Monday, December 31, 2012

Hiking in Harriman State Park

Harriman State Park: streams were running high after a heavy rainstorm earlier in the week
We just returned from a visit back east and one highlight was a fantastic winter-y hike in Harriman State Park in southern New York State.

We headed out in a light snow fall. I like hiking in the winter forest and the light snow added to the atmosphere. 

This is my favorite picture. This was the first hike with my new hiking poles and they were a smashing success in the aged-knee-preservation department.
There was quite a lot of damage from Hurricane Sandy, and in some spots, the trees were stacked up like matchsticks. Dan counted the rings on one averaged size tree trunk (cut to clear the trail-- thanks trailworkers!) and got up to about 150 years. Pretty incredible. There was evidence of recent trail work all over the place and the paths were nice and clear.

Hurricane Sandy damage: trees down in Harriman State Park
Imagine the force needed to take down this tree

This tree grew on top of a rock slab, so the root "ball" was about 3 inches of pretty flat roots. Amazing that the tree stayed upright for over 100 years! You can see the exposed rock to the left of the tree.

We hiked for about 3 hours (7.4 miles). Map is below; I don't remember the particular trails, unfortunately.  What an amazing hike! I particularly enjoyed the open views (no leaves on the trees!) and empty trails.

View point over Harriman State Park: a winter storm is coming in the distance.

Proof that Dan was on the hike

Harriman State Park hike (7.4 miles, 848 feet of climbing)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Peak a week

Giant redwood in Big Basin State Park
A quick photo summary of some of my Fall activites, including weekly rides in new locations (Big Basin, backside of Morgan Territory Road) and fall travel to Vermont and Boston.

Bovine company at Morgan Territory Road

Riding by Harley Farms on Pescadero Road
Vermont's Green Mountains

ah, Boston....

First tandem ride!

my most favorite recent city ride photo
City ride surprise-- tall ship, which we toured

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cycling out of San Francisco: dirty San Bruno commute ride

View from my morning commute: downtown San Francisco to Twin Peaks tower to the Headlands, viewed from San Bruno Mountain Saddle Ridge trail
I've wanted to commute in by the San Bruno Mountain Saddle Ridge trail for ages, and I took advantage of an exceptionally clear morning last week to do so. 

Looking back on the trail: quite ridable on a road bike, with only a few patches of slightly deep gravel

I rode out from the mission on Mission Street, then climbed up to the park entrance on Crocker. A short ride on an exeptionally bumpy paved road takes you to the trail itself. 

Pink ladies blooming: it must be fall

The trail is a lot of fun: wide, fairly hard packed and quite tractable on a road bike. And the views don't disappoint.
Radio towers on San Bruno Mountain summit. Still some fog on Guadalupe Canyon road
What an awesome ride.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cycling in Healdsburg: the Geysers

Climbing above the valley fog on Geysers Road

Dan and I headed out to Healdsburg in Sonoma County for some riding this weekend. Our target: the Geysers.

On the first climb

Vineyards way up on the hill
I've ridden this loop before, but not since my crash. It features a hard climb in three bits, topping out at about 2700 vertical feet, then a glorious lengthy descent that somehow adds another 1000 feet or so of climbing. It's rugged and remote, with extremely limited car traffic. Wonderful views all around: the Alexander valley on the first climb, the remote Mayacamas Mountains in the middle bit, and the Sulfur Creek canyon at the end.  Detailed route information and profile are here.  We did the route from south to north.

Cattle ranches near the first "summit' of Geysers Road

Looking back on Geysers Road after the ripping descent from the second "summit"

The road becomes rough and often single-laned in the second part of the descent. Really fun, but watch out for the potholes!

Historic bridge that crosses Sulfur Creek

Wonderful rough rural road runs along Sulfur Creek. Often one-laned, the road includes several gravel sections. Super scenic!

Yes, the creek is really this weird green color. The white stuff is sulfur
After a snack and water break in Cloverdale, we looped back to Healdsburg via Asti Road, Theresa Drive, Dutcher Creek Road then Dry Creek Road back to town. What an awesome ride.
53 miles
4200 feet of climbing

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guayaquil photos

City view. The Guayas River was swollen by flood waters
 I spent two days in Guayaquil in February, one day on each end of our Galapagos trip. We got out and took in some of the local sites and a museum. Guayaquil has a very different flavor than Quito, for sure, but our stay was enjoyable and exceeded my expectations.

Resident iguana in Simon Bolivar Park (aka Parque de las iguanas)

Feeding the ducks in the Jardin Botanica. The Gardens are small, but well kept and pretty with a series of theme gardens.

Museo Antropologico y de Arte Contemporaneo, on the Malecón 2000 riverwalk. This was a great visit, especially the precolombian area of the museum.

Historical street near the base of Cerro Santa Ana. A tourist trap, but a pretty street with nice views.

Climbing the 444 steps to the top of Cerro Santa Ana. This hilltop neighborhood is the site of Guayaquil's original settlement. It was relatively recently redeveloped into a tourist (trap) attraction, and the pedestrian only steps were fun to climb. The top features a church, a lighthouse, a military museum, and big views.

Mother and Cannon at the top of the hill

View from the light house atop of Cerro Santa Ana. Nice views!

444 steps! On a hot and humid day.

City view from our downtown hotel. Quite a different feeling that Quito, but we enjoyed our 1.5 days in Guayaquil nonetheless

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hiking in the East Bay: Anza lake with the dog

Tilden Park hike with the dog: shaded trails were nice on a hot afternoon
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining my favorite puppy and his people for a hike in Tilden Park.  Starting out with a swim-fetch session is always a good idea, and Theo was joined in the water by a pair of goldendoodles.

Fantastic gnarled oak trees line the trail near the creek
We hiked on the Wildcat Creek trail, taking an out and back along the pleasantly shaded creek. It is possible to construct a loop, but that involved a more strenuous hike. Senor puppy was tired from an ear infection so we kept the walk to a shorter distance.

Sunny bit near our turnaround point (bonus: water fountain at the trailhead at this end)
Tilden is off-leash legal, so puppy had fun bounding around, fetching his ball, and locating things to sniff in the woods. 
Wildcat Creek Trail hike near Anza Lake, in Tilden Park
Total: 2.5 miles, plus two swims for the dog. Much fun was had by all!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More Quito pictures

Volcano views dominate the landscape in Quito. Photo from my B&B in Quito's old town

 I finally got to looking over my photos from February's trip. Here are some of my favorites from my 3 days wandering around Quito.  See also my earlier pictures from riding my bike in Quito's Ciclopaseo (Bicycle Sunday).

Quito Old Town, viewed from Basilico church tower

I like to climb church towers (see these photos from Zurich, for example). Quito's gothic cathedral, the Basilica con Voto Nacional, does not disappoint in this regard.

After buying a ticket, one takes an elevator up several stories, then walks across the top of the sanctuary on a kind of bouncy wooden path.  It was dark and mysterious, in kind of a phantom of the opera way.

Several flights up internal stone staircases follows, then you emerge on a external walkway. The neat-but-scary bit follows: a series of quite steep external staircases. The steps felt pretty far apart and a little exposed. Not recommended for someone who is afraid of heights!

And then up to the top! The Basilica is known for its grotesques in the form of native Ecuadoran animals (such as tortoises, eagles, iguanas, and the like) and you can see some on top of the tower, below. The views were impressive, even on this cloudy day.

Native Ecuadoran birds (maybe eagles?)  atop of the church tower

The Basilica has three towers, and the next stop was one of the the clock towers. After retracing steps down scary ladders, stairs and back across the top of the sanctuary, the climb into the clock tower began.  This one featured ladders in the bell tower! 

Yes, the rungs are very far apart on this ladder (one of two, if I recall correctly). Note scary open window to the left.

You end up behind the clock faces, way up in the tower. There is a big window with an awesome view as well and you could hit the bells if you wanted (I didn't).

Here's a view of the clock towers from the church tower.  Nice view of Quito Old Town!

Basilico clock towers
I also spent an afternoon walking around Old Town and visiting a bunch of churches and other local sights.

Map of Quito's Old Town

San Francisco Square (will update with Spanish name!)

Inside the church. Lots of gold!
I also went to Quito's botanical garden. It was pretty small but had an interesting carnivorous plant collection. Also, nice roses!

I stayed in the Old Town and this worked out really well as I was walking distance from most of the Old City sights. And the place had a lot of character.