Archive for August, 2015

What a glorious feeling; I’m happy again!

August 29, 2015

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Got to Purisima parking about a quarter after 7, cool, foggy morning. As I was lacing up my boots, another car came into the lot, parked next to mine. Turned out to be Jim, a friend from a dot-com startup some years ago. (We didn’t get rich, but we had fun. One out of two ain’t bad.) He and his friend Bob were going to do much the same route that I had in mind, and add on a few miles to boot. Good for them. But we left separately, and didn’t encounter each other on the trail.

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There is nothing as beautiful as redwoods in the fog.

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Fairly wet under the trees, as fog condensed on the overhead foliage. But sometimes, even out in the open, the fog condensed upon itself and fell out of the sky. I seem to recall there’s a word for that, isn’t there? Oh, yes: rain! Been so long I had almost forgotten. I didn’t bring a shell, got thoroughly wet, but who cares! More! More!

Lots of people out today. Even on the side trails (Borden-Hatch Mill trail), where I sometimes encounter no one at all, I met easily upward of thirty hikers, singly, in pairs, some in groups as large as six or eight. Some kind of organized outing, I suppose, and good for them.

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Redwoods live a long time unless they have the misfortune to grow at the edge of a creek whose bank erodes. Actually, if there is enough root in contact with the soil, daughters will sprout from the root and carry on the family tradition indefinitely.

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Not a redwood in the fog, but still very pretty.

The drive home was sunny, east of Skyline Ridge, sheltered from the Pacific fog. The upper half of the ridge was invisible, just a billow of brilliantly white cloud. Only those of us who had been up there knew how great it also was from the inside.

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Outdoors, as always

August 23, 2015

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ellen put out a call for volunteers to go to La Honda Creek open space preserve and attack slender false brome. As well as Ellen (below r), we had Lynn, Doug and myself. Pretty country, and places I had never been. After working over the first area, we even walked down La Honda creek bed, which involved scrambling over rocks more than avoiding the occasional puddle of water.

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Although the target was slender false brome, we took a fair bit of broom as well. But we left a few that were covered with broom caterpillars. Wouldn’t want to reduce the population of anything that devours the stuff. If the parent plant survives, which it probably will, we’ll get it next time.

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The Lodge. Yes, it really was a lodge once upon a time.

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It almost looks as if it could be made usable again.

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But clearly with considerable work.

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Not far away from The Lodge is The Cabin. This is in much worse condition, and is planned for demolition shortly.

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Near The Cabin is, well, I suppose this might be called The Deck. Nice day, good company, and Ellen always brings great munchies.

Sunday, 23 August

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Did the Montebello loop through Saratoga Summit and back, a bit over 20 miles, a bit under 4000 vertical feet. Tired and sore.

Because I don’t like gooping up with sunscreen, I always wear long sleeved shirts. But for ventilation, I leave the wrists unbuttoned. I was hiking along today, felt something near my right elbow. Thought it might be a dangle from my backpack, brushed at it. No dangle.

Then I thought I might have picked up a bit of duff on my shirt sleeve. No.

Finally I explored the situation with the other hand and felt something on my arm, under the cloth. Duff inside my sleeve?

To make a long story short, it turned out to be a grasshopper, whose idea of safety was to go up. My idea was for it to go down, and after a certain amount of back and forth, my idea prevailed. The grasshopper emerged considerably the worse for wear.

In the barn-door category, I buttoned the wrist buttons. Completely pointless, of course.

… and if that’s my biggest adventure of the day, well, that’s okay.

‘Nother rattlesnake !

August 15, 2015

One of my volunteer projects is to eradicate — well, try to eradicate — yellow star thistle (YST) at Windy Hill open space preserve. I went to the Anniversary trail section this morning to sweep for YST. At this time of year, I think once a month is about right, and it has been about a month. I found enough to justify the effort, but it really is getting pretty sparse. Definitely making progress. The seed remains viable for a few years, so it is a continuing effort, but there’s hope.

The air was heavily hazy in all directions, as wildfires burn everywhere. My venue was windy, cool and pleasant until about mid-morning, when the smell of smoke became stronger and I called it quits.

Today’s adventure: as I uprooted a small thistle, my eye noticed several smooth and tubular things about a foot from my hand. My first thought was a pile of droppings of some kind; when my eyes zoomed out, I realized it was a heavily squinched rattlesnake.

I am very happy to report that we each went our separate ways without confrontation. No picture; I reached for my camera (having retreated to a safe distance), but it didn’t stay around. As it disappeared into its hole, it shook its rattles goodbye.

Two rattlesnakes in two weeks. That’s pretty special.

Snake day at Windy Hill

August 9, 2015

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Today was for hiking all the trails at Windy Hill, a bit more than 18 miles, a bit less than 4000 feet of vertical gain. Nice to get out and get a little exercise.

I haven’t seen very many snakes this year, nor for the past few years. I think the drought has reduced the amount of vegetation available for the little field mice and voles that form the snakes’ diet, and the snake population has declined accordingly.

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So I was delighted to find a rattlesnake today.

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It was quiet and relaxed. I was quiet and relaxed. Two or three minutes, during which I fired off a number of photos, and then it oozed off the trail into the bush.

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I mentioned having seen a rattlesnake to several dog walkers I met afterward. Some of them tightened up their leashes. It’s good if no one gets hurt, including the snake.

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Not much further along, another snake, this one a gopher snake. My cup runneth over!

And just to gild the lily, I came upon two hikers a few minutes later, still looking off the trail into the weeds, where they told me a ringneck snake had just disappeared.

Great day, great place!