Windy Hill, Russian Ridge

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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Last weekend, I discovered yellow star thistle at Windy Hill. Not very much, but it would be good to eradicate it before it can spread.

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So I left the car on Skyline at the top of Spring Ridge trail about 7, hiked down to the area I had skipped last weekend. It was just at the top of the fog that was blanketing Silicon Valley, cool and pleasant.

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I think the temperature was around 60F, cool enough that this bee was lethargic. A bee never lets a camera get that close! I’m sure that the warmth of the sun rejuvenated it a few minutes later.

The thistle colony on Spring Ridge trail proved to be fairly small and local; although I swept the area on either side of the trail, I didn’t find anything more. For completeness, I thought I’d go back to Anniversary trail, along the top, where I had tried to clean it all out last weekend. It’s impossible to get them all; a second pass is a good idea.

And there were indeed a few along the trail, where I had been last weekend. But in being thorough, I went up the steep embankment above the trail, into the tall grass, and found a lot more. A lot more.

I ended up spending three hours on this stuff, at which time I had run out of hauling capacity and enthusiasm. Maybe I (or someone) will come back and get the rest of it.

Stopped at another gate on Skyline, did a quick hike to pick up a little stub trail that I had missed in last weekend’s effort to hike all the trails at Windy Hill. Now it’s complete.

Then I went on to Russian Ridge, parked at the vista point along Skyline, and hiked all of the trails in the northwest area of the preserve.

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We hear about Langley Hill, and in particular, Langley Hill quarry. It has the look of a long-abandoned dig, until we zoom in, and then it looks pretty active. Not as big as the massive Permanente quarry west of San Jose, but big enough.

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The windmill, turning lackadaisically in the light breeze. It has the appearance of being in full working order. Maybe it keeps that tank filled from a well, and provides reliable water pressure to the few homes below here.

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Stopped at Alder spring, which really does have a few alders. I think they’re not native here; maybe imported by some settler long ago. Under their shade, a thick growth of berries, a dozen of which were both ripe enough to eat and accessible. After wet winters, there are berries all over the place, but they’re pretty rare during the drought. A good thing to do.

Only 11.5 miles, 1800 vertical feet today, but with an investment of 7 hours, it still seemed like a fair bit of work.

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