Posts Tagged ‘Purisima Creek Redwoods’

New camera, new boots, giant salamander, banana slug porn: Purisima

June 3, 2013

I found this beautiful little guy, with the bug eyes, on the window frame outside the back door.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

It was to be a hot day again, so I went out fairly early, drove up the hill to  Purisima Redwoods open space preserve. I took no jacket, and it was foggy. Thought I might have a problem with chill and rain, but the parking lot was above the fog, and as I descended the west side of the ridge, the fog burned away before me. Cool all day, very nice.


I am experimenting with the new camera. What can it do?


I have to say, I’m not disappointed.




I often hike Purisima as an add-on to a hike that comes up from the east side of the ridge, making it a killer hike. And as part of a killer hike, I don’t explore the side trails.

But today, with only Purisima on my plate, I decided to hike up Borden Hatch Mill trail and back down Grabtown Gulch trail, an add-on of 4 miles, 1000 feet of climb. That makes the total 15 miles, 3600 feet of climb. Too bad I also didn’t bring along any calories. By the time I got back to the parking lot, I was dragging a little.


But I’m very glad I did the detour. I have been looking for a giant salamander for years, and have only ever found one before, incidentally, also here at Purisima. On today’s detour, what should I find but my second one ever! Cool!


A millipede crossed directly under the salamander’s nose. I thought for a moment that the salamander might lunch on it, but they ignored each other completely. This could have been because the salamander was wary of me, or it could have been because millipedes taste horrible. I posted six seconds of rather poor video here.

There is a Giant Salamander trail at El Corte de Madera open space preserve, just a bit further along the ridge, but Corte Madera is mountain bike heaven, and Darwin probably doesn’t favor a strategy of freezing in place when a threat comes along.

As I topped out on the climb and started down Grabtown Gulch trail, I came upon a pair of banana slugs engaged in heavy making out. I watched them for quite a while, but they had more patience than I did, and they never consummated the relationship, not while I was watching.


You need to understand two things about banana slugs: first, they are hermaphrodites; second, the genital opening (anal as well) is there toward the rear of the carapace. So chasing each other’s tails around in circles is just foreplay.

What I don’t know is whether they fertilize each other, or whether the eggs mature at different times, so that one of them plays the role of female in a given mating.


What they do is stroke each other with their mouths, from the carapace along the side of the body, all the way back. I suppose this is immensely erotic for both parties.





If their faces (such as they are)  accidentally come into contact, they pull in their horns and swerve away. No kissing.

Well, as I say, they had all day, and I fully sympathize with the joy of taking all the time in the world. But I didn’t have all the time in the world, so I eventually went on.


Came upon another pair later on, curled up tight. Maybe this couple is consummating their relationship? No, don’t think so.


At least the view into the genital pore shows something. Eggs, maybe?

I also shot a lot of video footage, which I may use if I ever see a pair actually concluding The Act.


The fog had burned off to the coast, and while it was still chilly in the shade, it was warm in the sun. Still experimenting with the camera, I shot this butterfly from a distance of five or six feet.


I had also stowed my Birkenstocks in my backpack, in case the new hiking boots were going to be recalcitrant, but they were okay.

Hiking Huddart, Phleger, Purisima

February 2, 2013

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Left the car halfway up Kings Mountain road, as usual. Hiked downhill to Richards road trail, around the outermost trails of Phleger estate, then up to Kings Mountain village, where I refilled the water bottle.

Went along the trails that parallel Skyline boulevard to the north parking lot of Purisima Redwoods open space preserve, then down the west side of the ridge, and looped back on Craig Britton trail, which runs across more or less halfway up the ridge.


It was getting on toward noon, but fog still lay heavy over the coast, and it was drifting up the valley toward the ridge.


The trail was near the fog boundary. Sometimes wisps of fog would drift across the trail and vanish before my very eyes as the fog evaporated. Further on, further up, it was sunny.


How often do you see a black mushroom? Well, actually, there are lots of black fungi around, but very few of them are conical.


The wildflowers are getting started.


All of these photos came from the west side of the ridge. The east side is nowhere near as interesting, presumably because it gets less precipitation.


17 miles, 3500 feet of climb, nice day.

Grant ranch: Mountain lion!

August 11, 2012

No, this is not a mountain lion.

As a continuing part of recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, I had it in mind to try Grant Ranch this weekend, try to get in more than ten miles and more than two thousand feet of gain. It has been hot, so I started early. Parked at Grant lake, hit the trail about 7:20. Glad I didn’t wait until later; it was hot enough!

There was enough pain in my ankle that I considered whether to turn back, but decided to keep going. Pain is not the problem, as long as I’m not damaging myself. Even so, I decided to skip the line shack, which I had first imagined as my destination. When I reached the ridge at the top of Halls Valley trail, I turned south rather than north. There are additional trails leading back down into the valley if I need them.

Stopped for calories along the ridge, and spotted a coyote out foraging for its own calorie fix. They are usually quick to dart away, but I remained quiet and moved slowly, and was able to shoot a few pictures.

My ankle was not complaining too much, so I went on to the road crossing at Twin Gates. Here I decided that discretion would be the better part of valour, so I descended on Cañada de Pala trail. As I came around a fairly sharp bend, I heard a deep grunt of some kind, and saw motion in a bush off the trail not too far ahead.

As I saw an animal break into a run, my first thought was bobcat. Definitely a cat, but it was too big for a bobcat. And then I saw the long tail, short fur, dark reddish brown, like one of these elegant plush bell pulls you might find in an English manor, or at least in a play that was set in an English manor. My first mountian lion ever! I had no time to even reach for the camera before it was gone.

Cool! I have lived in the Bay area since 1980, spent many tens of thousands of hours outdoors, and this is the first mountain lion I have ever seen.

Well, did I achieve my stated objective? No: 9.2 miles, 1700 vertical feet. More than last Saturday, but not as much improvement as I would have hoped for. I can’t complain, though: got in a certain amount of exercise, and saw one of the local wildlife rarities.

Sunday update

My ankle felt okay this morning, so I went up Skyline and hiked Purisima Redwoods open space preserve. This is the one where you start by hiking downhill, and once you get to the bottom, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices but to go back up. Allison can tell you about that.

Cooler than yesterday, once I got a few hundred feet down from the ridge. Beautiful day. And although I’m not pushing it too hard, I did clock my heart rate at 144 on the final grunt back up to the parking lot.

Bottom line: 19.4 miles for the weekend, 4200 feet of vertical gain. Not bad.

Huddart – Purisima

June 9, 2012

I left the car on Canada road (that’s canYAda) just off interstate 280. In the meadow near the road, two deer. One of them was taking a dump. Had you asked, I would have extrapolated from physical similarity to horses and cows, and said they just dumped as they walked along. Not so: they squat like dogs.

Today’s utterly useless fact!

I walked into Huddart park on Crystal Springs trail. I have done this before, but not for quite a while. Not sure exactly how far it was, so I headed straight up the hill on the Richards Road trail.

Crossed Skyline and went into Purisima Creek Redwoods open space preserve. I was walking down the fire road trail when I heard a hiker ahead of me: “Wow!” What? A big snake? I hurried up.

Not a big snake, but pretty impressive evidence of the geological instability of the Bay area. The trail was closed to horses, probably for fear that the whole hillside could slide down under not very much additional impetus.

I turned off on Craig Britton trail and went across to the Harkins Ridge trail, then down. Stopped along the creek at the bottom to see if I could find crayfish. No, not today. I did find a couple of millipedes, however.

And I discovered that if I used the flash to freeze the motion, I could get some pretty interesting pictures of the standing waves in the creek. Cool! if I do say so myself!

I hiked on further up the Purisima creek trail, discovering a couple of interesting insects along the way.

I am not clear whether this is a carnivorous beetle or not. If so, that aphid is in big trouble.

The west side of the ridge is a distinctly different micro-climate. Duff dampish — you don’t crackle when you walk on it. Ferns thick between the redwoods, and grass and bush elsewhere. When I crossed back over the ridge, I was forcibly reminded of the characteristic micro-climate of the east slope: dry duff and leaves on the ground, ferns quite rare, and no further interesting small animals.

21.7 miles, 4600 vertical feet. I guess that qualifies it as a killer hike.