Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hiking in Skyline Park - Napa, CA.

The boots are out!
Yesterday we went on our first hike of 2009. Mike found some info on the internet about Skyline Park, in the south end of Napa, CA. We decided to check it out. I packed a couple of apples, a bottle of water, and a little candy, and we both brought our cameras. It was a cold day, but it was also our first clear (non-foggy) day of the year so we jumped at the chance to get outdoors.

We found Skyline Park easily, parked, and walked to the trail entrance. The "Rules of the Road" were quite clear:
Bicycles have to watch out for hikers; everyone has to get out of the way of horses. We saw lots of both, as well as many other hikers; it was a busy day on the lower trails.

Some of the other signs were not so comforting!
I was hoping it was too cold a day for any of those critters to be out and about!
Hm! I'm not particularly scared of bears, but then I've never encountered one out in the open before either. Then there was this sign:
I've heard enough stories about these big cats hiding in the trees and dropping down onto unsuspecting hikers or runners to be a bit wary. Mike shrugged it off, but I was definitely keeping an eye on the overhanging branches. I have a lot of respect for cats and their stalking and hunting abilities!
The trails were nice; mainly well-marked, variable, and through different terrain, which made it fun and interesting. Some of it was rough-going, especially when the trial went steeply uphill, or the last 2 miles which was ALL downhill (ouch on old knees).

We came across the remains of what looked like old buildings that had been carved out of the rocks and hillsides. We aren't sure what they were used for, there weren't any goldmines in that area that we know of.

I love moss-covered rocks. I took lots of photos of them along our hike, but this one's my fave:
The green moss in the sun was so pretty!

One of the things Mike loves is CAVES. Any cave, any abandoned mine, any lava tube, and he's IN. Too bad he didn't have any light source on-hand because there were a number of caves that he'd have crawled right into if he'd been able to see at all:
This is Lake Marie:This is probably the first "destination" that hikers aim for in this area, and where most turn around. After we reached Lake Marie we had a decision to make. Turn around and go back the same way we came, which would have been a nice, manageable first hike of the year. Or, continue, up to the peak (1,640 feet!) and back around via the ridge trail. I knew that we should play it safe, and go back, we could explore the rest another time, but true to form, I couldn't resist the urge to see what was around the next corner and I suggested we go on. Oops!

The map we were using didn't give a scale so it was difficult to estimate distances, nor did it have elevation. Well, we knew how high the peak was but I thought we were already perhaps 3/4 of the way up and I really wanted to see the view.

It turned out the trail went DOWN for quite awhile first, then it went up but we had to regain all the elevation we had lost. I was starting to feel the burn! Partway up we found a huge overhanging rock and, after making sure there were no mountain lions sunning themselves on it, we rested there while we ate our apples.
We did make it all the way to the peak, with many rest stops for me, and once there were surprised to find frost on the grass in the shady areas:
Then when we came out of the trees on the other side of the peak we could see all of the south end of Napa Valley. . .
. . . the "new" bridge cross the Napa River at Imola. . .. . . and pretty much the entire city of Napa!
The views were spectacular; I wish my photos did it justice. Guess you'll just have to make the hike yourself! It's worth it, really!

Of course, by the time we got back to the car we had hiked approximately 8 miles and I could barely walk. Getting old is NOT for sissies! That last downhill part was TOUGH. Today I'm doing pretty well, but I'm still sore. I think I'd have felt worse today if not for the steaming hot bath I took as soon as we got home. (I think I may take another one this evening!)

It was definitely a fun day. We were intrigued by the area and will probably be doing some internet research to find out more about its history.

If any of you know anything about that area, please leave a comment and fill me in!

1 comment:

Vallen said...

What a beautiful reward for all that work. The days (up until today) have been so beautiful and sunny. You picked just the right time to explore! So many sights to see around these parts - places I've never been. Thanks for the peek with out the peak.