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Redwoods

Redwoods

The very big Big Basin Hike kicked my ass. Complaining for days afterward that I needed a hip replacement, this city girl was ready to hang up the hiking boots for good after this hike. But after the all-over soreness faded, the memories (and photographs) of this beautiful hike will last. Without any ocean or coastal views, I knew it was going to be difficult for this hike to make it into my top 10, but sure enough it did not disappoint.

How old is this tree?

How old is this tree?

Big Basin State Park is located in the Santa Cruz mountains and is a great place to see lots and lots of redwood trees. Some of the redwood trees have been around since the Byzantine Empire and the Mayan civilization…quite unfathomable to someone who thinks being thirty is just way too old. Around the trailhead, there were a lot of tourists…too many tourists. But luckily, a lot of them seemed to be there to get a quick glimpse of the redwoods on a half-mile loop. But alas, my boyfriend is way more hard-core than that. We were

Strenuous Hike

Strenuous Hike

off on a 12 mile hike through the redwoods to search for 3 waterfalls - Golden Falls, Silver Falls, and Berry Creek Falls. This was our mission and I even bought a brand new neutral density filter for the camera for this hike, so I was not going to waste my new filter on a 1/2 mile non-waterfall version.

Throughout the hike, there was quite a lot of elevation gain/loss which accounted for the hip replacement desire. Halfway through the hike, we came to the falls. We stopped for lunch at Golden Falls and dined on our Whole Foods sandwiches - prosciutto/brie and caprese…yum! And of course, we spent plenty of time taking pictures and figuring out

Silver Falls

Silver Falls

how to be creative with a long shutter speed and makeshift tripods from whatever materials we could find nearby. But save the best for last because Berry Creek Falls was the most spectacular of the three. With a platform and a bench extending out towards the waterfall, this was the easiest to shoot.

The rest of the hike back to the car was just painful, knowing the best of the hike was behind you and yet there was still 6 miles to go before you rest. Despite the pain and the length of this hike, the waterfalls here were seriously underrated (only Alamere Falls is better in my

Berry Creek Falls

Berry Creek Falls

opinion, and Castle Rock doesn’t even compare). There were very few people on this hike, so it was less crowded than Point Reyes. I would definitely do this again in the spring to try to capture an even fuller waterfall, or I might try the bike-and-hike version.

Overall rating: Hiking boots…This hike totally kicked my ass.

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.

Tip: Carry your own water pack if you can. It gets pretty nasty if you sweat a lot, but it’s nice to have your own source of water you can sip from instead of asking your boyfriend when you want water. But make him carry your 10-pound camera!

Castle Rock Views

Castle Rock Views

This figure-eight hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains was my very first hike with the new boyfriend (several months ago). Totaling 5.5 miles, I was quite doubtful beforehand that I could finish it and quite impressed when I did. In retrospect though, 5.5 miles isn’t that bad. And this hike is rather easy with the exception of the last uphill climb.

Castle Rock Falls

Castle Rock Falls

There was a promised waterfall, views, and sandstone formations, unfortunately most of which didn’t live up to the imagination. Although we went in early spring/late winter, there wasn’t enough water to make the waterfall memorable. It was also really, really cold! There were decent views of the mountains and surrounding areas, but I’m more impressed by coastal views than valley views. My high-maintenance side is coming out…these views just weren’t good enough!

Moss

Moss

Despite all this, I had a great time. I learned a couple things on that excursion. One, a pastrami sandwich from Robert’s Market in Woodside with a bottle of red wine transforms a hike into a gourmet experience. Two, my boyfriend and his friends talk about how to get women outdoors. Three, women talk about how to get men to talk to them. And four, men can get women outdoors if they talk to them and women will go outdoors since the only thing to do is talk. Perhaps that is how to solve life’s greatest mystery - how to make both men and women happy.

Fence

Fence

And this is how I determined that my first hike would not be my last. The conversations we had on this hike make it all worthwhile!

Tip: Beware the poison oak. This is a danger that us city girls aren’t so used to. We know to look out for men loitering in alleys late at night, and the occassionally over-aggressive creep at the bar, but this little plant can be just as dangerous and a bit more innocuous. Watch out for those three glossy leaves!

Overall rating: Flip-flops (figuratively, please don’t actually try to hike it in flip-flops)

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.
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