The Loma Prieta Sierra Singleaires
Wilder Ranch 2B Hike!
Scouting Berry Falls, Big Basin SP, Dec 4

Jennifer B. and Jim H. recently scouted an upcoming hike (for Dec 16, 12) in Big Basin on Tuesday Dec 4, 2012, between rain storms.  What did we discover?  I am so glad you asked.  What we discovered is an extraordinary near wilderness experience.  Trails completely blocked and impassable requiring a little bush whacking to circumvent downed trees, a bridge washed out, and several creek crossings requiring a pirouette or two to cross safely.  In addition to all of the hazards, a wonderful display of multiple water falls generously endowed by our recent rains.  Is this hike for the faint of heart?  I am so glad you asked.  In a word, no.  Will you enjoy it?  Yes.  We observed miles and miles of usual and unusual fungi, Banana Slugs, several brown Newts, several Water Falls, multiple creek crossings, multiple trees blocking the trail, a steep slippery wet slope with a cable to hold on to, like hiking Half Dome in the rain.  The real pretty spectacular falls are before Berry Creek Falls.  Not that Berry Creek Falls isn't noteworthy, it is just that the other falls are numerous and close together.

This is a six to seven hour hike even at a faster pace in order to not have to use flashlights to return after it gets dark.  The hike itself is 12 miles long and with a total elevation change of 2200 feet.  The maximum elevation is 1495' so you know there are multiple ups and downs.  A 3C hike in anybody's book complicated by many time consuming obstructions as noted previously. Per the following map, we start at the parking lot opposite of Park HQ, up the Skyline trail and then veer right onto the Sunset Trail, then down Berry Creek Falls Trail and back to the parking lot on the Skyline trail.  

http://www.bigbasin.org/NewFiles/berryvreekfallsmap.jpg

 


This is the washed out bridge crossing.  Jennifer crossed first and following her lead, I crossed.  We did not get our feet wet.  We started out on the far bank and scooched our butts on a wet log till we could get to the first rock.  It was then possible to stand and leap to the next rock holding up the remaining bridge.  There is no immediate plan by the rangers to repair this crossing so it is likely we will still have to negotiate this part on December 16.  There was one other significant creek crossing but it was a slam dunk compared to this one.

 


This is your hike leader Jennifer, at Berry Creek Falls.  Notice the abundant water flow!

Extra required hiking gear.  Everyone must carry a flashlight with fresh batteries capable of lighting up the trail or for signaling.  Rain gear if needed.  Pack extra food as well.  This is a long hike and you should appreciate having an extra snack or two.

If all goes well, you will have bragging rights to having completed one of the most prestigious adventuresome hikes ever offered in the Singleaires.  If you don't complete the hike, rest assured you will be close to the Sempervirens Grove ;=) and you will be remembered for your bravery.
   


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Two Photos taken by Kathryn on our hike 12/16   Jim, Monica, Jennifer, Bev, Jacques, Ed, Jack



We had a wonderfull and adventuresome hike through Sunset Trail, Berry Creek Trail and finally back to Headquarters by the Skyline trail (see above map). A lot of trees had fallen across all three trails. One place on Sunset Trail had two huge fallen trees requiring us to clambor up a nearly vertical incline to portage around. Another part of the trail by the first waterfall had a cable to grab onto to descend on stairs carved out of the soft sand stone. This descent was made especially precarious by being slippery wet from both the rain and the falls. Everybody clung onto the cable saving themselves from slipping, several times. Jim H. bought along and used a prunning saw at several areas blocked from the brush of fallen trees. Some good Samaritan had placed the bridge back across the creek so we did not have to deal with a washed out bridge. We started at about 9:45 and finished about 4:00. We did not have to use our flashlights although we did make sure everybody was carrying one (required by the rangers). Jack said we were lucky it wasn't raining although, five minutes later it started to drizzle lightly. We arrived back at the Los Gatos Car Pool lot at exactly 5:00. We had left at 8:30. Monica reported that she got back in time to attend the Sunday Potluck.