Friday, March 16, 2007

Wilder Ranch – March 2007

7.2 miles

600 ft. elevation gain

Hiking times – 4 hrs + lunch

Twin Oaks – Wilder Ridge Loop

Photos by Barbara Oberg

Josephine, Graciela, Barbara, Jane, Paula, Pam, Jan, Frank, John and Julie

This was our largest hiking group yet with 10 of us in all. We all remembered to spring forward with daylight savings and successfully rendezvoused at 10:30. We divided into three cars and Frank biked up to meet us at Wilder Ranch.

We actually paid the $6.00 entrance fee, rather than parking up on Highway One like we usually do. I bought a really nice map at the entrance station that includes Wilder, UCSC and Henry Cowell parks.

We walked down through the historic ranch buildings and headed under the overpass on the main fire road. One reason that I haven’t hiked much in Wilder Ranch is because all of the mountain bikers. Surprisingly, there weren’t that many bikers and those that were there were considerate and riding at a reasonable speed.

We took the fire road to the left and headed uphill. The elevation was moderate, but the day was hot. As we hiked up the trail, Pam spotted a coyote hunting in the distance.

At the junction with Twin Oaks trail I went to find a private place to pee and discovered a hidden swing in the thicket of a wonderful old oak tree. The branches came all the way to the ground so, you were completely enclosed. You’d never know the swing was there.

The Twin Oaks trail was very exposed, but beautiful views were behind us. We came out at a gorgeous overlook for our lunch spot. The bright green grasslands of Wilder Ranch led down to a beautiful ocean view. To the left you could see Loma Prieta and the Santa Cruz mountains. Jo spotted a golden eagle flying with two turkey vultures.

Two unicyclists were at the viewpoint. Frank found out they had unicycled all over the world. I asked one of them if balance was an issue and he said no more so than walking. He graciously took our picture. We enjoyed our lunches and drank lots of water.

Frank had brought a small, strong magnifying glass and we looked at wildflowers through the lens. You could see individual grains of pollen.

We began our descent and there were some confusing trails. We consulted our map and found the Wilder Ridge Road, which unfortunately followed next to the dump for awhile. We heard lots of birds in the landfill, came around a corner in the trail and there were four purple stuffed Barneys in the trail. We called it the Barney Graveyard.

We circled down to a creek where two equestrians were watering their horses. The return loop seemed longer, even though it was either downhill or level.

We stopped at the Oak tree and swung in the swing and climbed the thick gnarled branches of the oak. We headed back to the ranch building and walked through the garden, which wasn’t quite in bloom yet. I love the roses when they are blooming at Wilder. We went to the massive Cypress tree in the front yard of the ranch house and admired the old Victorian from it’s branches..

It was a lovely hike. Good company and a beautiful day outside is hard to beat.

Frank had taken off on his bike and John had left long before, so the eight of us women headed over the The Watering Hole on Mission Street for post hike celebration. There were four men in the bar, but three of them quickly left. I asked the bartender if there had ever been more women than men in the bar and he said, “This is a first since I’ve been here.” We took a picture to commemorate this moment in the bar’s history.

Harry, the one brave remaining man, taught Paula and Graciela how to shoot pool. We found out it was Jan’s birthday, so we sang to her over a toast. Put some music on the jukebox, danced, shot pool, talked and just generally took over the place. It was a fine ending to a great hike.

Lesson Learned: Answering the “call of nature” can lead to serendipitous discoveries!

1 comment:

Graciela said...

To all the amaizing hiking team!

It was a delight to get to spend last sunday with you all . Perfect day, perfect views, great spirit. It filled my day with joy. Thank you Julie and thanks everyone for your company, your smiles and enthusiasm.
Looking forward to the next Hike