I parked at the bottom of Japanese Gulch and headed up the trail I call OG, because it's the first one I ever explored there. It's a nice, steep way to climb to the Western side and is perfect poles. Unfortunately, the bridge that's out because of a mudslide is close enough to the bottom that it's before any of the forks in the trail, so when I found it, I had to turn back. It was still pretty dark, but I was able to get one regular photo with the flash, and a wide-angle shot without.
The next path up to the top happens to be one I'll only do with the poles, so that worked out. It's not even the trail heading up that makes them necessary, but the section near the bottom that gets really muddy near the creek. Oddly, that spot's right next to the nicest, most solid bridge in the whole park. But right after you cross it, just a mishmash of mud, loose boards, and rocks. And it hasn't gotten any better in all the time I've been going there.
There was some nice fog licking the edge of the top once I was up there.
The poles are great for hiking but terrible for the stuff that makes hiking fun. It's hard to skip past songs on the mp3 player, hard to get a drink of water, and especially hard to take good pictures. So I only grabbed a few pretty squares.
It might have been a great day for a time lapse, but it said the battery was dead when I tried to set it up. No clue how since I left it charging for a while yesterday. Oh well.
The fog was really neat when I got back to the bottom. That's the view of the Eastern side, so maybe it was a lot foggier up there.
I'm glad I went West, though, because I got to come down the trail I call Bowling Ball. It's got a creek crossing at the bottom which is super easy to do with the poles, but a little treacherous without. I took a wrong turn trying to find the top of that trail on the way down, but quickly realized my mistake, and managed to find the right trail on the first try after that.
At lunchtime, I had a contractor over to look at the bathroom we want to remodel. He suggested that I meet him at his current job site so he could follow me over or ride in my car. That was a little weird, but ended up being cool because I got to see inside the project on the property where the lion house used to be. That was totally cool.