June 1, 2008 Nisene Marks

Wimble Scale: Difficult, Length: 8 miles, Climb: 2491 feet, Time: 9 hours

The announcement
I am proposing a hike at either of these 2 places for next Sunday, 6/1/08:
Forest of Nisene Marks (14 miles, elevation gain 1600′, 6 hours)
or Priest Rock again, (12 miles, elevation gain 3300′, 6 hours)

Nisene escaped fire damage. It would be the easier of the 2 hikes. I just did this hike a week ago and it was not nearly as strenuous and exposed as Priest Rock. It is in a nice cool forest with beautiful ocean views from the overlook/bench area. There is a good supply of restaurants in that area if we want to treat ourselves to a casual meal afterwards.

I am happy to carpool down to Aptos together if anyone wants to. If we decide to do Priest Rock, that great too. It will be cooler this time! If you are interested in either of these bonus hikes, just vote for one of them, and we’ll go on the one with the most votes.

If nobody jumps in by Friday night, I’ll plan to go on one of these hike by myself.

cheers,
Kristen

The hike
We two hiking fiends roamed a small part of The Forest of Nisene Marks Sunday, whose total is ~10k acres! We trekked fifteen miles (of the forty miles possible), from about 10am to 7pm. Bless the family of Nisene Marks once again for this commemorative to their mother (surely made easier by their failure to find oil, the search for which they’d bought the land originally). The park is thick with second-growth redwoods, trees whose histories are discussed at Tom Mangun’s blog today:
http://www.tommangan.net/twoheeldrive/index.php/2008/06/02/what-is-it-about-redwoods/
My pictures and GPS plots are at
http://picasaweb.google.com/thwarte/NiseneMarksJune08

It was sunny and mild from early AM, just a tad humid, and that west side of the park is relatively open and light unless you seek canyons. As we of course did, motivated to find Maple Falls, a 30’ waterfall at the end of a less-traveled spur. It was worth finding. Rather prettier than the geocache we also found hiding there, a cache better hidden (see pics) than most of the five other caches we found. One cache we sought but didn’t find – the one for which I had only GPS coordinates, having neglected to print out the written description and clues. Without such notes even my relatively accurate GPS doesn’t suffice for discovery, despite adding Kristen’s badger-like foraging skill. See geocaching.com for more info on this now-mature sport.

We paid to park in the park, at the Porter Family picnic area. One can park for free outside the park but it’s a boring and dusty walk 3-mile to Porter. Our trek:
* find our first cache “Nisene Troll” under a foot-bridge, including a well-tended Buddha shrine.
* Head up the Aptos Creek Fire Road to Sand Point Overlook;
* west to Hinkley Ridge trail (a true hiker’s trail with light forest & some spectacular coastal views best enjoyed at the obscure Thompson’s Bench overlook);
* down Big Stump trail to Hoffman’s Historic site, then north on an un-named trail to Bridge Creek and another spur to Maple Falls. The geocache there is named “Where’s the pancakes” (see pics). That final spur followed Bridge Creek closely, a small but steady stream with good footings for the 6-8 bridgings needed to follow the trail (‘bridge’ isn’t always a noun).
* Return via the Bridge Creek Trail (word-starved woodsmen). This is an altogether pleasant route, shady all day and especially late afternoon, which went by a massive log structure (originally a logging train-trestle support) resembling a Lincoln-log project. So the cache here is of course “Lincoln logs”. We finally had to decode the encrypted spoiler included with the description to find it.

Kristen has explored more trails here than Zona and I have. She suggests this trip could be a good FOMFOK hike (humans only – and horses, but no dogs) by omitting the Maple Falls spur, instead continuing from Hinckley Ridge onto West Ridge. Other permutations are possible, such as first climbing to West Ridge via the Loma Prieta Grade trail (so omitting Sand Point). And there are other points of entrance to the Park from the west and north, not so developed as the main entrance we used. The GPS had us accurately positioned at all times – even canyons don’t disturb it in this dry weather, since its main interference would be rain-wet leaf canopies.

The best trail+topo map I’ve found online is very good:
http://boulter.com/geocaching/maps/maps/us/ca/NiseneMarks.jpg
A blog writeup from last fall covers some of the same trails we did, interestingly and with more pictures:
http://randomcuriosity.com/journal/archives/001295.html

-Ron

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