When: March 23rd 2017. Where: Sunol Regional Wilderness
I got my new Gossamer Gear Mariposa in the mail yesterday and what better way to try it out then load it up with 20lbs and head out for a hike in the rolling Sunol hills! I arrived at the trailhead parking lot at 10:30am and promptly sat on the asphalt to shove a half a sandwich in my face, classy I know. The day was perfect, overcast and around 58 degrees, with only a handful of other cars in the lot. I slung on my new bag and started up the McCorkle Trail which eventually connects to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail for a little bit.
This land belongs to the Chochenyo Ohlone-speaking Taunans who had lived here for countless generations. The Taunan people employed horticultural techniques that increased habitat diversity and plant and animal health and numbers. For the Taunan people, everything had a life and spirit, including waters, breezes, and rocks. For today’s Ohlone people’s this landscape has enduring cultural and historic significance. Although currently the land is “owned” and used by the East Bay parks department and has been ranched contiously since the 1860s.
The trail gains elevation quickly from 600 feet to 1200 feet over about 1 mile so you will definitely get your cardio in. The views are sweeping and dramatic, especially with the clouds shifting throughout the morning throwing sunny highlights on the bright green hills and old savannah oaks. I had the trail all to myself besides the ground squirrels, turkey vultures, cows, and red tailed hawks.
I took a break at the top of the climb, before dipping into a valley covered with sage brush and poison oak. I remember walking through this area on our backpacking trip last year and how much the poison oak was sneaking out from all the plants above and below us. Luckily it’s been cut back since then but it is still very prevalent so I had to be super present and careful during this section.
Soon I was out of the danger zone and gained the ridge on the other side of the valley before turning off on the Cerro Este Trail to the Little Yosemite area (named for the huge boulders the Alameda Creek crashes over that is reminiscent of Yosemite). The light was doing some cool shit on the hills making the knee punishing descent more tolerable.
Soon I was down in the valley with everyone else whose cars I must have seen at the trailhead. The creek was raging from the recent rains and it is a pretty awesome spot. My pictures do not really do it justice since the light was weird and I was trying to avoid the people milling about, it really is just like Yosemite in that regard!
Soon I was cruising along the dirt road back to the trailhead. I found a nice picnic table to eat the other half of my sandwich along the creek before driving the 40 minutes back home. I love the Gossamer Gear Mariposa so far, it is super comfortable and hugged my back great! The shoulder pads are nice and cushy too. Only downside is that my back did get pretty hot and sweaty compared to my breezy Osprey Atmos but I’ll take that trade for 3 less pounds of base weight! I’m excited to try it out fully loaded on me and Sarah’s overnight trip in April to Hite Cove in Mariposa County. Until then cheers! 🍻