Monday, January 16, 2012

Why We Love This Area!!!

There are so many places to explore within 15 minutes of home.  With Mt. Diablo State Park and a dozen or so East Bay Regional Parks, as well as three Open Spaces, there is so many chances to see Jehovah's awesome creative power.  Over the last three weeks, after field service, we have hit the trails. 

Week One:  Shell Ridge Open Space to Castle Rock Regional Park
Week one, we decided to follow the trail from the Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek to the Castle Rock Regional park.    This trip also exposed us for the first time to the Diablo Foothills Regional Park  

This combined two of our favorite hikes; however, without any rain, the hills are not the typical emerald green for this time of the year.  It was wonderful to share this hike with our friends the Bulkoski's. 

The trail consisted of rolling hills, steep ridges, and the kids favorite, Buckeye Ravine.  From Buckeye Ravine, you drop into what has been called Little Yosemite because of the wonderful Granite and Sandstone that make up Castle Rocks.  This was a five mile hike, one way; however, we did park a car at the end point so that the kids wouldn't have to hike back.

Week Two:  The China Wall

Beth discovered this place on-line.  At the end of Stone Valley Rd, you can get to the Macedo Ranch Staging Area.  This is located in the Mt. Diablo State Park and is an easy 3 mile round trip hike.  

This beautiful hike takes you to wonderful rock formations that look like the top of the the Great Wall of China.  I am eager to get back to this place after the rain, when the hill should be a lovely green with yellow mustard.

Week Three:  Rock City

We discovered Rock City last year when we took a trip to Mt. Diablo Summit.  I really love this place!!!  It so reminds me of when my parents would take us to Joshua Tree.  This place is beautiful, with awesome pinnacles of sandstone.  There are tunnels carved out by the wind to explore.  It is just one big playground for the kids, with natural slides and places to explore.

You could spend days finding something new and rare.  Emma stumbled on this weird rock formation.  It looks like a boulder dropped in a puddle of mud then froze this way.  What amazes me even further is that the wind then perfectly ate around the sandstone to expose this treasure.  What a wonderful gift from our grand creator.

The North Side of Mt. Diablo

So beside the hiking, Beth and I are training for a 50K in April.  So a sister in our hall was gracious enough to watch the kids while we ran to the mountain from our house.  Our first 3 miles is to the Mitchell Canyon Staging area.  From there, we ran up the Back Canyon Trail, in total 2,600 feet of elevation climb.  In fact the final 1.7 miles of the climb consisted of 1,500 feet of switchback.  From there it was down 3.57 miles down Mitchell Canyon to the staging area, then back to home.   In total we covered exactly 13 miles in 3 hours 21 minutes.

The Back Canyon trail is beautiful single track and is challenging at times.  However, you get a wonderful view of the Delta and the Sierra off in the distance.  At one point a rabbit jumped out to scare us, but it was all good.  The Mitchell Canyon Trail is fire road, and makes for wonderful cruising down hill.  Both trails give wonderful vistas of Eagle Peak.

All in all, we love having such easy access to these trails.  This isn't even to mention all of the trails in the Oakland Hills, Las Trampas, and Briones that are 30 minutes from home.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Catching Up

It's kind of funny that when you supposedly have tons of time on your hands, you really don't.  So there has been a lot going on around here.  I have been adjusting to a new job, in a new industry, with an actual commute.  Being spoiled at my previous job, being home by 4:30 and being able to ride my bike to and from, getting home just after 6PM and having to deal with traffic for the first time in 12 years has been a bit of a change, to say the least.This, combined with getting over an extended three month "vacation", it has been a challenge blogging lately.

So, that said, we have been making most of the shortened days with the kids.  The last two weeks have blown by, with me able to have Friday's and Monday's during their break.  And we have made the most of it.

We discovered a new trail in the Marin Headlands.  The Matt Davis Trail trail head is in Stinson Beach and climbs 1400 feet over the Pacific Ocean.   It has beautiful views of San Francisco, Devil's Slide, and John Muir Beach to the south and Point Reyes to the north.   The biggest challenge is the 1,000 ft. elevation gain in the first 1.2 miles.  The kids loved it though.  Emma and Sophie ran up and down most of it.   Coming down, we saw a beautiful sunset.

We also did a run through Golden Gate Park.  The goal was to do our normal run, play at the beach; however, it has been unseasonably cold so beach time lasted 20 minutes.

Yesterday we decided to take a local hike, combining our Shell Ridge hike with our Castle Rock hike.  We and our friends the Bulkoski's started in Walnut Creek and followed the Ridge trail and Briones, Mt. Diablo trails to the Castle Rock Regional Park.  Five miles in total, again, Emma was running any time she could.   The showcase to this hike is Buckeye Ravine.  This ravine drops quickly with the Castle Rocks in full view.  The kids love running down this trail.  

So, you will notice that there are other posts.  I do send this blog out in e-mail form to some of the family.  That said,  I am sorry if you did not receive the last couple of posts.  For some reason, Blog-spot deleted my emails.  You will always find the most updated posts on Beth's blog.  And of course you will always find our picture site updated with the most recent pictures. 
I've included these three pictures to sum up things you might have missed on previous posts.  Instead of starting Myles in kindergarten this year, we opted to keep him back. He actually would have been 4 when he started (his birth date is September 9th).  So that he is ready, we have been getting him involved in activities that will help him. So he has had soccer class with his best friend Sawyer.  He also was in Gymnastics.
We ran Long Beach,  me doing the Half-Marathon and the kids and Beth doing a series of kids runs and 5K's.  With that, we got free admin to the Long Beach Aquarium as well as free harbor cruise.

We took a trip to Santa Cruz and saw the Humpback whales off the pier.  That was awesome!!!!
Finally, Emma ran her first 10K here in Walnut Creek.