Santa Cruz to Scotts Valley Tuesday, July 11, 2023 California Missions Trail

A little bit more from author, Sandy Brown, in the introduction of his book, “Pilgrim Route, Hiking and Biking The California Missions Trail From Sonoma to San Diego.” ( “After exploring up the California coast, in 1542 – although notably missing San Francisco Bay – Spanish explorer, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo reported to the Spanish Crown that the Native peoples of California earned a meager subsistence, lived in crude huts, and had few, if any, riches. After reading this pessimistic report, Spain turned its imperial ambitions to other New World conquests for the next 225 years.”

“Alta California came to the attention of the Spanish Crown again in the 18th century as the fur trade brought Russian trappers and traders down the Pacific Coast, and as British and French colonizers began to spread west over the North American continent. The Crown put in place a three-pronged strategy to preserve its claim: send soldiers to subdue the Natives, missionaries to convert them, and settlers to turn their lands into productive farms and ranches for a flow of money to repay the treasury.” Again, the history is fascinating albeit sad. If interested in more details, check out Sandy’s book and other resources.

As for this current day American “pilgrimage”, author Sandy Brown shares, “Support for the California Missions Trail as a walking and cycling route is widespread due to the present-day interest in California’s mission architecture, the state’s history and culture, and it’s evolving spirituality. The popularity of long-distance, village-to-village walking and cycling experiences in Europe and elsewhere and the increasing desire to experience landscape and place while achieving personal health and wellness goals have all led to a renewed interest in strengthening the infrastructure and spreading the news of this historic and beautiful, 800-mile-long trek.” More to follow on mission route developments in my post for July 12th.

Both Christine and I are early risers and were up at 4:45. Information told us that our day would be somewhat short and easy, yet we knew it was going to be a hot one and wanted to get some good mileage in before temperatures reached their highest. We still had a leisurely pack, repack, unpack and pack again morning since the Best Western “complimentary breakfast” was not available until 6 o’clock. The offering consisted of breakfast sausage links, scrambled eggs, coffee, yogurt, bread and bagels, apples, oranges and bananas plus frozen, microwaveable burritos. I had my own hemp seeds plus protein and peanut butter powders and mixed them with the yogurt. I also took an apple and orange “to go”.

We took our time getting out given our short day and foggy conditions— even chilly enough for my windbreaker. Unfortunately we spent about twenty minutes walking in circles as the directions had us taking a right instead of a left. We finally figured it out and by 7:45 we were underway and on track. After going through the very tiny Grand Park with its lovely pine trees we did a lot of urban neighborhood walking and eventually into more rural urban trekking, yet still on skinny, curvy highways, and some of it along the freeway.

We gradually ascended upwards so it was time to ditch our coats. Most of the time we were under cover of tall evergreens of various types as well as the Most Beautiful redwoods! Eventually the fog cleared, skies turned blue and the sun came out! Thankfully we were mostly protected by beloved trees which made for a very enjoyable walk in spite of being next to the highway. Mid walk we enjoyed a timely respite at the Santa Cruz Moose Lodge outdoor benches!

The curves kept us on our toes, crossing from one side to the other, to avoid blind corners, and by the time we reached our destination, my feet were definitely tired of walking on pavement. The last four mile stretch was through commercial areas of Scotts Valley and exposed sun. it was nice to take a break at the Starbucks only blocks from our hotel and have a salted caramel cold brew mixed with my 31 gram protein powder! In spite of getting lost for the first twenty minutes of our morning and walking nearly nine miles, we arrived at our hotel by noon and before check-in! Thankfully they had a nice pool that we could dunk our feet into, a hot tub, and a shaded picnic table to not only take our backpacks off and relax at, but to have a bite to eat. Once we checked in I Washed my CLEAN socks in error, thinking they were the dirty ones!!?? AARRGGHH!!

Since we knew we would not be close to any restaurants we each packed food to have an in-house dinner. Christine brought her really nifty collapsible camping kettle and prepared a very delicious, freeze dried “LeafSide” lentils and vegetables entree! And then we just hung around….

I’ll close with a sentiment that I picked up somewhere along my way, (though unfortunately lacking credit to whoever wrote it) which brings me a knowing smile!

“In order to be fair, I no longer think of it as lost. I think of it as Open To Other Directions I Didn’t Expect… It makes every day much more of an adventure…”

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