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.

Flickr Photo: Romp thru the Redwoods

A footbridge across one of the many small creeks at Henry Cowell Redwoods.

Happy winehikers, cavorting along a woodsy path on a late-September morning. These folks joined me last year; would you like to join me this year? If so, you’ll find all the details on my Romp through the Redwoods page.

~winehiker

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

October’s Mt. Shasta Ho-Down: Distilled Spirits

Hiking, mountaineering, fishing, camping, food, wine, and blogspeak. Not to mention miles and miles of driving and flying – for all of us except Tom C., who lives (no, exults!) upon the proud flanks of Northern California’s premier volcano, Mt. Shasta. That’s what’s in store for us outdoor scribes one juicy weekend next month.

Wait a minute – blogspeak?

Well sure! After all, we outdoor bloggers have to have something in common to talk about.

The 1st (Known) Outdoor Bloggers Conference, October 2006 (where @winehiker elects himself camp cook because, presumably, he doesn't want to eat Moose Turd Pie).

The 1st (Known) Outdoor Bloggers Conference
♦ October 2006 ♦

(where @winehiker elects himself camp cook because, presumably,
he doesn’t want to eat Moose Turd Pie.)

We’ve been lurking on each other’s blog sites. Heaven knows why. But now we’re enjoying a rather spirited excitement about our pending rendezvous.

Why are we planning a rendezvous? We don’t really know that, either. But I’m sure we’ll figure it out, and have a lot of good outdoorsy fun doing it.

What follows is a boiled-down slumgullion from our recent correspondence. Call it “collected threads from us bloggerheads.”

Tom M. of Two-Heeled Drive: Hey Tom, we need some advice on the environs around Shasta. What can you tell us about fishing/hiking/camping locales around the mountain, and are any of these close enough to nearby trailheads that the mountaineers in our midst could still get in some time on the slopes? For now Horse Camp is OK, but we’re not averse to car camping.

Tom C. of Trout Underground: Horse Camp isn’t a wholly bad choice; no fishing up that way, but the hike in from the Bunny Flats trailhead is relatively easy, so people can come and go. And obviously, access to the mountain is pretty good. Downside is that leaving and going does require a hike in/out and a 20 minute drive to town.

There are many other choices. One good choice is Gumboot Lake, which offers campsites (car camping), good hiking opportunities, and (not surprisingly) a lake. Very pretty setting. I wouldn’t suggest this during the summer due to crowding, but think it might be vacant in October. It’s at the far end of a pretty little river canyon and is a bit farther from town than the 20-minute drive to the Horse Camp trailhead. Surrounded by ridges with nice views, lots of trees.

Hiking-type activities could include a hike up Castle Crags and even some climbing (5.6 or so) at the top. Obviously, there are a few bazillion other hikes available, but I lack the finger power to list them all here.

A couple other thoughts…

First, my house is on the road headed up Mt. Shasta, and – provided that eBomb guy stays away from the cats – bloggers are welcome to stop by and access the wi-fi broadband that permeates the place. (Naturally, all outgoing posts will be edited for [Tom] Chandler-friendly content.)

Second, I’m willing to host a barbecue here at home if it works out. Have Weber, will eat.

Third, I’m not sure if I’ll be camping with the group or out doing other things, but it sure would be nice to have a chance to talk blogging. You know, an opportunity for me to steal everyone else’s blogging secrets.

Finally, Chris Carr (co-owner of Mount Shasta Guides and monster telemark skier, mountaineer, etc.) will just be returning from a conference in Boulder, and has offered to help out or even meet up and answer questions about the mountain, and what to do in the area. That’s gold, baby.

Russ B. of Winehiker Witiculture: I’m with you, Tom Chandler. Winehiker does BBQ and talks blogging! “Gumboot Lake” sounds more quintessentially attractive to me, too, than “Horse Camp” which, to my mind’s eye, smacks of equine ploppage…

…well, I probably wouldn’t mind either place, just as long as there’s no turds in the middle of my Sa-turd-ay….

I’m also hoping to get an early start on the road Friday myself, since I prefer to have camp set up and dinner inside me before dark. I have room for one passenger plus gear; I have most camping equipment, including a 3-person tent, a brand new 1-gallon propane tank/2-burner stove combo. John [Fedak of fedak.net], since it would appear Tom Mangan is driving his own car, perhaps you and I can pal up together.

Tom M.: I like the idea of Gumboot lake, too. Any dissenters?

Tom C.: Are the mountaineering types on board with this? As much as I’m into comfort, I’d hate to unnecessarily deprive anyone of their chance to get mangled by falling rock while freezing to death.

Panther Meadows (campground high on Mt. Shasta) also offers the potential for car camping while still preserving the chance to freeze to death. (I’d have to check with the Forest Service to make sure it’s open.) Not quite the all-around site that Gumboot is, but better if you harbor a desire for hardship.

Finally, I understand someone offered to cook for us on Saturday night. Do we want to do that at Casa Chandler?

Adam M. of GoBlog: I take it you mean us [mountaineer types]. No problem. If we end up going, it will be a quick run up and down. Gumdrop sounds fine. Especially if I bring my boy.

Tom C.: OK. Gumboot it is. To create a little drama for your blogs, we can always photoshop a bear attack picture or something.

Russ: Tom C., how many driving miles is it from Casa Chandler to Gumboot Lake? I propose that it may be better, logistically, to assemble for BBQ at your place on Friday night and enjoy dinner in camp on Saturday.

For Saturday dinner (and after I get a hike in), I’m tentatively thinking of a Thai-style menu, complete with Dutch oven and garden-grown produce:

  • Baked Chili Fish with Fiery Thai Salsa (hint: this dish may contain freshly-caught trout)
  • Carrot Soup
  • Cucumber Salad
  • Ginger-Pineapple Noodles
  • Vino rosso (definitely NOT Thai-style)

Gosh, I hope that’ll do y’all. Comments? Questions? Aversions to food that isn’t brown or white? :)

Tom C.: Probably 20-25 minute drive. The Friday at Casa Chandler schedule works for me, though let’s see if there’s even support for the Friday barbecue. Could be the majority won’t make it.

The menu is OK, though you’ve made no mention of the pine needle garnish, dirt sauce, or mosquito sprinkles that accompany every outdoor meal.

I plan on liberating several float tubes (those inflatable armchairs used by fly fishers to nap in on warm days when they’re supposed to be fishing a lake). A hike on Saturday sounds like the group choice, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sneak in a little fishing around the edges.

Still, keep in mind you’ll need a California fishing license if you want to fish, and they’re definitely NOT available up at Gumboot Lake.

Rick McC. of Best Hikes: Where do I sign up to become a “wine hiker”? (I was thinking bland dehydrated mashed potatoes.)

Just in case you one day want to take the meetup to Canada, certainly I would first suggest Mt. Assiniboine. You must hike or helicopter in to one of the finest vistas in the world. No road access. Accommodation is a choice of inexpensive rustic cabins, a lovely campground or expensive mountain lodge. Fine dining is available at the restaurant there. You would fly in and out of Calgary. Logistics are a breeze as this is such a popular tourist area.

Something to chat about over the Baked Chili Fish.

[Editor’s conclusion: apparently we’ll all find it convenient to forsake the hiking boots in favor of debauched and reprehensible float-tube stupefaction. Some may not agree with me, but it sounds better than Vegas.]

~winehiker

Hot Day, Cool Folks

Every day, people come and go in and out of our lives, often only for brief encounters. Yet when those brief encounters are approached without pretense or condition and are instead met with levity, compassion, and a relaxed good nature, everybody wins, and brief moments linger in our memories much longer than we could have anticipated. Even when the weather and the trail combine for scandalous brutality!

Such was my experience last Saturday meeting a foursome from Palm Springs.

The Coachella Valley Masochist’s Society, as they irreverently called themselves, had headed north to Napa, ostensibly to escape the blast furnace at home. No small surprise – Friday’s high temperature in Palm Springs had registered 120 degrees. And yet somehow, they had brought the heat with them to the town of Napa, where they had made arrangements to stay at the Adorable Purple Victorian for four days of wine country fun.

So while the local bird population in Palm Springs was using oven mitts to pull worms out of the ground, our foursome was enjoying a drive in a ’49 Packard convertible along the Silverado Trail, enjoying the Stag’s Leap District’s Robinson Family Winery and an interesting lesson in barrel tasting at Del Dotto Vineyards.

I showed up early the following morning to guide our foursome along the Mount St. Helena Trail at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, above Calistoga, California. Our plan was to hike a 10-mile out-and-back to the top of the mountain for a broad look-see, as well as stop to admire the remains of Stevenson’s honeymoon cabin (where he purportedly sowed the seeds for his later novel, “The Silverado Squatters”). Later, after the hike, we would stop for a picnic lunch and a tasting at Cuvaison Winery.

But boy, was it hot. We joked about the heat as we drove up the Valley in our air-conditioned Crown Victoria, as if the heat were merely an innocuous quintessence. We knew better, however, and hydrated a-plenty during the drive. And we got to know ourselves a little. We talked about wine and told tall tales from the trail. Then, we laced on our boots and, floating uphill in the heat, in flagrante delicto, we told some more. Despite the impetuous inferno and my need for more than two handkerchiefs, I was having quite a fun day. We all were – four desert rats and one wannabe desert rat.

And that’s how it turned out, too – just plain fun. It didn’t matter that the trail was exposed and the rock was too hot to sit on and we lost five pounds of valuable sweat and the sun was the devil incarnate and we really couldn’t taste wine ’cause it was too darn hot. No, what really mattered was that goodness in people just naturally shows through even when Nature throws the high-heat fastball at ‘em.

Dori, Bob, Becky, and Ware: you folks are the best. May I hike your path again someday. Heck, I’ll even bring a (highly chilled) bottle along next time.

[Editor’s note: I arranged a custom tour for this foursome via my tour business, California Wine Hikes. I can do the same for you – hopefully on a cooler day! Just click here.]

~winehiker