Posts Tagged ‘Hidden Villa’

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.

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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Feiertag at Rancho San Antonio

December 25, 2014

Thursday, 25 December 2014

There was a wind warning overnight, and I thought Rancho might have fewer downed trees than some of the other places I might go. Rancho it is! Started right at 7, took a somewhat different route up from the usual PG&E trail (so-called because it doubles as an access road to the high-voltage transmission line towers). In fact, I only touched the north end of the PG&E trail, where it joins Quarry trail and goes on up to Black mountain road.

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Although Quarry trail runs along below and to its left, we see nothing of the quarry until we’re well up on Black mountain road. We top out at the forest of communications antennas on Montebello road.

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A 1-point buck standing guard on behalf of two does.

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From the ridge, looking to the west on a clear, sunny, breezy, and very cold morning. I was expecting this, prepared perhaps to come, see, conquer and retire from the field immediately. But I donned my rain shell over four layers of padding, zipped it to the chin, and it broke the wind enough that I was able to perch in the lee of one of those rocks and eat my apple.

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Did the Hidden Villa detour on the way down, rather sparsely populated. I guess everyone sleeps late on the holiday. I always feel like these people are grinches: big signs everywhere about all the things you’re not allowed to do, and then at the bottom, the word, Enjoy! Reminds me of airlines who go through the long list of mandatories and forbiddens and conclude without a trace of irony that the skies are friendly.

Met a couple at the windmill pasture who were looking for a good hike, recommended Black mountain trail out and back, as far as they had time and energy, and assured them that the chances of encountering a mountain lion were negligible. I hope I was right. (Well, I know I was right: negligible probability. But if there really was a lion nearby somewhere… well, I’d be sorry I hadn’t seen it myself.)

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At the bottom of Chamise trail is a dam, whose basin has been dry for as long as I can remember. Today it is not only full, but overflowing the spillway. A wonderful sight!

Talked with a man who had come here just to see the pond, and walked with him back to the parking area. Only 2 PM, only 16+ miles (3700 vertical feet). Lots of people out by this time, everyone enjoying a wonderful day.

A tale of two Saturdays

January 27, 2013

Saturday 19 January 2013

I hiked Rancho San Antonio today, one I don’t do very often because it’s always busy and crowded, and I like to get out away from things. Off at the far corner of the park is a fire road (Black Mountain road) that goes to the top of the ridge.

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Here’s the view from the top, in various directions. My friend Shan was in town during the following week. We walked along the levee trail in Shoreline park, and she asked where I had been last weekend. I pointed to the ridgetop, here.

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The outcroppings provide a good place to sit, soak up photons and calories, and enjoy the day.

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It is not crispy crystal clear, but that variegated blue stuff below the sky is the Pacific ocean. Looking further down, we see the Christmas tree farm near the Long Ridge open space preserve, which was the destination of my killer hike last weekend.

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I like to add on Hidden Villa as a side trip, an anastomosis in the trail, if you will. It turns an industrial-grade hike into a semi-killer hike (less than 20 miles, but 4200 vertical feet of gain). The trail maps of Rancho San Antonio do not show the connector trails going into the Hidden Villa, but there are signs at the trail junctions.

Mid-November is about the latest time at which we ever find tarantulas. But I found one today, dead on the trail. It was in reasonably good condition, surely not two months dead. Interesting!

There is a Bunny trail here. I have noticed the signs before, and wondered whether this is the simple loop for small children. Later, I discovered that it is named after the nearby Bunny creek, and from the topo map, it does not appear to be a wimpy trail at all. Maybe next time, I’ll check it out.

Hidden Villa has a slightly wetter and perhaps warmer climate than Rancho, and spring is in evidence.

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On the fenceposts, low patches of moss, but sprouting ambitiously.

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In contrast to the springy environment above, many of the low areas back in Rancho San Antonio were still heavy white with frost, the puddles hard frozen, even in mid-afternoon. Where the sun never shines….

Saturday 26 January 2013

I thought I would hike from Mission peak over to Sunol today. It was a chilly, foggy day when I started, but warm enough on the uphill (3 miles, average grade 1 in 6) that I stowed the jackets in my backpack, and climbed in shirtsleeves.

The trail was wetter than I had expected, and that made it more work. Consider the extra effort of unsticking a boot from the mud on each step, sliding backward a little with each step and having to recover both the distance and the balance. It adds up. I’m still optimistic about the day clearing up, but maybe I won’t go all the way to Sunol.

The fog got thicker as I got higher up, and near the ridgetop, the wind picked up, the air filled with tiny icy pricklets of water. Stopped to put on a jacket.

The weather continued to deteriorate. Not really rain, in the sense of large drops, but so much water in the air that everything was instantly wet. Heavy condensation on my glasses. Strong, cold wind.

The fog was so thick that I missed the trail turnoff to go down the backside of the hill, and found myself at the top instead. Maybe discretion is the better part, and all that, so I went on across the top and down the heavily trafficked main trail. At least I have adequate clothing, although a pair of gloves would have been welcome. I couldn’t believe the day hikers wearing tee shirts up here!

The main trail is mostly rock and gravel, so not as treacherous as the muddy Horse Heaven uphill trail. But near the bottom, I skidded out and fell in the mud. Messy!

When I got to the car, I spread my jacket over the seat as protection for the upholstery, muddy side up. At home, I unloaded the backpack and the few things that hadn’t gotten muddy, then went into the little utility room off the garage, stripped down and washed mud off everything. Finally, into the shower to wash the mud off the David.

As it happened, I chose the worst direction to go this morning. In every direction I looked, except the southeast, the sky was blue and clear. The rest of the bay area was having a terrific day. So I went out and wandered around town, where spring is indeed peeking out all over.

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