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36. Trail Camp Loop (06/28/97)

Hikers (8): Dave, Eric, Eugene, Giri, Kim, Melik, Peter, Taylor
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Write-up by Peter

Castle Rock State Park is just a few miles south of Silicon Valley, but it seems like worlds away. Miles and miles of tall redwoods, beautiful sweeping views all the way down to Santa Cruz, and crisp, clean air -- a great place to spend a day.

We welcomed Eugene's brother Dave to his first INCH hike. He'd recently been hiking up at Denali National Park in Alaska and was passing through on his way to Yosemite. Definitely INCH material! By the way, he's nothing like Eugene (just in case you're wondering).

The trail started off fairly flat and wound through the woods. We felt like small ants scurrying around between the tall redwoods. After a while, things began to open up and we found ourselves walking along a narrow ledge up a hillside. There was a beautiful view of the hills down below over to the left, but I was too busy clinging to the support cable that had been attached to the rocks to notice.

Danger over .... at least for a while. A few minutes later, both Melik and I were stung by bees. Melik got the worst of it and his arm really began to swell up. I just got a little sting on the hand and managed to suck most of the poison out (even so, the finger was starting to look like a hot dog). Onward ...

A little later, we arrived at the base camp for lunch. We were apparently quite close to a shooting range, as we could hear the pop-pop-pop of gunfire a few hundred yards away. Kind of spoiled the tranquility of the park, so we didn't stick around too long. Melik was really in pain, so he decided to take the shortcut back.

The rest of us took the longer trail, via Goat Rock. As we were walking along, singing a happy tune, a big coyote came bouncing across our path and ran off into the woods. He must have been looking for the road runner. A couple of minutes later we saw Melik again. It seems the coyote had followed him for a while, so he decided it would be better to circle back and hook up with the group rather than go ahead alone. Probably a smart thing to do.

After a couple of miles, we arrived at Goat Rock. It is a massive hunk of rock, with interesting little nooks and crannies to explore. It's also a good spot for rock climbing, and there was a group of folks there doing just that.

After hanging around there for a short while, we made our way back to the car. Seeing as everyone still had plenty of energy left, we decided to take a short side trip to Castle Rock itself. It took about 20 minutes to get there -- another big rock with lots of little nooks and crannies, but not as high as Goat Rock, so not really suitable for rock climbing. It is definitely a good spot for lazing about in the sun, which is just what the doctor ordered! A nice way to spend a summer afternoon.

Rusty had been giving us for abuse for getting a "cheap leaf" on a "weak hike" while he was out of town, but despite being a short Level 2 trail, this actually turned out to be a decent hike.

Dave's 1st leaf

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