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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Winter Training

The Frozen Narrows of Henry Coe State Park, photo courtesy of John Abela

January 24-26: GGG at Henry Coe State Park

Since my C&O Canal thru-hike in January, I have been out on some fun hikes closer to home in California. The first of these hikes came during the Gathering of Gear Geeks (GGG) at Henry Coe State Park. On the first night of the gathering I made some wonderful friends; Scott "Shroomer" Williams and Jack "Found" Haskel (PCTA Trail Specialist). I had heard great things about both of these hikers and was glad to finally connect with them in person. Shroomer is an enormous positive presence with a wealth of wisdom. Jack and I had so much to discuss and I absolutely loved our conversations. I learned an incredible amount from our discussions concerning the PCT.

The next morning I met Triple Crowner Nancy "WhyNot" Huber. Once again, so much to be learned from her immense experience and inspiring stories. After breakfast, WhyNot, Shroomer, a delightful woman named Melanie and I headed down to the Narrows. Shroomer reported that they would be frozen and I was excited to see them in this state. On the way out of camp we ran into John Abela, a hiker whose incredible gear blog I had been following for quite some time. John joined us as we descended into the canyon.

Upon arrival in The Narrows, we found the conditions just as Shroomer had reported; a gorgeous frozen creek that was thick enough to walk on. 4-6 inches deep in parts, The Narrows were a shadowy sliver of winter air.

The rest of the GGG was just as fun. I got to check out a bunch of new gear, some in its prototype stage and nerded out with dozens of hikers. However, it wasn't the futuristic splendor of the new gear that I loved the most, it was the new friends I made that weekend. My conversations with Found, Shroomer, WhyNot and others left me inspired and connected to a community of tremendous people.

February 9th: Loma Mar to the Sea

My friends, Bullfrog, Tule, Bay, Spark and I hiked from our home in Loma Mar along a network of familiar trails connecting to the Skyline to Sea Trail. The trip was 30 miles and the rain was pretty steady most of the day. We only stopped when there was some kind of natural shelter; overhanging rock, burned out redwood etc. California Newts covered the trail in the thousands and it was a challenge to avoid crushing the little guys. The highlight of the trip had to be the gushing waterfalls in Big Basin. Silver Falls,  Golden Cascade and Berry Creek Falls were flowing with enormous volume.

Here's a link to our route.

February 16th: Mt. Diablo

I've wanted to hike here for about a year and didn't get around to it until last weekend. Now I'm wishing it hadn't taken me so long to make it to this training wonderland. I'll do a full report on this 21 mile day hike with over 7,350 ft. of elevation gain in the next post.

Mt. Ellen (Throughout the Winter)

This mountain stands right next to my house and is the perfect quick workout. 800 ft of elevation gain and nice descent through Pomponio Canyon over 5 miles makes this a fantastic run and nice hill training.