Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last Weekend's Hikes

Last weekend I went on two hikes: Pogonip in Santa Cruz and Pinnacles just east of Soledad.

The Pogonip hike was with Gay and Lesbian Sierrans. Only three of us showed up and all of us were hike leaders so we decided to make it an unofficial trip and do a route that was slightly more adventurous. At the start of the hike, the others told me that the Pogonip name stands for POlo, GOlf, and NIP as in have a nip of a drink. Pogonip used to be the home of a golf course, a polo course, and a clubhouse with a bar. We hiked past the old clubhouse which was abandoned but looked like it might be fixed up at a later date. After passing the club house we were surprised to see several people playing bike polo on an old tennis court. Alas we did not see anyone playing any kind of golf but we did see an overgrown field that was probably part of the old golf course. We continued our hike to the other end of Pogonip and left the park to wander back to our cars through the university of Santa Cruz. Its a beautiful campus and we managed to stay mostly away from the roadways but not away from the asphault. Still it was nice to see UCSC. We saw a swim meet going on and saw students with banana slug sweatshirts. The banana slug is UCSC's mascot. After the athletic fields we paused to check out the map on the GPS to figure out how to get back to Pogonip and the cars. We figured it out quick and made our way back to the cars in about 5 minutes. After the hike we had a nice lunch at a place called The River. I had a delicious turkey, bacon, avocado sandwich. It was a very pleasant mellow hike.

Sunday was Pinnacles. I went hiking with my hiking buddy, L. We left at 8 a.m. and made it to the western entrance by 10:30 a.m. We headed up the Juniper Canyon trail. There were many purplish magenta flowers that neither of us could identify. There was lots of very healthy looking poison oak too but all of it easy to avoid. The trail switched back and forth uphill to the high peaks. I was happy to be in good condition and not feel like I was gasping for breath as we climbed. At the high peaks we talked to the ranger there and a field biologist who studies condors. There had been a condor chick born at Pinnacles but they had to remove the chick from the nest last week as it had high levels of lead in its blood stream. The chick is now being raised in captivity at an LA zoo. We had a fascinating conversation with the field biologist (who L knew well) all about condors. Well at least L. did. I must confess to listening for a while and then wandering off to look at the old nest and enjoy the high peaks. After chatting with the field biologist and ranger we headed off to explore the high peaks and hike on the cool part of the trail where steps were blasted from the rock and poles have been installed on steep sections. Its an incredible feat of trail creation. We found a nice shady spot at high peaks and had our lunch there enjoying the view of the green hillsides from on high. After lunch we descended back to the Juniper Canyon trail on the tunnel trail. It had been ages since I had been that way and it was fun to see the tunnel again. We got back to the parking lot around 2 p.m. It was quite a glorious day at Pinnacles. The weather was cool for May which made the hiking super comfortable. We got back to San Jose around 4 p.m. and I was home and in a hot shower by 5 p.m.