Monday, January 10, 2011

Countdown to the Milford Track

Yesterday we went on the first Hike I’ve been on in almost a year. It was not only a beautiful hike, but a good indicator of how much work I have to do to prepare for the Milford Track.

We hiked the Pomo Canyon Trail / Red Hill Loop. (The hike and beach are part of Sonoma Coast State Park).

Since the campground is closed this time of year, we had to park on the road and walk the half mile to the trailhead. About a mile up the hill through beautiful redwoods, the trail makes a fork, where you can continue on the Pomo Canyon Trail to Shell beach (as described in “clip and go”, and was our original plan), or head up Red Hill (elevation 1060), which is what we did. The trail up to the summit goes through grasslands, over a creek, and through another small redwood grove.

From the Summit, the views of the ocean and Russian River are spectacular. To the East we could see the steam coming up from the Geysers, forming a cloud over the mountain top. We had our lunch, enjoyed the views, and then headed back towards Shell Beach.

This trail eventually takes you to another fork, where you can head to Shell Beach, or take the Pomo Canyon Trail back. It was getting late, and we were concerned about running out of daylight, so we didn’t go all the way to Shell Beach. We headed back on the Pomo Canyon trail, completing the loop. Just past the fork is a little outcropping with a picnic table. We stopped there for a minute or two, enjoyed the view, and rested our feet a bit before continuing on.

The hike goes through Redwood groves, grasslands, over creeks, and this time of year, LOTS of mud. On most scales, the hike is given a “moderate” rating, but in my couch-potato-condition, I give it a “difficult” rating. Let’s see a year from now if it still feels like a “difficult” hike to me.

I particularly liked the redwood groves. There is something very peaceful about stands of redwoods, and even though the trail was very muddy in spots, the recent rains also had the creeks running. It’s a beautiful hike and we weren’t the only hearty souls out on a cold January Day enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and views. I’d like to go back in spring or summer, when the days are longer, and the trail not so muddy.

The loop we did was probably 7 mi., including the half mile walk from the road to the trailhead. We didn’t follow the Pomo Canyon trail as described which gives the distance as 5.5 mi. roundtrip on the Pomo Canyon trail. (NOTE: The “clip and go” is a bit outdated. The trail hasn’t changed much, but parking is now $8, not $3 as mentioned in the link)

Towards the end of the hike, which took us about 4 ½ hours, my legs were starting to shake, my feet hurt, and I had some nice blisters. It’s obvious I have my work cut out for me to prepare for the longest day of the Milford Track. Day 3 is 9 miles and gains approx. 3000 ft. in elevation. Depending on when we book our trip, I have 10 – 11 months to get myself in shape.

Can I do it?

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