Coal Mine Ridge

Fri, Feb 10, 2017

With: Steve Sywyk
Tom McClaughry

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Our Friday picnic hike saw us in Portola Valley in San Mateo County for a visit to the highpoint of Coal Mine Ridge. It's a very picturesque area, with numerous trails criss-crossing the slopes on both sides of the ridge. The trails pass through oak woodlands with periodic views to the adjacent ridges and slopes on the north side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Today's weather was heavily overcast with some light rain. Storms over the past few days had left the trails as muddy as I've seen them in the area - a lot like those found in Hawaii, but with chillier temperatures. We followed a route similar to one I'd found online, a 4mi effort making use of the Toyon, Coal Mine Ridge and Old Spanish Trails. We manuevered around deep puddles and avoided the small creeks sometimes flowing down the middle of the trail. There are various overlook benches found along the way, one of which we used for our picnic site. The highpoint of the ridge itself is found just above the Old Spanish and Toyon Trails which bypass it on the north side. Use trails leads up from the west and east sides, but one can also go up from the north side (as Tom and I did, from the Old Spanish Trail), watching carefully for poison oak which finds a comfortable home in these woods.

Possibly the oldest known fan of Pokemon Go, Tom "discovered" a rare Jinx character at a "Poke Stop" at the junction of the Alpine and Toyon Trails. That Pokemon characters could be transvestites was news to Steve and I, but Tom took it in stride without even cracking a smile. Despite our repeated efforts to ridicule Tom's obsession, he continues to ignore or rebuff our insults, calmly pausing along a trail whenever a pokemon "appears" so he can "flick" a Pokeball with his phone to secure its "capture". Thus encapsulates one man's spiral from responsible citizen to the netherworlds of the long-term unemployables.

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