Date: Mar 18, 2012
We have been trying to check out Sunol Regional Wilderness for a while. Somehow, things kept getting in the way (bad weather, couch potato-ness, and even leaving the wallet at home and driving all the way to the park to find out that we can’t pay the entrance fee). Finally everything lined up, and we set out to visit the park, especially the intriguing “Little Yosemite” section that stood out on the park map.
The hike to the “Little Yosemite” area was an easy and short one – it followed a park dirt road. However, we took our sweet time, enjoying the colorful spring flowers sprouting from everywhere (even from rocks)
Little Yosemite turned out to be a little gorge carved out in the surrounding hills by Alameda Creek. I wouldn’t try to compare it with the Yosemite proper (the bar is just way too high). However, on a more reasonable playing field of nearby local parks, it measured up to be a pretty cool place after all. The water level in the creek was pretty low, so there were a lot of cool colorful rocks exposed. One of them appeared so out-of-place that we quickly nicknamed it “Alien Blue Rock”
W Tree …
As always, I was staring at the park map during one of the numerous photo-stops (mmm… maps… drool…). This time, the staring turned out quite productive. I spotted a little creek with an intriguing name “W Tree”. It was fairly close to our planned route, so we just couldn’t resist making a detour to satisfy our curiosity about the puzzling name. When our path crossed the creek, it became apparent what was meant by the “W Tree”:
… Rock Scramble
It also became apparent that I had missed the second half of the creek name, the full version being “W Tree Rock Scramble”. There was a rough side trail going in the direction of the W tree, and there was simply no way we could resist the temptation of exploring further. The trail quickly reached the creek bed and disappeared, but that only served to stoke our adventurous spirit. We continued up the creek, hopping over the stream numerous times and scrambling through the giant rocks which were scattered all around.
The new plan was to keep travelling up the stream until we reach an intersection with an official trail, which we would use to go back to the parking lot. So, the rock hopping activity went on. For the first half an hour, it was really fun and exciting. After that, it started to become a little repetitive. After an hour of jumping through the rocks and wading through the cold creek water, our little dog Lily got cold, tired, and miserable (Vitaly & me may or may not have gotten tired, but that is not to be discussed… Yeah, blame it all on Lily.) Rough estimates of our position placed us more than half-way to the next trail (just the luck – a rare reason to use those wilderness nav skills comes along, and I don’t have my compass with me!) We decided to continue upstream and try to find a way to higher and more level ground. It took a couple of attempts, but we finally got out. Lily was happy to be back on the open grassy hillsides with no rocks or cold water (and plenty of cow patties to sniff). Vitaly & me were also enjoying off-trail hiking, with all that fresh green spring grass and total solitude.
Soon we reached the trail which would take us back. From that point on, it was easy going, mostly downhill all the way – in all the excitement of the creek scramble we didn’t realize that we were gaining quite a bit of altitude. Along the way, there were some nice views from the higher ground – a nice ending to an exciting and fun day.