Posts Tagged ‘killer hike’

Montebello-Saratoga gap killer hike

March 16, 2014

Sunday, 16 March 2014

With the recent knee trouble, and two solid weeks of conferences, I am a little out of shape. But I got in two runs last week, and spent Saturday on an open space volunteer day effort. (That last may or may not have improved my conditioning.)

I first thought to hike Mission peak to Sunol, but the return trip down the front side of Mission peak is not for questionable knees. So I went to Montebello instead. Last time I drove up a mountain road in the dark, I almost hit a deer. So I took it pretty easy — unlike the guy who roared up behind me, passed like a bat as soon as I pulled over, and disappeared into the distance. His lucky day; I never saw him again.

Got to the top just as the sun rose. Left the car along the road, because the gates weren’t open yet.

There were three coyotes wandering through the parking lot. They left when I headed their direction. Half a mile further along, three deer. But the most prolific of the local wildlife was the newts. I lost count somewhere north of 30.

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I pop dead bark off the fallen trees, hoping against hope to find a scorpion. No luck, but I found one of those tiny almost legless salamanders, and a beetle who’s perfectly happy standing on his buddy’s head.

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A pretty day, warm in the sun, cool and pleasant in the breeze and the shade. Fog over the ocean, so there was no crisp blue horizon off in that direction.

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At my second calorie stop, I met Logan and Sean. Logan would be somewhere around 4 years old, I suppose. His father Sean had relocated back here from the LA area, had worked search and rescue in some previous life, but wasn’t 100% familiar with this area. Not sure whether his S&R experience was a long time ago, or just somewhere else.

I told him my itinerary, estimated it as about 18 miles (wrong: 20 miles, 3700 vertical feet). He said, if he ever tried to do a hike that long, he’d end up crying like a baby. “I’m considering it,” said I.

There was as much pain as I needed, certainly. And I always run short of water, even on a comparatively cool day. Still, it feels great to be outdoors and feels even better to have a shower and a brew back home.

Rose peak

October 7, 2012

We start with two pictures of the garden spider outside the kitchen window. Very colorful, but as we see in the second picture, he (definitely a he!) is a shameless exhibitionist!

We’re shocked! shocked! or well, I suppose we ought to be.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

I spent most of today buying a Kia Soul+. How long does it take to buy a car? Longer than you would think… I did get a loaner from the dealer and disappeared for a few hours to get a new battery for my watch, and get a computer for my new bicycle. But if I had intended to do anything else today, well, it didn’t happen.

Nice car. The first automatic transmission I have ever owned. Six speeds, better gas mileage than the manual, which is not available on this particular model.

Sunday, 7 October

No exercise yesterday, so I’ll do the Rose Peak killer hike that I deferred last weekend because of hundred-degree temperatures in the east bay. I haven’t been here since May, and I had remembered that the gates didn’t open at a reasonable hour. So I got there a few minutes after 7, and the gates only open at 8.

Preposterous!

Drove up Welch Creek road, which I also remember as suboptimal. Yes, well, it’s one lane (if you like narrow lanes) and mostly blind. Not a good choice. But I parked at the lower Eagle View trailhead, and was on the trail by about 7:40.

The commercials always feature their car in some exotic adventure locale. Well, why not? Here’s the clean and shiny new Kia, looking better than it ever will again, high above Sunol.

An hour later, along Cerro Este road:

She was out of her den, sunning herself. “Please god, send me a horny male,” she thought. And the next thing she knew, there was Dave, taking pictures and being a general nuisance.

She retreated into her burrow. “Clarification: please god, send me a horny male tarantula.”

A sexy rear-view shot. Tarantulas rub hairs off their abdomens in defence. The little clouds of hairs cause distress in the nasal passages or eyes of predators. She has a fairly bare rump. I wonder if this is how she fights off horny males of the wrong species.

Today’s only other interesting small animal was a beautiful gopher snake.

Dry grass, not a whole lot of animal life. When I was last in the east bay, in early or mid September, there were only one or two early calves among the free-range cattle. Today, almost every cow has a calf, and the calves are old enough that the cows are beginning to lose their agressive protectiveness.

When I came over a little rise, three turkey vultures flew up and started circling. Circling me! Ha! Optimists.

But after a while, I saw a dead cow, and it was upwind. Fortunately the trail turned off a hundred meters away, so it was only mildly unpleasant, instead of revolting.

The scream!

There is a section of trail that runs along the clifftop, and it slopes outward. Nothing below the trail but low bush, probably enough to catch a hiker who slipped, but I can certainly imagine a horse sliding on over the edge, and maybe a bike, too. Part of this trail is loose, steep and narrow, and is bordered with poison oak. Not really the best place to hike.

This is the first time I have done Rose Peak from the top of Welch Creek road. I had originally thought it would be substantially less work than the usual route from Sunol park headquarters. When I got back to the car, I was dragging my butt, and thought I was more out of shape than usual. But the GPS tells me it was 19.7 miles, while the normal route is only a shade more than 19 miles, and both routes include 5 000 feet of vertical gain.

A good day. Home for a shower, after which Jacky and I drove the new car to Menlo Park and wandered around looking for a restaurant. Found a Polish place on a side street, pretty good.

Some of us are seriously spoiled!