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trail camping

Saturday afternoon, Nancy and I got the tent and sleeping bags out of the storage closet, packed up a change of clothes and some food into our backpacks, and drove up into the nearby Santa Cruz mountains to Castle Rock State Park, which is about half way between San Jose and the ocean. A couple hours of hiking brought us to the park’s trail camp. Nancy and I both enjoy hiking and camping, and I think it was very refreshing for her to see so much open space and forest so close to the Bay area’s urban sprawl.

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I camped once before at Castle Rock by myself a year or two ago, and I brought along some bread, nuts, fruit, and chocolate bars to eat, and water to drink. This time, we brought along our new campstove, with coffee, hot cocoa, and soup — and bread, nuts, and fruit too (we forgot the chocolate though, but not next time! :-)

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Mmmmm…. gotta like hot soup for dinner with hot cocoa on a cool evening!

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We got to the campsite about an hour before dark, so after washing up after dinner it was just about bedtime. We let ourselves sleep in the next morning and enjoy the silence, then we had brunch (bagles, hot coffee, and bananas) before packing everything back up.

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Castle Rock State Park’s trails are part of a system of trails called the “Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail” that leads from the crest of the Santa Cruz mountains, through Big Basin Redwoods State Park down to the Pacific Ocean. It’s 30 or 40 miles, with several trail camps along the way. One of these days, once we’re in a bit better shape, Nancy and I plan on taking a long weekend to do the whole trail.

We took a different, and slightly longer trail back. Because the parking lot is perhaps 800 feet higher than the campsite, we followed a trail that stays in the shade of the forest more.

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Castle Rock Park is noted for some large rock outcroppings, which are very popular with local rock climbers and rappellers. On our hike back up to the jeep, we passed one formation with a group of climbers. I like hiking, but rock climbing looks a little too exciting for me. (There are two climbers in this picture. One is just at tree-top level, in the lower right. Can you find the other one – the really crazy one? :-)

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Here’s a close up. I wonder what his plan was to get up from there? You can’t really tell from the picture, but this guy was practically hanging upside down already!

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It’s great having places like Castle Rock Park close by. Maybe if we got in shape enough, and honed our skills enough, we could go hiking and trail camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in the wilderness areas north of Yosemite National Park.

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