COLD CANYON LOOP 12X May 23, 2006

Heartened from my nine peak success in Oregon, it was now time, after typing up my notes and reviewing all my photos, for a local hike. All hikers should enjoy what's available as far as scenic beauty, before the big, spring, holiday weekend.

My tactic of repeating local hikes, and then partaking in a bigger peaks adventure, seems to do me well. Inspired by the cooler temperatures for today, I took off after 1 p.m., to do this familiar jaunt. It was nice to use the facility and get some drink at a mini-mart along the road on the way there.

I enjoyed the still green hills, and majestic oaks along CA 128. Coming to the primitive trailhead, mine was the only car to be parked there. Two other cars were at the start of the lower trail, with minor room, there.

Beginning my hike at 2:10 p.m., I admired the light on Pleasants Ridge. It had turned dry, but the trees were plenty enough green. I took the upper peaks trail, and witnessed the many wildflowers. Lots of monkeyflowers. I took my time going up the hill, and the trail seemed eroded (photo, top left) even more.

The Mariposa lilies aren't really profuse, in any way, till one comes up toward the top. The displays weren't as good as last year. I summited on the first bump, 1,475', and rested with a gorgeous vista. The clouds were very dramatic, and I shot many images different ways. The towns of the distant Central Valley were visible, but the Sierra was not. It would be fun to read through a summit register, but that would fill quickly due to the throngs of hikers coming by. There is a trail register at the start of each trail, but it is kept short and sweet.

Continuing on, I passed through the dense chaparral, and watched for more vistas of Lake Berryessa and the changing sky. The orange lichen on the rocks with the fulgurite made nice color in the bright sun. Such a fine photo op we have here! I did a panorama sequence. Turkey vultures were flying about. Wouldn't it be great to have condors here, too?

I ran into a young couple also enjoying the day, and then it was all to myself. More flowers presented themselves, then a curious lizard made for close-up photos. I took pictures of more lizards, being somewhat dormant, maybe, due to the cooler weather. There were more flowers, and then I passed over the high bump 1,580+.

Counting the wooden steps on the way down, I came up with about 194. I started a new count down from the Homestead, and that was about 60 more. They certainly did a lot of work putting this loop in.

The trail was damp in spots, but never muddy. Winter is now passed. They had gotten some light rain in the past few days, but it dries quickly. I tried for some more photos aimed up from the bottom of yellow hanging lantern flowers, but that seems to be a hit-or-miss focus for my camera. The advantage to a swivel LCD!

The creek was easily jumped, and the water levels are down. Maybe time to try Fiske, on another cooler day. I looked for more photo ops, but rushed down the trail to the highway, wanting to do other things this fine Tuesday. For fast hikers, you can start late, and complete the loop in daylight, with the longer days. I was climbing the steepest hill during the warmest part of the afternoon, and it was a bit sticky in my long pants. This would be a fine evening hike for fast hiker/photographers wishing to catch the low sunlight on the nearby hills and reservoir. Maybe sometime I'll do that--a sunset hike.

Back to my car at about 5 p.m., I shortly headed home. I had water, so saved a dollar for a cold drink. No food stop, either.

Again, this is a 4 mile loop, with 1,500' gain. I shot 80 images, with some 10 back-ups, and spent only the dollar for a cold drink. Plenty of gas left, with less than a quarter tank used.

I'd contact my hiker associates by the Net, but they must be working hard or doing other things. Just haven't heard from them, recently. With my carpools, congenial hikers can save some cash, and enjoy a ride. My driving record is excellent. I have safety features, and drive at speed, and so very carefully. It's fun being retired, although the piper may come to be paid, later. It's harder and harder to save anything up, and these big trips don't really help. Most any hiking sure beats the menial jobs I had. But what is life unless it can be enjoyed, and hiking is still mostly free!