Monday, February 28, 2011

Angwin to Calistoga

Yesterday was Sunny and cold in the morning. We ( Harrison, Dieter and I ) started out our long hike from Angwin around 9:30 am, somewhere west of College and White Cottage road.

Being a novice with all the specialized gear and accouterments, I had over prepared myself. After a mile into the uphill start, I began to get hot and sweaty. I immediately shed my sweater and vest,and naturally the backpack was hella crammed with three water bottles, my lunch and sunglass case. Luckily, I was able to squeeze the extra clothes into the pack and continue along the path.

The next thing to get my attention was my ankle. The bone was rubbing up against the inside of my boots... Dammit! I re-laced the boot and it seemed to work, so long as I was walking straight and not doing any lateral moves. However, every time I stepped on a rock that pushed my foot sideways, it hurt. After awhile, I just ignored it so as not to seem burdensome to my fellow travelers.By the end of the hike it was pretty sore.

For Lunch, we stopped at a cool hideaway off the beaten path that only Harrison knew about. It was a cave that someone had built a wooden platform about ten feet up off the ground. You would not find this special spot if you were just hiking along the traditional path. We climbed a small ladder and sat down on little benches and rails and had our lunch ( see pic above ). We were a little past the half-way point of this 12 mile hike and it was around 1 pm.The lunches everyone brought were great, and we all shared what we had. Not to be outdone,Dieter provided us with extra sandwiches and even Truffles for dessert.

Back on the trail, we took a small jaunt over to the top of the Palisades, we then made our way back down the mountain into the town of Calistoga. We arrived about 3:30 PM , so we were hiking for a total of 6 hours including a half hour for lunch. It was pretty awesome.

To view the photo album, go to:My Mobile Me Gallery

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Archer Taylor Reserve

Went for a great hike again at the end of Redwood road in Napa. We got permission to hike around four miles up to some beautiful Falls through snow and many levels of hand-made stairs ( lots of cut logs and pieces of rebar driven into the hillside ) that kept going up and up. We reached “Maggie Peak” just around 10:30 am and continued through some pretty treacherous terrain to this powerful water fall that dropped down from an ascent of about 200 feet.Our group viewed these falls from above and below.This group of radicals could easily swayed to go for a hike... be it on a cold, blustery weekend in February or unseasonably warm one like the previous week.

After meeting at Starbucks in Napa, we checked to see if we had plenty of provisions for the our picnic lunch on the way back. Everyone except me had hiking poles and gloves. Luckily, our group leader Harrison had an extra pair of warm gloves that he lent me. Later people were complaining of frozen hands and fingers.One fellow,Ted didn’t want to use his hiking poles so I found them to be quite useful upon descents on slick rock and crossing streams.

We had initially planned on going on a hike from Calistoga to Anqwin but those plans fell through, so I am grateful that we had this wonderful new area to explore. I had heard about this place when I was living up at Mt. La Salle but never had the opportunity to hike it. A great trek for a great group.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Aetna Springs Hike

Yesterday was another gorgeous day in the valley. After mass, I met some friends for an 8 mile hike from Calistoga to Aetna Springs. It was a rugged hike with lots of rocks on the trail and beautiful vistas. I came prepared with a backpack full of goodies like trail mix, apples, sandwiches, extra water bottles and the like. Initially it was quite cold, but before long we all began shedding our jackets and long shirts. By the time we reached China Camp, the sun was very warm and everyone was hungry. All total, their were about eight people hiking. One group went from Aetna Springs to Calistoga. The group I went with; went in the opposite direction. The hike took a total of four hours. When I arrived home, I took a long hot shower and a nap. What a day !

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ho Hum Day

This was a boring day and I was depressed because I could not get myself motivated to do anything. Besides this, it was great weather outside. I painted a few rocks and started to design a business card . Everything I started went downhill fast. Then I made lunch. I had a rice cake. Now that is pathetic. I should've had a piece of styrofoam and peanut butter, I would have probably been happier.

It is very difficult for me to admit that I am having anything less than a fabulous day. That is why I am telling you, the reader. Whoever you are ( perhaps no one will read this entry , and I can go merrily along in bullshit land ).

It was said by someone important to me that when I am bored, I am getting close to my Higher Power. Can you believe that? Hmmm... If that is true then my Higher Power needs a little action to get going. Some kind of stimulus package perhaps.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Super Sunday

Today was another gorgeous day in Calistoga. The temperature was a curious 80 degrees . This is shocking for February, and people around here are waiting for the other shoe to drop.Yesterday I went on a group hike to a place called "Zim Zim Falls " a natural waterfall one valley over from where I live.

Their were around 16 people who opted to go on this 8 mile hike, and about 8 made it to the Falls and back. Plenty of snacks were brought by those who went along. We shared all our "Super Food" as we compared chocolates, powerbars, pumpkin seeds, blueberries and the like. But as you might gather,"Food alone does not a hiker make fit". You have to do the hiking. Uphill, downhill, panting or not. I have a lot more calories to burn off as I type this blog. Even with all the preparation and specialized gear like new boots, a backpack and windbreaker. You still have to put one foot in front of the other and not lag behind. I made sure that i didn't do that. In fact, I got so far out in front that I was scolded for not waiting for the rest of the group to catch up.
My momentum was working and the leader was a little pissed off at me. I felt pretty good at the end of the day and was in fact, grateful for the camaraderie.

The weather today was a repeat of yesterday. More high pressure built in and plenty of blue skies. A lot of folks still opted to stay inside and watch the Super Bowl in front of their wide screen, high res, high def, 3-D Plasma pumping monoliths.

People in Texas were gathering outside the stadium in Arlington watching the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers on similar style Jumbotrons at $200. a head! It was hard not to gloat, making comparisons between our situation and theirs.

Well the Packers won to my delight. I cannot claim any particular loyalty, except that they were slated as the underdogs, and I usually will root for the underdogs especially if someone I don't like is pulling for the opposition.

The problem here is that the people that were hosting the party were Steeler fans, and pretty nice folks. Hopefully they didn't care as much as I didn't care about the final outcome of the game. Besides, we had plenty of fun "dissing" the commercials which were naturally over-the-top, obnoxious and violent.

The party itself was pot luck, so their was plenty of food to nosh on. I had a whole variety of snacks which I am going to have to burn off by exercising at the end of this blog. Yea, right. Another 8 mile hike? I need a week to recoupe.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Locked Out !

The picture above is for my sister Tara. She has been encouraging me to do more landscapes so I drew this picture, scanned it and modified it in Photoshop. This is supposed to be a coastal scene of Russian Gulch, where I collect my Spirit Rocks.
Now onto the blog...

The sun shined brightly today, whereas in Streamwood Illinois, the sun may have been out but a major snow storm hit. My brother reported winds up to 60 mph, and around two feet of fresh snow. Yikes ! I really am counting my blessings and staying grateful for the unseasonably warm weather we have been having here on the west coast.

Speaking of the coast, that is where I went today. Jenner beckoned me with the idea of collecting more rocks for my Spirit Rock enterprise. I arrived around 3:30 PM with a large cloth bag to load about fifty perfectly smooth stones to be painted later. Only four other people were on the beach and around 5:00 PM i had enough rocks and seaside experience to carry me into the evening.Walking back to my car I had quite a load. The bag ending up breaking at the bottom, but no rocks escaped. I just folded it under and carried it like a baby. But when I got to my car i looked inside the window and immediately spotted my keys on the front seat. Shit ! Then came that sinking feeling you get when you realize a situation could become dire very easily.

I cussed some more and began to have racing thoughts. My first thought was to find a wire hanger or something to fish through the window to unlock the door. No such luck. One couple came back from the beach but sadly remarked that they didn't have a hanger and jumped into their car and took off. The next thought was AAA. Luckily, I had my Iphone with me. Not so lucky was that I couldn't get a signal and all my attempts at calling anyone failed. Shit !

I began pray. Some cars were whizzing by on their way up the coast towards Fort Bragg. I didn't want to flag someone down and look like a crazy person by waving my arms near the side of the road. It was getting cold and the sun was beginning to set...fewer cars were driving by. I told myself not to panic, and to listen to my inner guidance. It told me to drop my ego and seek help. So, like a crazy man I began waving my arms. The first truck sped by looking straight ahead. The next Truck slowed to a halt.

" What's up man?" the guy said. Swallowing my pride and told him that my keys were locked inside the car and needed to get in touch with AAA. He laughed and said "Hop in, I will take you to the gas station." He said that this type of thing happens all the time out here. I tried to remain cheerful in spite of an undercurrent of anxiety. We got to the gas station in Jenner and he let me out. Thankfully, the guy inside the convenience store had seen it all before as well. He gave me his cordless phone to call AAA. The operator informed me that It would take around 40 minutes, but to be patient and someone would be by. The store attendent interjected that they will probably send out smiling Dan. I began to wonder who this guy was, and if that was a good thing. Instead of worrying,maybe I should just trust the process and let my Higher Power handle this.

"I put a fresh pot of coffee on if you are interested" said the attendent." Thanks, that sounds like a good idea". so i shelled out a buck-fifty for the coffee and went outside to wait for smiling Dan.The sun began to set, and it was beautiful. Eventually AAA showed up and I got a ride with who I thought was to be smiling Dan. He told me that no, he was not smiling Dan, but was miserable Mark !

I gave a nervous laugh as he just dropped it into first gear and were off.

He looked like a grease monkey and a heavy metal dude ( perhaps a speed freak! ). Then Mark asks if I mind if he plays a little of his music ( I prepared myself for an amped up sample of Metallica ) and was shocked as he turns on a lilting sonnet by Mahler ! The guy digs classical ! Miserable Mark was a tough study, and I think he liked it that way. Long story short, we got to my lonesome vehicle, he was able to unlock the door with a jimmy stick and I was on my way. I thanked him by giving him one of the finished Spirit Rocks and he was most thankful. I signed the form and bid him farewell. Naturally I thanked my Higher Power for all the blessings received.