First thing I did on New Year’s morning was look outside to see how bad the weather was. It’s been crappy for a solid week, and I was feeling so cooped-up that I’d have gone out in a monsoon, just to get out of the house.

The friends of Mike and Kathy hiking club had a First Hike planned at the Montebello Ridge Trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I tagged along and snapped a few shots.

It was sunny at Mike’s house in Sunnyvale, but as we drove up into the mountains, it got colder and cloudier. By the time we got to the trailhead it was looking to be a chilly few hours on the trail. Could be worse, as Marty Feldman said in Young Frankenstein. Could be raining.

And within about five minutes, it was.

Gwen takes the lead up the trail, after somebody takes too keen an interest in her rain pants. We hiked up to the Black Mountain Backpacking Camp, where we paused to toast the new year with three mini-bottles of champagne.

Joanne makes beautiful music; Karen seems to appreciate the absurdity of Joanne’s tune (or maybe it’s the umbrella.)

The champagne fueled our determination to reach the top of Black Mountain, which is strewn with boulders large and small.

The Handing Out of Cookies happened next.

Joanne instructs the group on the merits of primal-scream therapy. Wailing at the top of her lungs, she compares favorably to a nuclear attack warning siren. We ignored the drills of our childhood and opted not to duck and cover.

Hard to believe, but on a clear day you can see San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean from up here.

We had the trail to ourselves on the way up, but on the way back down the mountain bike brigades showed up. The mud painted stylish brown splatter stripes on their back sides.

Another for the Totally Cool Trees of California file — extra credit for seeming eerily similar to a T-Rex.

Trees form a canopy near the end of the trail.