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90. Hat Trick (10/17/98)

Hikers (10): Beth, Eric, Eugene, Jane M, Kim, Peter, Pistol Pete, Russ, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 9 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty

Write-up by Steve

With Peter in jolly-ol' England for most of the week, the pleasure of planning the 90th hike was passed down. Having had my fill of Steinstra's same ol' hikes, I decided to make a new hike based on trail maps found on the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District website, not unlike Hike 79. After careful study, the coolest route was chosen and mailed out. This was not be an ordinary hike: it was planned to cover three open space preserves (Skyline Ridge, Monte Bello, and Los Trancos), plus the San Andreas fault. I was so excited that I ended the hike description as follows:

  If we are lucky, perhaps there will be an earthquake and we will
  be whisked into a deep subterranean world where dinosaurs still
  rule and Sleestak abound, just like Land of the Lost.  Cool! 

Did it fit the bill? Well, no earthquake or dinosaurs, but we did see a dolphin!

The turn-out was a strong ten, none of whom flinched at the fact that we were about to hike a circuitous new trail through three parks with a group of people known for getting lost. Before the hike started, several of our intrepid group tried their luck with the famous jackpot chemical toilets near the trailhead. No one came up all sevens, but that's probably for the better considering the currency.

After that excitement (and presumably some hand washing):

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

The first two miles within Skyline OSP were pleasant, with fairly gentle climbs, nice views of the surrounding hills, and plenty of shade (would make a good summer hike). The figure-eight trail deposited us back in the Skyline parking lot. A few might have been tempted to hop in their cars and leave, but our pregnant hiker Kim would have shamed them all! Guilt works.

We crossed Skyline Boulevard and entered the back of Monte Bello OSP via Skid Road Trail, and caught the White Oak Trail. This turned out to be a pretty bland park (although Italians apparently found the hills beautiful) until we reached the other end and got a sweeping view of the bay area. The biggest elevation changes were to be found here also, which ultimately caused Eric and Kim to turn back like responsible future parents. This also vindicated the hike organizer, who had endured comments along the lines of "your hikes are so easy, pregnant women can do them!"

We crossed Page Mill Road and entered Los Trancos OSP. I grabbed a souvenir pamphlet as we entered, not realizing how useful it would be. As we hiked the San Andreas trail, we noticed wooden stakes with numbers on them. Half-way through the hike we discovered that those numbers corresponded to locations of interesting geological features (crooked trees, flats, depressions) associated with the fault, each discussed in fun educational detail in the pamphlet. (Note to anyone visiting Los Trancos: make sure you get the literature--turn your hike into an educational field trip!)

We stopped for lunch along the nicely-shaded trail and read some of the other info on the map. Since we were disappointed by the distinct lack of a jagged earthen tear we had all expected would demarcate the fault line (instead, there were yellow-headed posts), we jumped up and down on the fault, hoping for some geological activity. Nothing happened (despite the "enormous energy right under [our] feet"). Maybe next time.

We next took the Franciscan trail, which is an outer loop around the San Andreas trail. The most interesting thing was the shape of the two trails on a map, which looked to Muffy like a dolphin. Once this is in your head, you'll never see anything else: the trail | actual dolphins. The Los Tracos dolphin has a hunchback, but we love him anyway.

After seeing a fault line and a dolphin, it's hard for the return trip not be be anticlimactic. That being said, the trip back was made more enjoyable by taking a different route (Stevens Creek Nature Trail) for most of the way. Eugene inspired everyone to hike faster by regaling us with Police classics. Russ also added to the end-trail excitement by trying to run the last quarter mile and "come in first." This childish attempt was quashed when I heard him coming up behind me and started running too.

Although we were one car shorter than when we started, there was still plenty of passenger room on the trip back (but maybe that's because no one but me would get in Russ's car?). All in all, this was an easy, fun, and educational hike. It will be even better in the hot summer next time, when the verdant hills are beautiful, the shady trails are cool, and the informative Los Trancos maps are used appropriately!

Beth's 30th leaf
Kim's 10th leaf

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