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17. Butano Loop (09/28/96)

Hikers (5): Eugene, Melik, Peter, Russ, Sara
Distance: 11 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 7 beauty
Park info: Butano State Park near Pescadero

Write-up by Peter

Russ was well-hydrated for this hike ... he showed up at my place and promptly ran to the bathroom, then when went we went to pick up Melik, he made another pit stop, and then when we went to pick up Eugene, he made yet a third trip! The Man was marking his turf!

We picked up lunch at the Safeway in Half Moon Bay, and drove down the coast towards Pescadero. It took the better part of an hour to get there -- longer than we had anticipated. Sara showed up at about the same time, and we hit the trail.

We started by crossing a small creek in a dense redwood forest, then took the Mill Ox trail up through a series of steep switchbacks to the fire road that goes around the Butano Canyon. It was mostly a gentle uphill climb after this, allowing us to walk at a leisurely pace and admire the beauty of the trees in the valley below, with an occasional view of the Pacific Ocean in the background.

At the top of the ridgeline, we came across an old abandoned airfield and stopped for a drink. We had visions of smugglers landing here late at night to drop off the goods.

We headed down from the airfield to the Trail Camp, where we had planned on stopping for lunch. Rusty had gone up ahead, so we figured he was scouting out a better lunch location. After looking around for a while, we couldn't find any sign of Canteen Boy, so we sat under a clump of trees by the side of the road and enjoyed lunch.

After lunch, it was a quick walk down the Olmo Fire Trail to the Doe Ridge trail and back through the redwoods. Rusty had set some arrows down for us to follow, but at one point he took a wrong left turn instead of going straight (I knew that wasn't right!) and led us into a hobo camp. Nice going!

From the hobo camp, it was about a half mile on paved road back to the car. When we got there, we found Rusty sitting at a picnic table eating lunch. He had carried it with him for the whole trip!

The consensus opinion was that this hike was too easy, and was certainly at the low end of the Level 3's. We gave it about a 2.5. The only saving grace was that the distance was not too short. This led to the definition of the Hiking Factor:

Hiking Factor = Difficulty * Distance

which was followed by the definition of a Real Hike: If the Hiking Factor is less than 30, then it's not a Real Hike!

Since this hike was officially a 3 and the distance was 11 miles, it did qualify as a Real Hike (barely!).

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