Sunday, April 21st Winehike: Goodspeed Trail to Gunsight Rock

7 strenuous miles, 1900′ elevation gain, Spring wildflowers + Sonoma Valley wine tasting

Along the Goodspeed Trail in April, the ephemeral Golden Fairy Lantern may just leave the light on for us.

Along the Goodspeed Trail in April, the ephemeral Golden Fairy Lantern may just leave the light on for us.

Meet: 9:00 a.m.
Hike: 9:15 a.m.
Duration: approximately 4–5 hours
How to confirm your attendance: Simply add a comment at the bottom of this post.*

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park & Hood Mountain Regional Park
2605 Adobe Canyon Road
Kenwood, CA
(707) 833-5712

THE HIKE
It’s been said by the locals that the trail to Gunsight Rock, high on the side of Hood Mountain, is one of Sonoma Valley’s premier hiking routes. Tough though the trail may be, if you’ve ever thought about hiking to the top of Mt. St. Helena in Napa County, the hike to Gunsight Rock outweighs the hike to Mt. St. Helena in almost any context, except one: the view from the summit of 2,730-foot Hood Mountain is a big disappointment. Manzanita and pine trees cover its wide, rounded top and, unless you feel like shinnying up a tall, sap-sticky pine after the impressive climb to the mountain’s summit, you just can’t see a danged thing from up there. (Though I tried, once.)

Fortunately Hood Mountain has Gunsight Rock located three hundred feet below its summit and a quarter mile away by trail. From this lofty vantage point, you can see just about everything in Sonoma Valley, plus the big mountains of Napa and Marin. Not only that, but Gunsight Rock’s bouldered outcrop is perched so dramatically on the slope of Hood Mountain that its steep drop-off makes the wide view even more impressive.

Peering down through the fog and the gunsight onto the wine country town of Kenwood.

Peering down through the fog and the Gunsight
onto the wine country town of Kenwood.

The real bonus, however, is simply in observing the trailside splendor on your way to Gunsight Rock; the floral diversity of the Goodspeed and Nattkemper trails is alone worth the hike. Redwoods, laurels, manzanitas, oaks, grasslands, wildflowers, serpentine rock, wildlife and vistas make this hike an absolute must-do adventure.

Of course, after surveying Sonoma Valley wine country from above, it’ll only be right to explore it from inside a wine glass! So, we’ll return downhill for a potluck picnic lunch and for tasty local wines (winery to be announced).

GETTING TO THE TRAILHEAD
From U.S. 101 in Santa Rosa, take the Fairgrounds/Highway 12 exit. Highway 12 becomes Farmers Lane as it heads through downtown Santa Rosa. Continue on Highway 12 south for 11 miles to Adobe Canyon Road and turn left. (Or, from Highway 12 in Sonoma, drive 11 miles north to Adobe Canyon Road, then turn right.) Drive 2.2 miles to the small parking area on the left at a bridge over Sonoma Creek (it’s 1.3 miles before the entrance kiosk for Sugarloaf Ridge State Park).

CARPOOL
If you’re in the South Bay or on the peninsula, my current plan is to leave my house in Sunnyvale at 6:15 a.m. If there’s sufficient interest in this hike, I may later advise that we concentrate the most bodies into the fewest cars by meeting in Kenwood before heading to the trailhead due to its potentially limited availability (this parking area is a postage stamp!). If you’re attending, please leave a comment below if you wish to carpool from either location along this route. For those of you arriving from the East Bay or elsewhere, please contact others near you to arrange carpooling.

NOTES
Parking at Sugarloaf Ridge is typically $5 per vehicle at the entrance kiosk, but we won’t be going that far up the road. The small parking area by the bridge at Sonoma Creek is known to be fee-free. Drive time from San Jose may take 2-1/2 hours; from SF, perhaps 45-60 minutes less. Please allow adequate time to arrive by 9:00; our hike will begin promptly at 9:15. (Our early meet time is primarily to obtain parking at this tiny trailhead. Believe me, it’ll be very much worth rising early!) Dogs are not allowed on this hike.

The Golden Fairy Lantern, Calochortus amabilis, is also called Diogenes' Lantern.

The Golden Fairy Lantern (Calochortus amabilis)
is also known as Diogenes’ Lantern.

Be sure to bring plenty of snacks/lunch items and water for the trail. I highly recommend bringing an extra pair of shoes – even clothing – to change into after the hike. Please allow plenty of time to arrive, and watch for cyclists during your drive.

Also, wear sturdy shoes for this hike – we will hike over rough, technical terrain in places, and sections of muddy trail may present themselves.

The phone number above is for Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

Meet 9:00 a.m., hike 9:15 sharp.  See you at the trailhead!

————————— ♦ —————————

Would you like to attend this hike?
If so, let me know you’re coming – simply reply in the Comments below.
Thanks!

————————— ♦ —————————

*Your comment on this post is your RSVP. Consider also checking the box labeled “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” so that I can share my cell phone number with you a few days prior to this hike – just in case you need to contact me on your way to the trailhead.

This event is listed on my 2013 Schedule of Hikes.

~winehiker

Sunday, March 24th: Vista Grande Loop, Sunol Regional Wilderness

From Eagle Valley Trail looking east.

From Eagle Valley Trail looking east.

6.1 moderate miles, 1700′ elevation gain, early Spring wildflowers

Meet: 9:30 a.m.
Hike: 9:45 a.m.
Duration: approximately 3–4 hours
How to confirm your attendance: Simply add a comment at the bottom of this post.*

Sunol Regional Wilderness
The end of Geary Road
Sunol, CA
(510) 635-0135

THE HIKE
A trip to Sunol is a trip to the country. Unlike many other East Bay parks, Sunol isn’t bordered by neighborhoods or major thoroughfares. You can’t reach it any other way than to drive slowly on a narrow country road. When you hike the grassy, oak-studded hills of Sunol, all you see are more grassy, oak-studded hills! Those, and an occasional glimpse at shimmering Calaveras Reservoir.

Our hike is a six-mile loop tour of Sunol that reveals many of the park’s best features. It is steep in places, so come prepared for a hike that feels like a bit more than six miles. We’ll warm up gently, though; the route for our hike will navigate the relatively easy Canyon View and Ohlone Road trails adjacent to Alameda Creek before we turn uphill at Cerro Este Road. We’ll climb for at least a mile to Cerro Este Overlook at 1,720 feet, where we’ll catch our breath before we bear left on Cave Rocks Road toward a right turn on Eagle View Trail. A gentle ascent over the next mile will bring us to a magnificent view at Vista Grande Overlook at 1,680 feet. We’ll then turn west on Vista Grande Road and descend to High Valley Road, where we’ll turn left and head toward the barn and picnic area at High Valley Camp. From there, we head toward Indian Joe Creek Trail, which we’ll descend back toward where we started.

The view from Vista Grande Trail above High Valley Camp.

The view from Vista Grande Trail above High Valley Camp.

After the hike, expect to be hungry! So let’s adjourn to downtown Sunol and enjoy lunch together at Bosco’s Bones & Brew.

GETTING TO THE TRAILHEAD
From Interstate 680 south of Pleasanton, take the Highway 84/Calaveras Road exit. Turn left on Calaveras Road and drive south 4.2 miles. Turn left on Geary Road and drive 1.7 miles to the park entrance. Continue about ¼ mile to the entrance kiosk, pay your fee, then drive 100 yards past the visitor center to the parking lot across from the horse rental area. The trail begins on the left side of the rest rooms at the footbridge.

CARPOOL
From the South Bay: meet at 8:30 a.m. at the 680/Mission Park n’ Ride Lot located at the intersection of Highway 680 and Mission Blvd. in Fremont. We’ll leave at 8:45 sharp. For those of you arriving from The City or elsewhere, please contact others near you to arrange carpooling.

NOTES
Parking at Sunol Regional Wilderness is $5 per vehicle; here’s an online trail map. Drive time from San Jose may take 25-30 minutes; from SF, perhaps 20-30 minutes longer. Please allow adequate time to arrive by 9:30; our hike will begin promptly at 9:45.

Parking should be adequate at our trailhead near the horse stables. Nevertheless, I urge hikers to please carpool if possible (see above). Dogs are allowed on this hike for a $2 fee per dog.

Maguire Peaks under cloud shadow at Sunol Regional Wilderness.

Maguire Peaks under cloud shadow at Sunol Regional Wilderness.

Be sure to bring plenty of snacks/lunch items and water for the trail. I highly recommend bringing an extra pair of shoes – even clothing – to change into after the hike. Please allow plenty of time to arrive, and watch for cyclists during your drive.

Also, wear sturdy shoes for this hike – we may be hiking over rough terrain in places, and sections of muddy trail may present themselves.

The phone number above is for East Bay Parks.

Meet 9:30 a.m., hike 9:45 sharp.  See you at the trailhead!

————————— ♦ —————————

Would you like to attend this hike?
If so, let me know you’re coming – simply reply in the Comments below.
Thanks!

————————— ♦ —————————

*Your comment on this post is your RSVP. Consider also checking the box labeled “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” so that I can share my cell phone number with you a few days prior to this hike – just in case you need to contact me on your way to the trailhead.

This event is listed on my 2013 Schedule of Hikes.

~winehiker

Saturday, March 9th: Loop of the Briones Crest, Briones Regional Park

 6.8 moderate rolling miles, with scenic ridgetop views

Meet: 9:30 a.m.
Hike: 9:45 a.m.
Approximate hike duration: 4-5 hours
How to attend: Reply in the Comments section of this post.

Late winter rains add vivid color to the hillsides at Briones Regional Park.

Briones Regional Park
Bear Creek Valley Entrance
Orinda, CA
(888) 327-2757

THE HIKE
This rambling loop hike includes parts of the Homestead Valley, Briones Crest, Table Top, Mott Peak, and Black Oak trails, and is a great introduction to the southwest half of this expansive, 6,117-acre park. It’s an area of rolling hills, high ridges, and forested canyons, but the real reward for hiking the Briones Crest will be late Winter/early Spring wildflowers and those stunning 360-degree views.

Much of our route will be out in the open, climbing high atop the rolling hills that characterize this regional park, but we’ll also appreciate the wide variety of trees that grow along Bear Creek. Birds appreciate this landscape too, and we may hear the sharp cry of a northern flicker or the call of a California quail as we amble along.

After the hike, we’ll be hungry! So let’s all chow down on wood-fired Mexican comfort food in downtown Orinda at Barbacoa.

GETTING TO THE TRAILHEAD
From Highway 24 in Orinda, take the Orinda exit and drive northwest 2.2 miles on Camino Pablo to Bear Creek Road. Turn right and, after 0.3 mile, reach the entrance kiosk; continue 0.1 mile to the last parking area. Our trailhead is just beyond this last parking area.

CARPOOL
From the South Bay: Let’s meet at 8:15 a.m. at the 680/Mission Park n’ Ride Lot located at the intersection of Highway 680 and Mission Blvd. in Fremont. We’ll leave at 8:30 sharp. For those of you arriving from The City or elsewhere, please contact others near you to arrange carpooling. Thanks!

NOTES
Parking at Briones Regional Park is free; here’s an online trail map. Drive time from San Jose may take 55-70 minutes; from SF, perhaps 10-20 minutes less. Please allow adequate time to arrive by 9:30; our hike will begin promptly at 9:45.

Parking should be adequate near our trailhead at the end of Bear Creek Road. Nevertheless, I urge hikers to please carpool if possible (see above). Dogs are allowed on this hike for a $2 fee.

Be sure to bring plenty of snacks/lunch items and water for the trail. I highly recommend bringing an extra pair of shoes – even clothing – to change into after the hike. Please allow plenty of time to arrive, and watch for cyclists during your drive.

Also, wear sturdy shoes for this hike – we may be hiking over rough terrain in places, and sections of muddy trail may present themselves.

The phone number above is for East Bay Parks.

Meet 9:30 a.m., hike 9:45 sharp.  See you at the trailhead!

————————— ♦ —————————

Would you like to attend this hike?
If so, let me know you’re coming – simply reply in the Comments below.
Thanks!

————————— ♦ —————————

*Your comment on this post is your RSVP. Consider also checking the box labeled “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” so that I can share my cell phone number with you a few days prior to this hike.

This event is listed on my 2013 Schedule of Hikes.

~winehiker

Saturday, February 9th: Bob Walker Ridge Loop Hike

The view east toward the Sierra Nevada from Bob Walker Ridge.

Saturday, February 9th: a “ridge run”, approximately 5.9 moderate, rolling miles

Meet: 9:30 a.m.
Hike: 9:45 a.m.
Approximate hike duration: 3-4 hours
How to attend: Click the Join button on this Facebook event* or reply in the Comments section of this post.

Volvon Staging Area, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve
Morgan Territory Road
Livermore, CA
(510) 544-2750 

THE HIKE
Morgan Territory Regional Preserve is one of the most remote and scenic parks in the East Bay, perched at 2,000 feet on the southeastern ridge of Mt. Diablo State Park. It’s within sight of Mt. Livermore, Altamont Pass, and the Central Valley.

The trail names here are based on Native American history and tradition: Coyote is a mythic personality of Indian legends, and the Volvon were one of the East Bay groups that resisted the Spanish mission system. The preserve itself is named for Jeremiah Morgan, an early settler, gold miner and rancher. Bob Walker Ridge honors a photographer and environmentalist whose efforts on behalf of EBPRD from 1984 until his death in 1993 led to additional land acquisitions in Morgan Territory and Pleasanton Ridge. (Someday it might be worthwhile to walk the length of the Bob Walker Regional Trail, which connects Morgan Territory with Mt. Diablo State Park.)

Seclusion and wilderness make hiking here a special experience. It’s really a beautiful hike. Our loop will traverse the Coyote, Volvon Loop and Volvon trails and includes a deep canyon and a climb to expansive views atop lofty Bob Walker Ridge. If the weather’s clear, we may experience a pretty fine view of the snowy Sierra. So bring your binoculars! And a camera.

After the hike, let’s return down the mountain to have lunch at First Street Ale House in downtown Livermore, where the grub is tasty and they always have 24 beers on tap.

GETTING TO THE TRAILHEAD
From I-580 in Livermore, exit onto N. Livermore Ave. and turn north. Shortly after N. Livermore curves left (west), turn right onto Morgan Territory Road and follow it for about 5.5 miles to the staging area. From Walnut Creek/Concord, take Clayton Road to Marsh Creek Road, then turn right onto Morgan Territory Road. The staging area is 9.4 miles from Marsh Creek Road.

CARPOOL
From Sunnyvale: Let’s meet at 8:00 a.m. at Tasman Square, located at the corner of Tasman Drive and Lawrence Expressway between highways 101 and 237. Park near the fence fronting Lawrence Expressway and look for me nearest the Taco Bell; I’ll most likely be sitting on the tailgate of my black Dodge Dakota pickup with black camper shell. We’ll leave at 8:15 sharp. If you plan to meet at this carpool, please share a comment with your RSVP.

For those of you arriving from The City or elsewhere, please contact others near you to arrange carpooling. Thanks!

NOTES
Wear sturdy boots for this hike – we may be hiking over rough terrain in places, and sections of muddy trail will likely present themselves.

Though parking is usually adequate at the Volvon Staging area, it may not be by mid-morning if there are other large hiking or equestrian groups also meeting there. Be sure to bring plenty of snacks/lunch items and water for the trail. Leashed dogs are allowed. I highly recommend bringing an extra pair of shoes – even clothing – to change into after the hike. Please allow plenty of time to arrive, and watch for cyclists during your drive. Phone number above is for the East Bay Regional Park District Office.

*A few days prior to this hike, I will share my cell phone number with all people who RSVP either by clicking the Join button on the Facebook page for this event or have commented on this post.  (If you and I are not Facebook friends, hit me up at http://www.facebook.com/winehiker.)

Meet 9:30 a.m., hike 9:45 sharp.

See you at the trailhead!

~winehiker

P.S. This event is listed on my 2013 Schedule of Hikes.

RESCHEDULED for January 19th: Russian Ridge Loop Hike

The first few yards up the Bay Area Ridge Trail from the Russian Ridge trailhead are a nice, easy amble.

[Editor’s note:  it was apparently my turn to wear a big mitt and catch the flu on the 11th, and boy, did I catch it!  So, I rescheduled this hiking event for next Saturday, January 19th. I hope you’ll join me!]
————————————————

Easy 4.4-mile loop with 550 feet of elevation gain.

Saturday, January 19, 2013
Meet: 10:00 a.m.
Hike: 10:15 a.m. sharp
Approximate hike duration: 2-3 hours
How to attend: Click the Join button on this Facebook event* or reply in the Comments section of this post.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
Alpine Road at Skyline Blvd. above Palo Alto, California
(650) 691-1200

THE HIKE: DO IT FOR THE VIEW!
Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve is more than 1500 acres of windswept ridgetop paradise. The weather may be foggy along the coast, but the sun is usually shining brightly on Russian Ridge. From the Preserve’s 2300’ elevation atop Borel Hill, you’ll admire the view west above the layer of fog blanketing the ocean. And, when you turn to face east, a commanding view of San Francisco Bay stretches out before you.

GETTING THERE
From Interstate 280 in Palo Alto, take the Page Mill Road exit west. Drive 8.9 winding miles into the hills to Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35), taking care to share the road with cyclists. Cross Skyline Boulevard, where Page Mill Road becomes Alpine Road. Drive 200 feet on Alpine Road and turn right into the Russian Ridge entrance.

IF YOU WANT TO CARPOOL
Let’s meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Page Mill Park n’ Ride, located at the intersection of Highway 280 and Page Mill Road in Palo Alto. We’ll leave at 9:15 sharp!

For those of you arriving from The City or elsewhere, please contact others near you to arrange carpooling. Thanks!

*NOTES
If you are interested in attending this event, please be courteous! Simply click the Join button to let myself and other attendees know you’re coming.  This event is limited to the first 15 people who RSVP in this manner; crashers, regretfully, will be turned away.

Parking and trail maps are free at Russian Ridge OSP; maps can also be downloaded at http://www.openspace.org/preserves/maps/pr_coal_creek_rr.pdf. Drive time from San Jose may take 45-60 minutes; from SF, perhaps 30 minutes longer. Please allow adequate drive time so that you arrive at the trailhead by 10:00; our hike will begin promptly at 10:15.

Though parking is often adequate at Russian Ridge, it may not be by mid-morning, so I always urge hikers to please carpool if possible (see below). Dogs are not allowed on this hike. A pit toilet is available at the trailhead. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks and/or lunch for the trail. I highly recommend bringing an extra pair of shoes – even clothing – to change into after the hike. I also recommend leaving a small cooler in your car containing Gatorade or other life-affirming cool post-hike beverage.

The phone number listed above is for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. You can indicate attendance in the Comments section of this post, but I will only share my cell phone number with all people who properly RSVP by clicking the Join button on this Facebook event.

*A few days prior to this hike, I will share my cell phone number with all people who RSVP either by clicking the Join button on the Facebook page for this event or have commented on this post.  (If you and I are not Facebook friends, hit me up at http://www.facebook.com/winehiker.)

Thank you! See you on the trail.

~winehiker

P.S. This event is listed on my 2013 Schedule of Hikes.

A group of happy hikers on the summit of 2,572-ft. Borel Hill.

To Fall, With Grace

The weather here in the San Francisco Bay Area has been uncharacteristically warm and dry lately, making for an Autumn season that has been incredibly enticing to an outdoors junkie like myself.

The other day at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, I captured a California buckeye against a backdrop of azure sky and cloud wisps.

A California Buckeye proudly displays its ornaments.

A California Buckeye proudly displays its ornaments.

Saturday, while at Fort Mason in San Francisco, I took a moment to record the following scene of the San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor. Note the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County’s Mt. Tamalpais in the background.

A late Fall afternoon at San Francisco's Marina Yacht Harbor near Fort Mason. Note the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County's Mt. Tamalpais in the background.

A late Fall afternoon at San Francisco’s Marina Yacht Harbor near Fort Mason. Note the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County’s Mt. Tamalpais in the background.

The beauty that is Fall 2006 is not lost on other outdoor bloggers, either. I must admit, though, that I’m not nearly the shutterbugger that other hikers are, so I’ll dutifully share their perspectives with you as well.

Tom Chandler of the Trout Underground Fly Fish Blog suggests:

With the days sunny and warm and the nights right around freezing, the fall colors just keep hanging in there. Soon we’ll get a cold snap and the hard frosts that follow, dropping the leaves and killing off the October Caddis in droves.

Fall on the Upper Sacramento River.

Fall on the Upper Sacramento River.
Photo courtesy of Trout Underground

Heather over at Backcountry Blog posts a trip report, Fall in the High Sierra, from her Autumn experience at Yosemite’s Saddlebags Lake, which is at 10,000 feet near Tioga Pass. Says Heather:

Fall colors – yellow and gold aspen trees, red tundra – are on full display in late September and October, and with colder temperatures and less predictable weather scaring off many would-be hikers, you can enjoy your favorite trails in relative solitude.

From the Cynical Traveler comes a nice photoessay about hiking in Japan in Autumn. It’s not clear why the Cynical Traveler is so cynical, since a cynic might believe people would greet his blog with consummate disinterest. You just might be interested, though, so here’s a tease:

Hiking Japan in Autumn, from a photoessay by the Cynical Traveler.

Hiking Japan in Autumn, from a photoessay by the Cynical Traveler.
Photo courtesy of the Cynical Traveler.

If you haven’t checked out Dan’s Outside, you should. South Bay resident and outdoor photographer Dan Mitchell has been logging a lot of miles wandering the high hills and snapping some breathtaking photos of California’s fall colors.

And, if you’ve been watching a lot of football this Fall season – especially if you’ve got kids – I recommend that you find a day soon to get your family together, grab your picnic basket and a camera, and get yourselves out of the house to enjoy this sensational Autumn weather in the parks before it gets wet out there.

~winehiker

Really cool websites I’ve stumbled upon

As if I actually have time for surfing websites, much less stumbling upon them…

And, because “timing is everything,” a graphical interactive time zone checker.

~winehiker

The Journey of a Winehiking Novice

Rebecca came from the Midwest to discover winehiking, though she didn’t know it at the time. The following is an illuminating record of our recent correspondence.

———–
Hi Russ,

I’ve really been enjoying the hikes I’ve been doing lately, and I have discovered that I like hiking a lot more than I thought I did. That all means that it’s time to consider trying one of the hikes led by the best hike leader around. But I wanted to ask, before signing up for your next hike: the distance doesn’t scare me and I think I could handle the elevation gain though it would be a challenge. But I am wondering about the pace?  If you do all of this at a fast pace then maybe I’ll just have to resign myself to joining one of your hikes later on, after I’m more up to speed. But if you go no faster than the pace that the hike w/Debbie went a couple weeks back, then I think I could do it?  What do you think?  Also, I’m not really a wine person, but I gather it’s OK to do your hikes and either skip the wine part or just go along for the social aspect but not the wine stuff?  It’s all lost on me, though I finally identified that I like red better than white. That’s about as far as it goes for me though.

Rebecca
P.S. Never mind, looks like your hike has filled up already. Thanks anyway though.

———–
Shoot, Rebecca, I’m sorry I couldn’t get back to you earlier while there was still room on the guest list.

Judging by the crowd, I’d have to say that this hike may indeed be fast-paced. Nevertheless, your predisposition toward hills and distance says to me: “2 out of 3 ain’t bad!” So, you might consider signing on to the wait list.

As to post-hike wine tasting, there’s no pressure to participate, but you’re welcome to come along, as you say, for the social aspect — which is what it’s really all about, anyway. The thing I like about wine tasting most is that, because there are so many styles and flavors of wine, every tasting is a learning opportunity, and delicious fun too.

Keep on keepin’ on down that trail, Rebecca!

Russ

———–
Well, if they’re all pros, then I guess I’d be the one people complain about afterwards, who holds up the group. So, best to wait. Hopefully it won’t take long.  I lapsed in my running in the past year but have started up again along w/the hiking so I should hopefully be ready for one of your hikes before too long.

As for the wine, we should have a conversation about it some time. You strike me as very down-to-earth, as well as someone I like a lot from what I’ve seen of you, and all this doesn’t jive w/my (stupid, close-minded) stereotypes of the wine-tasting culture. Honestly it’s all a big mystery to me why people would choose to invest so much time and energy in tasting and discussing different forms of a beverage. I went wine tasting once up in Sonoma and it made me laugh. But that’s just my Midwestern ignorance and narrow-mindedness coming out. Maybe sometime you can help unravel this mystery for me. It was Mark, from Bay Area Linkup, who unraveled the hiking mystery for me. So BAL is doing pretty well at challenging my stupid preconceived notions.

Anyway, thanks for your reply, hope to see you on one of your hikes before too long.

Rebecca

———–
Rebecca, you seriously crack me up. I think I should invite you to a wine tasting at my home on the 27th. Feel free to check out my posting: http://bayarealinkup.com/event_detail.php?eid=12194. I hope you can come!

Russ

———–
??? Gewurtz what???  If I can’t say it will I still be allowed in?  Before you allow me to sign up I should confess to you now that my wine rack (yes, I have one, for guests of course, but my well-kept secret, until now that is, is that I don’t know how to use my corkscrew so I just casually hand it to the guests while I pretend to be busy with something else) gets stocked according to two criteria: 1) Price (about $16 is what I typically go for, seems I am in line w/what you are recommending for your event!!!) and 2) Attractiveness of the label. I’ve never heard of a Gewurtzraminer, have no idea if I have one of those in my wine rack, though now you have piqued my curiosity, so after I send this email I will have to go check!

OK, I will sign up for your event. Is it OK if I laugh?  I’ll be laughing WITH you. You can laugh back WITH me for organizing a cooking event, where we talk at length about such things as how the food was prepared.
Uh-oh, just read your event post to the end. What’s a foil cap?  Oh boy, in over my head. It’s worse than a hike w/ a 2000 foot elevation gain.

Rebecca

———–
Ah, the foil cap!  Alas, poor Rebecca….

We shall learn a few things. But I’m willing to bet that you can piece together what a foil cap is — the “cap” being what covers the cork, and the foil being what the cap is made of; sometimes these features, by virtue of brand labeling, colors, etc., can give away something about the wine within to the cognoscenti. (Yes, I have actually been able to declare a wine just by seeing the top of the bottle — don’t ask me how or why). So, removing the foil cap is just being fair to all — but it ain’t no big thang.

I’ll also open the wines myself unless one of the other guests really wishes to. Nevertheless, I’ll be happy to perform a demonstration of proper technique if’n ya like.

In the end, this here Geh-VERTZ-tra-Mee-ner tasting will be just like your foodie exploits: we talk about it, we develop our learning about it, and we have a few laughs in the process!

Glad you’re coming, Rebecca.

Russ

———–
OK, yes, I did figure out the foil cap when I went to look at my wine rack (no Gewurztraminer there, seems to be just the usual stuff, though I see I somehow managed to sneakily slip in some sparkling cider too.)  Anyway, in the process of examining my extensive and varied wine collection I discovered that in addition to having a propensity for $16 wines I seem to also have a propensity for burgundy-colored (oh, I get it!!) foil caps.

If I told you I have half a bottle of wine in my fridge left over from a dinner party about two months ago would it make it clear to you the extent of the problem you now have on your hands?  It won’t be pretty, I can tell you. I promise to observe proper decorum though. This is serious business!

Anyway, thanks for the invitation. I’ll go brush up on my German, do some mind-opening exercises, and see you on the 26th! (or the 20-whatever). Forgot already, but will put it on the calendar and be there on the right day.)

Rebecca

———–
Rebecca –

TRULY, ya done cracked me up six ways from sideways. How’re you going to top yourself?

Russ recommends the following:

1) Pull that bottle out of your fridge, pull the cork immediately, and set it on your favorite table.

2) Fetch your best wine glass, and set it on the table next to the bottle.

3) Wait 30 minutes. Or do something! But do it for 30 minutes.

4) Sit down to the table.

5) S-L-O-W-L-Y pour yourself a 1/4-glass of that wine, observing every nuance of the pour.

5a) OK, I’m kidding about that last predicate there. (Maybe.)

6) Twirl the glass, sniff its contents, and pull it into your mouth to savor the flavor, S-L-O-W-L-Y.

7) Repeat until content.

8) Return to Step 5.

Oh, and: that’s Thursday the twenty-seventhththtthhh.

~Russ

———–
ummm, wouldn’t two-month old wine, I mean after it’s already opened, be vinegar by now? I am kind of afraid to find out. Good thing it’s way at the back of the fridge.

———–
Ah-HA! Thy words thus speaketh unto steps 1-3 above.

The fact that the wine has remained chilled has probably preserved the wine fairly well. But, to really taste the wine, one must let it release its flavors. The only way to do that is to let the wine remain open so that it warms to just-near room temperature — or longer if you can wait longer than 30 minutes (but no more than 60!). Then, after a fit of mild patience (in my case), you can receive the full panoply of the wine’s aroma and taste.

Wash down your dinner with it. And then decide if it’s vinegar.

We’ll do this again on the 27th, but we’ll do it so that we can compare each wine’s subtle proponents. You’ll drop your midwest “twang” oncet fer good. Guaran-dang-TEED!

Russ

———–
Umm, OK, I’ll try that. But will have to wait until the weekend. Being basically a one-glass-of-wine-per-year kind of girl, I can’t really do that on a school night – it would be like you drinking a keg of beer or something. Not sure how I’ll get through tasting six wines and still remain intact, but maybe I’ll start practicing so I’ll be in shape by then. Like gearing up for a Russ hike, I guess.

———–

Ah-HA!
The student doth learn Lesson One!

~winehiker

Morning pain, afternoon comfort

I recently decided to explore the East Bay Hills in an area near Hayward, California, just south of Oakland. Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park promised to be an area of open grasslands and green velvety hillsides worth exploring. So, I put a group of hikers together and we met this morning for a romp-n-stomp. There were 11 of us, and none of us had ever been there before. It didn’t appear to matter, however, that we were all going to tread new ground.

Hey, sometimes that what it’s about, right? Discovering new territory, seeing new places, enjoying the possibilities of the new and different. And sharing it with like-minded folks.

I had originally planned a ridge run loop that would be about 10 miles. Alas, we didn’t complete the entire loop. For the first time I can recall in a very long time, I found myself suffering – in real pain – and proposing to the group that we cut the hike short.

Fortunately all agreed and, having completed about 6 miles, we returned to the trailhead. We had already planned on a post-hike picnic, though, and by the time we had returned, the low clouds that had covered us all morning had largely burned off and the day was becoming most pleasant. I was glad to remove my pack, having felt shooting pains on the left side of my neck and down my left shoulder. As we picnicked, it was good to have my friend Gary Fox there with his delicious supply of home-made Merlot, a liquid anesthetic that I found most refreshing.

The fact that we lingered awhile, noshing our bounty, admiring the green hillsides, dreamily soaking up the day’s warmth and enjoying each other’s company found us all glad to be together – even though some of us were strangers to one another – and wishing we didn’t have to leave.

Some days are like that, you know? It feels good to know that, even when things can feel rotten in some respects, people can pull together to simply be happy about where they are and who they’re with. I count myself among the very thankful that I associate with such good folks. Far be it from me – pain notwithstanding – to rain on such a parade. In fact I was quite happy to just be where I was with such an engaging group.

It’s because of such moments as this that I do what I do on the hills and trails of California. Despite days that can challenge me beyond the realm of comfort, I am glad to take comfort in what really counts, and that’s the desire of people to be the best they can be with each other. And sometimes, that’s enough to pull the pain right out of me.

~winehiker

Winehiking, pure and simple

Did you know that the San Francisco Bay Area has more miles of hiking trails per capita than nearly any other region in North America?

Yup, it does.

Don’t ask me how I know that – it’s a conclusion I’ve reached over the last few years, having scoured many hundreds of websites, blogs, forums, and newsletters, and having shared trail chatter with untold numbers of folks who love to hike.

When you add that to the amazing supply of California wineries in the Bay Area – and the great wines that they produce – you can see the potential for winehiking as the next big thing to appeal to active vacationers near and far.

Just think about it for a moment. There’s an incredible number of people who simply love to get outdoors for fresh air and exercise. Whether it’s to provide balance to stressful lives, whether it’s discovering new places, or whether it’s being with friends doing fun things, pursuing outdoor activities is very much a California pastime, if not also a favorite activity the world over. Of the percentage of the population that is active outdoors, I’ve seen evidence which indicates that the greater bulk are fond of hiking.

By the same token, a very large percentage of the world population reveres fine wine. And that population is growing. It doesn’t hurt that medical experts are expounding wine consumption – in moderation, of course – as a very healthy way to combat Nature’s ills. Add that to the notion that in recent years, not only are more people worldwide drinking wine, but they are drinking higher-quality wine for a relatively reasonable price – especially in California – and you have the makings of a true winehiking revolution.

I wish I could give you hard numbers. But I’ll leave that to the industry analysts. All I can say is that I believe I’ve got something good here with this notion of winehiking.

I hope you agree. And if you do, let me know your thoughts. Please, whether I’ve met you personally or not. Because I’d really like to know what you think. Just click the leave a comment link to share your feedback, your rebuttal, your experience – even your passion.

Do you think there’s a future in winehiking? Because you read this blog, chances are that you do.

~winehiker