Adventures at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

Last week we decided to do an afternoon hike at 

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

, in San Ramon.  We started hiking later than we usually do about 4 p.m. but we thought we had a good 3 hours of sunlight left, so we started my fourth  

2013 Trails Challenge

 hike from the East Bay Regional Park District.

Note: All my pictures are from my iPhone, because my son decided to jump off the chairs at church with my camera in hand, land on it and break it...

We parked just outside the park's gate near Little Hills Picnic Ranch just in case if the parks gates were actually closed at 7 p.m. as the gate sign said.  After the eternity of packing everything and making sure everyone was dressed appropriately we started our 6.0 mile hike on Elderberry Trail and headed uphill towards the ridge.

Hiking up Elderberry Trail 

It was quite a warm day but there was perfect amount of sun, shade and wind that I never felt too hot.  Our three year old son, David has had a mental block about hiking since we last hiked at 

Pinnacles National Park

 and only wanted to be carried on daddy's ( 

+Jesse Avery

) shoulders.  My son can hike between 3-4 miles, that's how much energy my boy has and it's one of our main reasons why we continue hiking with our little ones.  So we decided to just encourage him to hike and after about 15 minutes of complaining he got over it and we had our little hiker back.

Elderberry Trail to Rocky Ridge Trail was 1.81 miles from outside the park parking lot, mostly up hill with some flat areas.  There were still an abundant of wildflowers in Las Trampas.  There were a lot of these purple flowered bushes as well as many California Poppies not to mentioned that the hills were still very green.

I also found 

Western Fence Lizard

 that allowed me to get a close up picture with my iPhone.  My daughter was fascinated with it.

Western Fence Lizard

We even encountered a flowing creek, where my children splashed in the water and threw little rocks in it.  One of the joys that my children have during hiking is finding a water source.  With a little bit of candy, chocolate and distraction David and Sophia hiked quite a bit up to Rocky Ridge View Trail.  An older hiking couple and I heard the woman say, "Now that's a hiker!".  I don't know if that was said about myself or my son but I thought it was a nice compliment.

The view from Rocky Ridge View Trail was amazing!

I could see as far past Mission Peak in Fremont, out past the Golden Gate Bridge as well as Mount Tamalpais and Mount Diablo.  I always feel like the Bay Area is really crowded with all its suburbs but there were miles and miles of empty rolling mountains that I could see from Rocky Ridge View Trail.  Another reason why I love the Bay Area, there is wilderness around us.  

We had a little break at the top and decided to carry the kids the rest of Rocky Ridge View Trail (0.38 miles) down Devil's Hole Trail because the couple who had just passed me told Jesse they had seen a few Rattlesnakes on the trail.  Sophia hadn't napped all day and David was already a little stressed because of group of young guys with a pack of four pit bulls all not on their leashes was near us. So I put Sophia in my Ergo carrier and David rode Jesse's shoulders. We eventually passed the pack of pit bulls and their owners and headed down Devil's Hole Trail for 1.3 miles.  This was a the beginning of Devil's Hole Trail, I wondered why it was called that...I was soon to find out.

Devils Hole started fairly easy until we started going downhill.  I think I left my hiking pole last month at Henry Coe State Park Visitor Center, so I didn't have any hiking poles for support.  Normally, I'm fine hiking without poles but I feel really off balance with my pack and my sleeping daughter in the front.  Secondly, I recently sprained my wrist when I took a tumble at Pinnacles National Park so I was nervous about falling down because it still hurts.  

+Jesse Avery

 and I hiked down very slowly on this very steep hill.

A flat part of Devil's Hole Trail, rare!

The were some large switchbacks for a while followed by a small portion of the trail that was flat (pictured above).  Along the way the normal grassy green hills turned into wooded areas, back to open areas which was nice because I love changing scenery.  The trail became very steep after the flat section so I stopped taking pictures to no fall over.  My toes were hurting from the steepness, weight of my pack and my toddler so I went extremely slow.  I hiked so slowly that I was about 20 minutes behind my husband.

We always wait for each other at a trail marker so I knew we would meet up again, but during those 20 minutes alone I figured about why Las Trampas is a wilderness! Turkeys gobbled all around me, deer tracks could be seen all over the trail, furry "poop" was all over the trails...evidence of coyotes.  I even heard coyotes nearby hiking down Devil's Hole Trail but didn't realize it until hours later.  I heard some hooting/howling and thought to myself that the pit bull pack and their owners where nearby but they never should up.  Also I had a sensation that some animal was nearby I just assumed it was the pit bulls, I guess it was my inner cave woman in me!

Jesse was waiting for me at the bottom of Devil's Hole Trail and my David was awake from taking a nap on Jesse's head/shoulders.  Poor Jesse, his shoulders hurt for the next couple of days! My legs were very shaky when I reached the bottom from coming down a steep hill.  I wasn't tired but my legs were so shaky, so I had some snacks, water and some Gatorade.  Devil's Hole was loud! More turkeys gobbled all around us, the babbling creek and there was even a crazy loud bird fight near by!

Sophia woke up but was still very sleepy and stayed in my carrier.  Coming down Devil's Hole, we saw the trail that we had to take back up that seem terribly steep, so they whole way down I was mentally preparing myself for the 1.26 mile of hike up on Sycamore Trail.  Jesse said, "You saw the trail?" I nodded and we just looked at each other like we have on many trails knowing that we were going to get our butts kicked.

Sycamore Trail started flat and then crossed a creek.  There was lots of poison oak around the trail so David was still being carried since he loves to touch everything.  We got to a portion of the trail that I wish I had a machete because the bushes were so overgrown.  Once again the landscape changed again and it almost looked "desert-ish", short bushes and lots of sage or what at least smelled like sage.  At some point we saw that we were not going on the trail we saw from Devil's Hole Trail but an even STEEPER one.  The one we saw looked flat compared to Sycamore Trail! The trail had pieces of wood nailed into the trail for steps....

My son was so energetic at this point that he was crawling up the rocky trail and yelled, "Look mommy, I'm hiking, I'm rock climbing!!" I'm glad he was so energetic because that allowed my husband to carry Sophia.  She wanted to hike but the trail was to steep for my 18 month old.  My son hiked/climbed the entire Sycamore trail, I was very impressed with my three year old hiking skills!

Sycamore Trail View

We only had about 45 minutes left of sunset and still had a couple of miles so we tried to hustle but as anyone know who has toddlers that's nearly impossible.  Sophia desperately wanted to walk and we were hiking at a snails pace.  I inadvertently scared her into being carried by Jesse because I yelled out to Jesse, "Do you hear the owl's?!" and she let out a scream and yelled "Big Owls!!" and cried for daddy, the protector.

My son was a little tired by now and we still had a multitude of switchbacks to hike, so we played a game to make Sophia feel safe and to keep David hiking.  David and I were lions and roared all along the trail to scare the owls away.  We finally reached the "top" and found some really cool rock formations which we couldn't enjoy because it was getting dark and Sophia was in need of a diaper change.  I noticed all this perfectly sculpted holes in the rocks and asked Jesse if he thought those were man-made.  Later I read that the wind created those holes and I never noticed it but apparently there was a wind cave on Devil's Hole Trail.  I was too paranoid about falling down Devil's Hole Trail that I didn't even notice the wind cave. Sadness.

It was actually very dark by now and getting very chilly and windy, so we bundled up the kids loaded them up and off we went to hike by moonlight.  Thankfully there was a half moon out so we had quite of bit of moonlight out.  I brought a flashlight but when we turned it on the batteries were dead of course! I don't know what time we made it to Rocky Ridge View Trail but all I remember was hearing a pack of coyotes howling nearby and realizing, "hmm there are animals out there...."  It was still almost 2 miles back to the parking lot but I could see the parking lot so that was very relieving.

My toes were killing me by this point and I really wish I had my hiking poles but thankfully my daughter had semi-fallen asleep so at least I didn't have a cranky baby.  We heard another pack of coyotes even closer this time, so my husband turned on music on his phone so my daughter could stay calm and to scare any coyotes away.  I was never really scared until we got wooded area and the moonlight could not shine through the branches.  I felt an animal presence to my right and heard it rustling in the bushes, whether it was a rabbit, deer or a coyote it really freaked me out so I got closer to my husband and held onto his arm.

After what seemed like an eternity we finally made it to the car and the kids wanted to eat McDonald's and we happily agreed.  Not our favorite food to eat after hiking but I just wanted to make my kids happy because they were scared.  

HIKING INFORMATION

The Trails Challenge listed this hike as 6.0 miles but for some reason we made it 1 mile longer!

Elderberry Trail - Rocky Ridge View Trail - Devil's Hole Trail - Sycamore Trail - Rock Ridge View Trail

Elevation Change.  That center part is Devil's Hole....

You can also see our hike on my Strava Link 

http://app.strava.com/activities/49644557

Lessons Learned:

  1. I need to get new hiking poles, ASAP!
  2. Read the description of trail (which I normally do) beforehand.
  3. This hike was probably not a toddler-friendly hike.
  4. To always follow my normal rules of bringing extra clothes and food, which I did.
  5. My daughter is scared of owls....

2013 Trails Challenge hike #4 is completed!

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