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.

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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.

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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

Gaviota Peak Hike in Santa Barbara County with Poly Escapes

“Experiences like these have helped me develop more confidence and openness…It keeps you active, body and mind, and encourages you to step out of your comfort zone.” -Shannon Kitchell

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Beginning the descent

On Saturday 1/17/15 I went on a hike with Cal Poly’s “Poly Escapes” program to Gaviota Peak in Santa Barbara county. We left campus around 10am and it took about an hour to get from Cal Poly’s campus to the trailhead in Goleta. In the car ride over, all of the trip members got to know each other and listened to podcasts about adventure stories to get ready for the trail ahead. The hike was a 6.5 mile loop with an elevation gain of 2,150 feet, and was a tiring five hour workout with beautiful views of the ocean and the green rolling hills at the top, and a great expereince of meeting other hiking enthusiasts through the Poly Escapes program.

Before ascending, we checked out the Gaviota hot springs at the base of the trail. The water was warm to the touch, and the air smelled like sulfur. The ascent to the top was steep in some parts, and the hike had little shade. The weather was nice, the temperature was in the mid 70’s and the sun was out.

We stopped for lunch just before reaching the peak and took in the view of the ocean. When we got to the peak, there were 360 degree views of the surrounding ocean and rolling hills, green from the recent rain.

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The green rolling hills seen from the peak.

After spending about half an hour at the top, we began the hike down. Since the trail was a loop, we went down a different way than we came up. The descent was very steep at first, but flattened out to reveal another view of the ocean and the rolling green hills.

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Overall, the hike was a success. It took about 5 hours, but we were taking a slower pace and had stopped at the top to eat. I would definitely do this hike again, and reccommend it to others, but for now I’m going to stick to discovering new trails with different views and new exciting groups of people to hike with.

To go on trips like this at Cal Poly, use the Poly Escapes program, which offers many opportunities for adventure at a low cost. Trip member and first year Shannon Kitchell described the hike to Gaviota Peak and her involvement with the Poly Escapes program as extremely positive. “Going on adventures with new people to places I have never been has been truly rewarding. Experiences like these have helped me develop more confidence and openness. The Poly Escapes Program is a perfect way to branch out and meet new people. It keeps you active, body and mind, and encourages you to step out of your comfort zone.” Said freshman Shannon Kitchell.

To learn more information about Poly Escapes, check out my next blog which is about the Poly Escapes program, or check out the Poly Escapes website.You can also stop by into the Cal Poly rec center, and talk to trip leader or co leader, or talk to program coordinator Derek Wright. Derek says he believes that Poly Escapes is even a good avenue for students who “don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in hiking, and a good opportunity to get outdoors,” because it’s never too late to go on a Cal Poly adventure.

Because it is never late to go on a Cal Poly adventure.

Gaviota Peak Hike in Santa Barbara County with Poly Escapes