9-man squad.
Carlos Sastre, last year's winner, couldn't compete with Lance or Alberto -- he was far outclassed.
(AFP/Getty photo at the right) The duo class act of the Schleck brothers, Andy & Frank, from Luxembourg, raced superbly and strongly. In the end they'll both end up in the top five.
The current Top Ten in the GC:
General Classification after stage 18 1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 73:15:39 2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:04:11 3. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:05:25 4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin/Slipstream 05:36 5. Andreas Kloeden (Ger) Astana 0:05:38 6. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:05:59 7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:07:15 8. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin 0:10:08 9. Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel/Euskadi 0:12:38 10. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux 0:12:41Lance will be back in 2010 with his own new team, primarily sponsored by Radio Shack. This info was announced today. Besides Lance -- who will be on it? My guesses are D.S. will be Johaan Bruyneel; racers will include Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, and Chris Horner; Popovych would be a good bet as would Chechu Rubiera. I expect this news to continue for the next couple months.
General Classification after stage 20, 7/25/2009 1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 81:46:17 2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:04:11 3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:05:24 4 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream 0:06:01 5 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:06:04 -- Frank made the final top 5! 6 Andreas Kloeden (Ger) Astana 0:06:42 7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:07:35 8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin/Slipstream 0:12:04 9 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas 0:14:16 10 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux 0:14:25
(Trail map 14)
Perhaps our most grueling hike of many these past couple years -- due to several steep climbs (Vic Haun and Temelpa trails), twisting, sharp, narrow descents (Wheeler trail connecting Eldridge down to Hoo-Koo-E-Koo), and the very hot and sunny weather -- over 3.5 hours... At the right: view of the Wheeler trail, in the distance is the Tiburon peninsula and Angel island.
I lost the lens hood to my 85mm lens -- it rolled away while I was switching lenses on Temelpa and I couldn't make it through the steep and gnarly scrub to retrieve it. Oh well. Already ordered a new one from Amazon.
The brand new Gravity Car Barn at the East Peak only opened up in May 2009. "In the days trains traversed the mountain between 1896 and 1930, gravity cars carried as many as 30 people between the Mill Valley Depot and the top of Mount Tamalpais along a twisting, eight-mile journey billed as 'The Crookedest Railroad in the World.' Cars were dragged up by steam engine and could coast down the mountain with a conductor at the helm to monitor speed. [Marin IJ, 8/3/09]"
(Trail map 13)
Deceivingly difficult--I've ridden my mountain bike on these trails and fire roads for over 12 years, first time I've done a complete loop hiking them. When walking you sure do get a different perspective as compared to the bike.
The trailhead to the start on Gold Hill Grade is in the Dominican College neighborhood of San Rafael on Locust Street. There is a nice bench (but in full sun) with a beautiful view around the half-mile mark up Gold Hill.
Ken (me) & Richie at Lynmar winery, tasting outdoors--spectacular day!
(This route is a repeat of a hike we did last June '08)
Weather was pretty nice -- high fog layer above 2,000' that often obscured Mt. Tam's east peak; so it was cool -- click the photo here at the right.
Mt. Tam - Obscured By Clouds, ala Pink Floyd, the East Peak hiding in a little fog. View from the Blithedale Ridge F.R. trail.
Childhood's End (by David Gilmour, 1972) "...You set sail across the sea Of long past thoughts and memories. Childhood's end, your fantasies Merge with harsh realities. And then as the sail is hoist, You find your eyes are growing moist. All the fears never voiced Say you have to make your final choice."
Stayed at the Sea Rock Inn B&B (fun! I also YELPed them). We also enjoyed the fresh microbrews at North Coast (Fort Bragg) and Anderson Valley Brewing Co. (Boonville).
We wine tasted on the way back in Anderson Valley and visited three new-to-us tasting rooms (Standish, Toulouse, and Zina Hyde).
At the right: Self at the Cabrillo Light (holding my EOS 3 SLR too, loaded with new Ektar 100 film).
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