Saturday, January 17, 2004 Sunol Regional Wilderness


Wimble Scale: Difficult, Length: 5.78 miles, Climb: 1350 feet, Time: 3.5 hours

The Announcement

This week is another waterfall hike - Sunol Regional Wilderness. Like the last two hikes, we will be doing Sunol several times this year - it has so much to offer.

There are three options we're looking at, depending on who shows up. There is an easy option, out to Little Yosemite and back. There is a slightly harder option, out to the same far point, but by way of the buzzard overlook. And, the option we hope to tackle, is the skywalker option, which is up past cave rocks, up through the clouds, up past the tree line, and the slip and slide back down to Little Yosemite. You can't go wrong on any of the trails. With luck, I'll still be employed and feeling 100 percent again.

We leave at 9. The hike will start about 10. Plan on 3 or more hours. Bring lunch. Bring layers. The trails are wide and well maintained. Only a couple of miles are covered, the rest is exposed, so put on the sun block and the lip balm.

The Hike

Everything was fine until Mike decided that he'd like to try walking down the Alameda Creek gorge near Little Yosemite. The area consists of huge boulders, 5 feet high and more, and lots of large river rocks. While walking up the road paralleling the creek, he saw some teenagers climbing up the creek. So, he thought that the only trick would be to get down the creek as far as they were, then there was obviously some way out of the gorge.

He climbed into the gorge about a quarter mile up from the falls. Once he slid down the side of a large serpentine boulder, he knew there was no going back. The rocks were smooth, wet, and slippery, and there was no way to go back up over that first boulder.

Most of the trek was troubling only in making sure he didn't fall from the tops of the boulders as he leapt from one to the next. Twice during the trip, though, he thought he had reached a point where there was no going back, nor going forward. He envisioned having to call a rescue helicopter to extract him.

The last problem area was right at the falls. No one from the hike even knew where Mike had gone trekking. But, Mike was shouting to people at the bottom of the falls, asking them if they could see any way down from the last boulder to the bottom of the falls. The rest of the hikers heard Mike, then, and stood atop the gorge, watching him attempt to make the last bit of descent.

There were two possible ways out. Mike tried the boulder group to his right. He could almost make it, but it would have involved diving into a grove of mature poison oak. He went back the original boulder and decided to try the way that the people at the bottom of the falls were shouting about and pointing to.

This involved jamming his fist between two rocks where he was standing and lowering himself over the concave side of the boulder. His feet were then just inches from a small, wet boulder that was presenting a steep angle. Then Mike relaxed his fist, fell to the small, wet boulder and leaped across to the final boulder before he could slide into the freezing cold, rushing creek. From there, it was a relatively easy trek back up out of the gorge.

There was only the bandaging required. Kathy bandaged up some of the several bleeding cuts Mike had. A few minutes later, down the trail, Kathy asked someone to hold her hiking gear a second. She then took off her hat and walloped Mike aside the head, saying, "Don't every do anything like that again."

Well, he won't. At least for a few weeks while he heals.

For the gallery of pictures from the hike, click HERE.

Other Resources Here

This is the FOMFOK Hiking group located in the San Francisco Bay Area
We hike every weekend, with a mixture of easy, medium, and hard hikes.
We do waterfall hikes early in the year, wildflower hikes in the spring,
and work up the the challenge hike and party in the fall.
Click HERE to go to the FOMFOK home page
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