Archive for September, 2014

Completing the skyline trails

September 27, 2014

Saturday, 27 September 2014

According to the open space district, El Corte de Madera Creek open space preserve has 35.9 miles of trails. Because of backtracking and looping, it took me 50 miles of hiking to do all of them, spread, as predicted, over three visits (each with 4000-5000 feet of vertical gain). Today was the northerly set of trails, my car parked at Skeggs point.

Today completes my quest to hike all of the MROSD trails along Skyline, a significant step in working toward the anvil award, which recognizes trail patrol volunteers who cover all of the trails in the whole open space district. Meaningless, of course, but it’s a challenge, gives me a focus.

Started just after 7 on a cool, cloudy day that remained cool and cloudy throughout, except for about ten minutes of filtered sun in early afternoon. Very nice, indeed. Found a madrone fallen across the trail, marked it with GPS and a photo to report to the district; someone will get out here with a chain saw one of these days. There was a lot of other fallen debris, as well, all day long, but I was able to clear it myself. Glad I remembered to stick my leather work gloves in my pack.


There is a bridge under construction, El Corte de Madera creek, at the bottom of Methusaleh trail. I came this way last week with the hikers I was helping. There has been a noticeable amount of progress in a week; interesting to see all the miniature construction equipment, designed for back-country use.


There is a nice monument to the passengers and crew of the Resolution, a DC-6 that flew into a hillside here on a foggy day in 1953.



The other special attraction of this preserve is the tafoni formation, essentially sandstone with interesting erosions. I have to admit it’s worth a look.


At a few points along the day’s trails, I found broom, an invasive plant that needs to be kept under control lest it take over the world. I cleaned out all of one stretch, and reported the second stretch on my trail log. Then, almost back to the car, I noticed a delta-shaped clearing where two trails merge, that was full of broom, much of it fairly good-sized.

Because I was near the car, it was easy to go get my weed wrench and return. I put in something like an hour and a half pulling broom by hand, using the weed wrench on a dozen or so of the larger specimens.


I found a couple of these little caterpillars on the broom (so you can see what broom looks like, if you care). I was careful not to damage the insects when I unplugged their lunch, but I did unplug their lunch.

Because it’s on the outside of a blind curve, turns across traffic lanes are not allowed in or out of the Skeggs point parking area. Forced to go north, I thought I’d go home down Kings Mountain road, but when I got to the junction, I saw that there was a bicycle century rest stop there, with riders coming up Tunitas creek road from the coast, and going down Kings Mt road. The best way I knew to be bicycle friendly was to go on up Skyline and come down highway 92 instead.

The rest of Dublin

September 26, 2014

Friday, 19 September 2014

The serious conference meetings finished yesterday. They always reserve spillover time on Friday in case it’s needed, but even if it is, I rarely have the stamina to attend. So Jacky and I went out and walked all day. Yes, really. We do that.


We started by watching a crew install a street clock on Grafton street.


Then past Temple bar, which is a neighborhood as well as this particular pub.


Even for Ireland, that’s a lot of beer for one night for one pub! Well, maybe he’ll stop at more than one pub. You never know.


We continued upstream along the river Liffey, with the idea of eventually reaching the large park off to the west of town. Meanwhile, there were things to see, things to enjoy.


I would say what church this is, but I don’t recall. It doesn’t matter. Well, I suppose it does matter, to someone.



This seems to be Dublin’s motto: an obedient citizenry makes for a happy city. Preposterous!



From the days when instruments of death were also works of art.



A spare roller wheel? Yep! Do you suppose they go flat? It would be more than a lot of work to change one out in the field, but I suppose it would be better than walking all the way back to Dublin.




We finally reached the park, only to find that most of it is really off limits, resorts and sporting clubs and the like. The zoo is here, but about 3x as expensive as we were prepared to consider. Nice day for a walk.


On the other side of the river lies the war memorial park, a little hidden from casual discovery, but well worth seeking out. Then it was time for the walk back into the center city.



We passed the giant Guinness brewery, but didn’t stop for the guided tour. What? A whole week in Ireland and not a single pint of Guinness? Yes. Beer, yes, just not Guinness.



The museum and galleries allow photography, albeit without flash, except for a few works that are on loan from other venues and are copyrighted or otherwise restricted. Nice. I especially liked the way some of these artists captured the light. The one below is, of course, by Vermeer.


Got rained on a little, really the first rain of the week. Hardly a problem. It has been a cool, mostly cloudy week, a very welcome change from the hot, dry California weather we left behind at home.


And finally, the well hidden statue of Oscar Wilde, in a shady corner of the park, behind a wrought-iron fence. You could walk past here a hundred times and not see it, except that there is also a picture of it attached to the fence.

Near the canal, we found the Waterloo pub, where we got a table well away from the distractions and enjoyed yet another fine meal.

We enjoyed Dublin, but a week is enough. More than ready for the homeward journey tomorrow.

Out and about in Dublin

September 26, 2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I had conferences to confer in, but I broke loose over the lunchtime break one day, to walk along the nearby canal toward the sea. As pretty and peaceful as anything you could imagine.







Walking out in the evening… I don’t think I bothered to check who this bronze was. Doesn’t really matter. We enjoyed the nearby pub whose entertainment was the Leeson quintet (in fine print: formerly the Leeson quartet). Nice!

Wednesday, 17 September

Jacky and I went out for dinner after the conference adjourned for the day.


Interesting to see a number of homes with boot-scrapers outside the door. Presumably the contemporary streets were paved, but full of horses. Yes, a boot scraper might have been a really good idea.


We stumbled upon Boxty, which advertised truly authentic Irish food. I ordered corned beef and cabbage, about as Irish as you could get. What I got was a crepe, stuffed with corned beef and cabbage. Turns out that’s what a Boxty is; the crepe is a potato pancake, really, and it’s even more Irish than I was expecting. Burp! Pretty good.



One way to advertise your space for rent.

We’re all doing what we can …

September 25, 2014

Nice to be able to help someone.

Hi Dave,

I wanted to forward you the attached message we received from the 2 hikers you assisted at ECdM.

Outstanding job Dave!! You really went above and beyond and made quite an impression on these 2 sisters. This is the type of message every agency dreams of receiving from their constituents.

Congrats on a job well done.

Volunteer Program Manager
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
330 Distel Circle, Los Altos, CA 94022

To Whom It May Concern:

My sister and I went for a hike at El Corte de Madera Creek this past Sunday. We left from Skeggs Point and planned to do a loop hike. Along the way, we inadvertently took the Methuselah Trail instead of the Manzanita Trail as we had planned and found ourselves exhausted and lost after more than 5 hours of hiking. We knew we had gone wrong but didn’t know exactly where. We had the good fortune of crossing paths with a trail volunteer on patrol. His name is Dave Hood.

Dave offered to lead us back to the Resolution Trail junction where we could then pick up the Fir Trail and head back to Skeggs Point. By the time we crossed paths with Dave, I was exhausted and had to stop every 5 minutes or so to catch my breath. He could see we were struggling and knew the return trek was long and all uphill. He told us he was heading down the Giant Salamander Trail and when he was able to get phone reception, he would call for a Ranger to pick us up along a fire road. We hiked along a little longer and then shortly after the volunteer, Dave Hood, reappeared. He had accurately determined that my sister and I needed help sooner rather than later. He had managed to hike to a clearing to call for a Ranger before he started on his own hike along the Giant Salamander Trail.

Dave Hood, was so kind. He replenished our water bottles, offered the use of his walking sticks and waited with us until the Ranger arrived. We never would have made it without him. He was calm, patient, reassuring and knowledgeable. He was a welcome presence. I called him my Guardian Angel.

I hope any other hiker who runs into trouble meets up with someone like Dave. He came from out of nowhere and we are ever so thankful that he did. Please thank him from the bottom of our hearts. I’m sure he will remember the two sisters who lost their way!


[I deleted their names to respect their privacy]


September 14, 2014

Monday, 15 September 2014

We left home on Saturday and spent the usual miserable endless hours on airplanes and in airports. Arrived mid-morning in Dublin, a cool cloudy day that turned pleasant and a bit sunny later on. Taxi driver from the airport told us all about everything on the way in.

We dropped our luggage at the hotel; it was too early to get a room; and went out walking.


The beautiful park St Stephen’s green, where we’re told that some level of honoured citizenship entitles the citizen to graze his sheep. We didn’t see any grazing sheep here, but it’s certainly popular with the humans.



Then down along Grafton street, a pedestrian way, and very pleasant.



I had forgotten my camera in the left-behind luggage, had to make do with the cell phone.


When we came back an hour later, he was putting the finishing touches on the hind-quarters.


We stopped to wander through Trinity college, where is kept the book of Kells. Popular place, groups of guided tourists in all directions. We didn’t bother with the guide, just strolled for a few minutes.




Temple Bar used to be the loading area along the river, warehouses and such, but it has been rejuvenated into a largely pedestrian area of shops and restaurants.


This would be sweet Molly Malone, or as she is known irreverently here: the tart with the cart.

Back to the hotel, where we got a room and slept for a few hours — no sleep on the plane. Then out to find something to eat; we ended up at a place called Against the Grain, where they had a large number of craft beers and pub food. The barkeep recommended a port and a stout, so we had a pint of each. As to food, I tried coddle, which turns out to be overcooked mushy stew, mine with sausage and (they said) bacon. Beer and food; what more could we ask? Welcome to Ireland!

Being outdoors

September 7, 2014

Sunday, 7 September 2014

In the old days, you never saw horse bandits. Nowadays all the fashionable horses wear masks during fly season. Good idea.



The horses were just across the fence at Rancho San Antonio, where I also discovered the Anza Knoll, below.


One of the open space volunteers is looking for photos and GPS coordinates of all the major monuments and memorials around the open space property, so I sent this to her, along with a few other shots.

On Saturday, Jacky and I volunteered to go after stinkwort at Rancho. There were a dozen of us, more or less, and we cleared a goodly section, and left behind far more. Well, we do what we can.

I started Sunday by going to  La Honda Creek open space preserve. It’s about two miles down impossibly narrow roads, vertical up on one side, vertical down on the other, blind curves, and you really hope you don’t meet anyone. Which I didn’t.

I had the combination to the lock on the gate. This preserve is only open by permit, but it’s easy to get a permit, especially if you’re a volunteer. So I hiked all 3.7 miles of trails here; the GPS says I put in 6.1 miles. Not quite two to one, but there wasn’t a great deal of backtracking in the simple layout of these few trails.


The view from the vista point, in theory a terrific overlook of the entire coastal plain and well out to sea. Well, maybe later on.

I saw a flock of a dozen wild turkeys in the grasslands. Almost immediately, near the forest, I then found a large collection of turkey feathers. There was something large in the forest, something I didn’t see. Turkey dinner for the mountain lion, maybe?

Following which, I went to El Corte de Madera open space preserve, right next door, so to speak. It has 36 miles of trail, so it will take me a while to hike all of them, two or three more visits.

The terrain is also very steep, and it’s mountain bike heaven.  I don’t mind steep; it’s a challenge, but it’s stressful watching for mountain bikies who may come screaming down that blind curve on the narrow single-track in front of me. Even though most bikies are pretty civilized, it’s necessary to be watchful. Speaking of civilized… one bikie gave me enough room as he passed me on the single-track that his wheel slipped into the soft stuff at the side of the trail and he crashed. Thanks for being nice, friend, but you didn’t have to be that nice.

Mostly beautiful scenery, mostly in the forest, mostly cool, but my skin still leaks a lot. Even so, I had more than enough water, for once, and felt good all the way back to the parking lot, where I staggered in about 4:30. Total for the day: 20.1 miles, 4700 vertical feet.

Two more anvil trail preserves!

September 1, 2014

Monday, 1 September, 2014

Today I finished patrolling all of the remaining trails in the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District’s preserves between Saratoga Gap and Sky Londa. 17 miles, 3600 vertical feet; I had enough water and enough calories. A good day.

That leaves me with one more on Skyline, El Corte de Madera, two down in what in comparison we call the flatlands, two that are open only by permit, and three down in the south bay, which I have been deferring in hopes of cooler weather. Making progress.


It’s easy to see by the tattered wings that these are two separate butterflies.


We humans are not exactly enamored of thistle, but there are second opinions.