My sis and I try to go hiking once a month.  That’s our goal, not reality.  There’s a kitchen remodel going on so many weekends have been spent working on that.  More about the kitchen in another post.


work in progress…

Yesterday Susan and I went hiking in her daughter’s neck of the woods – Roni’s a Naturalist for a youth camp in the Pescadero, CA area.  She invited along a friend who had nothing better to do than hike with a coworker and 2 fluffy moms.

The friend is Nick and he’s a medic so that was super-comforting to have him along, you never know what can happen!  Not that we’ve ever had an emergency, but, still…

Turns out Nick isn’t the best trail guide but more on that later 😉

I live in Discovery Bay and Susan lives in Danville so we meet at a local park-n-ride (not really, its a Kaiser facility but I’m afraid they’ll be peeved that we park in their virtually empty parking lot, so I’ll just say a park-n-ride, OK?).

Anyway, we meet there.  Sometimes we go potty inside the  Kaiser  park-n-ride, but this time our location is over an hour away and we aren’t sure if there will be potties there (which would be a travesty).  We decide to wait until we’re almost to the park, then find a place to ‘go’ (TMI?  too bad)

Love driving anywhere with my sister!  We talk and laugh all the way to Alice’s Restaurant (where we planned to have lunch afterwards), contribute to the smelly outhouses, then drive to one of the Russian Ridge trail heads.  Side note: the restaurant across the street from Alice’s is where a friend and his wife got married – The Mountain Terrace – and what a beautiful venue that was!  The ceremony was out on the green grass overlooking hills and dales, then dinner on the terrace.

But, I digress…

Hey, look, there’s a bathroom at the trailhead, so thoughtful.  I’ve downloaded a map of the park but I can’t make heads or tails out of it.  I can’t locate our current location on the tiny phone screen and so I never look at that map again, besides we are with experienced Naturalists, so…

Before we begin, Susan and I activate our Charity Miles app, which will track our hike.  Companies sign up to donate money to our designated charity based on our miles.  This particular hike Johnson and Johnson will donate 25 cents for each mile I walk!  That’s pretty cool.  Charity Miles!  Set it up!  Do it now!

Roni and Nick have arrived and we shrug on our backpacks and set off in the direction recommended by Nick, who has hiked this area before.  We don’t want a lot of steep hilly stuff, because…reasons…


Survey marker at the top of Borel Hill – highest point in San Mateo County

Its a very cool, not cold, foggy morning and the weather’person’ has promised that the fog will burn off and the sun WILL come out.  They didn’t say anything about wind, there’s a lot of wind, chilly blowy wind.

The ups and downs of the trail are smooth and pretty easy, the trails go up and around hills and down through groves of trees.   Completely different types of trails – dry grassy hills covered in wildflowers ( 50 yards away its a dry grassy hill, walk closer and you’ll see masses of yellow wildflowers, closer still and there’s a layer of purple flowers beneath the layer of yellow) and the occasional deer or cattle, lots of lizards, millipedes, moths, butterflies and an endangered garter snake to the wet forest with streams and small waterfalls (out of rubber pipes, but still) and ferns, miner’s lettuce, poison oak/sumac/hemlock, chinese lanterns, lichen.


something or other hemlock, I think, but maybe not

Fairy circles abound and the fog has left dewdrops everywhere – so lovely.

20180609_120401 cropped.jpg

The rainbow effect on the dew made them irridescent.

Once in awhile we’d see something nifty and we’d stop to look and comment and take photos or what have you.  Susan said ‘look at the way that tree is growing out of…what is that its growing out of?’ and I said ‘its an escarpment or a schism or what is that word for a layer of rock in the ground?’ and Roni says ‘Shazaam?’  And we are silly, so we all bust up laughing and now, that’s my new cuss word.  Go ahead, try it.  Drop your toast butter- side down and curse ‘oh, shazaam’ and you’ll be bumped out of your bad mood almost immediately!


Construction Worker moth

We took a couple extra loops to see where the trails go – one of them was more of a cattle path and I swear I saw the largest cowpie in the history of cowpies!  3 of the 4 of us take a potty break and then we hiked along to the point where there was poison oak nudging across both sides of the trail…that was a big NOPE!

Then we took another trail to the Council Circle


Apparently, also a Geocaching site 

and Roni discovered that if you stand in the middle, facing that low curved wall, your voice echos back at you, like if you were in one of the pavilions at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts.   I stood in that spot and decided the other 3 needed to join me so we could sing!  It was like singing in a stairwell, we sounded spectacular.


Palace of Fine Arts, photo from

After that we headed back, the trail was UPHILL.  Not my favorite thing…uphill and UPhill and UPHILL on and on and on and I needed to rest often, dang it.  By that point my hip was bothering me and my feet were tired.  My knee was fine, so there’s that.

Roni and Nick headed on without us, my sister graciously stayed with me.  We got to the top and Nick is sitting crosslegged at the gate.  He says ‘guess what?  This is a different parking lot!’  He realized when we were walking through the cool shady area much earlier  that we’d taken a wrong turn (he’s thinking to himself the entire time ‘I don’t remember this at ALL!’) but didn’t say anything so we wouldn’t worry…poor guy, he carried that with him for a couple miles.  He coulda told us, Susan and I find ourselves in uncharted territory quite a lot!


Beautiful photo by Don Roberson

Anyway, some of us take another potty break – this time in a proper outhouse – and others of us look at the posted trail map to try and figure out the best way back to ‘our’ parking lot.  Since there is a parking lot between where we are and our final destination, we send the kids on and we’ll meet them at the in-between parking lot.  Not that Susan and I are slow, or anything like that.

The trail is so nice, wandering, gently switch-backing, shady, kind of a perfect end to the hiking day.  We get to the parking lot and Nick is waiting for us because the parking lot is pretty much a pull-out spot for, maybe 3 cars and Susan and I would NEVER have figured this to be THE parking lot where we were supposed to wait!  Nick is very good at being a breadcrumb.  Bless his heart.  And I don’t mean that in a Southern way at all!

Listening to him and Roni talk on the hike, they are obviously so good with kids!  Stories they tell are all positive and full of laughter.  They love their work.  Nick is the ‘laundry fairy’.  He has the unpleasant duty of dealing with cleaning up the messes made by homesick or bedwetting kids (hey, no judgement here, I wet the bed til I was 11 or so).   But even that smelly chore is met with good spirits.

Susan and I check our hiking app and discovered that we’ve hiked 17 MILES!!!  Oh, wait, MY app says 17 miles, her app says almost 9 miles.  I think her app is correct.  I must take teensy weensy steps compared to her…what could be the difference?  Ideas, anyone?

We caravan back around to Alice’s Restaurant and are seated in an area downwind of that smelly outhouse-of-a-bathroom, so we get reseated elsewhere (let others smell sewage while eating their late lunches).

Alice’s Restaurant is at Skyline Blvd, which is a road popular with cars, bicyclists and motorcycles.  There are always groups of them all taking a break and admiring each other’s vehicle of choice.


Photo stolen from Alice’s website…


I’m feeling COLD, sweaty sweatshirt, shorts and that darn wind.  But hot tea and asking the waitress to turn on the patio heater made it a practically perfect experience.  We were a pretty raucous table laughing like goofballs constantly.  I tried to relate some of them here but its harder than you’d think to explain what tickles your funny bone.

Like when Susan noted that the moth (pictured above) must be a construction worker cuz he’s wearing an orange vest.  I thought it was pretty funny but it doesn’t translate very well here.

There were even Spock and Cruella DeVille sightings!  That is, a couple ladies came in together, one with a Spock haircut and the other with half bleached and half black hair.  Dyed hair isn’t that big a deal, but the Spock haircut was…unique…

Then there was the lady and her scruffy white poodle thing, trying to get him to eat french fries by taking a bite and then offering it to the dog…over and over, right down in its face.


We need to get going, so hugs all around and back in our cars to return to that park-n-ride.   Again, a fun time, where Susan and I solve the world’s problems and laugh a lot.  And wouldn’t many of the world’s problems be resolved if people could laugh more?

We promise to hike together once a month, which will end up being every couple months, but the intent is there and that’s half the battle, right 😉