COLD CANYON LOOP 9X March 19, 2006

The redbud were blossoming nicely along CA 128, as I observed, motoring along to this quick, afternoon jaunt. I had left town after lunch, and came to the primitive parking for the Cold Canyon Loop, to start my hike by 2 p.m.

The dirt lot was near full, but I found a spot. I walked over the highway to the upper trail start, and asked people about the "high water," posted on a sign. This would save me from having to backtrack if the stream was too high to cross safely. It was no problem, making me somehow wish I had chosen to do Fiske, instead, today.

Hiking up the hill to bump 1,475', I spoke with some beginner hikers. One asked about climbing Mt. Whitney! I gave some quick advice, and gave my website search term name to chat a bit, more, on e-mail.

Topping out on the first bump, then, I shot a few photos. Nothing much new. The snowy Sierra, and the towns of the Central Valley here, could be seen, clearly. The brush was flowering, and a few wildflowers were appearing. Further along, I composed a panorama for posting, and noted the trail was either dry or just damp. Fine for hiking, and thus, with no great need to bring clean footwear for the return inside the car. On the main trail to the Homestead, there were ruts with mud in them, but these could be avoided.

More hikers were enjoying the fine day. This dry day was welcome after the few days of precip. I chatted with some young adventurers, and advised others of more hikes to do about here. Many University students come here, and the trail register showed several sign-ins over this weekend.

Bounding quickly down the steps, I reached the lower canyon trail junction, and then the stream crossing. It was an easy three foot hop. I made some movie clips of the rushing waters, and enjoyed being outdoors, today.

Earlier, I had visited the Crocker Art Museum, which is free from 10 a.m. to Noon, on Sunday. Some earlier California paintings of the Monterey area and Point Lobos were exhibited. I wished I had a hiker companion to join me on my 4X visit to that magnificent state reserve. The ops for photography and enjoying the ocean views are superb.

Anyway, it took me some half an hour to hike back to the cars from the Homestead, and I shortly motored off, by 4:45 p.m.

My stats are 4 miles, with 1,500' gain for this loop. I snapped 70 images and movie clips, and spent only for my 99 cent can of sweet tea at a mini-mart. I used hardly a quarter tank of gas.

A parka over a light layer and thin layer was fine. It had been a bit windy and chilly this morning, and my jeans were fine, too. My hat helped nicely, and old boots, for potential mud, did well, too. I saw no ticks, or many bugs. No lizards, either. Plenty of turkey vultures, and some other birds.

I am considering some light backcountry skiing on a trip down along U.S. 395, if the snow pack stabilizes, and conditions are O.K. This light hike gets me back into the spirit of exploration. The huge March snowfall ensures a good ski mountaineering season, and it would be a shame to waste!