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Hiking in Heels · A city girl's perspective on the great outdoors
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Now there are many reasons why you might want a secluded beach, and Hiking Diva isn’t here to judge your illegal or illicit activities. After all, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it” is kind of like, “if something happens on a secluded beach and no on is there to see it”. However, there are plenty of reasons why you might want a little privacy in a beautiful surrounding, such as a proposal, and in that case, Andrew Molera State Park delivers.

Located in Big Sur, near Carmel, the area has jaw-dropping, photo opportunities, especially with the fog rolling in. It’s beautiful to look at, but it’s not so fun to hike in, so go in the months of September or October. Avoid the summer as that is high fog season. Hike early and plan other activities away from the coast starting in the late afternoon.

When you arrive at Andrew Molera State Park, you’ll cross the parking lot and start your hike by trekking through a creek. We took off our shoes and walked through the creek in our flip-flops. The chill of the water sure wakes you up. We walked along the Big Sur River and through a meadow before reaching the ocean.

After a quick stop at the beach which will had tons of people (and horses), we took the Bluff Trail to the more secluded beach. Along the way, we enjoyed the views from up high.

In October, when we went, the vegetation was drier. I’m sure the area is equally beautiful, if not more so, in the spring with all the wildflowers.

The “secluded” beach isn’t actually secluded or private. It’s just hard to get there so people who were lazier than us didn’t make the trek. It’s farther away from the parking lot, and then we had to climb over all these fallen trees in order to get there.

We did see one other couple on this beach having a picnic, but that was it. We found a little cave ourselves and set up our fancy picnic. We had brought red wine (I know, I know, you shouldn’t drink on a hike…but it was a special occasion), roast beef and gorgonzola sandwiches, and caprese salad. We even brought a little travel guitar, and after lunch, Closet Granola sang a song he wrote and in his song, he proposed! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you want a little more privacy on a hike.

After many tears, we headed back to celebrate. The moon was already visible in the sky.

Where’s the diva-ish part, you ask? Throw in a night at Ventana Inn (my favorite hotel in the world) and not just any room…get the suite with a private ocean view deck. Don’t forget dinner at the Post Ranch Inn. The next day, grab a late lunch at Nepenthe where the food is decent and the view is spectacular before heading back home.

View from Ventana

View from Ventana

Nepenthe

Nepenthe

Oh, and Closet Granola and Hiking Diva lived happily ever after…

Overall rating: Pumas

Rating system:

  • Heels: So easy you can hike it in heels
  • Flip-flops: Too long or hard to hike in heels, but flat flip-flops would work
  • Pumas: A nice stroll not much harder than walking in the city
  • Trailblazers: If you want to be nice to your feet on this hike, they’ll need some more serious protection and support.
  • Hiking boots: Pull out the ugly shoes and summon your closet granola. This hike is going to kick your ass.

Well, I think we may have taken things a bit too far with the whole Hiking in Heels concept. Grey Ant just announced a new high heel shoe made in collaboration with Teva…a Teva sandal no respectable city girl would be caught wearing combined with a stiletto heel stuck to the back. And although the product page says that the Grey Ant x Teva Stiletto is not recommended for actual hiking, gardening, mountain climbing, or Phish concerts, the pictures of long-legged women doing exactly those things paint a different picture.

For anyone actually considering getting these shoes, they’re available on NewHightMart.com for $330. If you do get them, I’d love to hear from you on your experience. I won’t be getting a pair myself for a number of reasons: 1) I don’t spend more than $200 for a pair of shoes unless it’s Prada, Cole Haan, Stuart Weitzman or Manolo Blahniks; 2) I can barely walk in stilettos on a carpeted floor; 3) I manage to find ways to hurt my feet even when I’m wearing hiking boots; 4) I don’t own a regular pair of Teva sandals; and 5) I’d then have to rate all the hikes as hike-able in heels. If I did get a pair, I’d get the socks too…they just add that extra little je-ne-sais-quoi.

Whether it’s as comfortable as Grey Ant claims or as anti-fashion as NewHighMart believes it to be, it’s just not for this Hiking in Heels Diva. I could probably walk a mile in these shoes, but that doesn’t mean I want to.

Almost two years after my first hike on Mt. Tamalpais, Closet Granola and I headed out to relive the day when the Matt Davis trail kicked my butt. It was wildflower season then and it’s wildflower season again now, so if you’re looking for a gorgeous hike strewn with wildflowers and not too much sun, this is a great one to do NOW.

I won’t recap all the details about the hike since you can read about it here, except to say that it wasn’t nearly as bad this time around as it was last time. It just makes me realize how out of shape I was back then. Even with the little exercise from skiing and biking, this hike was fairly manageable.

Here’s what you can expect in terms of wildflowers if you go now…

And the icing on the cake…ocean views from Matt Davis and a little waterfall on Steep Ravine

Overall rating: Trailblazers

Rating system:

  • Heels: So easy you can hike it in heels
  • Flip-flops: Too long or hard to hike in heels, but flat flip-flops would work
  • Pumas: A nice stroll not much harder than walking in the city
  • Trailblazers: If you want to be nice to your feet on this hike, they’ll need some more serious protection and support.
  • Hiking boots: Pull out the ugly shoes and summon your closet granola. This hike is going to kick your ass.

One of the great things about living in California is that you can go hiking and biking almost year-round. I know I’ve neglected this hiking blog a bit over the last few months, but ever since my “injury” in Yosemite, hiking has taken a back burner to the easier outdoor activity known as biking. Note: my “injury” was not so much an “injury” but as my sports medicine doctor at UCSF said “the pain is likely caused by the lack of muscle in your legs…oh, and you also walk bow-legged.” Ouch, if anything knocks Hiking Diva down a peg, that might be it. But back to my apology, which somehow got sidetracked, for not blogging as much about hiking…I may have to make up for it with reviews of biking trails. If anyone has an objection, speak now or forever hold your peace. Of course, I control what comments show up, so it’s pretty much a done deal.

Now, back to today’s feature: the Matt Davis trail to Coastal Trail. If you’ll recall, Closet Granola had already dragged Hiking Diva on a rather steep uphill climb on Matt Davis in Take My Breath Away, Mount Tamalpais, but this hike was to be much easier on the knees. This out-and-back hike is more of a stroll along the ridge of Mt. Tam, overlooking the ocean. We parked at the Pantoll Ranger Station, which, by the way, has gotten quite pricey at $8 for a parking permit. But, California is in a bit of a financial crisis, so it was the least we could do to support the parks. Instead of heading down the Steep Ravine/Dipsea Trails like we did last time, we headed over to the Matt Davis Trail past the warning signs for mountain lions and rattlesnakes (nice way to set the mood).

Rather than continuing down the Matt Davis Trail, we veered right to take the Coastal Trail. This gave us great views with virtually no elevation change. The first part of the hike was shaded, but once on the Coastal Trail, it was very exposed. Since this hike was out-and-back, this also meant that the last part of the hike was very shaded, and given that we have a tendency to start our hikes late (not recommended) it was very dark in the shaded areas on the way back. It was a full moon, but very little light was filtering through the trees. That now makes THREE hikes where we haven’t made it back before dark, but who’s counting.

This particular hike is rather scenic with views of San Francisco, the beach, and the water. The sunset was gorgeous and if I had had a real camera with me (rather than my G1), I would make a panoramic picture that shows a gorgeous sunset scene where you can see both the moon and the sun. But alas, no camera…just a G1 with a low battery.

I’d recommend this hike for beginners. It’s a great introductory hike since you can wow them with the views, and you won’t have to listen to complaints of body aches the next day. On the day we went there was virtually no wind. Since the hike is rather exposed, I would check the weather report before heading out there. I’m sure I would not be recommending this hike if I had been blown off the ridge.

Overall rating: Heels (definitely)

Rating system:

  • Heels: So easy you can hike it in heels
  • Flip-flops: Too long or hard to hike in heels, but flat flip-flops would work
  • Pumas: A nice stroll not much harder than walking in the city
  • Trailblazers: If you want to be nice to your feet on this hike, they’ll need some more serious protection and support.
  • Hiking boots: Pull out the ugly shoes and summon your closet granola. This hike is going to kick your ass.

Would anyone dare to take Hiking Diva backpacking? Closet Granola did…and lived to regret it. Granted we had already technically camped at Wildflower when he did his triathlon, that was car camping complete with a brand new enormous tent that all our friends nicknamed the Palais Royal, an air mattress, a canopied area where I could cook Cuban Steak and Skillet Pasta in a Calphalon nonstick pan on a table stove, and bathrooms (disgusting as they were, they were still bathrooms).

Before the first snowfall, Closet Granola and another couple, J and EJ, decided that they better go backpacking before it was too late. And since J and EJ have a 10-year-old Sheltie named Forbin who was going along, there was no way I would leave my precious dog, Bianca, at home. She’d never been camping, or even hiking other than Land’s End, but it’s only 5 miles to the campsite, so how hard could it be?

Well, it was record heat and that doesn’t mix well with a Samoyed or with a Hiking Diva who hates to sweat. And the dusty two miles had a not-so-nice effect on Bianca’s beautiful white coat. Carrying a 35 pound pack was just too much for me, especially since it was slightly too big. It’s very important for a backpack to sit comfortably on your hips. Mine was just a tad big for my hips so the weight was on my shoulders. And poor Bianca! She didn’t have to carry anything, but each time we stopped, she plopped down on the ground on her side, panting heavily and looking like she was ready to die. I was very worried that she might die of heat exhaustion.

The path was very exposed, or perhaps it just felt that way since it was so hot, and rocky, which made for slow progress. It took about 4 hours to make the 5 mile trek from the parking lot to Lake Tamarack. But it was so worth it! The lake was stunning - crystal-clear waters surrounded by granite rock with a small island in the middle. When we arrived, we set up camp and were the only people there. The dogs roamed around the lake and Bianca even walked into the water to cool off her paws. Unfortunately, this just made her white paws messier.

After we (well, actually I didn’t do anything) set up camp right next to the lake and had some snacks, I wanted to take some pictures. The sunset over the lake was virtually non-existent, so I went off in search of a better view. I found it and lost track of time taking pictures. I tried to find my way back to the campsite, but took too sharp an angle, and got a bit lost. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to find your way back on a lake. You just keep walking and eventually you run into your campsite. But I did give Closet Granola quite a scare!

When I arrived back at camp, we cooked dinner. I was skeptical of dehydrated food, but our Mountain House packs of Beef Stroganoff and Chili Mac ‘n Cheese made me a believer. Not only was it edible, but it was delicious! Highly recommended from a food snob like me.

As is typical with camping, we went to bed early and given the heat wave, the temperature was pretty comfortable at night. Unfortunately, the sleeping mats weren’t as comfortable as an air mattress and Bianca was a bit restless. She had never spent a night away from her home in the suburbs, so sleeping in a tent without her sister, Sorcha, was definitely a new experience for her. We didn’t sleep well that night, so woke up early. The view of the lake was spectacular. The magic it lacked at dusk, it more than made up for in the morning. The reflection of the granite rocks in the water made the lake look like a mirror. I’ve never seen a reflection so perfect.

After breakfast, the boys went off for a hike to a nearby lake, and EJ, the dogs and I hung out at the campsite, napping and reading. When it was time to pack up camp, that’s when the drama started. Forbin, the Sheltie, all of a sudden couldn’t walk. He was in so much pain. His back was arched and he looked like he was in shock. By the time we finished packing up camp, he still couldn’t walk, so Closet Granola built a stretcher out of my tripod and a sleeping bag, and the boys carried Forbin out while carrying 50 pound packs. It took us even longer to get out, stopping every quarter mile but we have a motto, “No dog left behind.”

After we got out, J and EJ took Forbin to a vet in Placerville. The poor doggy got a catheter and drugs and was transported back to San Francisco. It took a few more days to discover the cause of his pain…a tear in his bladder through which urine was leaking into his abdomen and causing his kidneys to fail. After surgery, Forbin made a full recovery.

Bianca also didn’t come out unscathed. She was on bedrest for a couple days as she rested her paws, which were raw and red. My poor baby! In the end, both dogs and four humans made it out alive, but there were moments when it seemed like a wilderness drama on Fox where it’s 4 city dwellers and 2 dogs vs. nature.

Tip #1: You can rent backpacks and other camping equipment from REI . Next time, I’ll do that instead of wearing a backpack that is too big.

Tip #2: There’s an REI in Folsom on the way from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, so if you need last minute supplies, you’re covered.

Tip #3: You’ll need a permit to camp at Lake Tamarack, so call ahead.

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