Monday, January 28, 2013

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

On Sunday, we hiked some of the trails at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. Las Trampas is a 5,342-acre regional park located in Alameda and Contra Costa countries in the Bay Area, and it is part of the East Bay Regional Park. The best part about Las Trampas is that is offers many miles of hiking trails, all of which are dog friendly!

I found out about this area using my Sierra Club app. Yes, this app is very helpful if you like hiking and are not completely familiar with the hikes in your area. You simply have to look for hikes close to your current location and you’ll find every hike that exists around you. Just wonderful!

It takes about an hour to reach Las Trampas from San Francisco, so we went to bed early Saturday night in order to wake up early on Sunday and hit the trails before they got crowded. Little did we know that this trail system is so big that it can absorb lots of hikers without a problem and without ever feeling crowded.

In fact, we reached the trailhead around 9 in the morning and there were already several cars in the parking lot (about 10-15). However, we barely saw anybody while hiking!

I think I have mentioned this before but, one of the best pars of starting a hike early in the morning is that you get the most beautiful light you could ask for. As the sun rises, the trees become lit up with the gentle rays of the rising sun. The light peaks through branches and leaves, turning everything a bit golden.

Every time we went downhill, the sun got lots behind the hills. Every time we went up again (which we did a lot!), we would see the sun once again, peaking from behind the hills.

Another thing that was great about this hike, and this area in general, was the diversity of the geography. We walked through forests, open fields, on ridges, on fire roads, footpaths, and more. Regardless of what the terrain was like, one thing stayed the same throughout the entire hike: it was NEVER flat!

The trails were very green and lush for the most part, however, there weren’t many flowers. I guess that, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, it is still winter. I did manage to find some flowers and was very excited with each and every find!

I feel that in hikes like this, where the scenery can appear to be the same, it is important to keep a creative eye out for fun photos. I have particularly become interested in photographing moss and lichen on branches, as well as mushrooms on the dead tree stumps that sit right next to the path in many stretches of the trail. As a photographer, you must work with your surroundings and that’s what I try to do!

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see yellow lichen on some of the tree branches. It was so fun to try to capture it and to try to turn it into a work of art, to frame it right.

Oh yes, and there were also the views! Because you end up climbing lots of vertical feet, and summiting a peak or two, your reward is presented with gorgeous views of the East Bay, Mount Diablo, and the surrounding wilderness area.  

Climbing the mountain is a big part of the experience, but the views, they truly nurture you by providing perspective about the world around us.

At one point, when we got out of the forest and started walking on an open path lined up with bare trees, we started paying attention to the noises we were hearing. They belonged to woodpeckers. These little peckers were all around us, pecking away on the trees.

If you have a dog, you know how hard it is to not scare birds away when you are hiking. Every time I walked towards the trees to try to take photos of the birds, Bomber would also run towards the trees, looking as much as a predator as he possibly could and, next thing I knew, all birds would fly away.

I did manage to get a few photos of a woodpecker after patiently waiting for them to come back to the trees that were closer to us. I even caught one flying away. I really love that photo!

At the end of the hike, we had walked on over 5 different trails, clocked about 7.5 miles and had done over 2,000 feet of elevation change in total! That is what I call a perfect day!!!

Back at home we all relaxed and gave our 2 feet (or 4 for Bomber!) a break. Nothing beats spending over 4 hours out in nature!

I hope you enjoyed the photos on this post. If you love hiking and you are in the Bay Area, please, go check out Las Trampas. You will not be disappointed!

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