Grant ranch: Mountain lion!

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No, this is not a mountain lion.

As a continuing part of recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, I had it in mind to try Grant Ranch this weekend, try to get in more than ten miles and more than two thousand feet of gain. It has been hot, so I started early. Parked at Grant lake, hit the trail about 7:20. Glad I didn’t wait until later; it was hot enough!

There was enough pain in my ankle that I considered whether to turn back, but decided to keep going. Pain is not the problem, as long as I’m not damaging myself. Even so, I decided to skip the line shack, which I had first imagined as my destination. When I reached the ridge at the top of Halls Valley trail, I turned south rather than north. There are additional trails leading back down into the valley if I need them.

Stopped for calories along the ridge, and spotted a coyote out foraging for its own calorie fix. They are usually quick to dart away, but I remained quiet and moved slowly, and was able to shoot a few pictures.

My ankle was not complaining too much, so I went on to the road crossing at Twin Gates. Here I decided that discretion would be the better part of valour, so I descended on Cañada de Pala trail. As I came around a fairly sharp bend, I heard a deep grunt of some kind, and saw motion in a bush off the trail not too far ahead.

As I saw an animal break into a run, my first thought was bobcat. Definitely a cat, but it was too big for a bobcat. And then I saw the long tail, short fur, dark reddish brown, like one of these elegant plush bell pulls you might find in an English manor, or at least in a play that was set in an English manor. My first mountian lion ever! I had no time to even reach for the camera before it was gone.

Cool! I have lived in the Bay area since 1980, spent many tens of thousands of hours outdoors, and this is the first mountain lion I have ever seen.

Well, did I achieve my stated objective? No: 9.2 miles, 1700 vertical feet. More than last Saturday, but not as much improvement as I would have hoped for. I can’t complain, though: got in a certain amount of exercise, and saw one of the local wildlife rarities.

Sunday update

My ankle felt okay this morning, so I went up Skyline and hiked Purisima Redwoods open space preserve. This is the one where you start by hiking downhill, and once you get to the bottom, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices but to go back up. Allison can tell you about that.

Cooler than yesterday, once I got a few hundred feet down from the ridge. Beautiful day. And although I’m not pushing it too hard, I did clock my heart rate at 144 on the final grunt back up to the parking lot.

Bottom line: 19.4 miles for the weekend, 4200 feet of vertical gain. Not bad.

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