Not yet spring, but close

by

 Saturday, 12 January 2013

With rainy weather and vacation and various things going on, I have not done a killer hike for a number of weeks now. There may not be enough daylight for some of the usual routes, where for example, the gates at Sunol only open at 8. But I can drive quickly to Arastradero open space preserve, and hike from there through Palo Alto’s Foothills park, thence to and through Los Trancos open space preserve, Montebello open space preserve, and maybe end up at Horseshoe lake, in the Long Ridge open space preserve.  (Yes, there are strings of parks and you can go for a long way from one to another to another. Nice!)

And do I did. Several degrees of frost when I started, but as soon as the trail started uphill, I took off the two outer jackets. I had cool-weather gloves, which I put on and took off innumerable times over the course of the day, according to the nano-climate of the moment.

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We are watching a video course on particle physics, and I am reminded of the professor’s comment that the hexagonal nature of snowflakes tells us a lot about the molecular structure of water. I don’t see any hexagons here. Is it possible that the cross section of these crystals might be hexagonal?

Saw several deer, a number of rabbits. A coyote came across the trail not far away, turned in my direction but ran off when it saw me.

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A sunny, cold day, but definitely showing signs of spring.

I got to Horseshoe lake by taking the Canyon trail in the Montebello preserve, then cutting over to the Skid Road trail. It was quite squidgy, really the only extended difficult section of trail all day. I considered going back by way of the Russian Ridge open space preserve and the Coal Creek open space preserve, but it would add another couple miles to the hike, and I wanted to be sure there was enough daylight to get back to the car.

As I got back down into Foothills park, I clearly had enough margin to take a short photo break. All of the following photos come from a little area of duff and deadfall of only two or three meters along the trail.

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The things we see when we look carefully.

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Last week, I got down on my knees for some of the close-up photos, and ended up acquiring a tick. They like to hang out on the grass, which is a good reason not to brush against the vegetation. They like to drip down from the overhead, which is a good reason to wear a wide-brimmed hiking hat. But it hadn’t occurred to me that they would also be lurking in the duff. Once bitten, and all that. Today, I didn’t get down into the duff.

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This last one is a horse chestnut in the process of sprouting.

Got back to the car a few minutes after 4, as intended. Plenty of margin before a 5:20 sunset. 21.4 miles, 3300 vertical feet.

Sunday, 13 January

I may have blogged about the leaking pipe last weekend. It was repaired properly during the course of the last week, but the follow-up was a disaster. So I started the day by spending two hours digging out mud, by hand, and resetting the utility box around the irrigation system.

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These pictures are the before view, as left by the plumbers. The after picture would show the box flush with grade, and an interior view would show the wiring, solenoids, valves and manifold exposed. Moomph!

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Another chilly day, but it was good for a 5-mile run after lunch. It turns out that the ring of major roads around home is a 5.0 mile circuit, according to Google maps, so it’s very convenient. There are a few traffic lights, but most of them are secondary and the odds of having to stop and wait for more than a second or two are fairly low.

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