Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ohlone out-and-back

With the weather warming up again, and our Yosemite trip coming up, this was the time to do my annual spring hike on the Ohlone trail. The trek to Rose peak from Del Valle is a classic butt kicker, making it a nice training hike for the rigors of ascending Yosemite’s granite. This trail also provides a great diversity of wild flowers throughout the spring, which is the main reason I do it every year during this season.

With my permit expired, it cost me 8 bucks with day use fee, but now I’m set for the next year of trail use. The map they provide is better than most. I really like the trail marking system they have in place for the Ohlone trail. They use numbered markers which correspond to exact locations on the map, making them unmistakable, even if totally unfamiliar with the trail. The map has exact mileages between points, and even though it’s not a real topo map, it does provide a very rough elevation profile along one edge.

Beginning at Del Valle at 750 feet, the trail has some steep uphill sections leading up to the Boyd trail camp. Various wild flowers bloom along these sections. Lots of Chinese houses, Blue eyed grass, Ithuriel’s Spears, Wind poppies, and lots of others. Soon after cresting the first little ridge at 2380 ft, the trail then turns right and heads downhill again switching back a few times giving back some altitude. This section brings you down to Williams’s gulch at 1890 ft. After crossing the creek begins the section call “big burn”. This is a fairly relentless uphill section, but if you really like wildflowers, this will be your favorite part of the hike. There’s lots of colorful variety to keep your head turning and camera clicking. Poison oak is in abundance along the narrow single track setion, which is often subtly camouflaged amongst other vegetation, and sticking out right into the trail. You need to be mindful of exactly what you may be brushing up against, and of course there may be ticks. I put on my long sleeve UV shirt just for safety until clear of all the over-growth. There are some view opportunities to the north, and out to the surrounding ridges and grassy dales dotted with oaks hosting masses of leafy mistletoe. When you reach Schlieper Rock at 3080 ft, a short climb to the top provides sweeping views to the east. On a clear enough day you would definitely see the Sierra Nevada. Lots of view opportunities open up along this high ridge topping out at 3640 feet, and be sure to close the cattle gates behind you along this gently rolling section. I skipped the side trip to Murietta Falls this trip. It seems to only be running well right after some good rain.

When I reached Rose flat junction at marker 32, there was a couple of hikers there studying a map. They asked if I knew how to get to Discovery peak. I told them I had heard of it, but it’s not on the map, and I don’t think it on the trail easement. Undaunted, they turned off trail to attempt to find it. I was tempted to go that way, because I already know that there is a much easier route to Rose peak than using the Box canyon route of the official Ohlone trail. But I decided to hang with the red marked Ohlone easement. Later back at the parking lot I met some other hikers who had failed to meet up with their hiking group who were going to Discovery peak that day, where ever that is.

Up on Rose peak I had a nice little break enjoying the views in the shade of a tree. There were a lot of swallow tail butterflies fluttering around, and I made numerous attempts to get a picture of one. Butterflies are frustratingly hard to photograph when you only have a little autofocus camera with very little zoom. They usually make a fool out of me, but I finally did get a decent shot as a swallow tail was lulled into calmness by the sweet nectar of a nearby Blue Dick. Earlier I had gotten a shot of a Checkerspot that was similarly entranced on a yellow Mariposa Lilly. The first Mariposa Lilies I’ve seen this year, all of them the more rare yellow variety.

Box canyon down to north fork Indian creek was killer on the way back. It was in the 80s, and after all that uphill you then lose altitude again back down to 3200 feet with another steep climb back out. At marker 32, I paused under an old oak tree with several large critter burrows under it. Hoping they weren’t from snakes, I fished out a packet of Emergen-C, mixed it, and sipped it down with a Clif Bar. I got the idea that my trekking poles were causing me to use more energy. I have read that use of trekking poles can actually increase the aerobic quality of hiking. I decided to stow my poles and started back on the trail. Before long I felt much better and kept up a strong pace clear back down to William’s Gulch. After slogging back uphill to marker 37 my legs were like rubber, but I wasn’t breathing all that hard. I took my poles back out for the last big downhill back to the parking lot. The last time I used a GPS on this hike I logged over 6000 feet of total elevation gain over 19.6 miles, but I don’t know if that was accurate. I will be getting a better unit soon.

Click here to see the photoset from this hike on Flickr
Click here to see photos from our hike together in 2007

1 comment:

William T said...

Discovery Peak is the Alameda County high point, and Bob Burd explains how to get there from marker 32: