New boots, Windy Hill, Small animals

by

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Last weekend, I had new hiking boots, and set off on a 19-mile hike under the assumption that they were going to be just fine. Not!

REI took them back without a squawk, dusty as they were. What a great company! How many places would do that!

With a new, new pair of hiking boots today, I’m a little more cautious. I went to Windy Hill, whose short loop is about 8 miles, and whose long loop is about 12. As well as being able to turn around and go back, I can stitch these together to a total trek from roughly 8 to 24 miles, in 4-mile increments, assuming I go around not more than twice.

Bottom line: twice around, once on the outer loop, again on the inner loop. 15 miles, 3000+ vertical feet. Sore medial malleolus of left tibia, until I loosened the laces. I think they will be okay.

It was chilly. I set off without a jacket, but there was enough wind that I went back to the car and put on my padded vest. Glad I had it; even in the afternoon, it was chilly.

P1170674

The day started off with a dragonfly, considerately posing on the trail for photos. I hope no one steps on it.

P1170676

P1170702

When a millipede goes for a walk, it’s a really big deal! Either that, or it’s nothing to even think about. Or maybe both.

P1170691

But when mom takes the kids for a walk… well, shouldn’t the kids do at least a little bit of the work?

P1170695

By the way, this is a really special sighting, one that doesn’t happen very often at all!

She got tired of posing for photos and headed for a convenient hole at the side of the trail.

P1170696

P1170700

An unintended consequence, but a good one: minutes after she ducked into her hidey-hole, upward of a dozen runners came along the trail. I probably increased her odds of survival by several orders of magnitude.

The trail is indeed a pretty dangerous place. I noticed another millipede, squashed, an antique Packard beetle, squashed, a little snake, likewise, a lizard, flattened. Mountain bikies are worse than pedestrians because riders don’t see as much, and they flatten more territory.

P1170684

It is the time for larvae and pupae.

P1170687

P1170711

P1170713

P1170717

P1170748

I was thinking about the common and the rare small animals, and how they change, year by year. Some are obvious: last winter was relatively dry, and I find few banana slugs, scorpions and newts. But some animals vary a lot, for no apparent reason.

Assuming that I spend about the same amount of time, at about the same locations, the same seasons, the same time of day, and that I am no more nor less observant in one year than in another — questionable assumptions, all — assuming all that, I think there are radical changes in the population of small animals over time.

Some years, I see no tarantulas; some years there are dozens. This year, there seem to be very few snakes around; some years, there are lots: gopher snakes, rattlesnakes, even ringnecks, not all of them in the same years. Fewer snakes? I don’t even see very many snake tracks in the dust of the trail this year.

P1170739

This year, there seem to be a lot of alligator lizards.

Some animals have found the area a congenial habitat recently. For example, it is only within the last five years, to pick a random number, that I have seen wild turkeys, and now they are quite common.

P1170741

It is the season for moths. Lots of them flying in clouds. This one was on a moss-covered oak in the forest.

P1170729

I stopped for calories at the top of the climb, second time around, and this little guy came out to cross the trail. Pretty! Notice the nozzle with which it can suck up nectar from flowers.

P1170734

Finally, just before returning to the parking lot, I stopped at Sausal pond and waited quietly for whatever might be in the neighborhood.

P1170743

P1170752

P1170767

I continue to boggle at the fact that the leading edge of a dragonfly’s wings are completely open, no membrane whatever. I wonder whether some aeronautical engineering student (or professor) has analyzed and simulated this with a view to using the idea in short takeoff or hovercraft.

P1170756  P1170785

P1170783

Ribbit!

Advertisements

Tags: , , , ,

One Response to “New boots, Windy Hill, Small animals”

  1. bdh63 Says:

    Love all those crazy bugs!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: