Bishop’s Peak

Bishop’s Peak is an iconic San Luis Obispo hike. The mountain is one of the nine sisters in San Luis Obispo County, Cerro San Luis (Mount Madonna) being another hike I previously wrote about doing sunrise yoga on with Poly Escapes last year.

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Flashbackkkkk

Bishop’s Peak has a special place in my heart, because it’s the first hike I did (or attempted to do, other than the P) when I got to SLO my freshman year at Cal Poly. It was the second weekend of school, and I went with my new close friends Conner and Kyle. The only problem is that we had no idea where the trailhead was.

We walked from the Cal Poly dorm Santa Lucia to the highland trailhead in 95 degree weather and proceeded to hike where we thought the trail went (we were very wrong), taking a most likely illegal detour up the complete other side of the mountain. But we did make it to the top. Summiting Bishop’s by climbing up sheetrock and pushing through spiky bushes as Kyle’s spotify blasted “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” is one of the best experiences I’ve had in college so far…

 

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When you finally make it to the top

Anyway, this post is so that you don’t make that same mistake, are informed about the hike beforehand, and take the actual trailhead so that it doesn’t take you seven hours like it took us.

Bishop’s peak is the tallest of the seven sisters, getting its name after its shape, resembling a bishop’s miter. The trail leads to a 1,500+ foot summit with a 950 foot elevation change and about a 3.5 mile distance round trip from the trailhead at Highland Drive.

Climbers also enjoy Bishop’s, because there are many rocks which have hooks to belay off of, at the base and at the summit. Here is a map of the rocks for climbing, via Mountainproject.com. On their website there are also difficulty ratings and climbing season recommendations. 

 

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A map of places to climb on Bishop’s

 

The hike is moderately strenuous. It starts off in the woods at the base of the mountain where there is some shade, but the majority of the hike is in the open sun, so bring sunblock if you’re pale like me and get burned every time you’re outside. The trail winds up the backside of the mountain and is steep, using many zig zaggy switchbacks.

Be prepared to climb over clusters of smaller rocks as part of the trail (But that doesn’t mean you need to bring your climbing shoes like Kyle did that first time…). Be aware of your surroundings as well, because there are steep drops off the side of the trail.

When you reach the top, there will be a bench that says “end of trail.” Only it’s not really the end of the hike if you’re looking to summit. When you reach the bench, walk toward the rocks on the right, and climb them at your own risk to the true top to get panoramic views of San Luis Obispo’s fields, landmarks, and a full look at the Cal Poly campus.

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Ian photobombed the panoramic featuring Cerro San Luis (on the left of his head).

Trailhead address: 1 Highland Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Trailhead coordinates: 35.301153, -120.68916 (35° 18′ 04.15″N 120° 41′ 20.97″W)

Below is an interactive map to the Highland trailhead.

Happy hiking! #AintNoMountainHighEnough

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Bishop’s Peak

Gear to Bring on your Next Adventure

When you’re going on a hike, camping trip, or any other kind of adventure, there are certain items you should bring to make your expereince the best it can be.

I asked three people what they recommend when going on adventures. Ben Parsons, Kiana Streeter, and Taryn Davis all gave their personal opinions of what to bring when you’re going out on a trip.

Places you can get this gear include your local camping supply stores, or if you’re a SLO resident or student of Cal Poly, you can rent equipment from “Frontline,” Cal Poly’s adventure equipment rental center located next to the REC center.

Check out this video for more information about gear as well as how to rent it on the Cal Poly campus!

hiking

When you’re headed out on a day hike, it’s important to bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated, especially depending on what kind of weather it is. Check the weather forcasts in advance so that you don’t get stuck in a rainstorm, or at the top of a peak in 41 mile per hour winds (unless you like that kind of thing, sometime’s it’s fun…).

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Bring a day pack filled with extra sunblock, some minor first aid supplies, and a sweatshirt in case there is a drastic  change in temperature as you ascend, compared to at the bottom of the trail. It’s always a good idea to bring a healthy snack as mentioned in my previous post, and to wear comfortable shoes so that you don’t get any blisters.

“You need hiking boots for sure, just because they have a very stiff rubber and a stiff construction to them so your ankles don’t get banged up and you don’t get as many blisters.” Said Ben Parsons, an employee of Cal Poly’s outdoor climbing wall, and a hiking and climbing enthusiast. If you don’t have hiking boots, don’t stress, because a good pair of sneakers will also suffice on a hike that isn’t TOO strenuous.

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Essentials of water, a small pack, and sunblock

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Depending on how long your trip is and where your destination is located, you’re going to need to pack different items for a camping trip. Essentials include a sleeping bag, a tent, firewood to cook, food, something to cook the food in as well as something to eat the food with, water, sunblock,and again, check the weather to see what else will be necessary wherever you’re going. “We have pretty much everything you need for camping,” says Frontline employee Kiana Streeter. “From stoves to…tents and sleeping bags from whatever you really need you can rent out for a… discounted price for students, too.”

More blankets, a heavy coat, or extra firewood are helpful in cold temperatures. Always make sure it is legal to have a fire going in your campsite beforehand, as there are many places during dry season which prohibit making a fire for safety reasons. You can check the California Department of Parks and recreation’s website, or call your campsite’s ranger station beforehand to double check as well as so check if you will need a fire permit. You can also check out REI’s basic Camping checklist for more camping suggestions.

Finally,

backpacking

There are different kinds of backpacking, like lightweight backpacking, and regular backpacking, but for the most part you are going to want to bring the same supplies with you, they’re just going to be packed differently. You’re going to need a backpack which can hold your sleeping bag, a sleeping mat which will insulate you from having the cold of the ground suck up your body heat when you’re sleeping as well as to provide some cushion. It is especially important to bring high calorie and nutritious food when you’re backpacking, because you need the energy. According to equipped.outdoors.org, the average person will burn from 4,000-5,000 calories or more each day backpacking, so this is not a situation you’re gonna want to go with the low calorie food option! ”

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Sleeping Pads available for rent at Frontline.

You’ll need food, a headlamp if you’re going to be making night treks, first aid supplies, and some kind of a navigation tool like a compass and map. Check out REI’s Backpacking Checklist for even more information on what to bring on a backpacking trip.

Gear to Bring on your Next Adventure

More Adventures to Come

I have enjoyed blogging about my adventures so far this winter, and look forward to continuing to do so into the spring. The spring will bring warmer weather and an opportunity to go on more day hikes, the sun will be setting later and more daylight will mean more time spent outside.

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One of the coolest things about SLO’s location is the many hills and mountains to climb, and as the seasons change (as much as seasons in Central California can change, that is…) so does the scenery.

In the fall when I arrived in SLO, the hills were brown. The winter has brought rain and green grass blanket the surrounding landscapes. Now that spring is here, there have been many flowers popping up on these green hills. Today I am going to talk about a few of the different kinds you can encounter on your hikes.

There are over 7,000 different kinds of species of native plants in California. Although the displays of flower vary by year, you can usually count on finding a few kinds of them around SLO county. My personal favorites include the California Poppy and the lupine.

Eschscholzia californica

The famous California poppy officially became the state flower in 1903. Every April 6th is California Poppy day, and May 13-18 is poppy week. It can be found in many other of the lower 48 states and parts of Canada as well.

California_poppy

Another one of my personal favorite wildflowers of California is the

Lupinus californicus

A more common plant, this purple flower can be seen in the hills over the county of SLO and is also native to much of the U.S. Although the seeds are poisonous to humans, the butterflies and hummingbirds are huge fans of its stocky build and plentiful petals.

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There are many other kinds of wildflowers blooming in the central coast this time of year, and if you see any you aren’t sure about, you can look them up at the Theodore Payne Foundation’s for wild flowers and native plant’s website, or call the wildflower hotline at (818) 768-3533.

More Adventures to Come

Blogging Self Evaluation

Over the past couple months, my blog has gained a decent amount of internet traffic. The first month, January, was the busiest month, with 215 views between 72 visitors. All of these visitors were in the United States. I even gained a few followers the first month. Things slowed down a bit in February in terms of traffic, but my posts did not.

The most looked at post in February was my Sunrise Yoga post.

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Cerro San Luis Sunrise Yoga

In fact, the sunrise yoga post was the most popular single post to have been looked at so far. I even had one person from Canada check out my blog in February over the course of the 45 visitors.

So far in March, 23 people have checked out the page for 46 views, two of which were from Canada! (Maybe next month there will be three? ;)) The majority of the March views were simply at the home page, and not at any specific post.

On my third big blog about healthy eating for a hike, two people “liked” ♥ it which was encouraging. One person said they felt like they were more informed about how they should eat, even if they weren’t going on a hike.

My writing is engaging enough to keep readers coming back for more, as proved by the steady statistics. I have been getting referred to by hikespeak.com, which was exciting, because I have diligently used their website to research past and future hikes. Over time I have gained more credibility through my hiking experience.

I could have done a better job of promoting my blog via twitter, but I did use facebook to promote my blog, because I have a bigger friend audience on facebook who would see my promotion.

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I give my readers personal stories and information gained from a first person perspective that needs to be experienced, rather than just being “googled.” A couple people told me they really enjoyed reading the stories about specific hikes, and especially viewing the pictures.

At times, it was challenging thinking of other topics to talk about rather than just single hikes. There were a couple roadblocks along the way, when more than one of my big hikes got cancelled. I was not only disappointed I couldn’t go on it anymore, I wasn’t able to use it for a post. This is where I needed to get creative, and how I came up with the ideas to incorporate in topics like how to eat on a hike, and what gear to bring.

My favorite thing to write about was the hikes themselves. I enjoyed sharing the pictures and describing the adventure. It was informative to also blog about topics like famous hikers and the timeline of famous climbs.

In the last few official posts, I am going to make sure to use more quotes and better headlines for Search Engine Optimization and maximum views.

I will continue to write about my hikes after this class is over, but I will mostly stick with writing short stories about the hikes rather than going into depth about other hiking topics.

Beautiful green hills and the ocean on the other side of the peak
Gaviota Peak

Some inspiration I was able to gather for my own blog came from other blogs like Poly Escapes Trip Leader Ashley, on her own Adventure Blog. Zach Davis, who successfully thru-hiked the Appalachian trail in 2011 on his first hiking trip ever, won the number one hiking blogger spot among USA today readers for his blog Appalachian Trials. Both of these served as inspiration and were informative for my own writing.

Blogging Self Evaluation

Camping and Adventuring Preview

Check out this video preview for my next big blog coming on March 11th featuring interviews from adventuring experts such as third year climbing wall employee Ben Parsons, on the kind of gear you should bring when you go on a camping, climbing, or backpacking trip. If you have any tips or suggestions for the post, let me know and I will incorperate it into my writing.

We will explore the kinds of clothing, shoes, and other necessary items to bring on a trip as well has how to pack it quickly and for maximum efficiency.

There are many more tips and tricks which will help you create the best possible experience on your adventure in the upcoming video. Check it out!

Camping and Adventuring Preview

Every Trail in California at Your Fingertips

There’s an app on the apple store called “California State Parks-by Maplets” which for 99 cents allows anyone to download a topo map of any California State Park.

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Here are some excellent reasons to use this extremely helpful app:

1) It saves paper!

2) Organization. No more folding and unfolding and folding wrong and creases in the wrong places in the map, and far less frustration.

3) The maps are available at an instant and don’t require an internet connection to use once downloaded.

4) Maps are GPS tagged which means you can locate yourself on them while traveling, hiking, or biking.

5) The app also includes National Park maps in all states as a bonus.

6) You can add notes to any downloaded map, drop a pin to mark a meeting point and measure a distance or draw a route.

7) Organize different maps into different folders for even easier access on specific routes.

8) An included hotline to get updates on things like weather (this however, requires an internet connection)

9) You can open your pins in Maps or Google Maps, including location.

10) New maps are always being added, and you will get an immediate notification when this happens.

Check it out in the app store, and next time you go on a trip make sure to download it and access all the maps for only 99 cents!

Every Trail in California at Your Fingertips

Healthy Eating for a Hike

If you’re going to lead an active lifestyle and go on hiking trips, there are a few things to remember about your health. It is important to eat a healthy diet in any situation, but particularly when you are using your body to preform strenuous tasks like exercise.

My favorite place to shop for healthy food for a hiking trip is Trader Joe’s. Here in SLO, theres one about ten minutes away from campus on Higuera Street.photo 1

Trader Joe’s is great for finding good tasting gluten free and whole grain foods, and also the kind of food you would want to bring on your hike. The type of food you bring depends on the length of your trek. A short day hike would require a snack to refuel, whereas a longer day long hike over 5 miles would require you to bring more food in order to keep up your energy.

For some example ideas on what to bring on both kinds of hikes, check out The Hiking Dude‘s website which provides snacks to bring as well as the amount of carbs, protein, and fat in each food.

Avid hiker and and Cal Poly student Sylvia Lijewski says  “I always bring energy bars, trail mix, beef jerky, salami, chocolate, dried fruit, water, avocado, apples, and oranges. The fruits are mostly for hydration and taste. The rest are for high calories and quick energy while still tasting good.”

Fruit is always a good choice, because it’s light and won’t tip the scale of your pack. Fruit is also good, because it has many vitamins and is low in fat. Try dried fruit for a sweeter snack that’s more compact on longer trips, but make sure to consume lots of water with it so that you don’t become dehydrated.

“It’s best to have some potassium, so bananas are great.” Suggests third year Kinesiology major Taryn Davis. “Electrolytes, the sodium, and the potassium replenish you. Cuties are also good for a small amount of natural sugar that won’t give you the kind of crash coffee or refined sugar will.”

Energy bars can also be a good source of calories, vitamins, and minerals as well. Just make sure to pay attention to how much sugar is in them, as some brands can have as much as 20 grams of sugar per bar which is equivalent to a pack of candy.

My personal favorite energy bar is Clif’s Peanut Toffee Buzz. The peanut butter and toffee taste and texture is a satisfying mixture which fills me up, and the 50mg of caffeine (about a third of a Grande Starbucks latte or espresso drink) is a nice energy boost.

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“Choose my plate” is an excellent resource to find out your exact daily nutritional needs, specifically customized to your height, weight, and gender. It will tell you how much carbohydrate, protein, fruits and veggies you should ideally consume each day to keep your body running in tip top shape. Try to have a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. Each person has specific caloric needs based on their bodyweight, height, age, and gender, which you can calculate by clicking on the hyperlink above, and then see a visual representation by clicking on the below chart and entering in your information.

Click here to see your chart!

With these tips, as well as knowledge on your specific caloric and nutritional needs, you can be confident to buy the right amount and right kind of food for your next hike no matter how long it is!

Healthy Eating for a Hike