Valencia Peak is one of the morros here on the central coast, extinct volcanoes. There are several of them, all in a row. I don't know why the row, must be some geological explanation, but they make a picture that is like fairyland if you are looking at them from afar, or in fact looking at some from the top of another. I half expect elves to be running around the base as I drive by some of these beauties.
The hike up is two miles, all climb. Some of it quite steep and on broken shale on sand, so can be slippery. By the time I was reaching the "final ascent" I thought that if I'd had a headache this would have cured it. Lots of oxygen going through me, lots of good deep breathing. Three younger people passed me on the way up and passed me again on their way down later. One of them was red-faced, looked pretty winded, so I didn't feel out of place.
Valencia Peak is right near the ocean in Montana de Oro state park, so I was forever looking back to see how the shore looked. And it was just beautiful. Rugged cliffs, deep blue sea, grasses dotted with wildflowers of many colors. I hope at least a few of the photos I took capture this look adequately. As I got nearer the peak some fog started moving in. It moved on out a little later so I thought I had a chance at the BIG VIEW from the very top. But by the time I got there it had fogged in again and did not let up while I sat there with my lunch. At the very top is a surveyor's marker from the geodetic survey, set on top of a little stone bench, on which I sat. It was the only thing to sit on, really, and I attempted a photo of me from below, setting the camera down on the ground, angled up. I think I'll bring along a short tripod next time. Lightweight, packable.
Here I am on top:
The hiking guide I used provided an alternative way down to repeating the ascent, so that's what I did. The descent was pretty fast for a while, went around the northerly side of the peak, through heavy brush. At times the trail was hardly discernable. I figure that particular trail is not used nearly as much as the main one. It seemed the main trail had people on it the whole time I was going, coming in little spurts. Because it is not a casual walk, you would not see whole families doing this hike, but the hardier of the species even seemed to use it as a regular exercise route (not me, no indeed, that is not me). I talked to a few people I passed, agreeing on what a beautiful day it was. But met nobody on the trail down, on this lesser-used thing. It cuts through meadowland, then descends to a seasonal spring and finally hooks up to some other trails if you want to keep on hiking (no I didn't).
I got back to my car almost three hours after I had started out. I had taken ten minutes or so for lunch at the top and a few fast breaks on the way, but generally I was moving the whole time. That's pretty slow for four miles and gives an idea how difficult I found it myself. The book estimates the time at from two to four hours.
I stretched some back at the car, ate an apple, drove to Morro Bay, where I had a bowl of veggie soup and salad at the Nibble Nook. This place has been in business forever and it never changes. Miracle. Always good homey veggie soup there. Once home, I stretched some more. I trust this will prevent any cramps tonight.
If I do a hike tomorrow it will be a short one.