Austin Explorer's Logbook

Total Log Entries: 435 (Rank: 3rd)  [List Them]  [Map Them]
Total Distance: 1,729.64 Miles (Rank: 4th)
Average Distance: 3.98 Miles

Average Rating: 3stars (3.08)
Average Difficulty: 2stars (2.33)
Average Solitude: 2point5stars (2.59)

Earliest Log Entry: 4/7/2001
Latest Log Entry: 8/6/2022

Average ratings are based on the published values and not the values entered in your own log entries.

Sulphur Springs Grotto

This spot used to be a mineral spring spa that was visited by Mark Twain. Much of the stonework here is restoration work. [Piedmont Park]
Log Entries
Mapping the east side
Trione-Annadel State Park - 8/6/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 3.56 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 12 minutes

Coppertone and I made our first foray into Trione-Annadel from the trailhead along Lawndale Road.  We started off hiking along the aptly named Lawndale Trail as it climbed and twisted deeper into the park.

It was a bit warmer than we were expecting and the Sun was a bit oppresive.  But the frequent patches of Oak trees provided some much needed relief.

We saw more cyclists than hikers out today, some of whom had some issues with the sometimes very rocky and uneven terrain.

The heat may have contributed to the blister Coppertone developed that caused us to cut our day short.  We optioned take another trail back to complete a balloon route.  Turns out the path, though well worn in places is unofficial.  On top of that it also hosts a hefty amount of poison oak.  So I won't bother including that trail segment in my track file.  Just stick with the official trails.  It's easier to follow and the views are better there as well.

When driving out we checked out the trailhead at Shultz Road at the southeast corner of the park.  A narrow one lane road with no shoulder and no parking seems to make that trailhead for locals only.

Hiking and Caching
Bartholomew Park - 7/23/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 3.21 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 35 minutes

Coppertone and I decided to revisit Bartolomew because of the four geocaches that were hidden along its trails.  It's always nice to have an extra reason to revisit a spot already hiked.

As it turns out the hike itself was reason enough.  We had forgotten how challenging some of the trail segments were and how wonderful the views were after ascending those steep pitches.

The park's trails suffered from wildfires in years past and the signs of damage are still visible in many areas.  The regrowth was encouraging.  More encouraging was the number of large, mature Redwoods with blackened, battle scared trunks that none-the-less sported lush, green canopies indicating they were ultimate survivors.

We hiked and outer loop consisting of the Grape Stomp and You-Walk Miwok trails.  Along these trails we succeeded in finding all four of the geocaches on our list.

Towards the end of our hike we encountered blackberry bushes that had a few ripe berries ready to be eaten.  So we celebrated our hike and geocache success with a little snack.

As we crossed one of the vineyards to get back to our trailhead we stopped and watched a gopher snake with another hiker as it checked out a few holes for a snake of its own.

Mapping new West Wind Trail
Helen Putnam Regional Park - 7/3/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 3.50 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Coppertone and I returned to Helen Putnam since we were going to Petaluma anyway.  But we also recalled there was a new trail in the park not present during our last visit.

The new West Wind Trail starts at a new trailhead on Windsor Drive on the park's northern extreme.  Right away, the name of the trail is well earned as we are blasted by a stiff breeze.  There's some immediate elevation gain with the trail taking some of the sting out with wide switchbacks.  The slope here is all grass and the field mice seem to love it.  We saw several of them darting across the trail and scurrying into thick brown mats of grass.

Once the trail nears the top of the ridge above it tree cover becomes more common.  The new trail ends at a multitrail junction that had us scrambling for a game plan for the remainder of our hike.  We'd already mapped everything else previously.

We elected to complete a loop up on the ridge.  We started this off by taking the Filaree Trail towards Overlook Point.  Here we could watch over the houses along Windsor Drive below and further into Petaluma.  But we also notices the ridge on the opposite side of Windsor with trails that had us wondering what could be done there.  Perhaps on a future trip.

While admiring the view a couple of horse riders we had seen earlier ambled by.  Coppertone took a photo for them with their camera.

From the lookout we continued back to complete the loop using Ridge Trail, Panorama Trail and Pomo Trail.  Once at the trail junction we descended down West Wind Trail.  Things were decidedly more calm during our loop on the ridge with regards to the wind.  Once we returned to the West Wind Trail things picked up.

Everyone in the area seems to know about West Wind Trail and Helen Putnum in general.  It seemed there was scarcely a time when we were not within eyesight of someone else.  The 4th of July weekend may have had something to do with it.

Almost made it
Sonoma Overlook Trail - 6/18/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 2.16 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Coppertone and I were helping a friend out who had not been hiking for decades.  As part of physical therapy this was a first attempt on uneven terrain.  We didn't make it to the top, but there were no injuries to report.  She's enthused to give it another attempt in a couple of months with more training.

Heart Lake
Shasta-Trinity National Forest - 6/11/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 3.70 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 34 minutes

On our way back home Coppertone and I stopped for a couple of nights at Mount Shasta, allowing us one more final hike of the trip.  We had a couple of hikes in mind but the deciding factor was a recommendation from the rep at our AirBnB.  He suggested the trail from Castle Lake to Heart Lake.

Unlike many of our hikes in Oregon a paved road led all of the way to the parking area at the trailhead.  There is a restroom at the start.  Already, we could see a bunch of people, but many seemed to concentrate around Castle Lake.

We had some issues with the trail from the beginning.  It was a bit unclear what the proper crossing spot was for the stream which was draining into Castle Lake.  We ended up going through a circuitous path to the left of the likely main route.  We obviously were not the first to try this detour.  On our return later in the day we were more easily able to see a shorter option to get across the stream without getting wet.

The trail starts climbing right away.  There is some tree cover near the beginning here, but that won't last and there will be full Sun exposure for much of the hike.  Sunscreen is a must!

The trail is generally easy to follow.  Once the tree cover disappeared and the trail ascends rock fields things can get a bit tricky in a few spots.  One thing to keep an eye out for is blue tape hanging from tree or brush branches.  Those markings were recently added to help keep people on the established path more consistently.

The sound of the crowd at Castle Lake disappeared as we put distance between us.  But it was replaced later by fainter, but clear voices that seemed to carry for miles.

After passing over a small saddle the trail descends slightly into a tiny valley that contains Heart Lake and a smaller lake beside it.  On the slope above them sits a couple of snow packs, still intact here in June despite the warm temperatures here.  To the north of Heart Lake is a small knob of rock.  From its peak we could see Castle Lake below and Mount Shasta in the distance.  This is one of the iconic viewpoints of the mountain, but we were not done yet.

Most hikers stop at this point.  But we knew the trail continues a bit more to a higher peak to the northwest and we intended to top it.  Here was some of our toughest hiking, not the least because the trail at times was practically impossible to spot.  We took a turn onto a boulder fall only to realize once things got really rough that it was not the ideal way to get to the top.  We eventually found our spot and spend a good deal of time sitting silently and taking it all in.

From this point we could see and hear people at Heart Lake nearby and Castle Lake far away.  But there was noone else at the peak we us.  We had it all to ourselves.  It's almost as though we sat motionless and quiet in hopes no one else would realize they could get up there and ruin our peace and solitude.  The view of Castle Lake and Mount Shasta from this spot is magical.  On this day a consistent line of clouds prevented us from seeing the entirety of Mount Shasta, but an occassional hole opened up so we were able to see its peak now and then.

Eventually, we gave up our little slice of heaven and descended from the peak.  We passed a group of four ascending at that time who were going to take our place.

We stopped for lunch on the small peak close to Heart Lake.  We positioned ourselves on the side facing Mount Shasta and enjoyed the views while we ate.  We were shocked afterwards to cross over to get back to the trail to discover just how many more people had shown up.  The small peak completely drowned out the cacophony that was building as people gathered, noisily splashed in the lake and started playing music.  Definitely time for us to leave!

On the descent we encountered more people going up to Heart Lake than those leaving the area.  The crowd there later in the day must have been nuts.  Definitely not our cup of tea.

Despite the large number of people we crossed on the trail, we were afforded quiet solitude both at the top of the hike and in our lunch spot, which is something of a miracle.  I'm sure week days are a bit less crowded.  We were given good advice for this hike as the views are definitely worth it.