Posts Tagged ‘MROSD’

Baylanding and the new library

November 9, 2014

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Now that I have completed the anvil trails challenge, I get to kick back and take it easy for one weekend (hard work on yesterday’s volunteer project notwithstanding). I had agreed to go out to the Ravenswood open space preserve to photograph and geo-tag actual and potential artifacts that might turn into memorials for various people associated with the open space district. Especially donors, of course.

Cooley landing, N viewing platform

Did it on my bike. Found a number of pretty classy places, although the one above is a long way out on an unpaved dead-end trail.

Cooley landing Bench 5

This one is fifty feet from the parking lot. Much easier to auction off!

Dumbarton overlook 2

The preserve exists in two non-contiguous chunks; the first two photos are from Cooley Landing; this one comes from the old Cargill salt pond SF2 near the Dumbarton bridge. It has been extensively reworked as a wildlife refuge.

Then I went on up the shore past Menlo Park. The salt ponds further up are still mined, but I contented myself with a look at the old one that may someday be actively reclaimed as wildlife refuge, and meanwhile is just a place where the wildlife takes refuge without benefit of taxpayer dollars, the Ravenswood slough.


Salt crystallized along the shore. The buildings of Sun Quentin in the background (that’s a local joke).


Beautiful in its own way. The reddish streaks would be algae.



A tumbleweed lands along the shore and is preserved forever in a shell of salt!


Brine flies. I can’t tell whether the little green specks are also insects, but they might be.

Home for lunch.

Mitchell park library

Then I decided to visit the newly opened Mitchell Park library. The official grand opening is planned for December, but they informally opened the doors early to shake the bugs out. Or something. This is a $28 million dollar boondoggle ($4M over budget, 2 years late — and why should a library cost $24M in the first place?). Ought to be pretty nice.

It takes an hour to walk there. That is hardly their fault! I walk past the parking lot, looking for the main entrance. Go around the side in the other parking area, to discover it’s just service access. The main entrance is off the first parking lot. Of course! How could I have expected it to be pedestrian oriented?

Some of the exterior walls are really attractive, flowing dark red, looking like slate. Tap them with a knuckle, and they reveal themselves to be anodized panels. Had they actually been slate, I suppose there would have been another $4M overrun.

In the entry courtyard, there is a slot for book return. There are also two screens where you can… what? … return your books? That’s how it looks: I can’t imagine why dropping books in the slot is somehow less than sufficient. That’s what I did, anyway!

Indoors: lots and lots of open space. No crowding here. The ground floor is dedicated to children, including teens, and to media (by observation, we see that paper is not a medium). It would appear to be dumbed down to get people to at least come in the door. This would be in Palo Alto, the alleged intellectual center of the world?

Upstairs, where we actually find books, we don’t find many. The aisles are short and wide, the shelves are maybe half full. We hope this is just because the staff hasn’t had time to move all the books from storage and from the temporary library yet.

And then there’s the other half of the building, a community centre and a cafe. I saved those for later, or maybe never.

Count me underwhelmed.

We’re all doing what we can …

September 25, 2014

Nice to be able to help someone.

Hi Dave,

I wanted to forward you the attached message we received from the 2 hikers you assisted at ECdM.

Outstanding job Dave!! You really went above and beyond and made quite an impression on these 2 sisters. This is the type of message every agency dreams of receiving from their constituents.

Congrats on a job well done.

Volunteer Program Manager
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
330 Distel Circle, Los Altos, CA 94022

To Whom It May Concern:

My sister and I went for a hike at El Corte de Madera Creek this past Sunday. We left from Skeggs Point and planned to do a loop hike. Along the way, we inadvertently took the Methuselah Trail instead of the Manzanita Trail as we had planned and found ourselves exhausted and lost after more than 5 hours of hiking. We knew we had gone wrong but didn’t know exactly where. We had the good fortune of crossing paths with a trail volunteer on patrol. His name is Dave Hood.

Dave offered to lead us back to the Resolution Trail junction where we could then pick up the Fir Trail and head back to Skeggs Point. By the time we crossed paths with Dave, I was exhausted and had to stop every 5 minutes or so to catch my breath. He could see we were struggling and knew the return trek was long and all uphill. He told us he was heading down the Giant Salamander Trail and when he was able to get phone reception, he would call for a Ranger to pick us up along a fire road. We hiked along a little longer and then shortly after the volunteer, Dave Hood, reappeared. He had accurately determined that my sister and I needed help sooner rather than later. He had managed to hike to a clearing to call for a Ranger before he started on his own hike along the Giant Salamander Trail.

Dave Hood, was so kind. He replenished our water bottles, offered the use of his walking sticks and waited with us until the Ranger arrived. We never would have made it without him. He was calm, patient, reassuring and knowledgeable. He was a welcome presence. I called him my Guardian Angel.

I hope any other hiker who runs into trouble meets up with someone like Dave. He came from out of nowhere and we are ever so thankful that he did. Please thank him from the bottom of our hearts. I’m sure he will remember the two sisters who lost their way!


[I deleted their names to respect their privacy]

Top o’ the Page Mill to ye

August 16, 2014

Saturday, 16 August 2014

I was on the job at Los Trancos open space preserve a few minutes before 7, Dave the volunteer, ready to attack the yellow star thistle along Page Mill trail.



But first, I check out a tiny moth, which was itself checking out one of the flowers.

I have two buckets for YST, and spent two hours filling them, without getting out of sight of my car. There’s a lot of that stuff around. Tramping through tall grass trying to find it. Many of the stalks have faded to a reddish yellow, so they’re harder to spot; many of the flower heads have already fallen off, and many others fell off just from being waved around when I uprooted them. In this particular microclimate, I think the season for picking them is over.

Which is fine. It gets pretty old.

After dumping the dregs into a covered compost heap, I hiked most of the remaining trails in Montebello open space preserve, and crossed Skyline into Skyline Ridge open space preserve, where I hiked as far south as the stand where they will sell chestnuts in a few months. There are a few picnic tables nearby, one of which was in the shade, a nice place to soak up some calories.

On the way back, I hiked all of the grid of trails that runs through the christmas tree farm, and around Horseshoe lake (below).


Skid Road trail returns on the Montebello side, where a family of wild turkeys crossed the trail ahead of me. The turkey chick is as big as a full-grown chicken.




I have mentioned previously that, to hike all of a given set of trails, it is very often necessary to hike a given segment twice, not unusual to do it three times, and sometimes four times. My route took me up the White Oaks trail, past the parking lot (where I tanked up with water that I had left in the car), then back down along some of the trails I had already done this morning.


Back on Canyon trail, where a former lake is now a marsh and will be a meadow on of these years. Beautiful pure white skeleton of a tree across the way that might have drowned in the lake (assuming the lake was created by a dam).

There were more trails I could have hiked, but I drained the last of my water as I got back to the parking lot, so I said 14.5 miles, 1900 feet of climb, was enough for today.

A weekend in the open space

June 8, 2014

Saturday, 7 June 2014

I volunteered for a trail maintenance day at the Chestnut orchard trail. Here’s the orchard, near where we parked, and where we later had lunch. It was a hot day, but fortunately, most of the trail we maintained was down in the shade, much cooler than the area around these chestnut trees.


When a trail is first built, it is graded into an L shape as it goes across grades; over the course of time, the angle in the L fills in with silt and duff, so it looks more like a J. Most of what we were doing was cleaning out the angle of the L, effectively widening the trail. They call it duffing, so I suppose that makes us duffers.

We also created or improved drainages on the low side of the trail, so it won’t become a mudpot during the winter. Hard work.

Sunday, 8 June

Today was the second of two training sessions for the open space district volunteer trail patrol. It was at the top of Page Mill, only a mile or two from yesterday’s trail work.


Being an early person, I went on up as soon as I finished breakfast. The photo is the pond at the Daniels nature center, Page Mill and Skyline.

I am also signing up for what they call the ARMS program: advanced resource management stewards, so I met with Ellen for ARMS training. It went pretty fast, because much of the detail overlaps with the volunteer work I have already been doing. But now I have my own weed wrench, along with a khaki vest and a name tag, and permission to uproot all the weeds I like. I must be crazy.

The training session started at 10, so I went for a hike on the Russian Ridge trails. The loop was just a little too long to get back in time, and I was running … when some other hikers called my attention to a dark area in the shadow. Glad I stopped!





I didn’t really want to take the time to wait for this guy to move on, so I went around it on the trail. It coiled into a striking position and rattled at me, but didn’t strike.

That was my excuse for being 3 minutes late to the start of the training session.


After an hour or so of classroom material, we went out, where Paul, the volunteer coordinator, rode past several times against a radar gun, to give us some feel for what the 15-mph speed limit means.


Then we went out on the trail where we play-acted several scenarios of the type that we may experience as trail patrollers. They emphasize training for emergency situations. Of course, the odds of actually encountering an emergency situation are pretty low, but we need to be prepared, just in case.

Not a whole lot of lower body exercise this weekend: maybe 10 miles, 1500 vertical feet, but I’m now an official volunteer. For whatever that’s worth.