YST and Coal Creek

by

Saturday, 26 July 2014

It was supposed to be a very hot day, so I set the alarm an hour early. Arrived at a side gate of Los Trancos just after 6, and spent 3 1/2 hours attacking yellow star thistle. Hard to get my work gloves on, especially the right hand, because it’s swollen and puffy from last week’s poison oak.

Dumped my bucket of spoils at the tarp-covered compost heap. The way this works is that the flower heads will continue to develop seed even after they are plucked, so they can’t be left where they lie. To keep them from germinating, the compost heap is covered with an open mesh dark green plastic tarp. Mice and voles love to eat the fluffy seed as it develops, which is fine. A high population density of mice and voles attracts rattlesnakes, which is also fine, except that, when you’re popping the top off the compost heap, it’s advisable to be prepared. Being prepared: I had my camera turned on, lens cap off, ready to go, but there was no snake for me.

Having finished the hard work for the day, I went off on trail patrol. Cut across the top of Montebello open space preserve, toward Alpine road, with a detour down to the little pond here.

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Just below the pond, a garter snake. Cool!

Today’s objective is to hike all of the trails in the Coal Creek open space preserve. The main trail here is old Alpine road, which was a complete road up-and-down, albeit unpaved, when I first started mountain biking these hills, lo those many years ago. One wet winter, the road collapsed, and because it was just a fire road, not the essential access to anyone’s home, there was no way to justify the expense of repairing it. So they built a mountain bike trail around the washout, and there it has remained ever since.

I hadn’t realized it, but the trail, and the old road, descend all the way into Portola Valley before finally crossing the boundary out of the Coal Creek preserve. I had taken extra water, to replace the water I had consumed during my thistle-pulling hours, but didn’t have enough for that much additional work.

Reluctantly, I returned to the car, having hiked only old Alpine road, none of the side trails. Drove to Alpine pond, where there is a supply of drinking water, and tanked up, two bottles and the belly. While I was there, I went down to the pond to see if anything interesting was posing for photographs.

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Interesting, indeed. I always like these little guys. How many insects have necks?

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And how many airfoils are open on the leading edge?

Drove to the Russian Ridge Vista Point on Skyline, whence I hiked the remaining trails at Coal Creek. One of the trails is old Coal Road, which does in fact go past a black embankment, but the black really just looks like mudstone. If it’s indeed coal, I bet it’s pretty low grade. The most interesting name, of course, is Crazy Pete’s road, which is a trail. It runs into Crazy Pete’s trail, which is a road. Crazy!

A really seriously hot day, and my ass was dragging by the time I finished, ten hours after the morning’s events had started. I count it as a killer hike, even though it turned out to be only 17 miles, 2800 vertical feet.

Home to plunge the swollen arms into ice water — which didn’t help much, if at all. Well past the time when I ought to be developing an immunity to poison oak, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.

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2 Responses to “YST and Coal Creek”

  1. Mary Powell Says:

    Dave, have you tried Technu wash for poison oak? Take a cool water shower with this stuff after po exposure and you may be able to dodge a bullet. It’s available over the counter at the pharmacy. Enjoying your blog, Mary Powell

    >

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