Pescadero Creek Loop
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The Pescadero Creek Loop is a great getaway tucked away in the Santa Cruz Mountians through La Honda. A 28 mile loop is ideal for a three day weekend.

The Drive
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Driving through La Honda, California is a peaceful scenic road lined with Douglas Firs and tons of old growth Redwoods. Typical Santa Cruz scenery but awe inspiring never the less.

As we drove into Sam McDonald County Park it as a desolate area with what seems only day hikers around. An abandoned Volvo carcass stood guard and we had an interesting time looking through the soon to be towed steel cage. 

Get Moving
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There is an open bathroom and self payment/checkout for over nighters that we promptly paid and got some maps as well. I guess we forgot our maps, again.

After our pre-trip parking lot pics we headed out into the Towne Trail which is in the corner of the parking lot and across the otherwise busy street. We felt like ducks hurriedly following their mother across the road careful to not be a victim of road raged loggers.

Signs of past forest fires are everywhere and although sometimes beautiful, please be careful with your open flames.

Brook Trail Loop
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Taking Brook Trail Loop you can see the pure awesomeness that is Pescadero Creek.

This is also a great place for bobcat sightings, which we had a great opportunity to see. He was in the distance and was hiding along the brush at trail side but as we approached he made a mad dash to the hills. Good thing too because I didn't renew my Bobcat wrestling permit.

Switchbacks
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Switchbacks are never fun but it helps when you are in under an old growth canopy away from the suns glare. The smell of Redwood mulch fills the air in an almost musty aroma.

Wild Berries
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Although I have heard there are wild berries along this stretch of the trip, we saw none. Just Charlie and Ben.

Wild Creatures
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The UC Santa Cruz's mascot is appropriately the Banana Slug which is literally everywhere out here. At one point it was hard to walk a straight line without hopping over these long and yellow creatures.

They feel funny slithering in your hand and if you were to place one on your friends pack when they didn't notice, it would likely stay there forever unseen. They don't talk much.

Towne Creek
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At the bottom of the mountain is a wooden bridge that stretches over Towne Creek. WATCH OUT. This bridge is slippery as hell.

At one point we all took off our packs and challenged each other to see how far they could run and slide on the mossy planks of the bridge. Charlie won by getting nearly halfway.

And the Confusion Sets In
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From here on out our navigation skills will be brought to the test.

Jumping on Pompoino Trail overlooking Jones Gulch it then again joins Towne Creek. There are trails everywhere on this route and the arrows are somewhat ambiguous.

Here we have an example of stupor I presented at Jones Gulch. We all took turns looking confused for the camera. It was all just a big PR stunt....or was it.

Shaw Flat Trail Camp
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Just a half mile from Pomponio Trail is the Shaw Flat Trail Camp where we spent our first night.

There are eight sites to choose from each with their own flair. Firepits, stumps to sit on and a secluded feel all gave us the feeling that we were hundreds of miles away from everything yet close enough to enjoy some good ole campfire shit.

Setting up our site involved first diving into our booze rations. It was glorious.

Camp Time
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Setting up camp is now a 20 minute thing for us as we are now trail veterans.

It will be a mistake placing our tents so close to the fire pit as I will find out later. Doh.

Raise The Stakes
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So what does one do on a full belly of rum and a full day ahead of you? Games of course.

This one involved throwing pine cones through a small hole in a downed redwood bark. Winner took one shot of each of the others booze stash.

Booze is traded like gold in the back country. It's serious business. Needless to say, Ben won it all.

Campfire and 151
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As dusk turns to night there is only one thing on our mind. Campfires.

We start with a reasonable fire and trade stories while sipping on 151. I know what you are probably thinking. 151? Why?

It's the most bang-to-weight ratio and my camping favorite. I would in no situation ever drink the stuff normally, just in the woods. I'm weird like that. And kids, I don't suggest doing this at all.

Oh and by the way, putting your tent too close to the fire will surely burn small holes in your rainfly. Just sayin.

Things Get Weird
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This is when the camera comes out and wolves come out to play. Shenanigans to follow.

Night Walk
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Charlie learns how to float in mid air and in the middle of the night we go on a light-less trail walk.

It was the most terrifying experience of the trip. We were so snookered we thought walking around in the forest at night with no lights was a great idea. It was.

We had a great time running into trees, stubbing toes, laughing and scaring the bejesus out of each other.

I think Ben ended up twisting his ankle pretty bad. He gets hurt a lot.

After we get back to the camp led by glow sticks we left at the campsite entrance we jumped in the tents and sobered up, I mean slept.

Day of The Dead
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The morning was awesome.

Headaches ensued as we packed up and headed out back on Pomponio Trail towards the paved Camp Pomponio Road.

We find more wildlife and take a break to say hello.

There is a county jail along this path to the right, don't test their security.

We head on across a steel bridge towards our second stop of the trip, Tarwater Trail Camp.

Tarwater Trail Camp
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Arriving at the Tarwater Trail Camp we are greeted with the first people we've seen all weekend. A small Boy Scout Troop and a few day hikers. Apparently this is a site that is close enough to a trailhead for people to dayhike to and party. We did not know this ahead of time so we scrambled ahead of the pack to secure a prime spot. We succeeded.

Being the manly men we are, we also wanted to test out why this place was called Tarwater Trail Camp and to our surprise its because there's oil in the damned water. It's crazy but there is.

Getting water was a feat all in itself. Through some crazy brush tunnels down a sheer cliff only using ropes to lower your self down and to eventually pull yourself up.

Get water once, seriously. Our night more or less was a repeat of the first night only with less pictures.

Pack it Up
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We again awoke to hangovers and dry mouths. Unfortunately for us we had to get more water, what a bummer.

Tarwater Trailhead
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Taking the Tarwater Loop Trail to the Tarwater Trailhead we get some great views of the valley below us. 

Quick Break
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At the top of the valley is a nice little picnic bench where we decided to hang out for a moment annnnd take pictures.

Down the Mountain
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And we are homeward bound, great times!!

Butano Ridge Loop Trail
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This trail off of the Pescadero Creek Loop requires that hikers are in fairly good shape to handle the 2000ft elevation change through young redwoods and evergreens.

The Drive & Start
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This hike was done in early March of 2014 and was a Friday to Sunday trip that started a bit later than we normally do. This was the second hike that was put together entirely on the website forum Reddit.com and more specifically the sub /r/norcalhiking.

Leaders were myself and the subs mod, /u/sconce2600 (I will call him Sconce from here on out) and those in attendance were my brother Kyle, /u/wildernesswarrior (WW), /u/epic_beast (EB) and /u/prosavage2600 (Pro).

Friday night I picked up Kyle and WW in the Livermore Pleasanton area and started our 2 hour drive to the mountains. We started our journey at 6pm and was dark even before we left the East Bay. Getting to the Trail Head was not terribly difficult in the dark but we knew we were in for a few hour hike at night. EB, Sconce and Pro were in a separate car and were only about 30 minutes behind us but we started the trek without them. 

Okay, now we are lost
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What should have been a two hour trip TOPS, turned out to be a four hour excursion. Hiking at night has its advantages though, its quiet (except the rustling in the trees next to you), its calming, and you tend to walk a bit faster because there really isnt anything to look at to slow you down. The disadvantages are...well its pretty dark.

After about 2 hours into our walk we must have made a wrong turn somewhere and the map was of no help. An on going joke was that the map was either made for by a dyslexic, for the blind on the back of a cereal box and then edited by a three year old with a crayon. It was bad. So we ended up walking through this open field and the second we look to the left we see glowing eyes. A lot of glowing eyes. Like upwards of 8 pairs of eyes which by my calculations equals 18 eyes. We jetted out of there pretty quick and not because we were scared, it was just that at 10pm you really don't want to be dealing with glowing eyes when you really have no idea of where you are.

We cross a river. A RIVER?!?! What were we thinking. So after the river crossing we decided that the best idea was to backtrack to the last fork and go an alternate direction. So we cross the river again. Fun times two.

At this point we hear rustling on the trail below us. It was the rest of our group but they were lost too! After each of us went on an hour long "Lost" trip we ended up at the same point on the trail system both lost. Funny, but hey it worked out.

Day 1 - The Hike
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So we eventually found the Shaw Flat Trail Camp and quickly setup for a well needed rest. It was well past midnight when we all finally settled in.

The next day Kyle and I awoke early and went down to the stream to get more H2O and to start breakfast. Today was going to be a long day and we all knew it. 12+ miles of ups and downs.

We started along the Old Haul Road Trail towards the Butano Ridge Loop Trail and into our day of Hell.

Old Haul Road Trail
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After our breakfast we head out to Old Haul Road Trail. Its a vehicle ready trail that is the gateway to the Butano Ridge Loop Trail and all the fun it brings.

Butano Ridge Loop Trail
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So after a few miles on switchbacks we realize the Butano Ridge Loop Trail was going to test us. Even though we didn't have heavy packs it was still a bit of a slow pace, probably 2mph or so. After a while we decided some ambiant tunes were required to make this hike more fun and we delivered.

It actually got pretty hot under the canopy as there was little crosswinds to cool us down.

Back on the Old Haul Road Trail
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So after 10 grueling miles of switchbacks and 2000ft of elevation change were we really excited to see the Old Haul Trail and our ticket home.

We we arrived back we promptly started a fire and began the dinner ceremonies.

That night we feasted and ended the night playing UNO and boozing until the booze was all gone. We earned that night and we all slept great.

The Hike Out
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Okay, so it's been quite a weekend already. Got lost in the woods at night, 8 miles. Hiked to the top of Mount Olympus, 14 miles. Now its time to go home, 4 miles.

All we can think about at this point are the hamburgers we are going to have at Alice's Resturant in La Honda.

Hiking Out
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Uh. This is us hiking out. It was a long weekend. Thanks for watching and now for a message from our sponsors....