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Alternate to Skyline to Sea Trail
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Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Alternate to Skyline to Sea Trail on 02/21/2009 21:53:23 MST Print View

Thanks to the help of some forum members here, I was able to hike an alternate route for the Skyline to Sea trail, avoiding the part of the trail that tracks highway 9.

I started in Portola Redwoods State park and took the Portola trail to the Butano Ridge trail, then met up with the traditional Skyline-to-Sea route in Big Basin Redwood park via the Basin easement and Hollow trail.

I stayed overnight at the (pricey) Big Basin campground and the trip went smoothly, despite endemic trail closures, which I completely ignored. (If they don't advertise a closure on their website, you shouldn't have to heed it.)

Got my feet wet within the first five minutes of the trip crossing Pescadero Creek. First time I had tried the new shoes in stream-crossings, and WOW what a difference. Dry in 10 minutes. Thank God I got rid of the Goretex clunkers:

Pescadero Creek

Waterfalls were a plenty with all the recent rain:

Waterfall in Pescadero Creek State Park

My Golite Hut 2 among the Redwoods:
Hut 2

Obligatory Big Redwood Picture:
Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Success! Waddell Beach:
Waddell Beach

Gear list:
Ultra Pod mini 4
Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil 50 Liner 2.6
REI Kilo Flash Women's Reg 18
Big Agnes Air Core (no stuffsack) 21
GG Thinlight 2
MSR Pocket Rocket 3
IsoPro 4oz fuel 6
SteriPen Adventurer 3.6
Nalgene 32 oz bottle 3.5
Smartwool Light Hiker Socks 2.6
Petzl Tikka Headlamp 2.75
Duofold polypropylene pants 8
Hut 2 22
Osprey Stratos 40 46
Oware Double Bivy 12
REI TiWare Mug 2.4
BPL Pillow 0.9
Helly Hansen skull cap 1.2
Phone 3.5
North Face TKA 100 pull over 10
Nikon KoolPix S550 4.5
Unmentionables (First Aid, glasses, etc. No toilet paper!) 4
CKRT Triumph Knife 3.5
Trekking Poles 14
Wool Gloves 1.5

Total 12.659375

I tried out some new items. The Nikon Koolpix is soooo light compared to my DSLR. I was really disappointed with the image quality but realized after getting home (and ready the manual, doh!) that I had it set for very low image quality and high ISO sensitivity. Bad combination.

I also was able to try out the Oware Bivy for the first time, and it worked great. Absolutely no condensation whatsoever on my bag despite a very damp evening and morning, and it kept me warm and toasty. The Hut 2 is a palace for one and did get some condensation, so I need to figure out how to add another zipper-pull at the top of the beak to create a vent. Anyway, all-in-all a fun time and quick jaunt. Thanks again to the SF bay people for the recommendations and info.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Alternate to Skyline to Sea Trail on 02/22/2009 01:57:21 MST Print View


Thanks for coming back with a trip report to your adventure.

You must have covered a lot of miles on your two day trip.

If I could ask, how many miles did you end up doing on your alternative route?

Great pics and thanks for sharing!

Did you see many people on the trail.

When I did the trip back in Oct of last year, on my 2nd date from Big Basin going up to the top of the Skyline trail, I never saw anyone on the trail the whole day.


Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
mileage on 02/22/2009 11:02:33 MST Print View


Originally, I had planned on starting at Long Ridge Open Space Preserve just up the road on Skyline Blvd. from Saratoga Gap and then hiking to Portola Redwoods that way. The trail guide said this would be 19 miles to Big Basin, and then from Big Basin another 14 miles to Waddell. Since I got a late start, I just went to Portola, and I'm glad I did, because the hike from Portola to Big Basin crosses a huge ridge. It was a slog. So to answer your question, day 1 I did about 14 miles and day two I did about 15 (side trip up Hollow trail to sunset camp). (The thought of doing that type of mileage in two days back when I was heavy-weight backpacking was unimaginable.)

Oh, and I didn't see one person until I got to Big Basin HQ. Pescadero Creek park is totally deserted. Trails closed. No one around. And then I doubt very many people use the easement through private property. So it was really remote feeling.

Edited by Rezniem on 02/22/2009 11:09:27 MST.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: mileage on 02/22/2009 11:12:30 MST Print View

Nice one Nathan! I did the traditional Skyline trip last year, and hated the Hwy 9 part. It really ruined the hike for me. Damn you were only about 15 minutes from my house when you made camp, I could have brought you some beers!!!!

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Alternate to Skyline to Sea Trail" cell phone camera on 02/22/2009 11:24:14 MST Print View

Natan, Prtable digitals take quite some getting used to. While you are in the learning process I would suggest leaving it at the lowest ISO and the highest resolution for the bulk of your photographs. Each time you use it push the envelope just a bit and you will have it down in notime. I try and never use my zoom It really hurts the quality. When I was a pro I got sick of carying around a million pounds of gear and started to experiment with less gear. For a whole year all I used was my old leica with a 50mm lense and my pictures were 100% better. I had to be more creative and work harder at my images but the end result was worth it. When I have a sherpa a carry my big guns but these days my g9 fits the bill everytime. These days I am experimenting with my 1,3 mp cell phone camera. see picture. AliUnitkona unit

Edited by barefootnavigator on 02/22/2009 11:26:38 MST.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Ali on 02/22/2009 11:31:51 MST Print View

Your cellphone pictures are better than my TV setting High-ISO pictures! Ha! Leica lenses rock, btw, and their cameras are soooo sleek. Unfortunately Circuit City wasn't giving them away, so I went with the Nikon instead. I put it on the highest setting and 200 for ISO (since I have a tripod, shouldn't be a problem). Hopefully that fixes it. Thanks for the tips!

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Alternate to Skyline to Sea Trail" on 02/22/2009 11:45:05 MST Print View

200 may still be a bit high but I havnt used that camers so I dont know. I always leave mine at 50 I think or whatever the lowest setting is. Dont be afraid to use your flash for a bit of fill light. When Im lazy I just leave it on full auto. My camera is smarter than me for 90% of what I use it for. If you get pictures you dont like try playing with them in photoshop. Some of my favorite pictures have been taken with a disposable camera. Ali

Stirling Price
(Stirling) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Alternate to Skyline to Sea Trail on 04/05/2009 19:33:23 MDT Print View


My first time on the trail last year I started at the Castle Rock parking lot on hwy 35 and took the trail through Castle Rock State Park and met up with the STST just before Waterman. My second time last year I took the traditional route from the same start.

I will be doing it again via the traditional trail down and back later this month. Like others, I have never shared the campsites with anyone; they've always been deserted when I go. However, Ranger Jason seems to find me at some point on the trip. We'll see this time but it is nice to know that you can have such privacy in spite of being so close to big cities!

I have used a Nikon P5100 with great results. I use it on the fine setting and have printed a number of pictures in large size, they've turned out so well. I'm no pro but I do get lucky from time to time. Check out the new Nikon P6000 with GPS and stamps your coordinates in the picture data when taking a picture!

Some critical listening...Dire Straits I believe.

Nice Stairway

Edited by Stirling on 04/05/2009 20:22:19 MDT.