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896. Sea to Skyline 2 (09/28/13)

Hikers (10): Brad, David, George, Guillermo, Jeff, Ramesh, Rufina, Shuli, Sophie, Steve
Distance: 31 miles
Rating: 5 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Butano State Park near Pescadero

Write-up by Steve and Ramesh -- Pictures by Everyone

A big thanks to Iris, Chris M, and Yipeng for getting up very early to shuttle us to the start of the hike.

The hike was around ~7k elevation gain, with half the people tacking on additional mileage by getting lost. I should write a long story, for it was a worthy hike, but I'll just caption some pictures and append Ramesh's story below!

Starting at the Sea

Shuli was there, too

Ramesh is already tired after two paces

Lost on Big Basin Easement

Typical trail views

Indian food tonight?

Barrel of fun

Horseshoe Lake looking good

Tunnel to Russian Ridge--done!

INCH's pre-opening parking area

NameTimeCamp #1Camp #2Camp #3Bonus Camp
Half credit
Half credit
*Extracted; 1.5 trail-miles from end.

Ramesh's story:

Why do I always have some juicy story to tell? But this time I am not at all happy about this story.

Last night I was thinking how the hell I ended up on the Skyline Blvd. How the hell the left turn on Ipiwa took me to Skyline. Obviously, I must have looped back and then took a left on Ipiwa.

The climb out of Portola Redwoods took all the gas out of me. It was never ending and I even started to cramp. So I slowed down so I don't cramp up badly. When I was close to Peters Creek Trail, I sat down on the road taking a break and I wondered what happened to David. He shows up right then from behind. Wow what a dejavu. Later, David and I took a short break at Peters Creek Trail. He mentioned it's only about more 5.7 miles from there on. We both were happy that there was enough light. David took off, I continued at slower pace thinking that there was enough time. It was about 5:30, so I thought I could make it before 7:30.

Around 6:45 it started to get dark and I had turn left into the Tree Farm Trail where was a big sign posted "Warning - Recent Mountain Lion Sightings". Holy crap! I got scared at that point, I didn't know how far I had to go through those tall trees. I would be an easy target for Mountain Lions. It was downhill there and I started to run. I passed the pond and I was on Sunny Jim Trail and I looked at Sophie spreadsheet and I said another 1.5 miles. So felt good, but then I heard some big cat growling type of sound through the trees. I was pretty sure it was a mountain lion. It scared the hell out of me. I couldn't run as it was uphill. Then I saw a deer, and it scared the hell out of me. When I realized it was a deer I felt better thinking that there may not be any Mountain Lion around or even if there is one, it will target the deer and not me. By then it was 7:00 and it got very dark and I was looking for Ipiwa. I knew I was close. But I didn't see any sign for Ipiwa and I was only seeing Sunny Jim Trail.

It was so dark I took out my flash light but I didn't want to stop and look at the map. I was nervous about the big cat. I kept going thinking how can it go wrong I am in the right direction. Towards the end I knew there were lot of loops and I thought I just needed to just keep going straight. There was no sign of destination. I was only seeing Sunny Jim Trail. May be I was it for 2.0 miles. I looked at the map this morning. It looks like I went into some loop and then finally I saw the Ipiwa trail and I took a left there. At that point I thought I was on the right track. But again I saw a big sign there showing a big picture of Snake and saying "beware of Snakes". Now, snakes too? [Editor's note: that "snake" trail is 0.9 miles from the end of the hike] I walked slowly there as I didn't want to bitten by a snake in that dark.

Finally I reached the parking lot at 7:55pm only to be greeted by a ranger. She asked what was I doing on the trail and I am not supposed to be on the trail at this time. Then she took my id and asked me many questions and then went back to her truck with my id. I thought she was gonna write me a ticket but I didn't care, I was so glad I didn't die. She made some calls and spend some time in her truck and came back and said the she could give me a ticket and it will be $300 but she is gonna give me break and just let me off with a warning ticket. She was nice to me, asked me about the hike and if I was ok physically. She was saying it is so dangerous to be the trail at that time. I told her about the cat growling sound that I heard and she said it could possibly a female big cat with cubs. If you walk by a cat with cubs, they will not be happy and will make that sound. Oh my god, that was close!

Anyway at that point I thought I was in the right parking lot, the lot from where we all carpooled in the morning. I told her my friends are at the intersection of skyline and page mill and she said dangerous to walk as there were a Mountain Lion sightings last night. She said she will drop me off, I was thinking I was only on the other side side of the intersection and but she kept going on the road for a mile or so, and we reached the cars from Skyline blvd and I was completely confused. I stepped out of car and I saw many cars there, and I heard Sophie yelling my name. Then I saw Steve, David and Brad.

I felt so bad for goofing up big time, not only for making all these people wait for me for so long but also for putting myself in such dangerous situation. Understandably, Steve was saying Black leaf and all that, but at the point I didn't care about the leaves or trees. My brain wasn't functioning anymore, I was too dazed with the number of events that happened in the last hour. Of all the hikes, I never felt this bad at the end.

Then I was also thinking if there was no ranger there I would been thoroughly confused as I wouldn't have found the intersection right away. God knows what I would have done in that situation. In a way, running into the ranger turned out to be a good thing. Well, I live for another hike, but I will not risk it like this anymore. Big Thanks to Steve, Sophie, David, and Brad for waiting that long.

Steve's 710th leaf

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