2011 Trip Out West Part 1
Our 2011 trip out west was first planned back in grade school in 2002, when we wanted to take an extended road trip across country. However, the trip never came to fruition in high school like we intended. But at the start of summer 2011, the idea reemerged in the minds of Ezekiel Bowers, Craig Genet and myself and we solidified the commitment by purchasing round trip tickets to San Francisco. After this, we began planning the specifics of the trip, which included the traverse of five states over the course of two weeks.
So on August 1st we headed to my house in Berea, Ohio and the next morning, August 2nd, we boarded a plane at Hopkins International Airport. As soon as we arrived in San Francisco our first stop was fisherman’s Warf where we took a plunge in the bay. To dry off we sprinted to the top of Hyde Street, hopped back in the rental and wandered around Golden Gate Park. For the evening we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge into Novato to stay with our hosts.
Waking up on August 3rd we drove to Mount Tamalpais and dropped off Bowers and watched him as he disappeared into the foggy switchbacks. Then Craig and I ran some miles around Muir Woods on the lower slopes of Mount Tam and then ran out and back over the Golden Gate Bridge. Finally, after Bowers finished his second summit of Tam, I decided to run to the summit, for a total of about 18 miles on the day. After an extensive day of running and biking we wandered around San Francisco and took a plunge in the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach.
August 4th began with our departure from Novato and a meandering drive up highway 1 to the iconic Bodega Bay. Bodega Bay was the setting for the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds. Our next stop was Fort Bragg, where we began our quest for the all-you-can-eat pancake record at Denny’s. Craig mowed down nine pancakes to add to his two from Stinson Beach from the previous day, while Bowers and I both grinded out seven. Following our binge we went for a seven-mile run along the pacific front and coastal bluffs near Glass Beach. We took some time for wildlife viewing at MacKerricher State Park, and spotted several sea lions. The remainder of our voyage up highway 1 was engulfed with the sound of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. We finally called it a night and slept at a rest stop near Trinidad Beach.
After a painful night of car sleeping, August 5th was a new day in a new location. We made the drive to Redwood National Park and upon arriving hiked the 2.5-mile Trillium Falls trail. The lush forest, massive redwoods and banana slugs made this one of my favorite hikes I had completed to date. After our warm up we obtained our Tall Trees permit and made the painstaking drive down the dirt road. Upon arrival, we hiked along Redwood Creek and took a quick dip in the clear waters. Then we began a series of difficult fords over jagged rocks until we reached the Tall Trees Loop. After staring at the sky in awe of the trees, we traveled to Elk Meadow where we caught our first glimpse of the Roosevelt Elk. Then we finished our adventure in Redwood with a trip to the impressive Fern Canyon. As I attempted to jog back to the car I was chased by a few elk and thus took a ride back to our car. While riding along with the couple we were informed that there was a Gray Whale in the Klamath River just to the north. Naturally we made our way to the bridge and took advantage of the unorthodox opportunity to see a whale in the river. We decided to get a motel in Crescent City and I went for a 5.5 mile run along the beach while Craig and Bowers grocery shopped. The night ended while we watched the sun set on the Pacific Ocean.
August 6th began with a much more restful night sleep behind us and we finally made our way out of California and into Oregon. However, before we began the long drive we made our second stop at Denny’s and Criag and I consumed nine pancakes while Bowers powered through seven. En route to Crater Lake we hiked to the top of the Upper Table Rock and enjoyed beautiful views of the Rouge River Valley. Additionally, we would have been remiss to not stop at Jacksonville, a destination of the Oregon Trail. We reached our destination of Crater Lake and it remains to be the most breathtaking view I have ever witnessed. After taking in the scenery I ran 7.5 miles up and down Garfield Peak and we camped in the backcountry of the mosquito infested Cascades.
We awoke early on August 7th, and started the hike up Mount Scott, where we had a panoramic view of Crater Lake. After the climb we jogged the two-mile loop around Plainki Falls and then finished our 33-mile drive around the lake. We concluded our trip with a hike down Cleetwood Trail and took the plunge into Crater Lake off of the 17-foot jumping rock. After jumping into the water twice, I swam a ways out into the lake and reflected on the fact that I was swimming in the second deepest lake in North America. We hopped back in the versa and made the trek across the eastern Oregon sagebrush. After running a mile in each small town we stopped in along the way I ran five more miles along the Boise River greenbelt in Boise, Idaho.