Flatland resident relishes in hiking

One of the most exciting things for me about living in the Bay Area are the endless mountains and hills.

I’m new to uneven horizons. I’ve always lived in areas where the land is flat no matter which way you look: Moscow, South Florida and then Chicago.

During some early mornings in South Florida, clouds would float very close to the ground, and the sun would hit them in a way that created an illusion of rugged mountains somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

I remember being fooled by that illusion on occasion as I looked out of the window of my high school’s bus, still trying to wake up. A longing took over me in those moments — the longing to be somewhere else, surrounded by actual mountain tops. Spoiler alert: I’m not in love with Florida. 

Hiking the Black Mountain Trail. (Alex Shashkevich Photos)

This new uneven ground means hiking, hiking and more hiking. And that I’m totally in love with.

It’s so satisfying to reach the top of a hill after sweating for hours and take in the view. The air is always so fresh and piny here in the Bay.

It almost feels like you’re treating your body to an internal spa. In some places, the air has this wonderful sweet taste because of the surrounding flowers and trees.

I admit I’m very much a hiking newbie still. But I’ve been to a couple of places already, and I wanted to share my favorite experiences here.

My favorite trail so far is the Black Mountain Trail in Los Altos. It’s a challenging 10-mile hike. You basically climb up the mountain and go down, and the climbing up part gets pretty steep.

But once you survive it, the view is lovely. My dad and I have hiked the trail together twice now (once in the summer and once earlier this winter), and I loved it both times.

The sun was pretty grueling in the summer during the last stretch of climbing because there aren’t that many trees near that part of the trail.

When hiking this trail in the winter time, don’t forget that it takes at least three and a half hours and that the sun does set early.

My dad and I definitely made a mistake with that this past December, and we ended up hiking the last hour of our trail in the dark.

A big number of stars was visible, and that was wonderful. But it was scary and nerve-racking to hike down even with my phone’s flashlight on.

At one point, my dad and I heard growling coming from the woods near us at least two different times. We’re pretty sure it was a mountain lion…

The view of the sunset from the top of Black Mountain Trail. It was worth it despite the growling mountain lion.

Another lovely hiking area I’ve only started exploring is Big Basin Redwoods State Park. I visited two times: once with my mom and once with my dad.

My dad and I made a quick stop to check out the park sometime in late October.

It was the weekend after one of the first rains of the season, and the road to the park got pretty foggy. Sunshine peeked out through the trees and scattered in the fog, creating quite an eerie but picturesque scene.  

The sun shines through the fog in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park the day after one of the first rainy days of the season in 2016.

The trees in the park are enormous, but I hear it’s not anything out of the ordinary. Redwoods are giants, and apparently, there are even bigger ones in other areas (I still have to check out Avenue of the Giants). But as a redwoods newbie, I was pretty freaking impressed.

A few weeks later, my mom and I hiked a four-mile stretch in the park that leads to an “ocean view.” I’m putting that in quotation marks because I’m not sure if you could actually see the ocean at the end of this trail or not.

My mom and I were kind of confused. It might have been a bit too foggy that day to see the water. Either way, the trail was quite pleasant and generally even and easy.

My mom picked up a weird looking cluster of pinecones while we hiked at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in November 2016.

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