Saturday, July 20, 2013

Vic Haun Trail

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It was nice to leave the big camera at home and just snap some shots with the Coolpix P7100. Last week's jaunt down the Zig Zag Trail took us to the bottom of Cascade Creek. This time we started at the same place but took the Vic Haun Trail (Haun was a founder of the California Alpine Club) to the creek's headwaters.

It was 57 degrees in the fog, which made for a nice cool hike. Redwood trees in the background pull enough precipitation out of the fog to support themselves as well as a host of ferns, and even a few russulas.

We hiked out along the Gravity Car Grade, sharing the route with bicyclists, trail-runners, dog-walkers and other hikers.

Our trail forked to the left at about the one-mile mark. Incidentally, I'm using the Mt. Tam Trail Map from Tom Harrison Maps, which shows trail distances.

I haven't done much hiking on this part of the mountain, so having a map was invaluable. There are also plenty of signs to help you get your bearings. We hiked past our trail turn-off to have a look at Cascade Creek where it crossed the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo, then doubled back to pick up the Vic Haun.

Elk clover, aka spikenard, gone to fruit along Cascade Creek.

We finally left the fire road at the Vic Haun Trail. This section is marked as the Old Plane Trail on the Harrison map, but a trail marker just calls it Vic Haun. Mountain biking isn't allowed on these little trails, but we still encountered an idiot riding down who almost plowed into Pam.

The Vic Haun Trail took us above the fog (with East Peak in the background). We went from the high 50s to 80 degrees in just a few short steps. The chaparral was composed of manzanita, chinquapin, coffeeberry, oak, toyon and other hardy plants of Mt. Tam's southern flank.

Where the Vic Haun crossed the upper reaches of Cascade Creek, the creekbed was bone dry. Pam had been hoping to find a spring at the headwaters of the creek since that had been the destination of the previous week's wild edibles walk mentioned in my last post. 

We hiked down an unmaintained trail next to the creek, knowing it would eventually run into the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo fire road, and we were in sight of that road before we finally found water running well enough to collect in a bottle. Pam felt this water must be special since it was the destination of a commercial hike led by vegans, but to me it was run-of-the-mill creekwater. 

Finding cardboard coffee cups left by idiots in the vicinity reminded me of the saying, "Never drink water downstream of a white man." I drank some, nevertheless. As of this writing, Pam, though she collected a bottle's worth, still hasn't had a drop. She still remembers what it felt like to pick up a giardia cyst in the Ishi Wilderness 12 years ago or so. I didn't get sick on that trip, and I'm hoping my luck holds out....

The red "berries" are chinquapin galls, made by cynipid wasps (Dryocosmus castanopsidis).

This chipmunk was gnawing on a real red berry -- from a manzanita.

We took a different route back, following a fire road above the part of the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo that's a true trail (not a fire road). It was 0.7 miles to the Hogback, then another 0.6 or so down the Hogback and back into the fog.

We both enjoyed being on a different part of the mountain. It was nice to see a different plant community and to often be hiking in the open. We could easily see Mt. Diablo in the distance, but all of the earth between there and Mt. Tam was covered by fog. Even Sutro Tower was obscured. Looking at the map, there is no end of loop hikes to choose from. We're looking forward to further explorations in the area.

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  1. Your trail model was very accommodating in having her photo taken at ever opportunity. I cannot believe you drank the water!

  2. Yes, I'm lucky to have a willing subject! I was never afraid of water and have never been sickened by "wild" water, but I've become a lot more chicken about it over the years. I don't know how I survived bicycling without a helmet or drinking from streams without filtering....