Archive for September, 2015

Autumn at Rancho

September 27, 2015

Sunday, 27 September 2015

I haven’t been to Rancho San Antonio for a while — when I check my log, I find it was May! — so today seemed like a good time to have another go. As usual, I started by going out the PG&E trail to the top of Montebello, a bit more than 3000 feet of climb.

Met twenty kids going down Quarry trail, presumably having camped at Montebello last night. As sometimes happens, the ones in the pack were more or less asleep, not watching the trail, and quite prepared to run into me.


As usual, great distant views from the top, but today my eye was caught by a small lizard on a nearby rock.


Today I realized what’s different about this preserve, or at least much of this preserve: it’s a bay laurel forest! That’s unusual around here; leaves instead of duff on the ground, and leaves at and above eye level instead of far overhead. And it smells nice, too.



There are two trail stubs leading off to Hidden Villa, and I always like to make the detour (an extra 3.2 miles, 900 feet of gain). I always forget to look for drinking water, but I was thinking of it today, and found a small sink off out of the way. In this country, water from a pipe, and especially water from a faucet, is safe to drink unless there is a sign stating otherwise. So I tanked up. Glad I did; the day turned muggy and I was down to the final droplets by the time I got back.

The picnic area was populated by several pavilions, lots of kids and a buffet meal. As I walked through, the official fairy made her appearance: flouncy dress, heavily made up, and baby talk in her voice. Barf!


I returned via Hostel trail, where I found some unusual berries. No idea what they might be.


More lizards, and quail that were surprisingly tame. Usually they run or fly if anyone gets within ten or fifteen feet, but these were busy enough collecting seeds that they didn’t care.


Killer hike? Well, it was only 17.5 miles, but the 4100 vertical feet makes up for the shorter distance, so the answer is probably yes.

Mid-Pen volunteer recognition

September 19, 2015

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Mid-Pen open space district sponsors a volunteer recognition event every year. They spend a few thou on a party, and the accountants estimate that the volunteers contribute about half a million dollars worth of work that doesn’t have to be paid for out of pocket. Not a bad deal.

Today was the day for 2015. An old rodeo grounds just west of La Honda, in La Honda creek open space preserve, which is not yet open to the public. The day began with a short hike, led by the district GM. With recent knee troubles, Jacky decided to stay under the shade of the pavilion instead. Not necessarily a bad decision: it was a pretty hot day, and the trail was out in the open.


The hike was advertised as strenuous, 800 feet of gain in only a little over a mile, but someone got tangled up in the arithmetic. The top was a little over 800 feet, and the starting point was well over 200 feet, total gain about 560 feet, nothing like as difficult as they made it sound.


Pretty good-sized group, and some fairly nice views from the top, including the ocean over that-a-way.


I noticed later that the old USGS map shows eight oil wells right here at the top. Ancient history, nothing to see now. I wonder how old that information is.


A couple of old buildings, picturesque as tumbledowns.


My loyal fans will recall that I spent a few months last summer and fall hiking all of the trails in all of the preserves in the district. The reward is an anvil, duly presented at today’s ceremonies. Pretty classy!

It also turns out that I have put in something upward of 750 hours of volunteer work, so I got a nice stickpin award for that, suitable for putting into my disreputable hat.

Lots of food, lots of awards, lots of recognition. Mid-Pen does a great job of recognizing volunteers. Considering that we are pretty much all of us volunteers at our places of employment, it’s curious that our companies are really not very good at this at all.