COLD CANYON LOOP 17X February 16, 2007

Simply too good for a day to stay home, I motored out to the Cold Canyon Trailhead, being it is so close to home. Starting my hike at 2 p.m., I took the upper trail loop to bag the bumps first. They have done more trail work, clearing the brush to widen the trail along the top of the ridge. This widening now extends to about the low point of the ridge between the two high bumps.

I detected some people ahead as I climbed up the lower switchbacks, and took the now signless side trail to the dam overlook. They were flying a kite! I scrambled about the airy ridgetop, here, and snapped a few photos with a different vista of the reservoir. It is a straight drop down to Monticello Dam, and I gasped a bit from the exposure.

Changing batteries, I topped the bump 1,475', and didn't stay on top too long. The air was pretty clear, and I snapped a few telephotos (below) of the distant State Capitol city. Not lending themselves to good software enhancement, you can still see the various highrises. The snowbound Sierra was clear, in the distance, too.

High clouds lent a bit of drama to the scene as I hiked along the ridge. All seen too many times. I bagged the highest bump, and sauntered down the stairs, once again.

Some larger mushrooms poked out of the detritus, and my flash came in handy. A few flowers were blooming, with paintbrush, Indian warrior, and several clusters of small white flowers.

Only three hikers passed by, and then I was to the main trail. It is about 15 minutes to the stream crossing, then 15 more to the cars. I wished to record the sounds, with bullfrogs croaking and the stream burbling. Using my movie mode, I can do that. My camera has a sound record feature with each still photo, too, but I have yet to try that.

I had seen two hikers going up Pleasants Ridge, but it was now later in the afternoon, and I wanted to catch the news. Back to the car at 4:53 p.m., I figured on getting home in an hour.

Not wishing to stop, I encountered heavy traffic on reaching Interstate 80. It was the start to the holiday weekend. I managed not to exit to use a restroom, and made it home, groaning, by about 6 p.m.

The latest sign at the upper end of the loop now states, "4.75 miles." I guess they have been changing it! It is still about 1,500' gain, total, and I used my two gallons of fuel at 40 mpg to complete this drive. I shot 140 images and movie clips. I just spent a bit over a dollar getting a tall can of iced tea on the way up, and got right to my computer upon getting home.

I wore a light vest over my MW T-shirt, with jeans and no bottoms. My old boots didn't fall apart, and my cap didn't blow off due to the gusty breeze. Many bugs swarmed about, but nothing that bit. The usual turkey vultures flew about, and I saw one lizard.

The trail was mostly damp, and slightly muddy in only a few, easily avoided spots. There were many old bootprints set in the dirt. No problem cleaning boots, though, then back at home. There was a little water still in the creek, enough so that some hikers could enjoy it. The poison oak hasn't yet leafed, and though there are still narrow sections through the brush, I think it's safe enough for sensitive or highly allergic hikers to carefully try this trail.

No plans for the weekend, but I imagine that I'll do another hike, somewhere.