Sunday, March 3, 2013

20 Miles in a Slice of Heaven

Two weeks ago I posted the following to the Yahoo group Vizsla Walk:

As I prepare for my attempt to do the Tahoe Rim Trail this summer, I want to
start doing regular 20-mile hikes in the local Bay Area Hills where our
Vizslas can run off-leash the whole time. Chloe and Bailey (my Hungarian
Pointers) will be joining me.
My thought is the first Sunday of every month, 1/2 hour before sunrise, a
small group of Vizsla owners (or other athletic breeds) accompany their
humans on a 20-mile hike. The goal is to average 4 miles per hour, so the
5-hour hike would be done before 11:00 a.m. each time.
If anyone is crazy enough to want to join up, let me know.

First hike would be March 3rd. Sunrise is 7:00, so we would meet at 6:30.
Hike to be determined depending on interest.
Happy trails,
Rod aka RBD

Well, four brave souls met me just past the horse stables on Bollinger Canyon Road at 6:30am today, and up into the Las Trampas Wilderness Area we trekked.

Five Vizslas came along:  Kenzie age 2, Bailey age 4, Chloe age 5, Demi age 6, and Cooper age 12.

In the early morning coolness, we headed up Elderberry grade, which climbs into the park.  The climb went on for 45 minutes until we crested a ridge and started back down the next valley.

At about 6 miles in, Penny and her two humans took a shorter route back to the cars than James, Zachi, and I took.  We had been at it for two hours, and the terrain of the wilderness area can be brutal.  We were not half way to our 20-mile goal as the three of us remaining, with our four Vizslas, kept up a brisk pace; 15-minute-miles on fire trails and smaller routes are tough.

The terrain of the wilderness area brought us into the clouds for over an hour.  Cold wind blew from the north as we walked along "Rocky Ridge Trail" before dropping back down into Bollinger Canyon. 

To the east we pulled another 45-minute climb up to Las Trampas Peak and looked out over the Diablo Valley.  By now the sun was out and the green oakstudded countryside was wonderful.  We were three hours in and had a little less than 10 miles covered.  The goal of 5 hours to cover 20 miles was not going to happen.

For the next 90 minutes, we enjoyed some moderate trails with great views.  It was not until we passed the Eugene O'Neil Historical House that we came upon "the killer grade" that takes you from near the valley floor back up to the Las Trampas Ridge;  16 miles in and we had a two-mile tough climb.  My legs were feeling the strain by now, but all our spirits were high.

From the ridge back to the cars, we traveled through sage-brush- covered hills until we followed a creek that took us back to Bollinger Canyon. 

We got back to the cars six hours after beginning.  As I write this the dogs are passed out on the floor.  We humans may have hiked around 20 miles but the dogs had run more than twice that.
Zachi had a GPS unit that calculated 2,497 feet of elevation gain (climbing) and a similar amount of descent.

The soreness will pass in a couple days, but the memories of a good hike on this early March Sunday morning will last for years.

April 7th will be the next 20-mile hike.  We may head deep into the Sunol Wilderness area and head to Del Valle Lake. 

If you are up for an adventure and some great exercise, you can join us.

No comments: