Archive for May, 2016

Wilder Ranch with Jacky

May 29, 2016

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Up early, spent two hours working on purple star thistle at Rancho San Antonio open space preserve. It’s a month since last I was here, and the ones I missed earlier on are starting to bolt upright. Fortunately, none of them were yet flowering, quite, so I didn’t have to haul away the carcasses to prevent them from developing viable seed. There were also quite a few newly sprouted rosettes, and I’m sure that the tall grass concealed more than I didn’t find. I do what I can.

I left just enough time to make it to the 9:30 start of a broom-pulling group volunteer event at Bear Creek Redwoods open space preserve, and would have been on time, but for slow merging traffic onto highway 17 toward the beaches at Santa Cruz. Not a problem, in any event.

Hot day, eight or ten volunteers found plenty of broom, and poison oak, in the shade of the forest. Good company, hard work, happy to quit around 2 when we had all run out of time, energy and the sliced watermelon that Ellen had brought along.

Sunday, 29 May

Jacky and I took our own trip toward Santa Cruz, veering north up the coast a mile or two to Wilder Ranch state park. It has been a long time; I searched my log files, and find 24 May 2009 as the last visit here, also with Jacky. That day, we logged 7.2 miles, 400 vertical feet. Today was 8 miles, 940 vertical feet. Cool, pleasant overcast day, lots of mountain bikies, most of them well-behaved.

Back at park headquarters, we wandered around the historic ranch house and exhibits.




I especially liked the steering mechanism on this John Deere General Purpose (it says so) tractor.


An old barn, big deal. What’s special about this is that the siding has simply disappeared in places over the years, in small pieces, remaining in place where the wood was a little better at resisting the attack of time.




We remembered a great old bald cypress tree at the ranch house, and missed it as we came in from the parking lot. It’s just that, from the backside, all we see is a great mass of green that isn’t obviously a single tree.


The blacksmith shop is not all that unusual, but I think this is the first one we’ve ever seen that was clearly dedicated to plumbing fittings.




A factory, adjoining the smithy, overhead belts driving all the tools.


And we’ve always thought Pelton wheels were pretty classy. Here’s a broken one, but I bet it was good for a few horsepower when it was in working order.



We stopped in Santa Cruz for a quick lunch, then back over the hill before the return traffic built up. A pretty good day!

Montebello-Saratoga Gap killer loop

May 21, 2016

Saturday, 21 May 2016

I like to start at Montebello open space preserve parking, hike down Canyon trail to cross Stevens Creek, climb out along the Table Mountain trails, then hike parallel to Skyline to Saratoga Gap. From there, a short section of the Skyline to the Sea trail, and back north along Skyline, crossing again into Montebello from Skyline Ridge preserve. I haven’t done it for a while now, so today was a good day to refresh the route. It’s about 20.8 miles, 3900 vertical feet.


Fortunately, it was a cool, not to say chilly, day, cloudy, mist, even rain. More deer out than people. No danger of overheating, although I was glad I didn’t have to put on my plastic rain jacket until I was at the top.


I stopped for calories and enjoyed the weather blowing out (below). The cold wind pushing it aside came off the Pacific, tempered by the Alaska current, so I kept the plastic jacket on for a while.


Strange and interesting patterns over there; they are selectively mown areas of the meadow. Very strange, I thought.


By the time I got back to the car, I had figured it out. As the season progresses, water doesn’t uniformly disappear from the near sub-surface; the grass goes yellow earlier in places where there’s no sub-surface water.


If they mowed the entire area, green and gold both, the green bit would have to be mown again later on. So they economize by only mowing the grass that has completed this season’s growth.

Now if they’d only mow along some of the trails that are overgrown and waist-high in grass that’s only just starting to think about turning gold!