Posts Tagged ‘Castle Rock state park’

Castle Rock state park

November 2, 2013

Saturday, 2 November 2013

I thought I’d go to Grant Ranch today; it has been a while. But the traffic report on the radio said there was an accident on the freeway down that way. Early in the morning, probably not much of a backup, but why bother! So I went to Saratoga summit instead, hiked south along Skyline trail and made a loop through Castle Rock state park.

I had intended to do a longer hike, but the knee complained, so I cut it short: 10 miles, 2100 vertical feet.

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Near the parking lot, just as the sun rose, a madrone had fallen across the trail. The smooth bark and absence of clutter makes this just about the easiest deadfall I have ever had to climb over!

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It being Halloween season, this rock seemed highly appropriate.

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Leading to the Castle Rock falls overlook (above) and the view straight down from the deck (below). Only a trickle of water at this season, of course. Early enough in the day that there are no climbers on this particular face.

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But just across, I hear voices, and I see one climber, quite likely an instructor. He was just standing there, leaning back into his harness over the abyss, talking with someone I never saw, probably a student.

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Lots more holey rocks; the edges pretty sharp, as these things go. Rock climber’s heaven.

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I hiked around the loop to the campground, where I erroneously took a little side trail that led to a flat where, once upon a time, there was a house or maybe a few houses. Nothing now but the chimney.

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I took Loghry Woods trail back to Skyline. I believe I have never been on this trail before, having always made wider loops. The bad knee encourages a shorter hike today, and it’s a very nice trail. Glad I did it.

It runs below a shooting range. The acoustics are always fun. I hear the shot, and then a drumroll of echoes from the surrounding hillsides. Sometimes the drumroll echoes again into a secondary drumroll, and even a third, and the total can go on for three or four seconds, sometimes after a half-second silent gap between the initial report and the start of the first drumroll.

The shadows and interference fringes are also impressive. Within a trail distance of ten or fifteen feet, I go from hearing no echo at all to hearing a full drumroll of echoes.

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Leaf shadows on the rock give the distinct impression of oriental serenity. Very, very nice!

 

Sanborn and Castle Rock: newts and scorpions

March 30, 2013

Saturday, 30 March 2013

I have been having some muscle pain that has inhibited running. Left leg, either the soleus or the medial belly of the gastrocnemius, or maybe both. But interestingly enough, I can walk without much pain. So I drove to Saratoga, went halfway up the hill and left the car at Sanborn county park. If I’m sore, I’ll do a short to moderate hike, and if I’m okay, maybe I’ll go check out Travertine springs in Castle Rock state park.

I don’t know exactly how far that would be; at least an industrial grade hike, and if it’s a bit more and becomes a killer hike, well, there is an extra hour of daylight now. As it happened, it was 23 miles, well over 5000 vertical feet. Definitely a killer hike.

Heavy forest, cloudy and chilly, and the newts were out in force. I had to watch where I was stepping to be sure I didn’t squash any of them.

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But newts are a dime a dozen around here. What I’m hoping to find is a scorpion. This is the season, and this is the place. I spent the day pulling up slabs of loose bark from dead trees. Et voila … !

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It has been two or three years since I found a scorpion. I don’t recall why the dearth; maybe I just didn’t get up into this area during the right season.

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This one is a juvenile, about 1 cm long, not counting the tail. Very little pigmentation as yet; you can see its alimentary canal.

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All told, I saw four scorpions, although I only got photos of these two. But under slabs of bark, we find more than scorpions. I have a mental image of something large, red, blue, white, gyrating violently and vanishing under the log, before I could even get a good look at it, much less bring the camera to bear. A snake, I think, but I’m not sure. Too bad it wouldn’t pose for a photo.

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Centipedes usually scurry away too fast for photos, too, but I did pretty well today.

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It’s not impossible that these are juveniles and will all grow up to be big and red like the one above, but my bet is that we have at least two and possibly three different centipede species here.

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As we gain elevation, we start seeing the exposed rock. The soft colours are beautiful; I cannot but think these would make wonderful bases for fabric designs or wall hangings.

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All this is before we reach the top (well, the baby scorpion was on the west side, but I grouped it with the first one). I met no one in Sanborn park, but Castle Rock is far more popular, and although the trees were raining a little, the day was clearing up. So there were quite a few people around.

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This is rock climber paradise. Everything from serious climbers down to girlfriends who just came along so they could climb onto something hard. The shots below would suggest a fairly serious climber.

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I think this is the one they call goat rock.

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The tree is determined to grow here, regardless of having to carry around a couple tons of rock.

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The formations are wonderful, and make the site a real attraction, even for non-climbers such as I.

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Here’s how it looks from some distance away, as I hiked around the San Lorenzo basin toward Travertine springs.

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Twice today, I surprised pairs of deer — well, one of those times, the pair of deer surprised me! large animals bursting out of the bush right in front of me — be still, my beating heart! What I was going to say was that, in both cases, the deer ran off in different directions after the encounter. It seems doubtful they have a way of hooking up with each other again, which leads me to conject that the social groupings of deer are random, rather than continuing associations with friends.

The name Travertine springs suggests a picturesque cliff of clean and well-cleaved rock, but what it actually is, is an overgrown marsh of horsetail ferns. Now, horsetails are attractive enough in their own right, but it is always a disappointment to go past the springs and see nary an interesting rock.

It was already mid-afternoon, and I realized that I needed to get moving if I was to get back to the car by nightfall. Took the Saratoga toll road trail to Saratoga gap, then Skyline trail back to Sanborn trail and down. It was getting quite chilly, windy, dark; the rain had begun, and I scurried along as fast as I could, still carefully watching to avoid stepping on the newts, which were even more numerous as the day waned.

Another really good day.