I challenge you to conquer Clouds Rest

"If you are fit enough, go. If you are not, make it a fitness goal, then go. Someday, when you're rocking on the front porch at the senior center, you'll be glad you did." - Ron Erskine

Each new year, we resolve to lose weight, exercise more, or make some other pledge of self-improvement that usually withers and dies before January is gone. But sometimes, if the challenge has enough allure, and if we do it with the support and companionship of friends, we might follow through and maybe even come away with a lifelong memory.

In 2013, I challenge you to join me in a special adventure – to make a bold commitment and follow through. We will prepare together, but make no mistake, you will be tested. Your reward will be a fantastic memory and the pride that comes from a very special accomplishment.

You may be familiar with the view of Half Dome from the floor of Yosemite Valley. The hike to the top of Half Dome has become a very popular goal hike, and is quite an achievement. But look up Tenaya Canyon beyond Half Dome. An immense granite wall rises to a massive knobby peak – Clouds Rest.

That is our goal. On Saturday, July 13, 2013, we will walk to the top of Clouds Rest.

Half Dome gets all the press, but Clouds Rest is a far better destination. If you perform my highly sophisticated pleasure: pain ratio analysis, you will agree. The Half Dome hike is 16.5 miles with an elevation of 4,800 feet.

The trail to Clouds Rest is 13.2 miles with an elevation gain of 2,450 feet. But here is the clincher. The Half Dome hike is so popular that you must enter a lottery to get a permit. At the base of the cables near the summit, you must show the permit and often wait 30 minutes for your turn to ascend. Conversely, on the walk to Clouds Rest, you will encounter no crowds (no permit is required), and when you get to the top you will be 1,100 feet higher than the teeming masses on Half Dome.

The calculation is simple. The hike to Clouds Rest is shorter, has less elevation gain, reaches a higher peak and is uncrowded.

I can’t overstate what awaits you at the top of Clouds Rest. At the summit, the earth drops away in every direction, leaving you breathless. It is a one-step 5,000-foot tumble down to Tenaya Creek. The view of Yosemite Valley, 6,000 feet below, is fantastic. You will enjoy unsurpassed views across all of Yosemite’s stunning high country. These are the special views reserved only for a mountaineer.

For all this hike has to offer, at 13.2 miles, it remains a difficult walk. Beginning in February, I will lead six hikes in local parks and preserves that will help us get ready. On these walks, we will not only get in shape, but each of us can support and encourage one another as we prepare for the big event.

Please join me on our fourth annual New Year’s Day hike, where we can talk more about the Clouds Rest Challenge. This is always a fun event and a great way to kick off the new year. Rain or shine, we will meet at the Mendoza Ranch entrance at Harvey Bear Ranch County Park at 9 a.m. New Year’s Day. We will hike the moderate Mummy Mountain Trail, a beautiful 4-mile route that rides the crest of Mummy Mountain with sweeping views over Coyote Reservoir and the Santa Clara Valley.

Mark it down – Saturday, July 13, 2013, we will walk to the summit of Clouds Rest. It is a big challenge, but it pays big dividends. You will return a changed person. Think it over, then come along.


To read a description of the hike to Clouds Rest, here is a link to the column I wrote about it.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
The Clouds Rest Challenge is an opportunity to prepare for a bold hike next summer that will test your mettle and in return fill you with pride and give you with a priceless memory. Clouds Rest is a knobby promontory beyond Half Dome farther up Tenaya Canyon. It sits that at the top of a massive granite wall that rises 1,100 feet above Half Dome. The view from the top is beyond description. In every direction, the Yosemite high country stretches to the horizon. It is fabulous.
The hike to Clouds Rest is 13.2 miles. We will start at an elevation of 8,150 feet and climb to 9,926 feet. Even though that difference is 1,750 feet, on the hike we will lose and regain an additional 675 feet for an overall elevation gain/loss of 2,450 feet. The hike will take about 8 hours.
This is an ambitious hike that will require preparation for most of us. Below is a schedule of six hikes I will lead that will help us prepare for the big day. I hope it will also be an opportunity to for all of us to come together as a group that will support and encourage each other in this challenge.
Each hike below will happen rain or shine. Come prepared with proper hiking shoes, clothing, snacks and any other gear (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, camera and field guides) you wish to have. Some trailheads have water and others don’t, so it is best to bring water from home.
A lifetime memory awaits. Come along.
Email me with questions: Ron Erskine, [email protected].
Hike No. 1: Jan. 1, 2013, 9 a.m.
Mummy Mountain Trail, Harvey Bear Ranch
3.7 miles, easy to moderate
Trailhead: The Mendoza Ranch entrance to Harvey Bear is on Roop Road above Gilroy just before the entrance to Coyote Reservoir.
Join me on our fourth annual New Year’s morning hike. It’s a great way to greet the new year. This trail rides the ridge top and has great views over Coyote Lake and the Santa Clara Valley.
No day use fee.
Hike No. 2: Feb. 23, 2013, 9 a.m.
Middle Ridge Loop, Henry Coe State Park (headquarters)
6.4 miles, moderate
Trailhead: Park headquarters is 14 miles up East Dunne Avenue in Morgan Hill. Allow enough time to get there.
This is a loop that goes over Pine Ridge to Frog Lake, then up to the top of Middle Ridge before heading home along the Fish Trail. Day use is $8 per vehicle.
Hike No. 3: March 30, 2013, 9 a.m.
Rancho Cañada del Oro OSP
8.5 miles, moderate
Trailhead: Rancho Cañada OSP parking is several miles out Casa Loma Road, which turns off Uvas Road, where it becomes McKean Road.
This trail has a short loop (4.3 miles) within a longer loop (8.5 miles), so we can walk together and you may opt to go long or short. We will climb two ridges and be rewarded with great view over the entire Bay Area.
No day use fee.
Hike No. 4: May 4, 2013
Henry Coe State Park (Hunting Hollow entrance)
8 miles, strenuous
Trailhead: From Gilroy, go up Roop Road toward Coyote Reservoir. Hunting Hollow is on the Gilroy Hot Springs Road about 3 miles past the turnoff to Coyote Reservoir.
We will climb out of Hunting Hollow on the nicely graded Jim Donnelly Trial, traverse the slope along Steer Ridge Road and descend the Lyman Willson Trail.
Day use us $6.
Hike No. 5: June 1, 2013, 9 a.m.
Harvey Bear Ranch
10.2 miles, strenuous
Trailhead: The Mendoza Ranch entrance to Harvey Bear is on Roop Road above Gilroy just before the entrance to Coyote Reservoir.
We will ride the ridge along the full length of Harvey Bear Ranch. This is a long hike, but the terrain is not difficult. Flowers can be spectacular.
No day use fee.
Hike No. 6: June 22, 2013, 9 a.m.
Mount Madonna County Park
5.5 miles, strenuous
Trailhead: Sprig Lake parking area is at the base of Hecker Pass.
This hike is shorter than previous ones, but we will climb from the base of Hecker Pass to the top and the Sprig Trail. It is steep. At the top, we will traverse over to the Merry-Go-Round Trail and descend through open grasslands. Lots of variety and great views.
No day use fee.

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