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If you can't hike the Sierra...

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If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby balzaccom » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:54 pm

We had plans to get up to the Sierra this weekend. Honest we did. But a combination of terrible weather conditions (our friend's house in Twain Harte had no power...nor even plowed road for some of the weekend) and some commitments here at home derailed those plans.

But all was not lost. We decided to take a hike anyway, and drove up to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park at the north end of the Napa Valley. We edged into a narrow parking space in the snow...and then hiked the five miles up to the top of Mt. St. Helena. At over 4,000 feet, it's a real mountain, even if it wouldn't seem that way in Tuolumne County. And there was enough snow (and downed trees) to make it all quite and adventure.

The first mile and a half are on a trail, and between the snow, the downed trees, and the ice on the rocks, it was a real knee knocker.

Then the trail reaches the access road (there are electrical installations on top of the mountain, so they have to maintain both them and the road to them.) At that point the hike got a lot easier, and we timed it just right---the snow plow had reached the summit about 15 minutes before we did.

The only drawback was that the clouds that had slowly built over the course of the morning now pretty much obliterated 270 degrees of the view from the summit. This was too bad, because the air was sparkling clear after the storm...and we've seen as far as Mt. Shasta and Lassen Peak from here in years past.

Oh well. We got a chance to try out our new smaller packs (purchased for the Machu Piccho hike--the one with porters carrying the heavy stuff!). and took that opportunity to pack lots of warm clothes and a substantial lunch.

The hike back down was equally beautiful--except the really icy sections near the bottom were even icier and had pools of ice water in the deepest troughs. Our toes were hurtin' for certain!

In the end, the hike was great, the views spectacular, and the drive home a lot shorter than it would have been from Yosemite or Dodge Ridge.

if you're interested, the photos are here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/balzaccom/MtStHelena#
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



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Re: If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby rlown » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:02 pm

One of my favorite warm-up hikes, as I can see Mt. St. Helena from my front window. If you haven't explored the mines in RLS park, give it a go. We went into one of the shafts about 100yds. Then, next year we could only get in about 50 yds due to a collapse. Last time i go into an old mine. :)

We used to plan our hikes so we could be on summit at sunrise, and during clear weather. The views are amazing, when you get the clear days. After the second bend up the hill, there are some great practice climb cliffs, although the rock is cruddy. Great for top-rope practice though, as there's some nice trees to tie off to at the top, and do reasonable belay.
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Re: If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby balzaccom » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:50 pm

Of course! I see now that you are in Petaluma!

Very cool. If I had known, I would have invited you along for the hike!
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby oldranger » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:04 pm

So Russ if you won't go in an old mine why would you suggest Balzaccom do so?

Mike
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Re: If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby oldranger » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:08 pm

Balzaccom

Thanks for the pics. Sometimes it is best to ignore Russ. :D

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Re: If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby maverick » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:57 pm

Mike wrote "So Russ if you won't go in an old mine why would you suggest
Balzaccom do so? "Sometimes it is best to ignore Russ". That's funny Mike!
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby rlown » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:51 am

I never suggested Balzaccom go into the shaft. I said explore the area where the mines are. You can safely peer into the various mine shafts, w/o putting your life at risk. Kind of interesting to think of what the miner's lives must have been like back then.

Also, I wouldn't drink the water in that area; They're old quicksilver mines.
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Re: If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:49 pm

There will be a lot of snow in the higher Sierra for months to come. Check out the Red Hills, or other low elevation sites.
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Re: If you can't hike the Sierra...

Postby Oubliet » Wed May 04, 2011 12:46 am

There are trails in the Sunol and Ohlone Regional Wildernesses in the hill east of the South Bay Area.

Friends and I went on an overnighter trip that was surprisingly challenging: 9 miles and 3000 ft elev. gain!
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