Redwoods: Slate creek, Bear creek, Peters creek

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Sunday, 30 September 2012

I had originally intended to do the Rose Peak killer hike today, but the predictions are for possible record-breaking temperatures, over 100F, especially inland. Maybe I’ll save Rose Peak for a cooler day. It will be hot in the redwoods, but maybe not that hot.

I haven’t hiked the Peters creek loop in Portola Redwoods state park for quite a while. I remember it as a difficult hike; I can turn it into a killer hike by leaving the car at Saratoga gap, adding 3 or 4 miles to the distance. 7:40 by the time I was on the trail, and already warm. I’m drinking water even on the downhills: it’s going to be a dry day!

The upper reaches are open space preserve, and accessible to mountain bikes. After leaving that section, I saw only two other people all day.

And not a whole lot in the small animals department, either. The upper regions are open grassland, but there were no tarantulas in evidence. Further down, the day started with a beautiful garter snake, and by being careful, I was able to actually get very close for a few candid shots, before it decided it had better things to do than pose for pictures.

I’m outta here!

Not long after, I found a spider.

And then it was into the redwoods, where there’s not much to find but banana slugs, and in dry weather, not even many of those. Slate creek was cool and pleasant, as always, and I stopped at the Page Mill site for munchies. Then on over a low ridge (600 feet of climb) to the steep 900 foot descent into the conjunction of Bear creek and Peters creek, where a short loop goes around some of the prettiest scenery I know of anywhere. I spent an hour dawdling around this little loop, seeking out photo ops of interesting or beautiful things (not mutually exclusive).

Fungus on the vertical surface of a fallen tree. Interesting or beautiful?

Moving on into the more conventional scenery…

The ubiquitous oxalis gives the landscape a shingled or mosaic look, depending on perspective. Very attractive!

On the sandy beach by the creek, a butterfly nozzling up a drink of water.

Compare the iridescent colours of the two photos, taken from slightly different angles.

By the time I reached Slate creek again, I was ready to refill my belt water bottles from the backup bottle I had in my backpack, and it was clear that it was not going to be enough. Once I got away from the creek, the air was hot, and I was committed to something like 1500 feet of elevation gain.

The forest was at least shady. When I came out of the trees, the direct sun was even hotter, but there was an occasional light breeze, and that helped. Heavy breathing through my mouth tends to dry out mouth and throat, and I rationed the water I had to keep them wet. Drained the last of the water just as I reached the parking lot about 5 PM, but probably dehydrated by as much as a quart. 20.8 miles, 4300 feet of climb for the day. Nice.

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