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481. Butano Ridge Loop (12/10/05)

Hikers (24): Carissa, Chester, Clive, Edita, Eric B, George, Harvey, Hima, Janice, Jinglan, John K, JP, Linda L, Nik, Padraig, Paul, Rich, Rudi, Russ, Sabine, Sparky, Stacy, Steve, Tim R
Distance: 16 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Pescadero Creek County Park near Pescadero

Write-up by Steve -- Pictures by Steve

Tar Baby?
This figured to have a small turn-out due to the short days, cold weather, and general vacation-taking time, but 23 intrepid people showed up at the trailhead. Unlike our last visit, everyone found the elusive entrance road and arrived on-time.

1, 2, 3 INCH

Due to the numerous trail junctions and intersections, I had downloaded the coordinates of every junction along our path (only to discover that the majestic redwoods majestically screen out GPS signals). This turned out to be not so important, as many people knew the park well, and we were supplemented with a good map. No fewer than three of us had shelled out 99 for the same on-line map. This is because the one from San Mateo County is junk. JP regaled us with stories about the history of the park.

The front runners made arrows to make sure we didn't get lost (or that we all got lost together). We never made a wrong turn along the way, although we had a few discussions and head scratches before getting to the creek. Sparky had warned us that she had waded through the creek in May. JP confirmed that he had been knee-deep in water a few months back. Many of us had packed water-crossing gear, but when we reached the creek, it was easy to cross on a single wooden plank. We had a suspicion it wouldn't be too bad when crossing Tarwater Creek--there was more tar than water (see picture to left), which was in contrast to our previous visit.

We reached the top of Butano Ridge between 12:30p and 1p, so stopped for a late lunch. Was surprised to see Eric B, who had showed up a little late (having missed the entrance). He said he arrived just late enough to hear the INCH cheer as we were setting out. This brought our total to an even two dozen.

As is often the case, the early arrivals at the lunch spot were antsy (this was later attributed to "being too cold to stand around"). Sabine and Edita left, and took another four or five with them. The middle pack left five minutes later, but several people stayed behind because they hadn't had a full rest/lunch yet. While setting off to try to catch the front group, I envisioned how nice it must be to lead Sierra Club hikes. . .

As we were heading across, and then down, Butano Ridge, it seemed to be getting dark quickly. The sun sets before 5pm around now, and the trees were cutting down the light quite a bit. Would everyone get back before dark? The reality was that, even though the hike felt long, everyone was back to the cars by 4pm, so it was no sweat.

The trip down the ridge was steeper than the way up--we should do it the opposite direction next time. The hike itself had about 3.6k ft of altitude gain, and the trail was quite good (never slippery or too steep). The view from the ridge was non-existent. The best part of the hike was having the whole park to ourselves. Didn't see another person in the entire place until the parking lot--amazing. Since Pescadero doesn't have any services, it gets light visitation. Or maybe it's because the road to the trailhead is labeled "Men's Correctional Facility"?

As people trickled back to the cars, it became a bigger and bigger party. Several people had brought beer, including Janice, who was celebrating the her first forest; the first new forest in 4 and a half years! Congratulations. She also brought some tequila, and did shots with Jinglan, who was (apparently) celebrating her longest of 81 hikes.

The hike was full of milestones: Harvey and Nik's 10th, Edita's 30th, Chester's 40th, Hima's 50th, and Carissa's 60th. What are the odds of 7 (or more) of 24 hikers having decade milestones? (Well, it was rhetorical, but the answer is 134 to 1) Many milestones meant many beers, and with no-one else around, we didn't even have to hide it like we might have in nearby Portola Redwood.

Milestones:
Carissa's 60th leaf
Chester's 40th leaf
Edita's 30th leaf
Harvey's 10th leaf
Hima's 50th leaf
Janice's 1st forest
John K's 1st leaf
Nik's 10th leaf



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