COLD CANYON LOOP 23X August 16, 2008

Beating my late sleeping habit, I woke up at about 3:20 a.m., this Saturday morning. As the summer slipped by, it began to look less and less likely that I'd do my second summer road trip. So, I could burn up some miles on my car, locally, rather than save them to be used on one 3,000 mile drive. I can visit Utah in the fall again, too, as I have some peaks to do there.

Leaving home, I motored west on Interstate 80, to take 113 North to Covell Boulevard. I saw lots of cyclists on the county road, and the CA 128 highway, before and after I passed through Winters, CA. I got a V-8 drink to use the gas station mini-mart restroom, the only time I had to.

Starting my hike at 7:30 a.m., it was already getting warm. The forecast was for some cooling, but I have never hiked here in mid-summer. No other cars were parked at the primitive trailhead lot, too. I chanced that the morning would remain cool enough. I took the upper loop up the recently improved trail, and the poison oak was profuse and red.

They seem to have finished putting in the steps, with only 2 wood posts left lying around. I took the 50 yard side trail to the dam and lake overlook, doing some minor scrambling. Only a few wildflowers showed themselves, this day.

Topping the bump 1,475', I had some water and snapped my own pictures. I wore only a lightweight Capilene T with shorts, and light boots. I carried only my two liters of water, a light second layer, camera gear, and first aid kit.

A slightly cooling breeze had hit me as I reached the high ridge. It had been starting to get uncomfortably warm as I climbed up the first hill, in the sun. I snapped my photos of the standard vista of Lake Berryessa, with motor boats zooming about. Two other hikers appeared, going the other direction. I saw only one more hiker on the trail, this day.

Hiking here in the morning wasn't so bad. I had thought of enjoying the sunset someday, but I usually see those on the local Riverwalk. I continued over to the high bump 1,580', and it was impossible to avoid swiping by the brush. The trail gets overgrown. I looked for ticks, but saw none. There had been a few mosquitoes, but I didn't apply repellent.

I shot a few more photos of the scenes, with so dry conditions. There was no water anywhere, and the dirt on the trail was baked dry, cracking, too. I knew I'd be back before it got too hot, and swung by the extra 100 feet to the Homestead. Nothing new.

I hiked back to the highway, and saw one other hiker starting up. It was 10:10 a.m. Motoring quickly back through Winters, I didn't stop till I returned home.

Getting my daily exercise, I had walked some 138 miles in town, so far this month, much recently hiking in the early morning on the Parkway bike trail. My car, with its 40 mpg, stays parked. This day's hike was the usual 4.75 miles with 1,500' gain. Driving usually 80 miles total, I shot 118 photos. I got regular gas in the morning at 3.899/gallon.

Some toilet paper was scattered over bits of the trail. I normally would clean up after some garbage, but this preserve usually doesn't get so trashed, and I had no extra plastic bags or gloves. Myself, I didn't get any big urge, so kept from any pollution. I supposed some hikers would have to go. There is no public facility aside from the picnic or access areas along Putah Creek, eastward, a few miles, on CA 128.

I recall while leading Sierra Club hikes, that one time, some poor girl had to go, and the trailhead's county park restroom was closed. A primitive wooden outhouse nearby wasn't good enough, and her carpool driver refused to take her to any place not too far away.

We can't train people what to do, by the insurance policy, and I guess she suffered doing whatever she had to do. I'd have dug a cathole or used a blue bag, but some people don't know how to do this. It occupies me still, about having some kind of facility or method for these rural areas, or to ask hikers to go before a hike. When you gotta go, you gotta go, but myself, I am able to use a restroom almost all of the time. Then, a dollar or so, for a cold drink, is worth it to me to help protect the water quality and the environment.