Posts Tagged ‘Los Trancos OSP’

Springy day

March 8, 2015

Sunday, 8 March 2015

After almost seven hours attacking broom at Purisima yesterday, I wasn’t sure I would be up for a killer hike today. So I parked at Palo Alto Foothills park and hiked up the hill and around a loop comprising Los Trancos open space preserve, Montebello, Coal Creek, Russian Ridge, Skyline Ridge and back through Montebello and Los Trancos. Turned out to be 19.7 miles, killer distance, but only 3500 vertical feet.

The adventures began as I parked the car: two deer browsing in the woods just above the parking area. I crossed the hill and down into Wild Horse valley, where I found a bull turkey showing off. Jacky says it should be called a Tom, but she didn’t see how big it was !



Do you suppose he knows how delicious he looks?


“Just ignore him, Margaret, he’ll go away.”


None of us males really looks that great from directly to the rear!


At Los Trancos, I was happy to see that the bridge whose pending destruction I had flagged in January (above) has been rescued (below).



Not quite so happy to see that a downed tree I had also reported in January is still there. I’ll report it again.

The wildflowers are out in profusion. Very nice.




Near the bottom of Meadow trail in Coal Creek OSP, I saw what I think was a mountain lion. Only a second, and I didn’t get a good luck, but it was dark, bigger than a deer or a coyote or a bobcat, low to the ground, and running, rather than bounding along the way deer do. The only other possibility I can think of is a wild pig, but a) I have never seen one on the peninsula, b) it was making less noise than I would expect from a wild pig, and c) at this time of year, it probably wouldn’t have been alone.


Russian Ridge, Mindego hill to the left, fog over the ocean. Very nice.

Insects are beginning to feed on the California poppy blossoms. I looked for yellow or orange spiders lurking to feed on the insects, but didn’t see any. Well, it is early in the season yet. They’ll be around shortly.





I was reading a book set in Sweden recently, in which the protagonist watches carefully for the first butterfly of spring. The species was an omen of good or ill fortune. No chance here! I saw practically every kind of butterfly we ever have, even including a swallowtail. Impressive.

Also found an empty cicada shell on a blade of grass.


Confirmed wildlife sighting: a gopher, Russian Ridge. Not as exciting as a mountain lion, but I take what I can get.




This wildlife camera is at the top of Los Trancos trail in Foothills park. I suppose it took a picture of my mid-section.

I found a big blossomy broom near here, stopped at the gate when I got back to the car to tell the ranger about it. Don’t know whether they’ll do anything, but it doesn’t hurt to let them know.

Quite a day for mini-adventures. Great to be out, even if my feet are sore.

Bagging OSPs

July 13, 2014

Saturday, 12 July 2014

I had signed up for a volunteer project at Los Trancos open space preserve, but it ran from 9:30 to 2:30. I’m much earlier than that. Also, I’m in the process of hiking all of the trails in all of the Mid-peninsula regional open space district preserves. What could be more obvious? As soon as I had finished breakfast, I drove up the hill.


On the trail by 7 AM. Cool and pleasant, a little fog on this side of the ridge, probably indicating heavy fog and overcast on the ocean side.

As I came around a curve in the trail, something dark ran across and down into the wood below. Too small to be a mountain lion, deer or coyote. The idea that came to mind was fox, and I did indeed see a fox around here once, many years ago. Not sure.


By 9:30, I had hiked most of the trail, not all. The picture above shows the kind of thing I look for on trail patrol: fallen trees that block part or all of the path. My disreputable hat is to provide a sense of scale when the open space maintenance people look at the picture.

From the main parking area, the 9:30 volunteer group car-pooled down to the low end of the preserve and spent several hours working on yellow-star thistle. I did a yellow-star thistle project in another preserve, a year ago, and found it very discouraging because there was so much of it. Today’s area was first attacked eight years ago, and we were sweeping through open grassland looking for stragglers. And finding them, but few enough that we covered a lot of ground.


Paul (above) discovered two straw mantis, and I found another. We would never see them if they didn’t move.

When finally we gave up for today, I skipped the car-pool, hiked back to the parking area. On the way back, the same (probably) fox was on the trail, ran along a hundred yard ahead of me for several seconds. Big bushy tail, as large as the rest of the animal. No question what it was. Cool!

Through judicious choice of trail, the afternoon return completes my effort to hike all the trails in this preserve (some of them three times over!). About 11.5 miles for the day, about 2000 feet of climb.

Sunday, 13 July

There is more low-hanging fruit in the idea of hiking all the trails in particular preserves. I started today by parking at the bottom of Old La Honda road and covering the Thornewood preserve.


Yet another cool start in a beautiful mostly redwoods forest. The red in the distance is mostly poison oak, already calling it quits for the season. There are only two official trails in this preserve, plus a small lake, but there were a lot of side trails, and a pair of trails that are officially closed, although still showing evidence of use. I covered the entire place in considerable detail. A pretty place, although there are stream crossings that could be completely impassable in a wet winter.

Then I drove to Stevens Canyon park, where I left the car at the foot of the Bear Meadow trail in the Picchetti Ranch open space preserve. Hot and dry, nothing like as cool and pretty as Thornewood. I met a couple California forest fire fighters checking out the trail; I suppose they also explore to familiarize themselves with the terrain.


Near the top, a view over the industrial quarry next to the zillion-dollar homes along Montebello road.


The Picchetti winery still operates as a leasehold from the open space district. I stopped in to refill my badly depleted water bottle, with many thanks!


They have a fair number of picnic tables here. One group spread out a picnic lunch and went inside for a little wine tasting. When you put out a picnic, you expect to have guests, right? Right.



I was busy photographing the proceedings, not intervening, but one of the picnickers came out to rescue the food before it had been irretrievably lost.


This area is heavily infested with yellow-star thistle.


There are several insects that help control it. One of them is a weevil, of which we found a specimen yesterday (looking more like a large tick). There is also a peacock fly that does yeoman duty, but this turns out not to be one of them. They are said to have striped wings, and this little guy doesn’t qualify.


I returned along Zinfandel trail, quite pretty.


The trail back down left me a quarter mile from the trail up, where my car was, so there was a short walk along the road.

It was only 1 or so, but it was a hot day, I had put in another 11.5 miles, 2000 vertical feet, and the water bottle was empty. So instead of going on to another preserve, I called it a day. There are 26 preserves total, but I certainly won’t be able to knock off 3 every weekend!

Where hath summer gone?

August 11, 2013

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Before talking about today’s hike, I thought it would be fun to post a picture Jacky took with her phone when we were in downtown Palo Alto the other evening.


I don’t know exactly what I would do with one free shoe, but I suppose they are aiming at the market of three-footed people that like to ski.

On Saturday, I volunteered at the open space district’s Deer Hollow Farm. Helped build some benches for the 4-year olds to sit on during the ranger talks.

Sunday, I left the car at Foothills park, hiked up the hill to Los Trancos open space preserve, then to Montebello, Alpine road, Russian ridge, Skyline ridge and back through Montebello. Almost 19 miles, almost 4000 vertical feet. Not quite a killer hike, but then, it has been several weeks since I did a really serious hike.


Only the middle of August, but it’s definitely getting late in summer. Admittedly, poison oak starts turning red very early, but there’s at least as much red as green now. Interesting how it changes. Above, for example, we see one leaf that has been thrown under the bus while its erstwhile buddies busy themselves rearranging the deck chairs.

Some leaves fade uniformly, some go blotchy red and green.


It’s also quite common to see the skeleton of the leaf remaining green, while the web turns red. I thought I had seen one with a red skeleton and green web, but that makes no sense, so I must have imagined it.


I saw two tarantula wasps. One of these days, I’ll see a tarantula. Then we’ll know it’s fall, for sure.



Some pretty late-summer vegetation, seeds and fluff.






The view toward the coast from the top of Borel hill, with Mindego hill to the right of the picture. It is not unusual to see fog lying over the ocean, but the brown fog on the left half of the picture suggests there is a wildfire down there somewhere in the Pescadero-Butano area.

The view 180 degrees away, over the bay, was similar. It’s not unusual to see bad air pushed by the prevailing winds into the south end of the valley over San Jose, but San Jose’s air looked pretty good today, brown air further north.


I stopped at Alpine pond to soak up calories and refill the water bottle. Nice flowers!





Back across Skyline, in Montebello OSP, I saw this butterfly limping — I can think of no other description — across the trail. It was not obviously damaged or injured. When I get it up on the big screen, I see it’s wet. I think it must have just emerged from its cocoon, and was hoping to survive Dave’s boots until its wings stiffened up and it could learn to fly.


The stream was so dry that it only drip-drip-dripped, enough to keep the surface of this little pond constantly agitated. The water striders take it all in stride.


A dead oak lending majesty to a marshy pond at the top of Canyon trail, near Page Mill road.

I like summer, but I certainly had no complaints about today.