Bike Camping Adventure #2 - Nicene Marks Redwoods

July 1/2, 2011

Kent was in town for a few more days, and we thought we could improve on the first bike-camping S24O ("short 24hr overnighter") at Henry Cowell the previous weekend. My suggestion was that I believed we could find a good spot to guerilla camp at Nicene Marks not far from the epicenter. That first trip was Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon. The next day, Sunday, I decided I'd get some work done at my office and also do a long run to check out this idea, all in one. I ran the trail behind the parking structure, up past the Horticulture complex, across the fields to the end of Vienna drive and a trail which worked it's way down to Aptos Creek not far from the Steel Bridge in Nicene. From there, I ran up the fire road to the Hoffmann trail, to the Porter site, the Buddha Bridge, back over the creek to the fire road, and on up to the Epicenter. From there, I ran another half mile or so to look for a campsite in the steep canyon leading up towards Five Finger Falls - and found a perfect sand bar just past the 2nd creek crossing, big enough for both of us to tent and enjoy the babbling brook and a night in the wilds far from diesel generators and (hopefully) yellowjackets. Ferrell reminded me about the mountain lions up there, but attacks are rare and so why worry? What's the worst that could happen?

Ready for launch - from Kent's cabin

First stop - 100 ft down Kent's steep driveway I lost brake power. Kent had helped me afix my old rear carrier w/ a salvaged gizmo which turned out to interfere with my rear brakes.

Disorienting? Yeah, this is Kent's next door neighbor's model train set. He's got several of the best anywhere, and a large tour bus was here showing model train buffs his layouts. We joined the fun for a few minutes before continuing on.

We rode the back roads around DeLaveaga, to Dominican, onto Soquel Drive to Nicene and here we're on the side trail near the kiosk.

Looking down from the Steel Bridge

A couple clicks past the steel bridge - the sunbeams were classic (as was Kent's reflective stripe)

Arm's length photo, at the Green Gate

Kent and the little crescent moon shack

We arrive at the epicenter. Here, we take the Five Finger Falls trail, which is officially closed due to a big landslide many years ago. The trail only goes a half mile or so. It's a steep canyon which sees few people, perfect for a below-radar camp.

Creek crossing at the Epicenter

My little Lumix isn't great in low light - the pixels are sub-microscopic and photon statistics start to take over. Our camp was in the deepest, steepest, darkest part of the canyon, even with the sun up. So, forgive the grainiest pix.... we call those "documentary shots".


This trail is pretty sketchy


We arrive at the sandbar on the creek - and celebrate the journey with a Bonny Doon red wine. Cheers!

We hung the breakfast items right over my sleeping bag - I'll guard 'em no matter what.

I cobbled together river rock for chairs, and an ancient railroad tie from the logging days 100 years ago, for our meal table

After a dinner of hot lentil soup, herring, and potatos and spices - more wine.

Reading "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene at morning light. One of my rituals on campouts.

Breakfast: fresh apricots from Kent's tree, granola, hot oatmeal w/ almonds, cashews, and cranberries.


Those fresh 'cots were yummy.


Kent's mattress - $100. My mattress - priceless!

Repacking his steed

Ancient clams in the native Santa Cruz mudstone.

Green forest filtering golden sunlight, reflected in Aptos Creek

Time to head back

Like many Nicene trails, this one follows the century old narrow guage railroad which took out all the trees. Here a deep, narrow cut in the hillside made the rail bed.

A stopover at a local organic farm for some dinner goodies

We took the steep way back - over the ridge to Branciforte. Along the way, a stop at historic Castelegno's on Old San Jose Rd for ice cream to power us up the mountain.