Posts Tagged ‘Mindego hill’

New boots, day 2: Industrial grade hike

November 13, 2016

Sunday, 13 Nov 2016

REI had an offer of 20% off more or less anything. I like my boots, but they’re getting to the point that I can see air through the bottom. Asked the REI clerk if I could get the same thing again, and I pretty much did. 20% off a pair of boots is a noticeable amount of money.

Saturday’s volunteer project was about 5 miles of hiking, something over a thousand feet of vertical gain, a good opportunity to check out the boots.


Monterey cypresses, clearly planted by someone who presumably lived here back in the day.


We had lunch under a big broken redwood, the side branch showing evidence that it has been broken off and regrown several times.


The crew, photographed by Ellen as we started back to the car. Dave, Lynn, Doug, Scott, Bill, Miki.

Sunday, I thought I’d do a longer hike. Russian Ridge, for example. 18 miles, 3100 vertical feet. Industrial strength hike, not a killer.

On Mindego Road trail, I saw a bobcat. It stopped long enough to check me out, then went on its way.


Spent much of the day looking for purple star thistle (above), removing all I found. Yes, I could wait a few months, while more of it germinated, but I might as well stay ahead of it as best I can. Also worked on bull thistle; mostly too late for this season, but many of the seeds are sprouting, and it’s also worth keeping ahead of next season’s crop.


Fog over the ocean, but here it was a beautiful day, just about perfect. View from the top of Mindego Hill.

A 3-inch Douglas fir had fallen across Charquin trail. That’s small enough I can saw it off and clear the trail.

I found thistle in small clusters in a number of places, and had a chance to talk with a number of visitors as I worked on it. Collected some fresh purple star flowers and seed in a trash bag for landfill disposal.


As the day wended its way along, the afternoon light became horizontal. Here, a pretty area along the aptly named Ancient Oaks trail.


A late look at Mindego Hill, from whose summit I took the first picture of the day.


Oh, yes, the new boots. Tired feet, but that’s hardly unexpected. I think they and I will become good friends.

Mindego Hill, volunteer day

April 26, 2014

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Another volunteer day, this one at Mindego hill, an open area that became part of the open space system a few years ago, but has been closed to public use while they get things sorted out. I always walk out to the closed gate when I hike Russian Ridge. In the early days, a sign on the gate said, “Keep out, unless you can run faster than the brahma bull!”

It is still closed to public use. We are building trails. The trails will need to mellow for a year, but they hope to open them to general use in 2015. One of the nice things about volunteering is the opportunity to see places that are not generally accessible.


Today’s volunteer crew. Ellen is the volunteer program coordinator, white jacket just right of center. Several of the others are frequent volunteers, and as always, there are a few newbies. Welcome, all.


Looking up the hill, we can see the new trail switching back and forth. A shortcut for the motor cart goes up more directly, but it will not be part of the finished project. We need the motor cart to take supplies up the hill.


We car-pooled in a couple of the open space vehicles, collected shovels and hammers and what-not, and started up the hill.


I joined two others installing what are called wattles, these cylinders of straw wrapped in burlap. They are staked down on the broken earth across the steeper grades to retard the flow of runoff, thereby to prevent erosion. The other volunteers were deputized to strew straw beside the trail, also to reduce erosion.


We used up all the stakes battening down wattles, about the time our compatriots used up the straw that had been delivered to a staging point halfway up the hill. We broke for lunch, hiked to the top of the hill.


Terrific views in all directions. That blue stuff over there is the ocean.


We stopped on the way back down to clear out some fennel (much like dill: smells wonderful!), which will take over an area if it gets the chance. Narrow-bladed shovels to try to get the roots out, but as one of the shovelers, I can attest that the roots go a long way down, and sometimes cutting or breaking the roots was the best we could do.


One of the guys discovered a centipede (1 pair of legs per segment).


As a special treat, we went down to Mindego pond, where a USGS master’s degree student told us about his research project on the San Francisco garter snake, found in comparative abundance here.


Abundance means he has caught 17 of them so far. Actually, that’s pretty good.


His snake trap; a long vertical wall uphill from the trap steers snakes and other creatures into the trap. The ball is used to plug up the entrance on days when he isn’t here to inspect and empty the trap, to avoid the possibility that something gets trapped and can’t survive a delay. Next to the ball, we see a soaked green sponge, which allows amphibians that may get caught to avoid dessication.


There are said to be red-legged frogs here, and one of the research topics is whether the frogs eat the snakes or vice versa, or maybe neither or both. We didn’t see any of them, but there were a few California tree frogs around. My colleague’s boot gives an idea how small they are.

Another terrific day.

Small animals, at home and abroad

May 18, 2013

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The several mommy long-legs in the garage have produced half a dozen litters. Nice to watch them.



Saturday, I thought I would leave the car at Palo Alto Foothills park and hike to Skyline from there. But the gate was closed when I got there, and parking on the road is verboten. So I drove up Page Mill to Montebello, where the gate was also closed, but it’s legal to park roadside. Just 7 when I started out, on a chilly, sunny day.


From this view, you would never know there’s a drought!

Because this is not to be a long loop, I can do some of the infill trails today, trails that I rarely see. We start with a brief detour to the pond near Alpine road. The trail map just calls it Pond, no name.


I have never been here before; I bet nine people out of eight don’t even know it’s here. I walked most of the way around, until the un-trail disappeared completely, then bushwhacked back up the hill to the real trail.

Several of the other less commonly used trails were also knee high with vegetation, and I stopped at the Russian ridge gate to check for ticks.

Three in my socks. Here’s one that I picked out and deposited on the fence post for photos.



Interesting that this little parasite has its own little parasite, high on the left shoulder. I cannot feel very sympathetic.


I also found a tick on my knee, heading north at full speed. Here we have a female eager to get into my pants. Sounds good, but not this kind of female.


I have always wondered how they manage to crawl around on your skin without you feeling it. And in these close-up shots, I see droplets exuding from the feet — I bet they secrete an anaesthetic onto the host’s skin! How about that for unexpected!


Here (below) is another tick from later. This seems quite different from the one above, which is in turn quite different from the one on the fence post. All told, I encountered six today, three in my socks, two on my legs, one in my hand. Of course, it’s the ones I didn’t see that are the real concern.


I’m glad the bay area is not plagued with serious tick-borne disease!

There was a nice collection of other interesting wildlife, as I wandered Russian ridge, including a walk out to the end of the Mindego hill road, to see whether they have opened a trail to the top of the hill (they haven’t) .







I spotted a spider stalking a little leafhopper kind of thing. Life and death drama here, so of course I watched.


When the spider pounced, I could actually hear a little plop as it landed. No more leafhopper!




Ever been grinned at by a spider?


This bee really gets into his work!


At Alpine pond, scum on the water, but clearly not random. I am reminded of Golgi bodies in histology, but have no idea what this would be. Interesting. The nature center was open; they had scooped some water from the pond, and captured a dragonfly nymph. The volunteer said the nymphs take two years before maturing into dragonflies. Who would have thought!

In the spirit of picking up some of the side trails that I don’t see very often, I hiked down the old Page Mill road trail until it ended. My new shoes are hurting my feet — that’s not good. Applied some moleskin and gritted my teeth.


My bod is so attractive, it’s just irresistible!

Near Horseshoe lake, I saw coloured ribbons marking the trail, and there was a sign about an ultramarathon here tomorrow.  Probably as well I came here today.

Hot, tired and sore by the time I got back to the car, but it was a pretty good day.