Friday, January 23, 2009

Garland Ranch

Carmel Valley
Sniveley Ridge and Waterfall Trail
Distance: 6 miles ???
Hiking Time: 4 ½ hours
Jan and Julie

I’ve never been to Garland Ranch before, but have driven by it several times. The day of the hike was whittled down to just Jan and I. It was a gorgeous day with blue skies and warm temperatures. We met at the Park n Ride at 10:00 and were at the trailhead by 11:30.

A very elderly docent helped us and described our trail to us. Jan and I both got detailed maps of the park. The gentleman took our photo – but had to sit down to do it. We weren’t sure whether he would make it through the photo shoot. Turned out it’s a nice shot of us in front of the bathroom rather than with the ridge in the distance. Oh well.

Then we were off. First, we crossed a meadow to start out on the Buckeye Trail. The incline started gradually on this trail. The thing I appreciated about this park was all the trees. Lots of twisted coastal oaks with Spanish moss draping lacy fingers.

Buckeye trail was also a nature trail and there were signs identifying different types of trees. We decided after reaching Siesta Point to take a side path. This began our confusion. The map was detailed, but we often had questions of where we actually were – since it didn’t match the map. At this point we were on Fern Trail. I loved the names of the trails – Fern, Sky, Hawk and Cliff.

The docent told us we would come to a pond and a bathtub of water for horses. We stopped here and had a quick snack break. I wet my sarong in preparation for the climb ahead. The next part of the trail was described as steep and exposed. But it was well shaded and although there was elevation it was nicely graded. There were even switchbacks on the way to the top. A nice cool breeze blew down on us as we climbed.

We kept climbing and reached the top of Snively ridge. There are great views from the top. In one direction the ocean, in the other Carmel Valley and the other is towards the Santa Lucia foothills.

There is a bench up top but the directions for the hike said the true top was another 250 feet up. There were two more hills, one with a fire tower on it. I asked a guy sitting on the bench about climbing to the fire tower. He said it was a “gnarly trail” but the views were great.

We climbed to the highest point and found a great little lunch spot with views of the ocean. The ridge was dry. There is a sense of accomplishment in sitting on top of a ridge you have just climbed that lightens the spirit. Enjoying the blue sky and clouds. The temperature was just perfect – not too hot or cold.

I was still curious about reaching the fire tower so I went off exploring while Jan enjoyed the view. The path narrowed down to a deer path. From a view point it seemed that the hill the fire tower was on was separated by a steep canyon from my ridge. It didn’t look like you could “get there from here” still the path kept winding down so I followed it.

It was a charming path, green, grown over with ferns and winding through trees and rocks. I came to split in the path and took the higher path, which still continued down. As the path narrowed and kept going down I realized this was no small undertaking and that there was a good possibility that I could get lost, so I went back and found Jan.

The guy on the bench had told us that the loop trail was barely hikeable, so we went down the way we came – or so we thought.

Once again we had trouble recognizing trails which didn’t match the map. Since Jan and I both wanted to keep hiking – we decided to go to see the waterfall. It is an ephemeral fall and it hadn’t rained much recently, so we figured it wouldn’t be there, but were up for the hike nonetheless.

We took Cliff trail which was our favorite in the park. It was narrow and wound past rocks along the edge of a cliff.

The waterfall was indeed dry, but you could see that it would be beautiful when it’s running. I stood under imaginary falls and pretended to be washed by it’s cascade.

We continued back to the Visitor Center. At this point I was completely turned around. I thought we should head in the opposite direction.

The trail was level and followed the river back to the Visitor Center. I asked Jan if she was up for crossing the river which would put us right at our car. You never know how deep or swift these rivers are – but it was only calf deep without much current. It was slick on the rocks – but with our sticks we easily crossed it. I loved the cold water on my feet.

This had just been an extraordinary day. It was good to be hiking elevation again and the views were wonderful. I loved Garland Ranch. It’s one of the few parks you can walk your dog and it was fun seeing all the doggies. Jan was great company as always. I will definitely come back to this park.

Jan and I headed to our favorite Moss Landing Dive bar. I brought in the “Stripper Workout” which has all the pole dancing moves. I tried a few moves. It really does work the upper body. I gained new respect for Marissa Tomei in the new movie “The Wrestler” because she does some spiffy pole dancing moves. The little female bartender came over and showed me a couple of moves – which she made look easy. There is definitely and art to it and one that I want to play around with more.

Lessons Learned: Just because you have a map doesn’t mean you know where you are. A perfect day is a perfect day. Pole dancing isn’t easy – but it sure is fun!