Sunday, February 5, 2017

Running from the Rain

Running from the Rain
Plan A, B, C, D and maybe even E! 
Henry COE State Park
Garrapata State Park, Carmel-By-the-Sea
Mount Diablo Summit Trail


Our weather has been wet, wet, wet. It's put a damper on quite a bit of outdoor adventure time. This weekend we were hoping for a weather window as the next storm looked like it would come and go before our planned outing. The morning would start with an Avalanche Training with Search and Rescue and then we were going to head out from that location and snow camp. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn't seem to hear that we had all of these plans and took her time getting the storm to us....

The storm was moving slower and slower and it appeared now that the entire weekend would either be raining or snowing in the entire area. Not great for an outdoor training or snow camping, so it was all postponed. What to do now?? Try and escape the rain and cold anyway we can? YES!! 

We were watching the forecasts and looking at the radar.  It looked like we would get a break around the Gilroy area as early as noon on Friday. 
See... Gilroy... Totally clear, right?

Chris had recently been exploring the Henry COE State Park, 
so that seemed like a great place to go! Plans were all set, packing underway and excitement was building! We are going to get gone and can't wait!! 

The plan was to drive down Friday, camp in the iron tent (Honda Element aka LeeLoo) and head out with full packs in the morning to backpack in, set up camp and hike around the area. Totally winging the how far and where part, but knowing we would decide that depending on conditions and how we were feeling. Thankfully, we stay pretty much on the same page about when/where, so no worries with a no plan/plan. 


We drove down to Gilroy in the rain and wind. Arriving at Henry COE around 7pm. I'm not sure what the weather man was drinking, but light and variable winds of 2-5mph were grossly underrated. The winds were whipping and it was pouring rain... sideways!  

We found an open camp spot and decided to set up the pop-up canopy. We had to stake it down so it wouldn't blow away, literally. Still no relief since it's raining sideways. Chris had a tarp to hang on one side of the canopy to act as a windbreak. With some super powered grommets and creative rope tying, we got it up there, but it's time was limited.

Camp chairs were propped up against that tarp and it seemed to be holding.

Cafe LeeLoo is open for service


Thankfully dinner was a quick reheat of some brown rice and chicken curry from dinner during the week. We had some hot tea and ate a warm meal, in the freezing cold and it felt great. Soooooo happy we weren't trying to sleep in a tent or we would have had to find a hotel. The Element is now outfitted with a pretty comfortable bed (Thanks to Chris!) and we stay toasty warm and out of the elements... (pardon the pun). 

The rain and wind did not retreat overnight. It woke us up at times it was raining so hard. It was still cloudy and gray. 


I have on about 14 layers and am thankful for my charcoal hand warmers!
We decided in the morning for plan B. Break camp after breakfast and head toward warmer/dryer weather. 
I'm on breakfast duty, so time to get cooking! 

And for this mornings meal, will be dining in comfort and more importantly.....out of the wind. Cafe LeeLoo has limited seating and no dress code . 

I dehydrated red peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic that I scrambled with crumbled bacon and eggs served with a side of hash browns. It was pretty tasty. This was all done in preparation for eating in while backpacking, so this was a good place to test it all out. Yummers. I will be doing that again. 

Just as we were packing up, we were starting to see glimpses of blue sky and an occasional clearing. But turn around and the sky still looking like this. It could rain again any minute and it's cold and windy. Bye Bye Henry COE. We will be back another time. 

 Now on to plan B.  We chose the Monterey/Carmel area as the forecast there looked very promising. The drive down was definitely reassuring us we'd made the right decision. We were beginning to see blue skies and white puffy clouds, woohoo! 

We headed towards Garrapata State Park. Online it stated there was 8 miles of hiking trails with decent elevation gains from sea level... and we were both up for it. We got to Carmel to find that many sections of the trails were closed because of the Soberanes fire the previous year. Bummer... So we took a little walk along the Bluffs Trail. 



 Plan B is looking better and better all the time...

So, with no plans for where we were staying the night or what we were doing the rest of the afternoon, we decided wine tasting sounded like fun! On to Plan C!!


Plan C is to head up towards Carmel, but Chris saw a beach and made a quick stop!  What a great detour! 



We laid on the sand, watched the seagulls and listened to the waves crashing on the beach. Amazing how a little bit of ocean can just ease you into whatever is going to come next. And what's coming next in our day? We really had no idea. We were just enjoying the moment and enjoying the time we were spending together on our crazy rain-avoidance adventure. 

It was getting chilly and we needed to find a place to stay. We consulted our travel wizard (Travelocity) and found a room at the Hyatt in Monterey. I guess that's where we are headed next!
After some wine tasting of course. 


We parked near downtown and found the Scheid tasting room. We worked our way through 8 wines and found a few that we really liked. With the sun out and a little bit of a wine buzz, we headed for the next tasting room. 


Galante was recommended as a great place for big, bold reds. I was searching for a good cab, so this seemed like the next logical place. Well, that idea went down in flames. Neither of us liked any of the wines there. They were Big and Bold but not well balanced. The acidity and the unresolved tannins provided a full mouth assault.  Even the port left a bitter taste... We left there shaking our heads. But still taking it in as part of our great adventure! At least it's not raining outside!!

For dinner we decided to scrap the backpacking food, although I can't wait to try the black bean rotini and Ragu that Chris made. We will have to save that for the next adventure. We had dinner at the Treehouse Cafe in Carmel.


 The food and atmosphere was Greek inspired, but they also had Thai, go figure. The food was very good. We had Lentil soup, dolmas and chicken skewers. It was all yummy and a perfect way to end the evening. 

Now off to our dry, warm hotel in Monterey. Hello Hyatt!!

We were expecting to be backpacking, so neither of us had "hotel" wear or suitcases. We showered, the longest, hottest showers ever and were ready for bed early. Watched and laughed to the Bridesmaids movie until sleep took over. It had been a long, cold day. 


For breakfast, we decided to forego the formalities of indoor dining and a restaurant and get back to where it all began. Backpacking and cooking food out of the back of the car.....Cafe LeeLoo is open for business.  We should start a pop-up cafe....Haha.


We posted up our chairs with a view of the golf course, got out the camp stove and served  breakfast right in the parking lot. People were looking at us quite curiously, but we were enjoying ourselves! 



Today's breakfast feature is Chris's yummy Banana/Almond Butter Pancakes and Chicken Sausage! YUM! 

I'm going through a no processed sugar, no flour, no dairy phase and this fell right in with my program, and it was delicious! We are set to go for the day. The question now is where to?? Plan D??  Let's go climb Mount Diablo! 

Weather should hold until 5, right? Let's hope so. 
 We arrived at Mount Diablo Park from the Danville side at about 1pm. I've hiked this mountain many, many times over the years, but always from the NE through Wildcat Canyon, never on the Summit Trail from Danville. So, it's all new again! 

The trailhead is in an awkward spot with no parking available. We parked down the road about 1/4 mile and walked up. 


It's 6.15 miles to the peak. Let's go!!

A little slipping and sliding, but on trail time is always fun

We spend lots of time being upset with Manzanita as we are normally trying to bushwhack our way through it up a mountain somewhere. Chris decided to make peace and show it some love on this journey. Awwwww...



Staircase to summit trail started with a literal staircase and shaved about a 1/2 mile off our summit ascent.

Just a tad bit of erosion on trail with all of the rain as of late.



Blue sky peeking through and beautiful green hillsides.





The clouds are thickening.........rain is coming, that's for sure.

Remnants of this winters epic wet season.......downed trees and slides.

My Bae hunting bay


Our tracks via Strava for iPhone. Looks like we climbed a mountain...

Lark Creek Cafe. Locust Street, Walnut Creek, CA

Finished the day with Lark Creek Cafe in Walnut Creek. A favorite restaurant of mine when I lived there and I was excited to share that with Chris.  We sat up at the bar in front of the wood fired oven and watched them prepare the food. Polenta fries, white bean soup, mushroom flatbread and a delectable fennel crusted pork tenderloin. Chris topped off the meal with a frothy cappuccino and butterscotch pudding with Chantilly cream, one of their signature desserts. Delish!! So glad I was able to share this dining experience with him. I haven't been here in a long time and it was great to enjoy the wonderful food and atmosphere, even in our muddy hiking clothes! 

Now waiting for the weather to warm up and clear up so we can get back to our regularly scheduled adventures in the sunshine!! 

Until then, we will be chasing run, running from the rain and becoming better acquainted with our snow shoes. Snow camping is still on the agenda and may happen sooner than later due to the amount of snow in mountains. 

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