Journey: 52 Hikes and more

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Free 52 Hikes Photobook

Ready to choke down your internet connection and frustrate the rest of your family? Here’s a 100-page ebook (76 MB) with some of my favorite photographs from hikes for you. Like so many things in life, this too is free. ¬†ūüėČ

52 Hikes Photobook

52 Hikes Photobook


Hike 39 – Nothing Like the Grand Canyon, April 18, 2010

My morning began with a cup of tea enjoyed leisurely.  After an evening hike the day before, I was determined to take it easy today.

The usual distractions including laziness, email and the internet kept me home longer than they should have.  But I was not complaining.  After weeks of hiking in cold conditions, I would finally be able to hike free of jackets, vests or fleeces.  Back to the joys of hiking unencumbered; just jeans and t-shirt.

Everything suggested that this would be a great day to hike.

Pulling into Marshall Drive in Walnut Creek, I silenced the engine and The Magnetic Fields song “Grand Canyon” faded out with it.

My plan was to tackle the beginning of the Diablo Trail.  This would be section one of six of the Diablo Trail for me.  A week back I had covered section four of the trail.  This section would be an easy out and back 11 mile roundtrip with total climb of 1,400 feet.  There was nothing grand or canyon-like about this hike.

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Hike 23 – Las Trampas Rocky Ridge, January 9, 2010

My morning began at 6:00 AM when I silenced the first of two alarms I had set for the wake-up call.  What ensued next was a 10-minute tussle between the two sides of my brain.  One urging me to stay in bed and skip the hike. The other encouraging me to go out, stretch my legs and enjoy the outdoors.  I looked out of the window and it was not raining.  Better yet, the roads were dry which meant no overnight rain either.  Thankfully, I was out of excuses.

This was the third time in two months I was hiking in Las Trampas Regional Preserve.  I had enjoyed my previous two hikes here (Bollinger Canyon Gem and The Ridges of Las Trampas) and was looking forward to going back for more.  The goal was to hike the Rocky Ridge Trail to the entrance to the Upper San Leandro Reservoir.  Then I would take the Ridge Loop Trail and head back out again.  This would make a nice 6.5 mile hike with about 2,000 ft elevation change.  If everything went well, I would be done in roughly 3 hours.  I would climb about 1,000 ft, then head down about 1,000 ft, climb back up 1,000 ft and down again.

I pulled into Las Trampas Staging Area parking lot at just after 8:15 AM.¬† The drive over had been foggy, especially along the freeway.¬† But as I got closer to the trailhead, the fog got thinner and it had totally cleared out by the time I parked the car.¬† Still, there was heavy cloud cover overhead.¬† I noted that there were more cars here this time than the previous two times.¬† I figured this was the new years’ resolution crowd out today.

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Hike 5 – Loop Around Briones Reservoir, August 15, 2009

Another Saturday morning, another frantic drive.  Like I had bloodhounds on my back and murder on my mind.  It was almost quarter to eight and I was late.  Unhappily, I twisted and turned the car along Happy Valley Road.  Laziness, bad directions and an angry blind cat at home had added to my delay.  It all ended quickly once I reached Bear Creek Road and made a turn into the parking lot.

My goal today was to hike the loop around Briones Reservoir.¬† This was going to be about 13 miles long with about 1,700 ft elevation gain.¬† The TOPO! map said I’d climb 3,300 ft but the contour maps did not support such exaggerations.

The weather was still behaving like a mellow meditating monk, disengaged from all concerns about the lack of intensity this summer.  Summer hiking in the East Bay is generally for desert rats and people with a much higher tolerance for heat than I.  And possibly long-term residents of Hell.

H-5 P-15

The plan was simple.  Walk on the Bear Creek Trail westward along the south side of the reservoir and then pick up the Oursan Trail to complete the loop.  The success of this mission depended on the peace treaties I had negotiated with my left knee and the lately temperamental back.  I had twisted the knee at home last week and the back had been bothering me for over two weeks now.  I had compensated them with lavish massages and hot water soaks for days.  If nothing else, I figured a good walk would fix their attitude.

As I slammed the car door shut, the thermometer read 53 degrees.¬† Without a hint of resistance, the cloudless sky had surrendered all control to the sun.¬† This meant that I’d have to rely on sunscreen, dark glasses and a hat to defend against the blitzkrieg.¬† Hopefully they’d hold out longer than the Maginot Line.

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