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803. Calaveras Fault Trail (11/05/11)

Hikers (28): Alan, Amy D, Angelika, Chris, David, Giulia, Helen, Iris, Isai, Jackie, Janice, Jeff, Kathryn, Kirk, Maeve, Mike, Patrick, Paul, Ralph, Rudi, Sarah, Shuli, Sophie, Stacy, Steve, Subbu, Susan, Thomas
Distance: 17 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Alum Rock Park in Alum Rock

Write-up by Steve

Our good friends at the Hayward Hiking Club forwarded a notice from the Bay Area Ridge Trail that a new trail would be opening soon. After scoping it out, I claimed a spot on the INCH schedule for two weeks after the opening.

The new trails are on Santa Clara County's Open Space Authority land, attaching Boccardo Trail Loop to another five miles of ridge-line trail. Actually, it's not all ridge-line--there is a nice valley in the middle to make the route more interesting. Just like Rancho del Oro OSP (behind Calero County Park), the new Sierra Vista section greatly improves the adjacent Alum Rock County Park.

As is almost always the case with Alum Rock, the parking lot immediately outside the park was packed, causing the cheap half of INCH to park outside the park (and walk a quarter mile in) and the rico half of INCH to park inside the park (and hike a half back out). Still, we didn't start too late after the official time.

1-2-3 INCH

The hike was a beeline to Boccardo peak and then all the way to the end of the new Calaveras Fault trail. On this nicely overcast day--a mere two weeks after the grand opening--there were more people doing trail work than there were hikers, which was a surprise.

Along the way, there were some impressively steep cliffs (along which the trail crew was trying to widen the trail with manual equipment--no easy feat). We could see several old cars which had taken a long plunge, but otherwise it was quite picturesque for being so close to San Jose. There is a very satisfying loss of altitude and subsequent gain on the other side to get to the end of the trail. We got the endpoint of the trail all to ourselves.

Rudy had signed up late in an attempt to get his first forest with little fanfare. Janice would not be easily thwarted, and came prepared with a flask of Bushmills to celebrate (or maybe she always carries a flask with her?). All the other foresters (who drink) took a shot to commemorate Rudy's august achievement.

Waited a while before leaving, but not everyone showed up. Ran into Patrick and a couple new hikers not too far down from the peak. They were still soldiering up--the hike is definitely a workout. The route back featured a little bit of new trail, but was thinking the park would be greatly improved with a connector parallel to Alum Rock Road that would get us over to the South Rim Trail. Easier said than done, no doubt.

I was caching the whole way back, so came in behind everyone. Ran into Isai near the end and we took a side trip to Eagle Rock. By the time we got to the parking lot, everyone had cleaned up and re-assembled. That was great, because all the food and beer was centralized. INCH is great!

Many people were commenting that this should be a four, but despite having ~4.5kft of elevation gain, it was quite reasonable, with the gains spaced out conveniently to let people recover. So I kept it a three, since it certainly wasn't as hard as the canonical four of Mt. Diablo. David wisely pointed out that the true measuring stick should be the canonical 3.5. We'll have to figure out which hike that is. Maybe this one?

Amy D's 20th leaf
Helen's 120th leaf
Maeve's 1st leaf
Mike's 90th leaf
Patrick's 30th leaf
Rudi's 1st forest
Stacy's 80th leaf

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