Archive for December, 2014

Feiertag at Rancho San Antonio

December 25, 2014

Thursday, 25 December 2014

There was a wind warning overnight, and I thought Rancho might have fewer downed trees than some of the other places I might go. Rancho it is! Started right at 7, took a somewhat different route up from the usual PG&E trail (so-called because it doubles as an access road to the high-voltage transmission line towers). In fact, I only touched the north end of the PG&E trail, where it joins Quarry trail and goes on up to Black mountain road.


Although Quarry trail runs along below and to its left, we see nothing of the quarry until we’re well up on Black mountain road. We top out at the forest of communications antennas on Montebello road.


A 1-point buck standing guard on behalf of two does.


From the ridge, looking to the west on a clear, sunny, breezy, and very cold morning. I was expecting this, prepared perhaps to come, see, conquer and retire from the field immediately. But I donned my rain shell over four layers of padding, zipped it to the chin, and it broke the wind enough that I was able to perch in the lee of one of those rocks and eat my apple.


Did the Hidden Villa detour on the way down, rather sparsely populated. I guess everyone sleeps late on the holiday. I always feel like these people are grinches: big signs everywhere about all the things you’re not allowed to do, and then at the bottom, the word, Enjoy! Reminds me of airlines who go through the long list of mandatories and forbiddens and conclude without a trace of irony that the skies are friendly.

Met a couple at the windmill pasture who were looking for a good hike, recommended Black mountain trail out and back, as far as they had time and energy, and assured them that the chances of encountering a mountain lion were negligible. I hope I was right. (Well, I know I was right: negligible probability. But if there really was a lion nearby somewhere… well, I’d be sorry I hadn’t seen it myself.)


At the bottom of Chamise trail is a dam, whose basin has been dry for as long as I can remember. Today it is not only full, but overflowing the spillway. A wonderful sight!

Talked with a man who had come here just to see the pond, and walked with him back to the parking area. Only 2 PM, only 16+ miles (3700 vertical feet). Lots of people out by this time, everyone enjoying a wonderful day.

Purisima Redwoods open space preserve

December 21, 2014

Sunday, 21 December 2014

I was expecting to meet a hiking buddy to explore the trails at Teague Hill that are not on the official map, but she had to cancel. So I went to Purisima redwoods instead. The usual ten-mile loop, but with clearing storm debris and uprooting broom and ivy, I spent upward of five hours on it. Nice day, cool and rainy. Some of the rain doubtless came from the clouds, but much of it came down from the trees.


The fungi are having the time of their lives!



As always, I found plenty of fallen trees to report. This one fell across the creek, so it doesn’t get reported. I thought it was a good illustration how these massive monoliths come down, often when their hillside (or stream bank) collapses.



The open green country of yesterday was nice, but nothing beats a redwood forest!


I have no idea what these little red tendrils are. I suppose if I were to mark them so I could find them again, I’d find out what they will be when they grow up.


We have two gingkos, the other off the picture to the left. That one shed all its leaves before this one even started turning yellow, but now we get a second round, a golden sidewalk, ephemeral beauty that will last about a week.

Mission peak, Sunol

December 20, 2014

20 December 2014

While I was busy hiking all the trails in the Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District, I pretty much ignored the other parks and open spaces. But now it’s time to revisit the old friends. Today was for Mission Peak and Sunol.

Mission peak - Sunol

As always, I went up the southern route, of which Horse Heaven trail is the best-named segment. It rained yesterday, and the trail was squidgy in a lot of places. A difficult hike under the best of circumstances, the mud made it serious hard work today. Well, I need the exercise: two weekends ago, I was on a plane. Last weekend, after flying home, I did a short 8-mile hike on Saturday and a bike ride on Sunday. So I’m out of shape, overdue.

Mission peak - Sunol

An overcast day, the fog lifting slowly. There were even a few minutes of feeble sunshine toward late morning, but not enough to warm things up. When it greens up, this country is really beautiful.

Mission peak - Sunol

Flag Hill, above the Sunol visitor center. I sometimes go up there when I want to make this into a killer hike, but I think Sunol is enough for today (15 miles, 4000 feet of climb). And as it turned out, the bridge at Sunol park is closed for repairs, and I probably wouldn’t have wanted to ford the creek anyway.

Mission peak - Sunol

 Once a trail patroller, always a trail patroller. I noted the GPS coordinates of this deadfall and reported it.

Mission peak - Sunol

I am reminded that the native rock here is shellstone. Nice.

Mission peak - Sunol

As I start down the front side of Mission peak, my eye is caught by an interesting juxtaposition of rock and tree. I never noticed that before.

Mission peak - Sunol

I stopped for calories not too far from the top, sat on a bench enjoying the world spread below. The calves in a small herd of cows were cavorting around like puppies. I was impressed by their energy.

Mission peak - Sunol

Well, it turned out that the calves had good reason to scamper around. The world’s most optimistic coyote was trying its luck. By the time I was near the cows, the calves were over on the other side of the herd, and the adult cows were studiously ignoring the coyote.

Mission peak - Sunol

Today’s other wildlife sighting was after I had already gone through the parking lot, down the street toward where I had left my car (no one ever parks in the parking lot: it’s always full!).

Mission peak - Sunol

Nice to get out, nice to do a little work.