Archive for October, 2015

Purisima, again

October 31, 2015

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Hiked Purisima for the second time this week. This time, with a little more sweat, over 18 miles, 4300 vertical feet.

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Dawn alpenglow in the west, out over the ocean. Very pretty.

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I have been thinking that I should have a self-portrait in hiking gear. No sooner said than done.

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I went up Borden Hatch Mill trail and down Irish Ridge, where there were some terrific views. This would probably be San Gregorio State Beach.

Even though it is still daylight time, it felt like the day was getting on by the time I got back down to Purisima Creek trail. And what should I discover but a giant salamander! In thirty years, I have only seen three, and as it happens, all three were here at Purisima. The next preserve down has a Giant Salamander trail, but I think it’s just marketing fluff.

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If I can’t see you, you can’t see me!

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But I can lift the leaves off, and then what do you have to say?

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Nothing, that’s what. These guys are completely torpid except when they actually panic. Because it was out in the middle of the trail, I was concerned that a mountain bike might come along and splat it. So two of us got little sticks and encouraged it over to the side of the trail. It panicked, of course, which was actually okay, because otherwise it wasn’t entirely clear that it was capable of more than a twitch.

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A beautiful clear day. Onshore, anyway. Half Moon Bay bright and sunny, even though the ocean is fogged in. Mavericks surf visible to the left of the radomes.

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Outdoors again

October 26, 2015

Monday, 26 October 2015

Saturday was for pulling broom at a group project at Bear Creek redwoods, nothing to post. Sunday I hiked the loop of preserves surrounding the Page Mill — Skyline — Alpine road junction. Pleasant day, started out chilly and breezy, then warmed up.

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These beautiful little guys stick their rear ends up in the air when they feel threatened. I touched it with the tip of my hiking stick to see if I could provoke a spray of noxious fluids, but unsuccessfully.

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Pat’s conference finished Sunday, so I took Monday as vacation, and Jacky, Pat and I spent the day loafing.

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We started by hiking Purisima Creek trail, one of the prettiest redwood hikes anywhere. Discovered a ladybug colony setting in for the winter along the creek. My favorite thing!

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Stopped for a Mex lunch in Half Moon Bay, then went on to Fitzgerald Marine Preserve, knowing that low tide would be about 4:30 this afternoon.

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Nice day, jackets zipped all the way up.

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From the main parking area, we went on up to the Monterey pine forest. A bright shiny beetle going about its business on the trail. Pretty!

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The red is algae. I believe it does not damage the trees.

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At the south end is another way down to the beach, where there were two or three docents showing off the various creatures in the tide pools.

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I learn at least a little bit every day. This is a chiton, an animal with a pseudopod like a snail. They don’t like direct sunlight; this one is in a little hole that’s usually covered by alga, which I pulled back to take the picture.

Home in time for a brew on the patio. Nice day. Truly spoiled, yet again.

Tarantulas at Grant Ranch

October 10, 2015

Saturday, 10 October 2015

I found no tarantulas on the peninsula last weekend, so I went to Grant Ranch today. It would be a shame to go through a season and not find any at all.

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I started off from my usual pull-out near the old barn, hiked Washburn Road trail, best known for a dozen false summits as it gains 1500 feet in a mile and a half. Seriously hard work, and I begin to think I’m not at 100% today. Down the other side to the site of the old Pala Seca Cabin, which, after having been burned down by arsonists a couple years ago, at least now has a plaque.

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And on the ridge trail, yes, there was a big beautiful tarantula. My favorite thing in the fall season — well, except for a few other favorite things.

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As with all other males, these guys have but one idea in their tiny brains, and it isn’t fighting or eating. Babes!

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In times past, I have picked up tarantulas bare-handed, but sometimes they are a little feisty. My volunteer work means that I have a pair of leather gloves in my backpack, and I’m a lot less hesitant to pick one up with gloves on. True, the fangs could probably penetrate the glove, but the risk is a lot lower. In any event, this one was very docile. Thanks, little guy.

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After a few pictures, I put him down, and he went on his way. I had laid down my hiking sticks when I first saw him; he just climbed over them, no big deal. By the time he was a foot into the tall grass, he was completely invisible, even though I knew where he was.

Rather than a killer hike, I decided to cut it shorter, took one of the alternate trails back down. Another tarantula! It’s hot in the sun, and this one was attracted to my shade, snuggled right up to my boot, happy as a clam.

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The view from the trail down. The old barn is about midway vertically, two thirds to the right, and the road where I parked is to the left. I’ve been parking there forever, but today I got a citation: emergency parking only (and no, there is no sign). Foof! Not likely to do that hike again!

Around Palo Alto

October 4, 2015

Sunday, 4 October 2015

I didn’t want to spend the day without at least a little exercise and fresh air (Jacky just snorts when I say this!), so I wandered off to the Palo Alto duck pond.

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Aircraft were landing to the south when I went by, but the wind had clearly shifted. This was one of about the last two planes going that direction; they reversed the runway immediately after.

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Marshland vegetation. Colorful.

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Marshland animals. Nothing special in the duck pond; not the season either for migratory waterfowl or nesting and raising young.

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There is a freshwater marsh nearby, through which drains effluent from the water treatment plant. Slightly different kind of vegetation here, including large stands of cattails.

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Wandered back into town. On the lawn of the PA Arts Center is the annual Glass Pumpkin festival. This year, it really does seem to be mostly pumpkins, and they don’t have closed tent areas with grumpy proprietors growling away the photographers. Much better.

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I hope they did a booming business. Certainly lots of people around, enjoying, including myself.

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And home in good time for a brew.

Page Mill killer hike

October 3, 2015

Saturday, 3 October 2015

I like to park at Palo Alto Foothills park and hike up from there, through Los Trancos open space preserve, Montebello OSP, Coal Creek OSP, Russian Ridge OSP, Skyline Ridge OSP, and back through Montebello and Los Trancos. It’s something over 20 miles, 3500 vertical feet.

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I always wonder whether insects and spiders don’t notice dewdrops or just accept them — that’s the way it is.

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Nice day. I had originally thought to hike some of the preserves further north, but it is definitely tarantula season, and I’ll have a better chance of finding one in the open grasslands down here. As it happened, I saw two tarantula hawk wasps, but no tarantulas. Schade!

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Poison oak mostly red by now.

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Stopped at Horseshoe lake for an apple and to look for small animals.

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It turned out that the great Cruz hike was today, and one of the parking areas at Skyline ridge OSP was given over to a couple of awnings and sag support. Busy and happy place.

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I started back down the hill. It was around 2 PM, far too early for the fog to be blowing in off the ocean, but here it comes! In times past, I have been up there on my bike during that kind of thing. Amazingly beautiful, bright sun and fog alternating, wisps and clouds, blowing and boiling across the road.

Strong, gusty winds, and chilly. In the car later, I heard a high wind warning for points further north, so this was just on the edge of it. I imagine some trees will come down.

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A wildlife camera. Do you suppose I count as wildlife?

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And nearing the end, this is Wildhorse Valley in Palo Alto Foothills park. It would be a good place to herd horses; open at one end, the sides are high and steep. Most horses could probably be captured here; a horse with the spirit to climb out would be tired and easy pickings for a few more riders waiting at the top.