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766. Ridge Trail (02/27/11)

Hikers (47): Andrea C, Anurag, Bhanu, Bill M, Carissa, Carrie, Chester, Chris, Clive, David, David N, Diane, George, Hans, Helen, Hima, Iris, Janice, Jeff, Jessica A, Karl, Kathryn, Kendra, Khurram, Lida, Lyuba, Mike, Moe, Padraig, Paul, Peter E, Peter M, Robert, Ross, Rudi, Russ, Sarah, Sarah H, Scott, Shuli, Stacy, Subbu, Suetfei, Suzie, Tiffany, Walter, Wennie
Distance: 11 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve in Palo Alto

Write-up by George

Hike Info from Karl.

Diane's wish 50 hikers. It was getting close, 41 hikers late Friday afternoon, so I added +9 to mine. Surprisingly some people wondered who the 9 people were. (David even made the pithy remark "I didn't know George had 9 friends!" Later on I told him I never said they were "friends". ) As people added into the hike I lowered my number so it stayed at an even 50. In the meantime, I emailed everyone I could think of Sabine (nope, birthday party), Linda (nope), Edita couldn't make it, Harvey had to work. Chester and Moe responded with a Yes, so it looked like we were good to go. Overnight some people dropped. Helen threatened to drop until I make her feel guilty about possibly ruining Diane's wish, but the overnight drops meant we would not make 50.

The next goal was to break the record of 44 set in May of '06. Even that looked hopeless because with only 47 signed up, which included a lot of new people, who knew if we would make 45? The parking lot was filling up. We had about 30. More cars rolled in, things were looking better, around 40. How many people were there in the parking? Time for headcount. Think "herding cats". Okay everyone break into groups of 5 that should easy to understand and accomplish and make the counting easy. Yeah, right! Rudi and Hima were champing at the bit to get started and almost got the hike started without a count, so I blocked the entrance and counted the hikers one-by-one. We hit 46! Woo-hoo! Oh, where was everyone? Gone, down the trail, who cares about the count ? Well, Russ was there and of course the two heroes of the day Moe and Chester and that is all that matters.

1-2-3 INCH

Just up the hill we spotted a long line of hikers stretched out in the distance what an opportunity for a picture of INCH in action. With some yells and whistles we got a lot of people to turn and face us so the picture could be taken, but a lot of people looked confused were they being called back because they were going the wrong way? Ha-ha! Let 'em worry!

It was a beautiful day, sunny, cool, some white clouds in the sky, views of the ocean. Oh I forgot, this is an INCH hike, get moving ! The trails were pretty muddy, lots of slipping around. This was an out-and-back, with a small loop in the middle, so before too long people were already heading back. This was a lot of fun a narrow muddy slippery trail and two-way traffic. Around a corner we spotted a tall narrow rock that could have been one of the summit blocks that Jeff climbed on one of his mountain adventures. In a reenactment he gripped his apple between his teeth, and with slippery running shoes managed a clean climb to the summit, I mean top. Then to my amazement he stoop up straight and tall on the tiny point at the top of the rock, and calmly started munching on his apple. Crikey, the guy has nerve!

I managed to persuade people heading back to stop in groups for pictures. Before long we were at the Rapley Road gate, and took some group shots with Russ, Padraig, Jeff, Carissa, Moe, Chester and the Chief Troublemaker. The one giving me the rabbit-ears in the photo. You can even see him in Facebook if you hover over the people in the picture one will show up as "Chief Troublemaker". Who is the Chief Troublemaker? You got it Clive. Um, hey Mister Rangerman, I'm lost, trying to find the start of a group hike. Oh, sure, here is a printout of the hike notice, and here is the gate number. Oh, we need a permit for a group hike? I don't know anything about that. Hmmm. Mister Rangerman high-tailed it over to the Russian Ridge Parking lot and laid in wait.

Hima and Rudi got to Russian Ridge and there was the ranger asking questions, and they had to do some fast talking, but when Russ showed up with the permit everything was cool. Real nice ranger. We chatted for a while, then got back on the trail now well behind most of the other hikers. Thanks again Clive!

No worries though, along the way we told Clive blood-curdling tales of INCH causing trouble in other open space preserves, and the last thing we needed was to draw attention. Then I told him I was doing the write-up for Russ and Clive would figure prominently in the write-up. He knew right away that exaggeration would be included, but so far I've kept the story pretty much straight. Just knowing he was worried about it was sufficient punishment.

Helen teased us before the hike with knowledge of an almond cake she had baked. Better get back in time for some cake or it would be all gone ! Okay, time to get moving. Padraig was leading a fast pace on the uphill on the way back and I did my best to keep up. As soon as we had some downhill I started jogging and made good time. When I caught up with Hans I slowed down to chat and immediately started slipping and sliding so I had to start jogging again much better footing that way. When I caught up with Suzie she led the charge back to the parking lot and we caught up with a lot of folks. Good thing too as I entered the parking lot I saw a hungry pack of wolves surrounding Helen and she was fending them off. "Hurry up, there are only 3 pieces of cake left!". Yum, glad I got back in time.

Okay, hiking is done, now it is time to get down to business replenishing those calories (and then some). The chips and salsa and crackers and cookies were out. Rudi got his neat folding table and chairs out with a table cloth no less and we were living large! I pulled out some bleu cheese and olive bread and the wolf pack formed up again.

Sitting in the sun, telling tall tales, eating food, laughing with friends what could be better? Thanks to all the new folks who hiked today, and Chester and Moe for pushing us over the top. Chester reminded me that I counted 46 at the "turnstile", and then Clive (Chief Troublemaker) caught up with us, so that should make 47, but we'll just have to wait and see how it comes out when Russ enters all the names.

Thanks Russ, another memorable hike.

postscript by Diane

Much kudos to George for his impressive efforts in marshalling INCHers -- whether long-time or new, regular or infrequent -- to turn this hike into an historic, record-shattering event. Those of us on the hike will tell our kids and grandkids about it. We were just 3 people shy of an even 50 hikers (and, interestingly, 3 unnamed Founders were absent from this hike), so our work is not yet done. :-)

Anurag's 1st leaf
Bhanu's 1st leaf
Bill M's 1st leaf
Hans's 40th leaf
Jessica A's 1st leaf
Karl's 70th leaf
Kathryn's 1st leaf
Kendra's 1st leaf
Russ's 490th leaf
Sarah H's 1st leaf
Suetfei's 1st leaf

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