Killer hikes and tarantulas

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I spotted this little guy on the back door, then (for this picture) on the doorstep, just another of the small spiders you see all the time. More interesting when you get a magnified view.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The first day of autumn. Tarantula season ought to be getting under way, and the best places to find them are the open grassy lands of the east bay. But my car shows a Check Engine light (NOx sensor), and I don’t want to drive it excessively until I take it in and spend money on it. So I parked on Cañada road just south of Edgewood, where a one-mile frontage trail along 280 gives access to Huddart park.

I hiked up through Phleger estate and stopped at the Kings Mountain fire station to refill the water bottle. I’m told that the trail along Skyline is called the Kings Mountain sidewalk, so I took the sidewalk north to the Purisima Redwoods parking lot. Then down, the Whittemore Gulch trail to the bottom and the Purisima Creek trail and fire road back to Skyline. From Skyline back down on Crystal Springs trail to the starting point. 22 miles, 3800 feet of climb.

Does that count as a killer hike? Less than 4000 vertical feet is a little wimpy, but 20 miles is a fair distance. Yes, I suppose it counts. Sore feet. Nice day, nice hike, but no pictures.

Sunday, 23 September

Before my Achilles surgery, I could run about 3 miles, maybe once a week, with a rest day afterward.  I have been doing 3-mile runs since recovering, but I think it should be possible to extend the distance. What better time than today?

Ran from home through Stanford, detouring to the succulent garden (no pictures, wrong time of year). On up to the Stanford dish trail. I am a little short on energy from yesterday’s hike, but still able to run up most of the hills, walking for a few minutes where necessary.

Open grassland up here, and there he was, the first tarantula of the season! Cool!

One of the other hikers spotted him first, and he was in the tall grass when I went over for a look. Tall grass makes for impossible photography, so I picked him up and put him out in the short grass, where he posed for a picture or two. Thanks, big guy!

Down the hill (500 vertical feet for today), walking the steeper parts in respect for my knees, but running the gentle downgrades. I am radically extending the length of my previous runs, and probably ought not overdo it (well, not by too much). So once I got back into town, I started walking, at least part of the time. The total distance was 10 miles, and I probably ran about 8. That’s a good extension over 3, assuming I’m not limping tomorrow.

Stopped at Elizabeth Gamble House, a small park and garden. They always have nice flowers and sometimes interesting small animals, too.

The second interesting small animal of the day was a butterfly, busy nozzling up nectar from a flower.

And the third was a leafhopper of some sort, so well hidden that I kept losing it every time I diverted my attention to the camera.

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