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310. Priest Rock Trail (03/22/03)

Hikers (16): David, Deb, Eugene, Fritz, Hoy, Janice, Jason, Less, Matthew, Nanda, Padraig, Peter, Russ, Sergei, Steve, Sue
Distance: 8 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve near Los Gatos

Write-up by Sue and Russ

This hike is being written by both Sue (She said) and Russ, because we didn't see each other for the whole hike and Russ was too lazy to write this. Russ was with the majority of the group, and Sue was off in Another World with Deb.

Russ: The idea for this hike came from a conversation with Janice about her dog Less and how he deserved to have a birthday hike like other people in INCH. After finding Less' birthday is in March, I promised that I would plan a hike for him. Oh oh, time is running out and I hurriedly decided March 22nd was the only time to do this. After looking for dog friendly parks, Priest Rock Trail came up. Janice swore to me that Less was up for this hike.

Our car gets to the trail site and realize it was the same day as one of those stupid crew competitions in the reservoir. No close by parking to be found. Oh well, off to one of the far away parking lots and hope the rest of the gang can find us.

She said: The hike notice said that we would meet on a roadside parking area 1.5 miles across the dam. Ok, set the odometer. 0.5mi, 1mi, 1.5mi....hmmm. This doesn't look like a parking area, and I don't recognize any other INCHers. Well, I guess the first test to being an Intrepid Northern California Hiker (INCH) is actually finding the group and/or the trailhead! If Oliver Stone was involved, he would reveal the grand conspiracy to limit the number of hikers by testing their resolve in finding a hike, and then actually staying with the group once the hike starts. I keep driving and find the INCHers a mile or so farther down the road in a pay parking lot, which just means we will be waiting for others to figure out the change in locations, or will be getting several "where are you?" cell phone calls. Deb is the last person to zip into the parking lot in her new SUV and kicking up a plume of dust. Alright, everyone is ready, including the Birthday dog, Less.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

She said: The trail runs 4 miles straight up a steep, dry, sunny, dirt path. Right from the start, Deb and I were in the back of the pack, and just fell farther behind as the hike progressed.

While the soap opera played itself out in the rear of the pack, the main pack was doing some actual hiking.

Russ: Early on, I spent most of my time with Janice and the birthday dog. I was having grand time walking Less and keep him out of trouble. Since I wasn't with Less on his Mission Peak hikes, I was surprised to see how well he hiked.

The rest of the time I wandered around visiting with various other people.

I got to spend time with Padraig, discussing the upcoming trip to Ireland for my sabbatical and the talk of the Irish breakfast. Definitely made me hungry just thinking about it.

Talked to Hoy and Janice about the upcoming trip to Provence. I could hardly wait for sabbatical, only another 3 months.

Jason and his Canadian buddy Fritz, who also lives in the Bay Area, told the fascinating story of what happened to Alana. We hadn't seen her in a while and a lot of people wondered what happened to her. It turns out that she decided to leave the Bay Area and go back to Montreal. But the reason we didn't see her before she left was she got really sick from Cat Scratch fever! I thought it was something from a song, but apparently is a real disease. And a pretty serious one. Jason's cat evidently gave her Cat Scratch fever. And it wasn't until Alana saw a doctor in Montreal that anyone realized why she was feeling so lousy and tired all the time.

I teased Nanda and told him that I was going downgrade the difficulty from level 3 to level 2. I loved hearing him protest that it should be increased to a level 4. While trailing the main group...

She said: Deb is a very good athlete and has a lot of stamina, but had pretty much been up the last 24 hours and was not in the best shape to hike. In fact, she was just hiking as a favor to me since we hadn't talked in awhile and needed a chance to get caught up on the latest news. She revealed early on in the hike her real goal for the weekend was to locate and join a new mountain biking club. As we make our way slowly up the hill, we meet up with...yes you guessed it...a whole slew of mountain bikers.

A window of opportunity won't open itself. - Dave Weinbaum

The bikers would stop and take breaks at the bottom of several steep inclines they referred to as "the 3 bitches". Well, there you go. Deb is almost out of water, we may never make it to the top of this hill, my 10th leaf may be a black one, but we can easily accomplish one goal today. We can find a new mountain biking group for Deb! Biker 1 was very nice, his telephone number is still stored in my cell phone. Biker Group 2 took Deb's email address. Deb has Biker 3's email address in her palm pilot. Biker Group 4, looked like hippies on bikes. Deb liked Biker Group 4. I thought Biker Group 2 had much more potential which turned out to be an accurate prediction. (See hike write-up 320 for the next installment of Another World with Deb.)

Russ: In the meantime, the main group made it to Priest Rock and touched the sign. But Sue and Deb were still lagging. Padraig reported that Deb and Sue were just a small distance away. So I told everyone we might as well wait. And wait. And wait some more...

She said: Before we knew it we were ALMOST to the top of the hill. We had caught up with Padraig, Janice, and Less the dog. Padraig said the top of the hill was only 100 yards up around the corner. We told Padraig and Janice to go ahead, and we stopped to eat lunch in the shade of the only tree on the whole darn hill. Deb was out of water and had no desire to get an INCH leaf - sacrilege! So as if begging for the black leaf of shame, we turned around and headed back down the hill. Brrrrrrriiiinnnnggggg Eugene was calling on my cell phone asking where we were. Um, um, well, we are heading back down!

Russ: What?!! They are heading back down?!! It is barely 100 meters more to the top, how can they quit already? Eugene went running off after them since he likes going down(hill). I told Eugene to tell those girls to get their butts up the hill and do the whole hike. Black leaves for everyone!

She said: Eugene ran to catch up with us, and thankfully was carrying gallons of extra water and Gatorade to save Deb. He starts explaining how he puts women on his "roster". Deb laughs and says she doesn't want to know anymore, and we go back to rating and critiquing the bikers we had met. As Steve walks by, the topic turns to criteria for picking a date. I thought Deb was particular about her guidelines, on height, weight, occupation, but Steve's list reads like an Encyclopedia ...volumes 1-26.

Russ: Lucky for the lame group, we are usually lenient for newbies. I calm down and decide not to give out black leaves this time. But next time....

She said: Thankfully we make it back to the parking lot in time for my favorite part of the hike, the opportunity to watch the guys change their shirts! The sheer entertainment value of that experience should not be underestimated.

Deb's 1st leaf
Fritz's 1st leaf
Nanda's 20th leaf
Steve's 250th leaf
Sue's 10th leaf

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