Visiting the Dark Grove – Devil’s Staircase Wilderness 2016

Trip Report:
Date: June 12, 2016
Duration: 1 Day
Participants: 10
Group: Obsidians: As this was the first visit to a very remote location, for safety, I enlisted the help of Oregon Wild to introduce us to the area.
Hiking 5 miles (1,000-foot elevation loss/gain)
Type: Day Hike

The proposed Devil’s Staircase Wilderness is one of the most remote and inaccessible regions of rainforest left in the Coast Range. This impenetrable area has limited hiking trails or roads and is visited by only a few hundred people a year. Yet it remains unprotected despite the efforts of conservation groups and Oregon’s congressional delegation. To find out more about this compelling landscape, eleven Obsidians joined Chandra LeGue, the Western Oregon Field Coordinator at Oregon Wild, for a day of hiking to the Dark Grove. The Dark Grove has never been logged and is home to ancient trees that are 400-500 years old.

Our caravan of cars departed Eugene and meandered on back roads through the coast range. At one point, the green surroundings were cleaved from our sight as we drove through a wasteland of cut and darkened stumps: one member in the car likened the lifeless land to the desolated area at Mount St. Helens just after its eruption. This sight was a stark contrast to the lush biomass that we would encounter later that day.

About 15 miles northeast of Reedsport, we pulled off the pavement and slowly traveled up a single laned, overgrown backroad. Salmonberries grew in abundance here and scratched the sides of the car.

IMG_4548We parked at a junction and walked down an old logging road that was being reclaimed by the forest. Then we disappeared into the bushes, venturing down an elk trail. Posted on a tree was a sign that told us this was not the path to the Devil’s Staircase waterfall and unless you’re prepared to stay the night, and have Search and Rescue to look for you, to turn back. Fortunately, we had a guide for our inaugural visit.

The so-called “trail” was on loose soil and maintained a direct angle downward at 45-50 degrees. For the next hour and a half, we carefully descended 1,000 feet. Roots frequently caught our feet as we clamored over fallen logs and beneath large trees that had crashed across ravines and splintered. Ferns grew in abundance and they and helped us balance ourselves with their solid fronds. We quickly learned that ferns were our friends.

The weather that day was pleasant and sunny, though had our schedule been a day or two off, our visit might have been plagued with slippery trails.

Finally, the trail leveled out and we enjoyed lunch in an amphitheater-like area of fallen logs surrounded by a carpet of greenery. We saw a shadow over the canopy as a turkey vulture circled far overhead, no doubt curious to see if the humans had lost their way.

IMG_4571A forest of Salmonberries obstructed our path, so we made a trail straight up a ridge, then down into a forest of sword ferns. The ferns stood at five to six feet in height, so they engulfed us all and many of the shorter members traveled with their arms raised straight overhead. These tranquil glens often hid downed logs and it was easy to twist ankles or slam shins.

IMG_4577A fallen giant became our catwalk above the salmonberries, foxgloves, and ferns. We crossed a creek, but could barely see the water because of the thick undergrowth. Scampering down the side of the massive tree, we squatted and crawled through a small jungle, then emerged at the root base of the fallen giant – it was 25 feet tall!

IMG_4592In front of us was the Dark Grove, a cathedral of 8-foot wide Douglas Fir trees. The trees were dark in appearance, the result of fire about 150 years earlier. Touching the bark a charcoal residue was imprinted on fingers. The tree model is Becky Lipton.

blog-2016-06-dark-groveCrossing back across the fallen giant, we stood at the base of one of the largest trees we saw that day. Eight people stood at its base, arms outstretched and hands grasped. They counted one, two, three… their calls became muffled as they rounded the opposite side…the voices returned and the loop stopped – at seven and a half people! This immense tree was somewhere between 35 to 40 feet in circumference! Several Obsidians mentioned they felt like kids in a giant outdoor playground.

We continued through the ferns and back again along the ridge (which was unmarked on the Forest Service map). We lost the trail several times but finally found what we were looking for: a small rocky outcrop along Wasson Creek where the channeled water made a small waterfall for us to enjoy. We rested for half an hour in the sun.

The rest of the afternoon was spent returning via the same trail that we had descended earlier, which was a workout! At about 4 pm, we returned to our cars and started our two-hour drive back to Eugene.

This hike was a rugged and demanding off-trail experience, and all of us got scratched and dirty, some of us stung by insects, and one person had a fall (fortunately the ground was padded by an abundance of moss and there was no injury)! I understand why people get lost in this wilderness; even with directions, I could never have found this remote location. The sheer scale of the forest is very disorienting, but experiencing this place at ground level provides clarity as to why it needs to be protected.

Short Mountain Landfill Trip Report 2 – April, 2016

Trip Report
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians: joined by BRING Recycling
Date: April 9, 2016
Participants: 8
Type: Day Hike

Visiting the local landfill is not high on a person’s bucket list, but ask this question, “Where is away?” When you throw something in the trash where does it go? What happens to it? What will happen to it?

Roughly 5-miles from Eugene is the County landfill. Visiting such a place is very useful for gaining perspective about our personal and societal use of resources. This was short, but a very educational trip. A handful of curious folks made the trip to learn about the facility’s methane recovery operations, how the landfill cells are designed, how space is maximized via compaction, leachate management (trash juice), wetlands mitigation, and impacts on the Middle Fork’s water quality – a potential secondary source of water for 250,000 people.

The footprint for this site is 540-acres, and the hills will eventually reach a height of 600-feet. The expected “lifespan” for this site is another 100-years; which means we will be putting trash into the ground for another 100-years at this site. That is a lot of trash.

Short Mountain Landfill Trip Report October, 2015

Trip Report
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians: joined by BRING Recycling
Date: October 27, 2015
Participants: 8
Type: Day Hike

Our trip to the landfill was cut short because of gunfire in the vicinity. We left the area immediately. Apparently, a state-licensed trapper was on top of the 250-foot trash hill shooting birds considered to be a nuisance. The BRING representative, who was guiding our trip, was not happy because there was a breakdown in communications. Our trip had apparently uncovered a major hole in the landfill’s processes concerning visitors, signage, and contractors with firearms using the site. This has been resolved and I will be re-scheduling another visit to see everything that we missed.

What’s in Your Water Bottle – Trip Report March, 2015

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Trip Report
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians
Date: March 13, 2015
Participants: 15
Hiking: 2 Miles
Type: Day Hike

We have all turned on the kitchen tap and filled up a bottle in preparation for a hike, but have you ever wondered what was in your bottle? Think about it – we all live downstream from somebody.

How does river water become the tap water we drink and how is wastewater made safe for wildlife and others downstream? To learn more, I organized a trip with The Obsidians (A fantastic outdoor club in Eugene, Oregon), to the local water intake and the wastewater facilities.

Our first visit was to the Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant, located adjacent to the McKenzie River, in Springfield. The facility is no small operation; it serves the needs of 200,000 people on a daily basis by removing water directly from the river, treating it, and finally delivering it to our taps.

Here are some observations from the visit:

  • The facility is very high-tech and water quality is measured at all stages of the process both by computer and by a human with hourly lab checks.
  • Security is paramount; the plant is gated with a security fence/gate, cameras are everywhere.
  • Our local water system has about two days of water reserves if there is a calamity.
  • On the day we visited the facility had processed and was sending out 16 million gallons (24 Olympic sized swimming pools) of water to the surrounding community.

Next, we traveled to the Eugene/Springfield Water Pollution Control Facility in Eugene. This is where all of the waste materials that go down the drain/flushed from our households and businesses in the greater Eugene metropolitan area (a quarter of a million people) are processed. The plant is located adjacent to the Willamette River. Our hour and a half visit was very informative:

  • More than 99% of what arrives at the facility is water; less than 1% are solid materials that need to be either removed or turned into bio-solids.
  • Most of the odoriferous gases are collected and used to power a generator that supplies 50-60% of the energy needs of the facility.
  • Waste materials can take up to 10 hours, once they leave your home until it reaches the wastewater facility; then wastewater can take another 10 hours to be processed. In short, waste materials take less than 24 hours until that water is returned to the river.
  • The amount of water being cleaned and being returned to the Willamette River that day was about 15 million gallons (roughly 23 Olympic swimming pools).
  • During the summer, the plant can process up to 70 million gallons per day (106 Olympic swimming pools) of wastewater!

I was fascinated to learn that on the Willamette River in Oregon there are about 25 wastewater treatment stations, and that does not include communities on the tributaries that flow into the Willamette! Just think about that…for every wastewater plant, there is likely a water intake facility that supplies drinking water for the next community downstream. If you live downstream you really want to know that the people upstream are taking care of your water – the water you drink, use for bathing, and for recreation.

If you’re curious about the water that goes into your water bottle start asking questions. Most water intake and wastewater plants are happy to host tours for small groups. Let them know you are interested in visiting.

Behind us is a 2-million gallons of water; the tank is actually a settling basin for any particulate matter.
Water Filtration Plant: Behind us is a 2-million gallon settling basin. This is used to settle any particulate matter in the water. This water was recently pulled from the McKenzie River.
A view an empty 2-million gallon setting tank.
Water Filtration Plant: A view an empty 2-million gallon setting basin.
Wastewater Treatment Facility: It looks like a really bad root-beer float, it is actually air being passed through the wastewater, this allows bacteria to better digest the waste.
Water Pollution Control Facility: It looks like a really bad root-beer float, it is actually air being passed through the wastewater, this allows bacteria to better digest the waste.
Treated water that is almost ready to be returned to the Willamette River.
Water Pollution Control Facility: Treated water that is almost ready to be returned to the Willamette River.

What about when the water is returned to the Willamette River? Find out more, read my post, Rafting the Upper Willamette River with the McKenzie River Trust; the majority of the photos were taken only a few miles downstream from Eugene’s wastewater treatment facility.

Keeping It Wild – Camping 101 Event

Organization: Grand Opening Camping Festival at Little Basin
Date: April 20, 2102
Trip Facilitator: Mark Hougardy

In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains is a beautiful area of redwoods that most people have never seen. Until recently the area was a retreat for employees of Hewlett-Packard. The area called, Little Basin is a new acquisition of the California state park system that has been annexed by Big Basin Redwoods State Park, yet run as a separate entity. In April of 2012 Little Basin, held a Grand Opening Camping Festival. I organized and facilitated a “Camping 101” event. Here are some photos:

       

Hiking for Families Course 2004


Organization: Sunnyvale – Cupertino Adult Community Education
Instructor: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 7-12

Course Overview: Explore local parks and natural areas with other young families. Parks are within an hour’s drive. Provide your own transportation. Bring lunch, water, first aid kit, and whistle. Wear layered clothing, comfortable shoes and bring a hat. Trails are easy but not stroller friendly. Each hike is 2-3 miles and about 2 hours in duration. Destination parks will also have areas to explore and play. Meet at 9:50 AM. Hikes start promptly at 10:00 AM Restrooms are available at the parks!

The Instructor: Mark Hougardy has over ten years of experience developing and leading interpretive day hikes and overnight camping trips. He works closely with select National and California State Park associations to further their interpretive missions. Mark is a father and enjoys fostering experiences for families to enjoy the outdoors.

October 9, 2004: VILLA MONTALVO COUNTY PARK
Start Location: ACE classroom 4 C
Travel time from ACE: 20 minutes
Description: A pleasant hike in the grounds of the Villa Montalvo Estate. The hike will include a trip to Vista Point for views of Silicon Valley clear to San Francisco. The hike will end on the front lawn of the estate. Time will be available for an optional picnic and explore a nearby lawn-art structure.
Directions: From ACE travel South on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road to downtown Saratoga. Continue straight (southeast) on Hwy 9 one-half mile. Turn Right onto Montalvo Road and follow signs. Park in Lot #4.

October 16, 2004: SANBORN-SKYLINE COUNTY PARK
Start Location: Meet at Sanborn Park Hostel. Located inside the park.
Travel time from 280/DeAnza Boulevard: 20-30 minutes.
Description: The hike emphasizes the natural history of the area, including the San Andreas Fault, the tallest organisms on the planet and the animals who inhabit(ed) the park. We will visit the junior museum.
Directions: From the 280/Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road intersection travel South on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road to downtown Saratoga. Turn Right on Hwy 9; travel 2 miles into the mountains. Just past the Saratoga Springs Campground turn Left on Sanborn Road, travel 9/10 mile, make the first and only Right turn on Picks Road. Continue one-half mile until the road dead-ends. Turn Right into the Sanborn Park Hostel parking lot.

October 23, 2004: HUDDART COUNTY PARK
Start Location: Meet at Huddart Park, Werder parking lot.
Travel time from 280/DeAnza Boulevard: 30 minutes.
Description: Horses and riders frequent this park, riders often let children pet their horses but no sudden movements or noise, please. The hike includes redwoods and great trials. The hike will end at the children’s playground (Werder parking lot) where parents can enjoy a picnic lunch while the children play. Bring a picnic lunch. BBQ grills are available.
Directions:
From the 280/Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road intersection travel North on 280. Turn off at the Woodside Road (Highway 84) exit. Turn Left (westbound towards Woodside). Proceed approximately 1.5 miles through the Town of Woodside. Turn Right on Kings Mountain Road. Proceed up the hill to the main park entrance. Parking fee of $5.

Adventuring in the Historic Austrian Tirol

Note: I planned to lead this trip in 1999 for a group of 12; however, due to the unfortunate economic downturn of 2000 it was not scheduled.

The Alpen regions of Austria and Italy are unparalleled in natural history and beauty. Our adventure is an introduction to this breathtaking region by exploring the historic sites, experiencing the food, local culture, and natural aspects of the beautiful land. The adventure focuses on areas in and around the capitals of Tirol (Innsbruck, Austria) and Südtirol (Bozen, Italy). Both cities are used as “hubs” for our day trips and contain a rich concentration of cultural, religious and historic sites. Opportunities to explore and appreciate the local natural beauty abound. Transportation on EuRail trains, local buses, and electric trams will be utilized. Day trips always return to a clean bed with hot water facilities. Accommodation is based on double occupancy and includes overnights in hotels and guest houses.

Location: The Alps of the Austrian Tirol and Italian Südtirol
Trip Dates: (14 Days) Summer 2000
Cost: TBD. Air separate. Based on double occupancy.
Accommodations: Hotels/Guest House
Capacity: 12 people
Trip Rating: Moderate. Some activities are Strenuous. All are optional.


SCHEDULE:

[DAY 1]
ARRIVE INNSBRUCK
A full day traveling by air or rail to Innsbruck, Austria. Please bring a light jacket, water, your passport, tickets, traveler’s checks, and wear comfortable clothing. In addition, you may want to bring a few books to read and some extra money.

Your guides meet you at the Innsbruck airport or train station. After a short ride, we arrive at our guest house in Igls, a suburb of Innsbruck. Igls (shown) is a hiking village situated on a sunny plateau at the base of Patscherkofel (shown in background). The village is perfect for exploring the nearby natural areas. Our guest house accommodations will be home for the next seven nights.

[DAY 2]
PERSPECTIVE OF INNSBRUCK
We will gain a perspective of Innsbruck and the many sights by taking a short tram ride around the city, with a visit to the city tower. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

Our first full day in Innsbruck is spent gaining perspective. We board a local tram for a short introduction to sights in Innsbruck. In addition, we will visit Stadtturm, a 15th-century tower located in the heart of the city. The tower provides a superb view of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains. For those who want to enjoy a relaxing afternoon, Innsbruck is blessed with coffee houses and pastry shops which can be enjoyed at your leisure. For those with more energy, we will hike the Olympic Ski Jump overlooking the city. Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympic Games in both 1964 and 1976.
[DAY 3]

EXPLORATION OF INNSBRUCK
Historic Innsbruck offers a rich political and cultural history. From Innsbruck, the Habsburg empire grew to a European power that would shape European history for over 400 years. The adornments of the local churches and political structures are beautiful and lavish. Today we recommend that you carry a day pack, wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring some extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

We begin our exploration of Innsbruck by visiting several of the oldest and most exquisite structures in the city. Within a few feet, we travel through hundreds of years of history. Beginning with Emperor Maximilian I and the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) we continue to his tomb in the Court Church. Inside we are surrounded by 28 haunting life-sized bronze and black statues. In addition, the church is the home to the tomb of Andreas Hofer, an Austrian national hero who led four revolts against Napoleon’s invading army. The Tyroler Volkskunst Museum (Museum of Tirolean Folk Art) has rich carved furniture and traditional costumes on display. The Hofburg, or Imperial residence, contains staterooms, historic paintings, tapestries and a richly painted ballroom (shown). Innsbruck is also home to a beautiful cathedral and basilica, for those desiring to attend a Sunday mass.

[DAY 4]
ALPINE ZOO, NORDKETTENBAHN CABLE CAR, AND HIKING
We spend a full day experiencing the wildlife and the high mountains of the Alps. We recommend you bring a day pack, snacks, ear band, a jacket, water, and extra money. Please wear comfortable hiking boots. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

In the morning we depart for turn-of-the-century cable car-trolley, Hungerburgbahn which carries us up the mountain to the Nordkettenbahn cable car to the 7,000-foot summit. At the summit, we can see Inn Valley and Innsbruck one mile below us. In addition, we can see the peaks in Italy and Germany. We will be accompanied by a local guide for a four to five-hour hike. In the late afternoon, we visit the Alpenzoo, which houses such native fauna as river otters, bears, and European bison. We descend the Hungerburgbahn and return to our accommodations in the early evening.

[DAY 5]
EXPLORATION OF INNSBRUCK (cont.)
Today we continue to explore Innsbruck, including Schloss Ambras (Castle Ambras), once the guardian of these mountainous crossroads. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes, bring snacks, water, and extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

We continue our exploration of Innsbruck by visiting Schloss Ambras (Castle Ambras). The castle (shown) is home to a rich collection of armor, historic weaponry, and an eccentric’s collection of paintings, sculpture and medieval collectibles. The grounds are located in a beautiful park-like setting. We may explore additional museums such as Maximilian’s Armory Museum, the 400-year-old Bell Foundry, and the Tyrolian Railway Museum.

[DAY 6]
THE TRAILS AND VIEWS OF PATSCHERKOFEL
We spend a day exploring the trails of Patscherkofel. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring a day pack, water, lunch, and snacks. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

The morning begins with a 3-hour hike to the top of the forested and pastured slopes of Patscherkofel. The ascent will provide an opportunity to enjoy the views and to check out the Olympic bobsled course. A small Alm, an Alpen hut, along the way offers tea and water for hikers. Depending on the wind conditions, we will enjoy our lunch on the summit. Afterward, we will take the cable car back down to Igls. The more energetic are welcome to return by trail. In the afternoon you can explore surrounding villages, rest, or enjoy the atmosphere of a local cafe.

[DAY 7]
HIKING AND EXPLORING THE STUBAI VALLEY
The Stubai Valley contains green fields dotted with villages and farms, all surrounded by magnificent tall peaks. The Stubai Valley extends southwest of Innsbruck and is easily accessible by tram. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring snacks, water, and extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, additional meals are the responsibility of the traveler.

We board the electric tram in Innsbruck for a 1-hour journey through tunnels and over bridges into the beautiful Stubai Valley. Upon arriving we descend into the valley hiking from village to village on mountain paths and farm trails. Expect to see Alpine cows grazing as we pass the farms along the way. The tram connects the villages and we will use it for an easy return at the end of the day. In the evening we begin our transition to Italy by dining at a local restaurant that specializes in wood-fired pizza.

[DAY 8]
ARRIVE BOZEN, VISIT ÖTZI THE ICEMAN
Today we pack up and travel to Bozen, Italy. Bozen is the capital of Südtirol and is steeped in 5000 years of history. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast will be provided.

The day begins with a beautiful two-hour train ride to the capital of Südtirol, Bozen, Italy. Our train travels up the Sill Valley, over Brenner Pass, and into Italy. It is a breathtaking ride. Arriving in Bozen we settle in at our accommodations and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon we will explore the Museum of Archaeology to see one of the greatest archaeological finds of the decade. Back in 1991, hikers found the body of Ötzi, a 5300-year old man frozen in the ice. The museum contains his mummified body and reconstruction of how he appeared before his death. We will see his preserved weapons, tools, clothing and other artifacts that related to his life. We will also see Roman historical findings. English recordings/translations are available at the museum. The late afternoon will be spent exploring local sights and shops, or relaxing in one of the many cafes. Our accommodations will be home for the next three nights.

[DAY 9]
DAY TRIP TO MERAN, CASTLE TIROL, AND WINERY
We spend a day exploring the beautiful surroundings of Meran. We recommend you bring a day pack, snacks, and water. Please wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast will be provided.

In the morning we depart by train for a 50-minute ride to Meran. The rail line passes through a multitude of vineyards and orchards. In Meran, we will explore the shops in town. In the late morning, we will visit Castle Tirol (shown). The castle is the namesake for the Tirol region. We will also visit a local vineyard and winery for a tasting. The remainder of the day will be spent exploring Meran’s historic churches and buildings.

[DAY 10]
EXPLORE BOZEN, SURROUNDINGS, AND SHOPPING
Bozen’s small alleys and streets are centuries old. Among these visitors can experience the open air markets, craft shops and larger department stores that include an abundance of clothes, leather goods and shoes. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast is included, additional meals are the responsibility of the participant.

Today is reserved for shopping, personal exploration of the city, hiking around the nearby vineyards or relaxing in one of the many cafes. Bozen’s open-air market (shown) is a favorite. This is a perfect opportunity to purchase souvenirs. Local medieval castles and churches are also worth a visit.

[DAY 11]
EXPLORE STERZING
Sterzing is located close to the Austria-Italian border. The mountains are very prominent and vistas spectacular. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast is included, additional meals are the responsibility of the participant.

We enjoy a relaxed morning before boarding the train for an hours journey north to the town of Sterzing. Sterzing is a typically Tirolean town with architectural elements of Renaissance Italy. Sterzing includes a prominent central street (shown) with shops, cafes, and stores. Our accommodations will be home for the next two nights.

[DAY 12]
HIKE THE FORESTS AND MEADOWS OF ROSSKOPF
We spend a day exploring the trails on Rosskopf, overlooking Sterzing. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring a day pack, water, lunch and snacks. Breakfast will be provided, lunch and dinner are the responsibility of the traveler.

The morning begins with a tram ride to the top of Rosskopf, where we enjoy views of the surrounding Alps and countryside. Depending on the wind conditions, we will enjoy our lunch on the summit. In the afternoon you can explore the museums and sights of Sterzing.

[DAY 13]
PERSONAL DAY AND FAREWELL DINNER
The final full day of our adventure is a personal day. Our day ends with a farewell dinner. Breakfast and dinner will be provided today. In the morning we leave from Sterzing and enjoy the scenery during the one-hour train ride back to Innsbruck. This will be the final full day of the trip in Tirol. After arriving at our accommodations the remaining day is open to shop, buy souvenirs, explore or relax. The evening is reserved for our farewell dinner.

[DAY 14]
DEPART INNSBRUCK OR CONTINUE ON YOUR OWN JOURNEY
The final day of our trip. For those departing, this is a full day of air travel. We recommend you bring a light jacket, water, wear comfortable clothing, and make sure you have your passport, tickets, and your traveler’s checks.


INCLUDED IN THE TRIP
Adventuring in the Historic Alpen Tirol includes 13 nights accommodations, a variety of meals, medical insurance, daily bus passes, EuRail passes, museum admission and a native speaking guide.

  • Arrivals on September 17 into the Innsbruck airport or train station are met by trip leaders.
  • Thirteen nights (13) accommodations (based on double occupancy) in quality hotels and guesthouses.
  • Exploration of Innsbruck (Austria), Sterzing, Bozen, Meran (Italy) and surrounding natural areas.
  • Thirteen breakfasts, six dinners. Also includes a mid-point and final evening dinner.
  • All EuRail and local tram admissions on trips published in the itinerary.
  • All bus/tram passes in Austria and Italy stated on published itinerary.
  • Admission for up to twenty-one (21) historic and cultural museums.
  • Personal days for exploring, shopping of relaxing.
  • Guided and personal exploration of the Austrian and Italian Alps.
  • Comprehensive medical insurance.
  • Guides for the duration of the trip, including a bi-lingual Austrian. Local guides when required.
  • Professional air-travel services for pre-trip planning if required.

Note: Tips, meals not listed in the itinerary, gifts and souvenirs are not included in the cost of the trip and are considered personal expenses. The participant’s decision not to participate in an activity does not represent a refund or partial refund of payment.


ACCOMMODATIONS
Overnight accommodations include hotels and guest houses (shown from left to right). All rooms include a private bath, shower, hot water, and television. All lodgings are based on double occupancy. The hotel in Igls is within walking distance to the village center, the Patscherkofel cable car station, natural areas and is a 15-minute bus ride to downtown Innsbruck. Hotel accommodation in Bozen Italy is located downtown close to the shops, museums and transit station. The guesthouse in Sterzing is located a short ten-minute walk from the village center, transit station, and natural areas. The final night is spent in the historic section of Innsbruck in a hotel founded in 1390. The hotel is close to restaurants, shopping, and the river Inn. During its history, the hotel has accommodated such names as Mozart and Goethe.

Exploring Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands National Park

Located off the Santa Barbara coast, California’s Channel Islands reflect a natural beauty reminiscent of California before the modern age. Join us as we make the 40-mile channel crossing to Santa Rosa Island and enjoy 3 days exploring this rarely visiting landscape. The island is the second largest (52,794 acres) in the park and offers grass-covered hills, canyons, creeks, rocky intertidal areas, and sandy beaches.

Organization: GlyphGuy Adventure Travel
Date: August 1999 (two trips: one was a scouting trip)
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 3

 

Backpacking Independence in Point Reyes National Seashore

Trip Report: Organization: GlyphGuy Adventure Travel
Dates: July 3-5, 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 6

Celebrate the 4th of July, Independence weekend at Point Reyes National Seashore. This national park is an explorer’s paradise with miles of unspoiled beaches, enticing trails, and beautiful mountains. Fireworks are not allowed, though Mother Nature always provides a spectacular natural attractions show. Local sights include Alamere Falls, a 40-foot fall that plunges onto the beach; and hiking to Arch Rock, a beautiful hike overlooking the ocean with views to Drakes Estero, Drakes Beach and the northern section of Point Reyes.

The inbound hike on Saturday is from the Bear Valley Visitors Center to Wildcat Camp. The hike is 6.3 miles one way and 3-4 hours in duration. Some of the trails are steep and include loose rock. Sunday is reserved for your own exploration or to enjoy the beach. Meet at the Bear Valley Visitors Center on Saturday, 10:00 am, July 3rd to hike to the campsite. Reservations are required.

ITINERARY
Saturday, July 3, 1999
Arrive at the Bear Valley Visitors Center by 10:00 am. Please allow for a two-hour drive from the south bay area. You will need to register your vehicle with the Ranger for overnight parking. Depart on the trail BY 10:30 am. Our hike route includes the forested Bear Valley Trail, through Divide Meadow. This is an easy hike with rolling hills and light grades. Continuing on Glen Trail the trail climbs upward and we pass through forests, chaparral and arrive on the Coast Trail overlooking the Pacific. The trail becomes rocky with a steep grade. The last three-quarter mile is downhill to the grassy field of Wildcat Camp. The day is spent exploring the local area, or hiking down the beach to Alamere Falls and preparing for a beach fire (if fire danger is not extreme) that evening.

Sunday, July 4, 1999
Sunday is free-form. You may wish to explore the beach or enjoy a day in the sun. For the more energetic we will explore some of the local freshwater lakes and trails. The area has plenty to experience and appreciate. A beach fire in the evening if permitted by the level of fire danger.

Monday, July 5, 1999
In the morning we eat a good breakfast and take a walk on the beach. We return to pack up and backtrack our steps to the Bear Valley Visitors Center. We arrive with plenty of time left in the day to return home and beat the holiday traffic. Small side-trips around the Visitor’s Center include the quarter mile Earthquake Trail located on the San Andreas Fault and a reconstructed Miwok Village.

This is a hands-on trip into Point Reyes. We hike, camp, explore and experience this dramatic and sometimes haunting land. Participants need to bring their own gear and sense of adventure. Sunday is free-form: you are welcome to join us in exploring the trails, relax on the beach or explore on your own. In the evenings (if fire danger allows us) we gather driftwood and enjoy a beach fire.

A Taste of Santa Clara Valley’s Heritage

Today, Silicon Valley is home to cutting-edge technology, but just a few short decades ago this land was covered by a stretch of orchards twenty miles wide. Join us as we help celebrate this heritage at the 100-year anniversary of Olson’s Cherry Farm in Sunnyvale, California. Olson’s’ is unique is that it is one of the last remaining farms in the south bay.

The day includes a tour of the farms before traveling (with cherries in tow) to the historic 1908 Sanborn Park Hostel to bake fresh, homemade cherry pies. Then we’ll step outside and enjoy a scoop of hand-cranked vanilla ice cream, with our pie, under the redwoods. A picnic lunch encouraged for the hostel.

Time: Meet in front of the Cherry Stand at 10:45am. Tour starts at 11:00 am
Location: Olson’s Cherry Farm. Near the corner of Mathilda Ave on El Camino Real, Sunnyvale.
Cost: $10.00 per person, includes a tour, pie makin’s and ice cream. Checks should be made to Sanborn Park Hostel.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Date: June 6, 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 12

Berry Creek Falls Loop Hike, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Let’s spend a day walking among giants!

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is home to thousands of impressive redwoods that tower hundreds of feet overhead.

Our 11-mile loop hike will include the Golden Cascade, Silver, and the 65 foot Berry Creek Falls.

Departure Time: 9am meet at the Sanborn Park Hostel, Saratoga, CA to determine carpools.
Re-Group Time: 10am by the Nature Center/Park Headquarters, Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Cost: Adventurous spirit.

Bring your own water, munchies and lunch. Wear layered clothes and sturdy shoes. A change of clothes and comfortable shoes are recommended to have in the in the car for your return.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Date: May 30, 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 12

Springtime Exploration of Pinnacles National Monument

Pinnacles National Monument is a dry terrain capped with disfigured spires that reach into the sky. In the springtime, Pinnacles National Monument brings temperate weather, colorful blooms, flowing streams and abundant wildlife.

Day hikes are roughly 8.5 miles in length and about 7-9 hours in duration. Trails include rough stairs hewn from the rock face, several tight fits and low overhangs. Sections of the trail are very steep and a moderate level of physical activity is required. Folks who are afraid of heights or claustrophobic may feel uncomfortable.

Meet at the Sanborn Park Hostel by 6:15 pm Friday, April 23, to determine carpool arrangements.

GEAR

  • Participants are responsible for their own camping equipment, gear, and food. A small, communal cooking stove for hot water etc. will be provided. Wear layered clothes and come prepared for any kind of weather.
  • Recommended gear for campground: tent, sleeping bag, comfortable shoes, cook stove, cooking utensils, mosquito repellent, flashlight.
  • Recommended gear for day hikes: day pack, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, hiking boots, comfortable pair of extra shoes, camera, lunch, two liters of water per person per day. A flashlight is required for the cave.

ITINERARY
Friday, April 23, 1999
We will depart Sanborn Park Hostel as a group at 6:30 pm, arriving at Pinnacles Campground around 8:30 pm to unpack. We’ll enjoy a dessert of marshmallows and hot chocolate around the fire.

Saturday, April 24, 1999
We begin the morning with a decent breakfast and hit the trail by 8 am. We’ll hike to the Chalone Creek area and ascend the High Peaks Trail. After an initial steep incline, the trail opens and offers substantial views of Bear Gulch Reservoir, Balconies Cliffs, Mount Defiance and parts of the lush Moses Spring area. The trail winds among the spires then suddenly climb up the rock face, over support bridges, and to the picturesque top. We break for lunch overlooking the monument at our feet. Descending the trail we are likely to encounter a multitude of rock climbers near a small reservoir. We enter the Bear Gulch Caves, though we quickly yield onto the lush Moses Spring Trail. The cave is a roosting colony for endangered bats in the spring and should not be disturbed. Arriving at the Visitors Center we break for water and a short rest before continuing along a tree lined stream and returning to the camp. In the evening we “put our feet up”, enjoy the night and relax around the fire.

Sunday, April 25, 1999
Sunday we pack our tents and clean our campsite before hiking the Old Pinnacles Trail. This is a rocky, yet relatively easy hike to the base of some spectacular spires – a short distance beyond lie the quarter of a mile long, Balconies Cave. The cave is dark and will require flashlights. After the cave, the trail ascends to the Balconies Cliff Trail (.8 mile) with imposing views of Machete Ridge and Balconies which are sometimes called, “Little Yosemite.” Look for prairie falcons and golden eagles. The path returns to the Old Pinnacles Trail and a gentle descent to the parking area. We’ll depart in the afternoon at about 2 pm with plenty of light for a safe drive back to the South Bay.

CAMPGROUND & FACILITIES
The Pinnacles Campground is just outside the park boundary and provides a good base for exploring the monument. We will be tent camping. The camping areas include two adjoined sites along a creek. Parking for two vehicles is provided. Additional vehicles can park for $3 per day in the campgrounds lot. The campground includes toilets, coin-operated showers, and a campground store. Fires are permitted in fire pits. Wood for a central fire will be included.

DIRECTIONS
Pinnacles National Monument is roughly a two-hour drive south from San Jose. From Sanborn Park Hostel drive to 85 Freeway and head south. Junction of Hwy 101 continues south. Drive past Gilroy to Hwy 25, drive toward Hollister. Continue through Hollister on Hwy 25, drive 31 miles south is the monument. Turn right on Hwy 146 follow signs. Pinnacles Campground is located on the left.

Dates: April 23-25, 1999
Participants: 12
Trip Leader: Mark Hougardy
Price: $32.00 per person (reservations required)
Carpool Fee: $15
Accommodations: Tent Camping
Trip Rating: Moderate

Nose to Nose with the Elephant Seals of Año Nuevo

In the mid-1800s Elephant Seals were hunted for their oily blubber to light the lamps of San Francisco. But, within a few short decades, they were gone and thought to be extinct. Thanks to modern protections a small population has returned from the edge of extinction to reclaim their former territory on the California coast. In the wintertime at Año Nuevo hundreds of seals, from newborns, pregnant females and gigantic males congregate and we get to see them up close.

The seals gain their name from the elephantine noses possessed by the males.

The walking trips to see the seals are no more than 2 miles in length and about 1.5 to 2 hours in duration. Much of the terrain is loose sand. The hike begins with a thirty-minute walk from the Visitor’s Center to the tour staging area. Last chance latrine facilities are available. Here we will be joined by a docent who will guide us into the Wildlife Protection Area. Remember, bulls can move 20 feet, even in loose sand, in 2.5 seconds! You are requested to stay at least 40 feet away from the seals at all times.

Meet at the Sanborn Park Hostel on Sunday, January 10, BY 9 a.m. to determine carpool arrangements. Reservations are required. The fee is $10.00 per person, children under 3 are free. Parking is available at the reserve on a per vehicle ($5) basis and must be paid at the entrance station. Picnic tables are located near the Visitor’s Center for lunch.

Año Nuevo is roughly an hour and fifteen-minute drive (55 miles) from the hostel. After visiting the reserve, weather permitting, we will continue north along Hwy 1 to explore the wildlife areas and tidepools between Pigeon Point Lighthouse and Montara. Plan to eat before entering the reserve as we will be hiking during lunch time. Picnic tables are available near the Visitors Center.

The trip goes rain or shine. Recommended equipment/gear for this trip: rain jacket/clothes, headband/ear band, camera, comfortable sports or hiking shoes, a second pair of shoes to keep in the car for return, lunch, day pack with water. Wear layered clothes and come prepared for any kind of weather. Please note the reserve does not allow pets, smoking, food, gum chewing or umbrellas in the wildlife protection area.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Trip Rating: Easy
Date: January 10, 1999
Trip Leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 14

Whale Watching Excursion in Monterey Bay

January is a prime month to watch Gray Whales as they swim offshore during their annual migration from Alaska to the warm waters off Baja California.

Enjoy a day whale watching and exploring the historic Cannery Row in Monterey. The day begins carpooling from Sanborn Park Hostel to Monterey’s Wharf. In Monterey, we’ll board the 55′ Pt. Sur Clipper and depart for the deep water of Monterey Bay in search of these gentle giants that can reach up to 45 feet in length. The accompanying Marine Biologist will provide onboard interpretation about Gray Whales and other observed sea creatures as seals, otters, and sea birds. In the afternoon return to Monterey for personal exploration of the historic Cannery Row restaurants and shops. In the early evening, we return to the hostel.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Date: January 10, 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 10

Angel Island Day Hike and Picnic

Join us on the last day of Spring as we depart on the Tiburon Ferry to explore the beautiful and historic Angel Island, State Park. Bring a day pack with foods for a picnic atop Mount Livermore which offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the Bay. Be prepared for 5+ miles of hiking on this all-day trip. Meet at the Ferry Terminal in Tiburon to depart on the 10:00 am ferry. Expect two-hour drive from the south bay. Directions: Past the Golden Gate Bridge, drive 101 north, take the Tiburon exit (Hwy-131) and drive 10 minutes. Look for the $5.00 a day parking area located next to Library and Home Savings Bank on left. Walk several blocks to the STOP sign, the ferry is on left.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Date: Saturday, 20 June 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 10

A Weekend of Redwoods, Elephant Seals and Sanborn

The summer at Sanborn provides opportunities to meet others from distant lands and explore the abundant areas around the hostel. On Saturday morning we depart for Ano Nuevo State Reserve to hike among the dunes and view the massive bull Elephant Seals. Some bulls can be up to 16 feet in length! The afternoon will be spent beachcombing and exploring the coastline. In the evening we return to Sanborn Park Hostel for grilling your favorite food on the bbq, meeting new folks, sitting around the fire, watching deer in a nearby field, and telling stories. Creative thoughts and those young at heart are welcome. We overnight at the hostel. On Sunday, we head to Big Basin Redwoods State Park to hike the 10 mile Berry Creek Falls Loop. This loop includes the remarkable Golden Falls, Silver Falls and the 65 foot Berry Creek Falls. All trips depart from the hostel at 9:00 am. Overnight reservations recommend fee per person is $8.50.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Date: Saturday-Sunday, 11-12 June 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 12

Kayaking and Nature Viewing in Elkhorn Slough

Join us on Saturday, June 6 as we discover the abundance of Elkhorn Slough. We’ll view migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, harbor seals and possibly rafts of sea otters. Elkhorn Slough is unique because it is one of the few relatively undisturbed coastal wetlands remaining in California. The slough extends about six miles inland and consists of some 2,500 acres. The trip lasts 5 hours. Reservations required.

Organization: GlyphGuy Adventure Travel
Date: Saturday, 6 June 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 8

Backpacking in the Marin Headlands

The Marin Headlands offers breathtaking views of the San Francisco area and Pacific Ocean. Join us on Saturday, May 16-17 as we explore the area around Point Bonita Lighthouse before hiking to Hawk Camp which overlooks the Gerbode valley. Sunday, we appreciate the 360 degree views of the bay area the Bobcat Trail offers before continuing to Rodeo Beach for an afternoon of beachcombing and exploration. One possible side trip includes the Marin Mammal Center which rehabiliatates marine creatures. Total hiking distance is 8 miles.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Date: Saturday, 16-17 May 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 8

Above and Below Pinnacles National Monument

Join us for an 8-mile loop hike through the rugged spires of Pinnacles National Monument and caves. This is a fun but strenuous trip.

Flashlights are required. Be prepared to get your feet wet as a small stream will flow through the cave. The hike begins and ends at the Ranger Station. Be prepared for bright sun and temperatures on the warmer side, a light jacket may be needed for the caves.

Meet at the Sanborn Park Hostel where we will determine carpool arrangements and depart promptly at 7:30 am. Maps to PNM will be provided. Please allow for a two hour travel time. We’ll regroup at the Park Headquarters between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m. Day use fee of $5 per vehicle.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Date: Saturday, April 25, 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 10

Berry Creek Falls Loop Hike, Big Basin State Park

Join us for one of the most picturesque hikes in Big Basin. The 10.5-mile loop hike includes the remarkable Golden Falls, Silver Falls, and the 65-foot Berry Creek Falls. The creeks should be gorged with spring run-off so the falls should be very impressive. This mostly old-growth redwood park will be very lush and provide great sightseeing and nature viewing. This is a moderate hike as plenty of ups and downs will be encountered. The hike will take roughly six hours to complete. Meet in front of the Big Basin Park Headquarters, just off of 236 “Big Basin Highway” at 9:00 am. Please allow for one hour travel time from San Jose area. Parking fee of $5 dollars in required.

Organization: Sanborn Park Hostel
Date: Saturday, 18 April, 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 10