Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pogonip Hike

Harvey West to Henry Cowell
Lookout, Spring, Rincon, Fern Trails
34,000 steps (according to Jo's pedometer)
Hiking Time: 5 hours
Jo, Paula and Julie

We wanted to do a hike close to home and were interested in exploring Gray Whale Ranch - which is really just a part of Wilder Ranch now. I bought a map at Wilder Ranch which included UCSC and Pogonip - so we decided to hike at Pogonip. I hadn't been there in years.
We met at 10:00 a.m. at Harvey West and parked near the Friendship Garden. We could see the beginning of the Lookout Trail. The trail climbed up with a view of toward Pogonip meadow. It was a winding trail that headed towards UCSC.

It was a winding trail that headed towards UCSC. Through the trees you could see a view of Pogonip meadow in the distance and a view toward Costco.

Jo was breaking in her brand new hiking boots. This was their maiden voyage and by the end of the hike she gave them two thumbs up. She had tried them on in the store but needed to order them online to get them in her size. I'm next in line for some new hiking boots.

The trail opened up to a connector trail to the Spring Trail up at UCSC. This is the trail that we take every May Day to get to the magic meadow. It climbs into the forest, past the quarry and smokers hill. At the beginning of the trail there was a sign warning of coyote activity in the area. We never saw a coyote or a roadrunner for that matter.

We made our way through the forest and followed Spring trail all the way to Highway 9. Now there was a sign saying "equine event". It turned out there was a 25 to 50 mile horse race in progress. We were going to see lots of horses over the course of the day. We crossed 9 and went down to the railroad tracks and then followed them to the trail leading to the river.

The river was quite shallow, but shaded and green. We had lunch here and I went exploring looking for swimming holes, but just ended up getting stung by a stinging nettle. I never see them in time. After a leisurely lunch we retraced our steps back to the railroad tracks. We met two women who had chairs and a shovel. I asked what she was going to do with the shovel and she was going to clean up horse poop from the race at the beach by the river. That seemed a worthy activity.

It was hotter coming back along the tracks. Paula tested out her balance.

We took the Fern trail which I thought would lead to Pogonip meadow. I was wrong. It wove thought the forest and it kept going in the opposite direction from the meadow. There were beautiful gnarled oaks. There was a sign with an arrow, but no named trail, so we followed that for awhile. It one point I wondered - "where the heck are we?" Of course, the hike was taking much longer than I anticipated. It didn't really matter, because the company and conversation was good ranging from crematoriums to sacred cows. It was great to see Paula hiking again.

I haven't done much hiking in the past year, so this was a special treat.

We started climbing up the hill and saw a ranger led hike coming towards us. There were about five hikers and the ranger was talking about the area. Paula had hiked with him before. When we got to the connector we went to the Spring Trail. This is where we made our mistake, we should have looped back through the Pogonip meadow - but instead we retraced our tracks. It was at least nice to know where we were. We had a nice view of the church - always such a landmark of Santa Cruz.

When we came out at the Friendship Garden there was a big birthday party in progress with a live band. The place was packed. We headed to the Rush Inn behind the town clock for our post celebratory drink. I called Teresa since this bar is so close to her house and invited her to join us.

I hadn't been to the Rush Inn for years. It's a cool little dive bar. We asked the bartender to take our pictures and he was a really good sport about it and took several shots. Unfortunately, they didn't come through on the camera and I didn't want to tell him. The guy next to me struck up a conversation asking what we were up to and I explained about the hike. Turns out he's the Head Ranger at Pogonip! What are the odds? I brought out the map and he showed me how we should have completed the loop without backtracking.

Teresa showed up with Poppy her new puppy who is adorable. It was great to see her. I asked the guy next to me to take our photo and he got several good shots. He's quite the photographer! It was a nice end to a good day of hiking.

Lessons Learned: 1. Even in our own backyard there are still places to explore. 2. Sometimes it's a good feeling to know where you are. 3. You never know who is sitting on the bar stool next to you!

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