Gold in them Hills!

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For Mother’s Day Weekend this year, my family took me backpacking.  There’s not much else I love in the world more than my family and being out in nature.  This time, we ventured to one of Amity’s favorite places – Waddell Creek, camping at Twin Redwoods, one of the last backpacking camps on the historic Skyline to the Sea Backpacking Trail, ending at Big Basin’s Rancho del Oso State Park and Waddell Beach.

HikersIt was beautiful and abounding with wildlife, including plenty of things in varying shades of gold, which got me thinking of California’s precious resources.  Not only do we appreciate that golden sun which brings us day after day of ideal weather throughout the year, but we saw monkey flowers, buttercups, poppies, peas, and plenty more in yellows and golds.  We counted 18 banana slugs, found a shiny black millipede with golden lateral dots (and also a less flamboyant wooly caterpillar), a rough bellied newt with a rusty crimson belly, and three flattened fence lizards in the fire road (dried and caked with dust over their dusty gold skin).  A high point for both kids was to see a mother duck with ten fuzzy golden ducklings – imagine, ten kids! – snacking and swimming along the slow Waddell Creek.  MillipedeA low point was to find three ticks on Holly’s shirt – luckily no one was biting and they were all huge enough to spot – as well as lots of mosquitos (also, happily not biting).  We also saw quail, robins, blue jays, a raptor, a woodpecker, wild strawberries (with fruit), and tons of wildflowers, including hemlock, Forget Me Nots, wild onion, sorrel, irises, lupine, Dogwood, nightshade, and tons of wild Bleeding Hearts.

WildflowersIf you’re craving camping and want to get some in before the heat gets cranked up for the season and some parks close to dry season backpacking, we highly recommend Waddell Creek.  The hike in from the beach is 2.2 miles, and from the overnight camping parking area, the 1.2 mile walk is perfect for new backpackers like Holly (3).  In fact, this was a perfect finale to our three-trip early season.  Each day, Holly proudly stated, “I am going to be a good hiker.  I’ll walk the whole way with my pack, no complaining and no crying.”  Then she’d wisely add, “And when we’re done I will get a treat.”   FarmAnd she did.  Each kid got 3 Peanut M & Ms after hiking carefully down the sometimes precarious (with steep slides, poison oak, and nettle) single-track Skyline to the Sea Trail to Twin Redwoods Camp, then 5 M & Ms each (finishing the bag) after hiking easily down the wider, much easier and safer-for-little-ones fire road (aka Skyline to the Sea Bypass) back to the car.

The last bit of gold to all of this was playing on the beach – Waddell Beach had surfers, kite surfers, and kite flyers, has smooth golden sand, and plenty of fun waves to hop.  What a perfect Mother’s Day finale.  And yes, there is likely teenie amounts of precious metal in that sand.  Not that we were in need of anything richer than the experiences we were already having.

WaterPlayTiffany and Denny are leading a Stroller Hikes backpacking camping trip to Waddell Creek’s Alder Backpacking Camp (about 500 feet away from Twin Redwoods) at the end of this month.  If you’re interested in joining them, they’ll take the wide fire road in – past a couple of farms, and perhaps within sight of equestrians or bikers using the route.  It should be wonderful.  The camps are well maintained, have trash and porta potties, and are very close for little backpackers to access within an hour of hiking.  You should bring in all the water you need (we brought 80 extra ounces on top of our drinking water, for our family of four).  Else be prepared to boil for several minutes creek water or uber-filter it; the state park rangers suggest the highest end filters only, with pore sizes of 0.2 microns or smaller.  Despite the short distance in, there is no cell phone service, but there are private residences very close by the trail and Alder and Twin Redwoods Camps, in case of emergency.  Tiffany and Denny will bring Stroller Hikes’ SPOT (Satellite Emergency Tool) if they need medical help fast.  To learn more about the event, see the listing in our calendar or the posting in this newsletter.

LogHoppingWe hope you can enjoy all of the gold California has to offer, from sunny skies, to shady flower-laden corridors, to babbling brooks, to golden beaches.  Happy Mother’s Day!

– Debbie (Founder and President), Max (7), Holly (3), and Andrew

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