Living in the Bay Area allows us to vary our running or biking routes a lot, both my wife and I really like the fact that we can leave our house on bikes or on foot and come back many hours later. But if you look on the map of trails and preserves along the Peninsula, it is clear that long point to point routes are possible. So to change things a bit on this ridiculously warm and sunny January weekend, we tested how far our wheels or legs would take us.
My first test: mountain biking from a far point home. Starting point: Steven's Canyon county park, intersection of Steven's Canyon and Pierce roads. Target destination: Old Post on Tripp Rd in Woodside. I did not plan the route exactly trail by trail, hoping I would choose what felt best along the way. After a warmup on Steven's Canyon road, I continued on the trail uphill, took Grizzly Flat trail to Skyline, where I found the Ridge Trail closed. A hundred yards or so along Skyline to the north allowed me to join the Ridge trail north with no closures. This is the route I have ridden so many times, Ridge Trail, Chestnut trail, swing through the Christmas tree farm to Horseshoe Lake. There I found the White Oaks trail closed, which was a real bummer. My original rough plan was to connect to Alpine trail and Peter's Creek, thus avoiding the grueling climb up towards Russian Ridge. Left with no choice, I made it over the ridge to Alpine Pond but Ancient Oaks trail was a reward for this climb. Continuing along the Ridge Trail all the way up north to Rapley Ranch road spits you on the Skyline Highway at the Fogarty Winery, with no legal trails until Skeggs.
I cursed the San Mateo Parks and recreation while I pedaled on Rt 35 towards Bear Gulch Rd (west). San Mateo county is notoriously known for their anti-biking policies, similarly to towns of Woodside and Portola Valley, which would be a topic on its own for another blog post.
Finally, probably the best singletrack of Skeggs, Blue Blossom Trail! I almost forgot I had to dig myself up from the ravine, but was rudely reminded of that on Gordon Mill trail. At this point, it was clear to me that riding more trails through Skeggs and connecting to Purisima Creek was too ambitious, as the temperature was dropping and I was cold, hungry and pretty spent. Back to the asphalt on 35 and downhill on Kings Mt Rd to the meeting point, where I arrived frozen to the bone (and this was a 66F "winter" day).
Day two: with biking muscles sore, Marketa and I came up with this leapfrogging scheme: I would drive to Huddart Park, leave the car there and attempt to run trails to Wunderlich Park. She would take off from home and pound pavement (her preferred way to move in space) to Huddart. There, she picks the car and drives to Wunderlich, to check if I would appear there in some reasonable time or if the rescue squads would already be combing the woods. On paper, it looked like it would take us similar amounts of time.
The run from Huddart Park to Wunderlich is a part of the annual Woodside trail run organized by Pacific Coast Trail Runs, but of course, these tough guys run it there and back as part of their 35 and 50K courses. This run is basically a really nice uphill climb through redwoods on Crystal Springs trail, thean along the Skyline on Skyline Trail, through more redwoods, crossing Kings Mountain Road and following the ridge to Wunderlich. From there, it is 5 miles, all downhill. Looking at the map, estimated 13-14 miles. This is more than I have ever run since the 2010 Kauai Half, but with couple of recent runs around 10-11 miles, I thought this would be doable for me, especially with the easy downhill at the end. In that, I could not have been more wrong. I enjoyed the first uphill part, really loved the remote and solitary feel of the Skyline trail (despite couple of low energy / morale points), but suffered mightily on the downhill (I forgot legs are not wheels!!!). I have never experienced this much pain on a bike, I cursed myself for this idiotic idea for the whole 5mi section. Timing worked perfectly, Marketa had to wait for me about 10 minutes. Her 13 mile run was "as usual" good, no biggie for her. I ran the longest distance so far, 14.4 mi (according to my Nike watch and maps,
So overall, between Marketa's and mine routes, we covered about 56 human powered miles of the Peninsula hills. It would be nice to do it again without the need for driving!