Russian Ridge, Rancho and more

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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Got to Windy Hill about 7. Cold, blowing fog; I wore my jacket for the entire 2.5 hours I spent cleaning out the last of the thistle. Nice, in a way, a real break from the hot summer days we’ve been having. Of course, there is no hope that I really did find all of the thistle in all that tall grass. Maybe I’ll come back again, just to comb things one more time.

Then I went to Russian Ridge, where I hiked the trails I had omitted last time, to finish off all of them. Admittedly, there are two trails awaiting completion and opening, so if I’m not fast enough finishing the round of patrolling all the trails in all of the open spaces, I will have to come back.

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The view from the newly built Audrey’s lookout. The Pacific under all that fog, Pescadero creek draining most of the valley we see, and Mindego hill on the right. The trail to its top is one of those that has not been opened. I have actually been there, on one of my trail-building volunteer days, but I don’t think that counts.

Heard a deadfall in the forest. Not long after, I came upon a trunk chunk that had fallen partially across the trail. It was big enough that I expected to need a maintenance man with a chain saw, but I gave it a push with my boot, and discovered that it had been rotting and dehydrating so many years that I could roll it off the trail myself.

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Some of the trails are in oak forest, and beautiful they are, shady and cool. Others are dry grass. Here we have a pair of mountain bikies at the top of Borel Hill.

The day was yet young, so I went across the road to Long Ridge open space preserve to do a few more trails. Stopped at the nature center to talk a minute with the docent.

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I thought I’d hike down to the end and back on old Page Mill trail. It’s a mile and  a half each way. Nicely marked by some large rocks at the turnoff from Sunny Jim trail.

At the bottom, I met another hiker, another loner who goes off into the boondocks. He even more than I, goes extensively off-trail; he tells me he isn’t allergic to poison oak. Good for him!

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We walked out together. Nice to find a garter snake. By the time we reached the top, it was after 4, and 4 o’clock is Bierzeit. Time to call it a day. 15.7 miles, 2700 vertical feet.

Sunday, 10 August

We had a commitment at 2, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time driving. Went to Rancho San Antonio, where I would like to be able to complete all the trails here today. Last time, I hiked the long, distant trails; today I only (!) need to hike the mesh of intermediate trails.

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Got there about 7. Wild turkeys under the trees, deer everywhere. This is the first time I’ve seen fawns this season, but every doe has one.

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Hiked up the PG&E trail. Last time, I went all the way over the skyline here, but the fill-in trail turns off after something around 1400  feet of climb, at the last tower visible below the skyline. I was able to do most of it before the sun came out; nice to do the hard work in the coolth of the morning.

As with other preserves I’ve hiked, there is a lot of out and back tracking, double-hiking some trails, even tripling a few. I found a pair of earbuds, stowed them in the backpack to turn in when I got back down to the ranger office.

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A large percentage of today’s trails were completely new; I almost always do this as a killer hike with only the long and distant trails. But one could make a very nice moderate hike, much of it through really pretty woods, much of it on quite moderate grades. I revise my opinion; I had always thought this one was uber-popular because it was close and convenient. Well, it is that, but it’s better than I knew.

The ranger office was closed, locked gate across the drive. Got on the phone, called the open space district dispatch operator, who agreed to send a ranger around and suggested I leave the earbuds at the gate. I did, but the ranger showed up just as I was leaving, so I was able to touch base with him. My good deed for the day.

16.6 miles, 3200 vertical feet. When I first tried to fill in the map from memory, I thought I had missed a little out-and-back, but when I got the GPS trace up on the big screen, I found that I had in fact hiked it after all. Nice to finish this one off; it’s a big one.

I insisted on washing my hands and changing shoes before rushing off to the 2 o’clock rendezvous with some friends at the Museum of American History. Their current exhibit is on clocks and watches.

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We finished off the day with a stroll to downtown and a visit to La Boulange, where I made up for a calorie deficit with a (blue) pear and goat cheese tart, just to get ready for dinner.

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