COLD CANYON LOOP 5X May 29, 2005

High fuel prices, the heavy Sierra snowpack, no partner (for something challenging), and slight inertia, contributed to my absence of trips in the last two months. I had planned for a short, easy, peak trip to the Coast Range about Portland, Oregon, but constant forecasts of almost continuous rain or clouds prevented that. I stayed in some condition by walking about town, doing a minimum of two to eight miles a day. The local temperatures were mostly pleasant for that.

This big holiday weekend, I thought that I had better do some hiking to check my fitness. I haven't done any gain aside from stairs, 40 foot hills about town, and the dips on the bike trail. I slept pretty late, and caught the news. With the long evenings, I knew I could do a short hike nearby, and still have plenty of daylight up till about 8:30 p.m.

Leaving home in the mid afternoon, I headed west on Interstate 80 and took CA 113 north at Davis, CA. Exiting on Russell Boulevard, I motored west, figuring to see how things would go on this nicely temperate day. If it was too hot, I'd tour some small towns. If the parking lot was too full, I'd motor, maybe onward, to possibly Mt. St. Helena.

Luckily for me, the primitive, dirt lot had plenty of space, and I quickly readied for this short hike. Other hikers were also enjoying. Starting up the upper trail at 3:08 p.m., I noticed the ongoing bloom. Some hillsides had turned brown, but there was still plenty of green. The wildflowers made a great show. I delayed my hike times to stop for good close-up photos. There were fine ops to shoot many a fresh set of petals of whatever species.

It became somewhat warm as I climbed up the steep hill's trail, but I knew it was a short climb. I drank well from my liter of cold water. Coming up to the main ridge, I gained views of the many motorboats on Lake Berryessa. A nice breeze came up, and the air was clear for seeing distances. I could discern some tall buildings to the east, possibly Davis, CA. Clouds began to blow over, and I ran into some newbie hikers who asked about the trail. I snapped many photos of the blue reservoir below, and then sauntered onward along the ridge.

Hiking over the lower, southern peak, I noted the trail may have had some work done, with rock hopping and some newer clearings I didn't remember. I'd call this a class 2 trail. Other hikers passed by, and I gave them information on their route ahead. I seemed to be the only one in shorts and T-shirt. I scratched my leg on some brush, but I was fine for comfort.

Hopping on down the wooden steps, I enjoyed being on this short loop today. In the shade of the chaparral, it was cooler, and then darker clouds moved overhead. The main stream in the lower canyon flowed well, and crossing it was no problem. Most hikers had probably left for home and dinner, but, for me, the early evening was a nice time to hike.

Thinking there should be better information for hikers about the trail, as the topo map sign obviously didn't educate the parties I spoke with about this being a loop, I came to the trail register. There is one on each end of this loop. It started to look like rain for awhile, then I returned to my car by 5:49 p.m.

I did the 4 miles and 1,500 feet of gain, round trip, in due enough time. I saw no ticks or mosquitoes, although many bugs flew about. There is lots of poison oak along the trail, and beginners will become quite put into contact, without knowing this plant. The narrow trail up from the homestead is quite overgrown, so light, or shell, pants would be good for this.

The quality of the length of this season's wildflower bloom was a nice surprise. It has been cooler this spring, with lots of rain. I shot 134 images, and liked seeing that my main digital camera, however being dormant for this short length of time, worked fine. It may be only another month before I take my big summer vacation, a road trip through the Rockies. I will need to be in good shape for the peaks I will be doing!