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11. Cache Creek Trail (08/03/96)

Hikers (5): Matt, Peter, Russ, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 16 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 8 beauty

Write-up by Peter

After our trip to Half Dome, we were pumped for another Level 5 hike. According to the book, the closest one was the Blue Ridge Trail -- just north of Lake Berryessa, about a 2-hour drive from home,

The book promised it would be a tough hike with a "good share of lizards and rattlesnakes". All right! It also warned us to bring plenty of water or face surrender, so we loaded up on the liquids.

After passing Lake Berryessa, we started to get hungry, so we stopped at the Cache Creek Casino for lunch. Burgers and greasy fries all around. Mmmmm-mmmmm! Esteban lost a few bucks on the slots while the rest of us were eating.

After lunch, we headed off to find the trailhead. We drove up and down the road where the turnoff was supposed to be, but no luck. We finally pulled off next to a country store and asked an old-timer where the trailhead was. Before he gave us directions, he asked us if we had taken enough water. Apparently, the book was not kidding.

We finally found the turnoff and parked across the river, just as the book had said. It was a hot day, so we hydrated once more, loaded up the backpacks with tons o' drinks, slapped on the sunscreen, and hit the trail.

The first part of the trail was a decent-grade climb with a series of switchbacks. Esteban was out in front, followed by Russ. Matt, Taylor, and myself brought up the rear. The heat was taking it's toll already ... Taylor stopped a couple of times in the early going and had finished about a quarter of her water supply only one mile into the hike, prompting bickering and hostility from another of the hikers who shall remain nameless (me).

No sign of Esteban or Rusty ...

After the second mile, the trail flattened out and the terrain opened up. We could see large mountains up ahead, and assumed this is where we were headed. We stumbled along a small downhill portion, at the bottom of which we found Canteen Boy sitting in the dirt, gulping down Gatorade. Matt and Taylor joined him among the stones and pebbles. I just stood under a thistly tree, gasping for air. It was hot and the backpacks were heavy, but as much as we wanted to drink, we had to conserve water.


The trail looped around and seemed to be heading away from the mountains. We figured it was taking us further down into the valley before cutting across and rising up. At the bottom, we found Esteban, sitting on a log. He had scouted up a little further, and told us the trail was looping back towards the start. Since there was no other branch, we figured we'd just keep going, and see what happened.

Sure enough, about half an hour later we were back where we had started!

Esteban, Russ, and Matt tried to find another trailhead, but there was none to be found. Taylor and I wisely sat in the car and enjoyed a cool Snapple while the other fools walked about under the hot sun.

After a little while, the Three Musketeers admitted defeat, and we piled into the car and headed back across the river. After crossing over, we saw an ice cream vendor had set up a stand at the point where rafters were coming out of the water. Ice cream!!! Russ got so excited he ripped the side moulding off the car door! Now you know why I don't like to take my car on the hikes.

We went home with a mixture of disappointment and relief. We drove a long way and ended up doing a wimpy 4-mile hike, but at least we lived to go back another day.

Peter's 10th leaf

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