Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Maple Falls

Where, you ask, is Maple Falls (or should that be "are")? The falls, which you see behind the lovely Carol, are at the end of not-really-a-trail in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos.

So let me back up a bit. The lovely Carol was at our church's women's retreat at Asilomar, a gorgeous location near Monterey. After the retreat, we met in Santa Cruz at the West Cliff Inn, where we took advantage of the last night of their winter rates. Monday morning, after a great breakfast, we finished packing and pointed the car down Highway 1 toward Monterey. Shortly after Capitola, we took the first Aptos exit (State Park Drive), turned left over the highway, then right at Soquel. After a little ways, we turned left on Aptos Creek Road and followed it into the park.

We paid the $8 fee (astonishingly I found eight one-dollar bills in my wallet) and drove up to George's Picnic Area on a road that was a little slippery. We used the facilities and got our boots on, then walked through two locked gates, turning left ¼ mile past the second one onto the Loma Prieta Grade. We really needed our boots on this trail.

We followed the Bridge Creek trail to the Bridge Creek historic site, and from there did the "creek scramble" (this "trail" is not maintained) up to the falls, where we stopped for lunch. We took the Loma Prieta Grade all the way back, which involved some climbing before things leveled out and headed back down. (This State Parks is hurting for maintenance funds; at one point, a tree had crashed into a bridge, dislodging the railing and forcing all hikers to either duck below or clamber over it. Downed trees in several places made this trail more work than intended.) All told we walked probably 10 miles and I'll say several hundred feet of climbing. The falls were nice (the photo doesn't do it, or the lovely Carol, justice). We ran into very few folks on this Monday outing.

Dinner was at Pacific Thai in Santa Cruz. Great service and terrific food. The coupon fee (restaurant.com) for $25 off a $50 purchase was money well spent. If you do this, your beverages don't count toward the $50 minimum, and they will add the gratuity in for you, sparing you the effort of calculating how much 15-16% is of $25 more than the net, etc.

A great day of playing hooky, a good workout, great food and conversation.

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