Peters Creek Loop

A day hike doesn’t have to be 25 miles. The Peters Creek Loop in Portola Redwoods State Park is “only” a mile long—you just have to hike 6 miles to get there.

Unfortunately I didn’t practice very good poison oak hygiene last weekend (I wore shorts and didn’t shower immediately upon returning home), and now I’m suffering from a few small spots on both legs and a swath on my left arm—my worst exposure since my first. Lesson re-learned.

Slate Creek Trail in Portola Redwoods State Park
Slate Creek Trail in Portola Redwoods State Park

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I can say with confidence that it’s possible to hike the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail in a single day, if one were so inclined. A month ago Stephanie dropped me off at the Saratoga Gap trailhead just after 8 in the morning, snapped a few photos (to help search-and-rescue identify my body), and then drove off in the direction of Pescadero to spend the day studying.

Nine hours later I emerged from the wilderness, on a bluff facing the Pacific just before sunset. Stephanie met me at the end with a sandwich and bubbly water. The signs say the trail is 29.5 miles long, but common wisdom (and recent GPS data) suggests it’s closer to 25. Given my usual pace of 3 miles per hour, plus a short break for lunch and an unanticipated ford of Waddell Creek, 25 miles seems reasonable.

Which makes this trek the farthest I’ve hiked in a single day, eclipsing the two days in a row that I hiked close to 23 miles on the PCT (over 11 hours carrying a 30-pound pack). To day hike any farther, I’m going to need longer days (and longer trails).

View of the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail
Skyline-to-the-Sea trail in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

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Hike to Murietta Falls

Last weekend, Danny and Jared and I hiked the strenuous Ohlone Wilderness Trail from Del Valle Regional Park to the top of Murietta Falls. It was a doozy. This hike and the last (El Corte de Madera Creek) were ostensibly training hikes for the John Muir Trail (JMT) this summer. I say “ostensibly” because, well, my anticipated start date for the hike is still 6 months out, I’m not really training with a loaded pack, and there’s no guarantee I’ll even be able to get a permit for the hike.

But if all goes according to plan, I’ll be hiking with my brother Matthew over 11 days in late-July or early-August. We’ll be taking the kamikaze approach and attempting to cover 20 miles/day. Hubris yes, but it’s also motivated by our experience of hiking similar mileage with our Dad on the PCT (who, as it happens, will be on the CDT at the time). In the interest of training, I’ve been hiking with a group of friends and acquaintances (Danny and Jared included) who are also planning on tackling the JMT this summer—though their group expects to stretch it out over a more humane 3 weeks, covering 10-15 miles/day.

Trail to Murietta Falls in the Ohlone Regional Wilderness

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El Corte de Madera Creek

Two weekends ago, I hiked for 10ish miles with Danny and Jared around El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve. Here are some photos from the trail.

El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve trail

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Index Card Financial Advice

The New York Times recently published an article entitled, How Should You Manage Your Money? And Keep It Short by Ron Lieber. In it, he asked several personal finance experts to summarize their “best ideas” in the space of an index card (inspired by one such internet-famous card and the book it spawned). I enjoy these sorts of pithy financial recommendations, but what really caught my eye was this call to action alongside the article:

What Would Your Card Look Like? Please make your own card with a few simple tips (or just one, or a sketch) and upload a photo of it here. We’ll display some of our favorites in the coming days.

I didn’t think I had anything to add beyond Scott Adams’ 9-point financial plan (which got me started on this path 10 years ago), but I did wonder whether others might benefit from keeping a yearly log of their financial decisions and plans, as I do on my blog. So I distilled Adams’ list down to what I thought were the 4 most important pieces of advice, and then added my own. Here it is:

Justin Watt's index card financial advice: Pay off your credit cards [every month]; Save 6 months worth of expenses as an emergency fund; Fund your 401(k) and/or IRA [to the max] and invest in index funds with expense ratios below 0.1%; Get term life insurance---if you have a family to support; Once a year (early January) write a letter to yourself describing the financial decisions you made in the past year and the financial plans you have for the coming year---before writing, read each of your previous letters
My index card financial advice