Friday, December 30, 2011

10 Essentials

Back in, I think the 1930s, some group in Seattle came up with a little list of what you should bring on a hike. I learned about it when I was in Girl Scouts, and I still usually carry these on my hikes.
"Be Prepared" is not just for Boy Scouts.

(shamelessly copied from REI)

  1. Map
  2. Compass
  3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
  4. Extra clothing
  5. Headlamp/flashlight
  6. First-aid supplies
  7. Firestarter
  8. Matches
  9. Knife
  10. Extra food

An example:

No sunscreen in this foggy winter's day assemblage.

I had my map in my pocket for this picture, so just imagine that next to the compass.

From L to R, top to bottom.
Baggie of nuts and raisins, compass, insulating emergency blanket, water bottle.
Small light (in round tin w/ spare battery), chapstick and whistle under that, hank of line to the right, pocket knife, firestarter, hand sanitizer, first aid kit in two plastic boxes, ACE wrap.
Lightweight gloves and a wool hat, a wool shirt.
Rain pants and a rain coat.

It all fits in an old fanny pack I have (the rain coat is strapped to the bottom of the pack).

Sometimes I put matches or a BIC lighter in there.
Sometimes I have more and warmer clothes.
Sometimes I leave the rain gear at home.
Sometimes the first aid kit is larger or smaller.
Sometimes I have more or less food.
Often I add a little bit of toilet paper and a ziplock baggie for trash.
On a hot summer's day I have two water bottles (there are water purification tablets in my first aid kit.)
My regular glasses are photogray so I skip the sunglasses but almost always take a wide-brim hat.

Some random comments on my gear:
My headlight is in a tin since the switch is easy to push if it is loose in a pocket. It also gives me an easy way to carry a spare battery and the tin makes for an easily identifiable shape if it is necessary to find it by groping about.

I would normally carry a poncho-tarp instead of the rain jacket, but the poncho has disappeared out of my gear closet (or fell down behind, or I put it in a 'safe place') so when it reappears I'll swap out the rain jacket. I like having the ability to make a little shelter to get out of the rain or the wind or the sun.

The hank of rope is useful for shelter-making as well. I have also repaired my shoe with it (there is a sewing needle and a bit of thread in my first aid kit).

When I get a post about my first aid kit together, I'll link it here.
For now I'll say that hard-sided first aid kits may be more difficult to pack, but they prevent the sharp things from impaling the squishy things and the squishy things from leaking all over everything else. Nothing like having a thin layer of neosporin all over the rest of your first aid kit.

Mormon Island trailhead: Folsom Lake SRA

A nice foggy day for a walk.

There is a parking lot associated with this trailhead (pay to park) but that lot is closed to the public and full of construction equipment right now. So once again Folsom Lake SRA loses out on my parking fee. I hope they are getting paid rent for that parking lot.

No official parking lot also means no porta-pottys at the trailhead (a sad lack when one hikes soon after one's morning coffee).

Folks park along Sophia Parkway just across Green Valley Road from the dirt road leading to the trail.

After you've crossed Green Valley Road (push button pedestrian signal) jog around to the right of the closed yellow gate next to the parking lot entrance and go left to walk along the Mormon Island Dam or pick up a steep righthand use-trail that connects quite soon with the official trail.

The markers on the trail are sparse, but that does not mean the trail is hard to follow: it has been pounded down to dirt (and sometimes a foot below level) by runners, mountain bikers, and hikers.
I did not see any hoof prints today but I think equestrians are allowed on this part of the trail.
I did see one mountain biker creeping up a steep hill, but I was not fast enough to get a picture. She didn't look extremely excited, much less hysterically happy, more like direly drudging.

The base of the Mormon Island Dam: left from the trailhead takes you along the top of this dam.

You don't have to stay on the official trail if you want to get closer to the water. As dry as this winter's been so far, it will take a little walking to get to the shore.
After the winter rains and spring snowmelt, those little trees on the mini-peninsula are nearly underwater. High and dry now.

Low lake

The trail winds its way along the lakeshore, cutting inland to cross drainage areas, but staying near the lake when possible.

Hikers on the trail as it turns towards the lake

I did not go very far along this trail today, but it eventually hooks up with the trail from the Monte Vista trailhead I wrote about in this post.

In past years I have encountered a lot of poison oak along this trail, but the trail seems to be getting more use these days and the vegetation intrudes much less.

This is a good trail (as are all the low elevation trails) from fall to spring. Summers are quite warm, but an early morning hike - especially after a night of Delta breezes, can be quite nice.

The lake level is right about 400 feet today, so the 400 ft contour line on this map gives a good idea of the shoreline I walked along today. The peninsula you see in the photo above (and the other lake picture) is the two little hills in the map, just above an imaginary line between the red 20 and 21.

This is where I find out about the lake levels. CA Dept of Water Resources.

The trailhead is at the right hand end of the Mormon Island Dam.
I walked north east along the shore today, to just past the first sharp jog of the 500 ft contour line.

Part of the enjoyment I get from hiking is messing around with topo maps and a compass. So you get to enjoy/suffer also.

For a little information about what else I take on a hike besides a map and compass, see this post about the 10 Essentials.

The seasonal time-sucking but enjoyable invasion of family is almost over, so I expect to get out more frequently from this point forward.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hidden Valley Cutoff: Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park

Tuesday, December 13th

Has it really been almost 10 days? No excuse here, the weather's been wonderful.

Back to Cronan Ranch today, this time through some interesting rock formations and all the way down to the river.

Ranch Road to Down and Up, to East Ridge, to Hidden Valley, to South Fork Trail, and back up the Ranch Road.

Seen today: live critters, dead critters, and status-unknown critters.

Red-tailed Hawk (had a white belly so probably not another buzzard)

Bug. That's all I need to know: Bug. Moving on.

Kind of cool but totally dried out toad. About 4 inches long so maybe a Western Toad.

Mule Deer

Interesting tree

Interesting plant (frost has knocked the very tip over)

Cool rocks along Hidden Valley Cut-Off Trail

Deer tracks
Anyone need three mismatched gloves? Last trip the blue one was the only one there.

It was nice and cool today (35 starting out at 9:30am, about 45 on the way home about 2 hours later) so I'll be back to Cronan Ranch at least one more time (for spring wildflowers).

Monday, December 5, 2011

East Lake Natoma Trail (dirt version)

Monday, December 5th

I'll guesstimate about 6 miles total from old Folsom to Willow Creek Boat Launch and back again.

The paved trail (which many think is the American River Bike Trail) is officially (but seldom called) the East Lake Natoma Trail. The paved version runs from old Folsom to the Nimbus Flat boat launch near Hazel Blvd. There is a dirt path that parallels the paved most of the way. Sometimes one has to walk along the paved trail or cross a bridge but most is refreshingly un-paved and full of interesting plants and wildlife.

You can find the very end of this trail by going around the northeast end of the Lake Natoma Inn (on Gold Lake). Don't try to park there unless you are a hotel guest. There is parking 2 blocks away in the (free) parking garage. At the end of the parking lot you'll see some park signs, and although you might be tempted to go to your left, go right instead to enjoy an exciting river-rock-enhanced downhill.

An alternative way to reach this trail is to walk down Gold Lake Drive (from the west, before you get to the hotel) and take some stairs down to the paved bike path,

then go a little bit to the right along the pavement to reach some more stairs down to the dirt trail.

Steps at l/hand arrow, rocky path at right. Parking lower left.

It was pretty cold (for the Central Valley) this morning, mid 30s. I wore my usual wool knit midweight shirt, jeans this time, and started with fleece gloves, a wool beanie, and an insulated vest. I shed all the extras after about a mile.

Frosted raspberries!

I met an interesting and opinionated man named Dan. He volunteers along this trail, picking up trash among other things. So if you've noticed a distinct lack of trash along this path, thank Dan if you see him.

Also, I urge you to consider some advocacy.  Here's a link to a Folsom Telegraph article that outlines a proposed development of part of the very path I walked today.
City to move ahead with waterfront improvement despite group's protest.
Lake Natoma project making waves

When I can find out more about this development project, I'll post more resources. It is The Lake Natoma Waterfront and Trail Access Enhancement Project. I suspect it is driven by Folsom city business interests and the Americans with Disabilities Act component is a convenient stick with which to drum up support and beat off any opposition. Can you tell I'm not a fan of the project?


Back to the beautiful trail.

I'll not subject you to all 50 pictures I took today. But here are some more.

Name that plant! It looks rather dilapidated, but the berries had been popular. (I have since been told it is Pokeweed. Ok for birds to eat, not so good for mammals)

Toyon. There were huge banks of bright red berries all over the place.

Tunnel O Raspberries! Yes, people (and bicycles) can fit through there.

Red squirrel

Grey squirrel


He obliged by 1) wearing red 2) cornering nicely 3) happening by when my camera was already out

Last month I decided to try for this shot across the lake. Very satisfying to get it!

Look closely, there is a rope swing on this tree.

A lot of the trail is built on hydraulic mining leftovers

I think this rock looks like a big fat fish. Don't you?

And one final reflection