Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

Full Moon Hiding by Wayne-K
Full Moon Hiding, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I was hiking earlier this month on the Pleasanton Ridge and witnessed the full moon rising over the distant hills. The colors in the evening sky were spectacular and it was a beautiful scene. Unfortunately, I had my FM2 with 50mm lens and the focal length was too short to adequately capture the shot. There was to be a second full moon later in the month, so I penciled it into my calendar and waited patiently for it to arrive.

I went hiking last night on the Ridge and although today was the official full moon, the moon last night was beautiful. The evening sunlight warmed the amber grass covered hills with orange light and the moon rose quickly in the clear, cloudless sky. Once again, I had my FM2 with 50mm lens, but I was not concerned because I was planning on returning the next night with my D80 and telephoto lens.

Today, the full moon finally arrived. The second full moon of a month is commonly known as the blue moon. It doesn’t happen often…just once in a blue moon. I packed my Nikon D80 DSLR, telephoto zoom lens, Benro travel tripod, and circular polarizer filter. I was ready to capture tonight’s full moon in all her glory. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. The fog and clouds rolled in, covering the East Bay. There was no wonderful warm afternoon light and the moonrise was obscured by fog. On the positive side, we had a nice hike on the trails nonetheless.

Here are a few photos from the hike. Not the full moon photos I intended to capture, but there will be a next time…

Blue Moon

Foggy Ridge

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tourist in One's Own Town

End of the Day by Wayne-K
End of the Day, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Ever since Harv and Mary visited us and took us on a walking tour of San Francisco, I’ve been enamoured with the idea of being a tourist in my own city. Patrick’s wife bought him a book on Stairway Walks in San Francisco. On Sunday, Patrick and I decided to spend a beautiful Sunday in San Francisco, walking a few of these routes. The weather was perfect for a walk around the city. We took the BART into San Francisco in the morning and proceeded to tackle stairway walks around Telegraph Hill and Fort Mason. We came across a number of tourists during our walk and based on the languages they spoke, they spent thousands of dollars visiting San Francisco. I felt fortunate to be able to enjoy the city for the price of an $11 BART train ticket. The book took us on routes that crossed major tourist areas, but it amazed me how quiet and peaceful the city is just a few blocks away from these popular destinations. All it took was a short walk up or down some obscure stairways and we were in a totally different world.

Here are a few photos from our walk. I highly recommend everyone take the opportunity to be a tourist in your own city. It’s a lot cheaper than flying to a distant city to play tourist….and a lot of fun!

Tourist in One's Own Town

9/52 - Dead End

View of San Francisco Bay

Fort Mason Battery


Alcatraz II

Fly Emirates

San Francisco Marina

SF Stairway Walk

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ready for the Road

8/52 - Passed! by Wayne-K
8/52 - Passed!, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Yay! Kevin passed his drivers test today and got his drivers license. He has a brand new 1989 white Toyota truck with 260K miles waiting for him. All he needs to do now is change the oil, replace the spark plugs, fill up the gas......and learn to drive a 5-speed manual transmission!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trinity Alps Wilderness

View from the Top by Wayne-K
View from the Top, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Patrick, Lyn, and I spent four days and four nights backpacking in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. We departed Pleasanton at 2 PM on Wednesday and headed North, with the intent of beating traffic and avoiding the backpacking crowds. After dropping off our wilderness permit at the Weaverville ranger station, we headed to the Stuart Fork Bridge Camp to spend the night.

We started the actual backpacking on Thursday morning, hiking the Stuart Fork Trail to Morris Meadow. We spent the night next to the creek in a wonderful, Hilton-like site. One of the benefits of starting a trip mid-week is the lack of people – and the abundance of serenity. On Friday morning, we packed up our gear and headed further into the wilderness, past Portuguese Camp to a nice, isolated spot along the creek. We camped near the trail junction to the Caribou Scramble, our goal for the next day.

We rose at 6 AM on Saturday, with plans to tackle the Caribou Scramble before the heat of the day. The weather during our trip was toasty, about 90-100 degrees during the days, and we didn’t want to get broiled on the exposed mountain. We departed camp just after 7 AM and headed up the scramble. The air was thick with smoke, apparently from a fire in the region (we would later learn there was a fire near Clear Lake). The fog created some nice sun-rays as the sun rose over the Sawtooth Ridge and I was happy to capture a few pictures of it. We enjoyed a brief brunch of trailmix and granola bars on the top of the mountain and headed down before it got too hot. One thing to note is the term “scramble” was a bit of an exaggeration. The “scramble” was really a well graded trail and while the 90 switch backs (we counted) were plentiful, it was nothing like a true scramble. Anyway, upon returning to our camp, we packed up our gear and headed down the trail for a few miles. We stopped at a wonderful site at Morris Meadow, next to the creek.

On Sunday, we packed up our gear for our final day and hiked seven miles back to the trailhead. After a quick “bath” using the water spigot at the campground, we changed into clean clothes, enjoyed a quick beer, and headed out. We stopped off at the La Grange CafĂ© in Weaverville for lunch. We wanted to support a local establishment and we were rewarded with great burgers. After four days of oatmeal, granola bars, trailmix, and dehydrated food, the large burger was a bit of a shock to the system, sending me into a mild food coma. Fortunately, I survived and was able to complete the 4.5-5 hour drive back to Pleasanton.

Here are a few photos from our trip.

Sunrise over the Sawtooth

7/52 - Morris Meadow

View from the Meadow


Sawtooth Ridge

Lakes in the Distance

Trinity Alps Wilderness

Cooling Off

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ramping Up (Again)

The Trail Ahead by Wayne-K
The Trail Ahead, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

My wife thinks I'm a procrastinator. I can't believe she doesn't know me by now, especially after twenty years of marriage. I was going to give her a few examples to prove her wrong, but I think I'll do that later.

I'm going on a backpacking trip to the Trinity Alps on Wednesday and in preparation, I ramped up my training over the last few weeks to get into shape quickly. I've been hiking the Pleasanton Ridge after work one to two times a week and running it on the weekends. It's been challenging transitioning from four mile, flat road runs to five mile, hilly trail runs.

My friend Faye stopped over to say "hi" the other day and I mentioned I was ramping up my training by running on the ridge. She pointed out that every time she sees me, I'm always "ramping up" my training. I found that to be an interesting coincidence!

Anyway, I've been on the Pleasanton Ridge over ten times in the last four weeks. On Saturday, I carried my Nikon FM2 camera with me for a morning jog up the ridge from the Longview trail head. The soft morning light was starting to burn through the clouds, warming the beautiful grassland with wonderful directional light. As I headed up the hills to the top of the ridgeline, I could only think of one thing....air! But, I made it and took a few moments to catch my breath and snap a few photos.

Oak Leaf


Pleasanton Ridge

A Load Off One's Shoulders

Under the Oak Tree

Bench on a Hill