Posts Tagged ‘Purisima redwoods open space preserve’

Killer hike at Purisima

November 6, 2016

Saturday, 5 Nov 2016

On this last day of daylight time, I started off in twilight so dim that I could not yet see colors, even out in the open. It turned into a cool, partly cloudy, beautiful day, perfect for a long hike in the redwoods, up to Bald Knob, down Irish Ridge on the other side to Lobitos Creek trail, and on around. A bit more than 20 miles, well more than 4000 vertical feet, either of which qualifies it as a killer hike. And I got back to the parking area just about the time I was no longer able to see colors in the fading light. Great day.


At the bottom of Irish Ridge, we find redwoods indeed, but also a row of Monterey cypress, presumably planted to adorn the drive of a country estate that we hypothesize might have been here at one time.



Far from the madding crowd, along the largely deserted Lobitos Creek trail, mushrooms find themselves free to sprout with little concern for damage from passing traffic.

My Canon camera died from getting wet. I resurrected a Panasonic that I had put on the shelf due to some kind of internal failure. Although it more or less works, I Photoshopped these pictures artistically — the quality out of the camera reminds me why I had scrapped it. New one on order, coming soon, an Olympus, and waterproof!


Here’s Purisima Creek trail, one of the prettiest redwood trails I know of, but this section is unusual, prettified without redwoods. Nice.

When I reached the landmark stone bench dedicated to Craig Britton, I needed a calorie break and a transfer of water from the spare bottle in my backpack. A couple was already there; they readily made room for me. While I ate, they asked about trail patrol and my assortment of weaponry (saw and digger). Then the woman sat up on the back of the bench, clamped her Significant Other between her knees, and proceeded to massage his neck, shoulders, back.

“Pretty decadent,” said I.

“Would you like one, too?”

“I wouldn’t say no!”

And so it happened that my special adventure of the day was a massage break, about eight hours and seventeen miles into it, and very welcome it was indeed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Getting on toward summer

June 5, 2016

Saturday 4 June 2016

Supposed to be a hot day, so I decided to hike Purisima, possibly the coolest of the preserves. Parked halfway up Kings Mountain road, hiked down through Huddart Park, back up through Phleger Estate to the Kings Mountain volunteer fire station, where I refilled the water bottle. Then along Skyline to the North Ridge entrance.

As well as a garter snake (no photo), interesting and unusual sights included a slime mold on a stump.




Looks like scrambled eggs, doesn’t it!

Not far down the Purisima North Ridge trail, I met Michael, who was a bit unsure what he wanted to do here today, if anything. Turned out he was from Fort Collins, Colorado, taking a day’s break from a week of work, staying at a B&B in Half Moon Bay. We walked and talked for a while; I confirmed his identification of poison oak — probably the single most important thing to do! — and we talked about grades, redwoods and Douglas fir, Audobon birds, and any number of things. Fortunate enough to find another garter snake to show Michael.

Hot enough day that I kept it to 17 miles, 3000 vertical feet — industrial grade, not a killer hike.

Sunday, 5 June

Coming down Kings Mountain Road yesterday, I passed workers out painting brightly coloured arrows on the road, and was reminded that the first Sunday in June is always the date for the Sequoia Century.

I don’t want to add congestion to the roads today, so I decided to visit Pulgas Ridge open space preserve, well away from the century routes, close and convenient, and a place I almost never go. Probably worth a circuit to have a look for bull thistle.

Got there during the coolth of the morning; the sun and heat didn’t really break through until I reached more or less the high point of the outer loop trail, so it worked out well. Short hike, but pleasant.


And the special feature of today’s hike was seeing the lawn mowers in action. My favourite thing!



They eat pretty much anything and everything. It’s only a shame they can’t be turned loose on more of the preserves.

Purisima, again

October 31, 2015

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Hiked Purisima for the second time this week. This time, with a little more sweat, over 18 miles, 4300 vertical feet.


Dawn alpenglow in the west, out over the ocean. Very pretty.


I have been thinking that I should have a self-portrait in hiking gear. No sooner said than done.


I went up Borden Hatch Mill trail and down Irish Ridge, where there were some terrific views. This would probably be San Gregorio State Beach.

Even though it is still daylight time, it felt like the day was getting on by the time I got back down to Purisima Creek trail. And what should I discover but a giant salamander! In thirty years, I have only seen three, and as it happens, all three were here at Purisima. The next preserve down has a Giant Salamander trail, but I think it’s just marketing fluff.


If I can’t see you, you can’t see me!


But I can lift the leaves off, and then what do you have to say?


Nothing, that’s what. These guys are completely torpid except when they actually panic. Because it was out in the middle of the trail, I was concerned that a mountain bike might come along and splat it. So two of us got little sticks and encouraged it over to the side of the trail. It panicked, of course, which was actually okay, because otherwise it wasn’t entirely clear that it was capable of more than a twitch.


A beautiful clear day. Onshore, anyway. Half Moon Bay bright and sunny, even though the ocean is fogged in. Mavericks surf visible to the left of the radomes.

Outdoors again

October 26, 2015

Monday, 26 October 2015

Saturday was for pulling broom at a group project at Bear Creek redwoods, nothing to post. Sunday I hiked the loop of preserves surrounding the Page Mill — Skyline — Alpine road junction. Pleasant day, started out chilly and breezy, then warmed up.



These beautiful little guys stick their rear ends up in the air when they feel threatened. I touched it with the tip of my hiking stick to see if I could provoke a spray of noxious fluids, but unsuccessfully.


Pat’s conference finished Sunday, so I took Monday as vacation, and Jacky, Pat and I spent the day loafing.


We started by hiking Purisima Creek trail, one of the prettiest redwood hikes anywhere. Discovered a ladybug colony setting in for the winter along the creek. My favorite thing!



Stopped for a Mex lunch in Half Moon Bay, then went on to Fitzgerald Marine Preserve, knowing that low tide would be about 4:30 this afternoon.


Nice day, jackets zipped all the way up.



From the main parking area, we went on up to the Monterey pine forest. A bright shiny beetle going about its business on the trail. Pretty!



The red is algae. I believe it does not damage the trees.


At the south end is another way down to the beach, where there were two or three docents showing off the various creatures in the tide pools.



I learn at least a little bit every day. This is a chiton, an animal with a pseudopod like a snail. They don’t like direct sunlight; this one is in a little hole that’s usually covered by alga, which I pulled back to take the picture.

Home in time for a brew on the patio. Nice day. Truly spoiled, yet again.

What a glorious feeling; I’m happy again!

August 29, 2015

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Got to Purisima parking about a quarter after 7, cool, foggy morning. As I was lacing up my boots, another car came into the lot, parked next to mine. Turned out to be Jim, a friend from a dot-com startup some years ago. (We didn’t get rich, but we had fun. One out of two ain’t bad.) He and his friend Bob were going to do much the same route that I had in mind, and add on a few miles to boot. Good for them. But we left separately, and didn’t encounter each other on the trail.


There is nothing as beautiful as redwoods in the fog.


Fairly wet under the trees, as fog condensed on the overhead foliage. But sometimes, even out in the open, the fog condensed upon itself and fell out of the sky. I seem to recall there’s a word for that, isn’t there? Oh, yes: rain! Been so long I had almost forgotten. I didn’t bring a shell, got thoroughly wet, but who cares! More! More!

Lots of people out today. Even on the side trails (Borden-Hatch Mill trail), where I sometimes encounter no one at all, I met easily upward of thirty hikers, singly, in pairs, some in groups as large as six or eight. Some kind of organized outing, I suppose, and good for them.


Redwoods live a long time unless they have the misfortune to grow at the edge of a creek whose bank erodes. Actually, if there is enough root in contact with the soil, daughters will sprout from the root and carry on the family tradition indefinitely.


Not a redwood in the fog, but still very pretty.

The drive home was sunny, east of Skyline Ridge, sheltered from the Pacific fog. The upper half of the ridge was invisible, just a billow of brilliantly white cloud. Only those of us who had been up there knew how great it also was from the inside.


April 11, 2015

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The lining of my boots is shredding, so I bought a new pair. I fully expect that my new boots and I will be good friends, but perhaps I shouldn’t assume that by going on a killer hike on day one. The default hike at Purisima is about 10 miles, and there’s a loop option that adds another 5 miles and a thousand feet of climb, if the boots are happy by the time I get to the choice point.

And so it was: 15 miles, 3600 feet of climb. Not a killer hike, but industrial strength.


A beautiful, clear day, lots of people out enjoying it. I started by working on broom out along North Ridge trail, cleaning up some that I had missed, and using my newly-acquired folding saw to work on some that were too big to get otherwise. But I’m wearing shorts and have only wrist-length gloves, so I’m doing what I can to stay out of the poison oak, and that gives some of the broom a reprieve.

Then on down Whittemore Gulch trail, and back along Purisima creek, with a detour up Grabtown Gulch trail and down Borden Hatch Mill, finally picking up Craig Britton trail back toward the parking area.

A surprising number of downed trees, given that there hasn’t been a storm recently. I carry plastic tape on which I note my initials and the date, just so the next volunteer knows he doesn’t have to report the same fallen tree yet again. One of the fallen trees had already been flagged, with a date of February 10. That’s one to report a second time!


The one above was on Purisima creek trail. Passable, but you would have to duck-walk under it.

There were so many fallen trees that I ran out of tape. Came upon someone putting up colored tape along the trail. His flags were long streamers, and I stopped to consider whether I could, in good conscience, steal half of one of his streamers. He saw me looking at the tape and came back to talk.

Name of Will, he was marking the route for a run tomorrow. He had jumped to the conclusion that I objected to his tape, so he wanted to assure me that the course would be swept tomorrow, after the run. I believe him.

He went his way and I went mine. I found a poison oak vine wafting itself out into the trail, where a runner (or anyone else not paying attention) could easily brush against it. I was able to pile a chunk of deadfall onto it, to anchor it to the embankment beside the trail. My good deed for the day.


Everyone was enjoying the day, even the insects!


As I went on, it occurred to me that the low-overhang fallen tree (above) would be a nuisance for the runners. And it just so happened that I met a ranger as I was hiking up the last steep stretch to the parking lot. He didn’t have a chainsaw in his truck, but he did have a bigger hand saw than mine, and volunteered to go around and remove the tree today. His good deed for the day.


And in the parking lot, I discovered a pet. Put her on my thumb while I took a picture or two, then gave her the brush-off. I heartily approve of females climbing onto my bod, but not that kind of female, sorry.


Look closely (click to enlarge), and you’ll see the droplets of topical anaesthetic she exudes from her feet, so she can crawl across my skin without triggering a reaction.


March 1, 2015

Sunday, 1 March 2015

I have been bothered for a long time about broom along the North Ridge trail at Purisima Redwoods open space preserve, so today I did something about it (5.6 hours). Hard work, but I made a visible difference.


Yesterday’s drizzle cleared the air completely, along with some overnight rain. The view from the trail, with the radar dome at Princeton visible at the far right (part of SFO’s traffic control).


From a little further along, the head at Princeton, the harbor breakwater visible, with the surf of Mavericks extending to its left. The town of Half Moon Bay is partly visible at the near left.


But I think what impressed me more than these nice crispy views of Half Moon Bay was the fact that the Farallons were visible, a cluster of small uninhabited islands about 30 miles off the Golden Gate. I don’t think I have ever seen them from here; truly an exceptionally clear day. According to Google Maps, the nearest of these islands is almost exactly 40 miles from me, as the photon flies.

Miramontes volunteer day

January 10, 2015

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Today’s volunteer party was scheduled to meet at the Purisima parking lot at 9:30, to shuttle to the Miramontes Ridge open space preserve. This is not open to the public, so it was another new venue for me.

I got to Purisima a few minutes after 7 and spent some time searching and destroying ivy and broom. The more I seek, the more I find. I think this is penance for my sins in some previous lifetime!

Miramontes is exceptionally pretty, even though contaminated by acacias, which we are mostly ignoring today.



There were half a dozen volunteers, along with two from the open space district. They were all people I knew from previous ventures. Weed wrenches for all; it has been a month without rain, and even the small broom is hard to extract. I contented myself with the small size, although I had to borrow a larger one once or twice to attack some of the big stuff. Much of the broom is taller than we, much of it is embedded in coyote bush, brambles, and other undergrowth, and much of the undergrowth is poison oak. Gloves, gauntlets, watchfulness, and luck.

Neighbor Mason came over from his nearby home, to see what we were doing. He’s in second grade, brought along his pet snake (blow-up plastic) to show off.

We worked hard for a couple hours; it was time to break for lunch, and progress seemed discouraging. That was looking forward at how much remained. But when we turned around and looked at where we had been, it was clear that we had done a good day’s work.


We retreated to the top of the hill for lunch, where we had nice views of Half Moon bay and the coastal hills. No photos, it was a bit hazy. Following lunch, we cleaned up broom along the trail to the top of the hill, then diverted onto another side trail, where we removed a few dozen random spurge plants and a little more broom.

Summary for the day: a new place, a pretty place, hard work. Did I succeed in avoiding a serious case of poison oak? Ask me tomorrow.

Purisima Redwoods open space preserve

December 21, 2014

Sunday, 21 December 2014

I was expecting to meet a hiking buddy to explore the trails at Teague Hill that are not on the official map, but she had to cancel. So I went to Purisima redwoods instead. The usual ten-mile loop, but with clearing storm debris and uprooting broom and ivy, I spent upward of five hours on it. Nice day, cool and rainy. Some of the rain doubtless came from the clouds, but much of it came down from the trees.


The fungi are having the time of their lives!



As always, I found plenty of fallen trees to report. This one fell across the creek, so it doesn’t get reported. I thought it was a good illustration how these massive monoliths come down, often when their hillside (or stream bank) collapses.



The open green country of yesterday was nice, but nothing beats a redwood forest!


I have no idea what these little red tendrils are. I suppose if I were to mark them so I could find them again, I’d find out what they will be when they grow up.


We have two gingkos, the other off the picture to the left. That one shed all its leaves before this one even started turning yellow, but now we get a second round, a golden sidewalk, ephemeral beauty that will last about a week.

Anvil trails: Purisima and Teague hill

August 17, 2014

The anvil award goes to anyone who patrols all of the trails in the open space district. It means nothing, of course, but it’s a challenge, and I’m seeing a lot of trails I haven’t hiked before.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

As often happens, the bay area was fogged in, and as I drove up Kings Mountain road, I passed through the fog and into morning sunlight. Down Tunitas creek road to the pull-out from which access to Pusisima redwoods open space preserve is possible. On the trail by 7:30, heading along Bald Knob trail, through some really beautiful redwood forest.



Irish ridge trail descends almost a thousand feet into the Lobitos creek basin. Back into the fog.


The junction of Irish ridge trail with Lobitos creek trail.


Irish ridge trail itself goes on another tenth of a mile, and so did I. I was surprised to find a row of Monterey cypresses here. Certainly not native to the redwood forest, growing in a straight line, approximately uniformly spaced. Once upon a time, they graced someone’s nice home.


The map tells us that Lobitos creek trail is not maintained. We’ll do what we can. We start with a massive redwood growing another massive redwood from its elbow. The same tree, below, from the other side, showing that the smaller massive tree is itself growing a yet smaller massive tree. Quite a sight! There must be a story, if one only knew.


Theoretically, the trail goes 2 miles, but eventually they really mean it when they say not maintained. I was willing to push through undergrowth taller than myself for a while, but when I saw a massive barrier of poison oak ahead, I called it quits. 7.6 miles on this little exploration, 1400 vertical feet. Beautiful, beautiful, so remote that very few see it.

Then I drove to the main Purisima parking lot, off Skyline, where I started by checking for ivy along the section of trail cleared by a bunch of volunteers four weeks ago (the poison oak I got then is almost gone, but not quite). Found quite a bit of ivy, pulled up some of it, but a lot of it is embedded in the poison oak, and I’d rather not do that all over again.


Hiked down Wittemore gulch trail, stopped at the bottom of Harkins ridge trail for calories. Sat on a fallen log, one end of which was in Purisima creek. The picture above is the view from my little picnic bench; the drastically shrunken creek runs in a narrow channel at the far left of the picture. We hope the whole streambed will be full in a few months!


The stream is so narrow, there’s a pleasant overlook spot from the trail on the other side, directly opposite. A really pleasant area, and no mistake.


Harkins ridge trail leaves the creek early on, climbs the side of the ridge, and spends most of its distance offering great views to both left and right. It is also the shortest, and therefore steepest, route. From the creek to the parking lot is only 3.5 miles, but it includes 1700 feet of climb, much of it very steep (see above). That’s an average 10% grade, but of course the grade isn’t uniform. Allison can attest to the fact that it’s seriously hard work. Makes my skin leak.

When the sun heated up the open trail, it caused the air above it to rise. Whenever I approached a shadowed area, it was more than pleasant to get a cool breeze, pulled out of the shade by the rising hot air. How come I never noticed that before?

Today, I had enough water. But after 15 miles, it was mid-afternoon, and I wasn’t up for a whole lot more. Not to worry: Teague hill open space preserve was on the way home. It’s a pretty good sized preserve, but there is only one trail, a half mile or so section of the 4.8 mile trail between Huddart and Wunderlich parks. Unfortunately, much of the trail runs along beside a pair of high-voltage transmission lines (which is to say: one line of towers), and the forest under the lines has been clear-cut. If MROSD won this section of trail in a lottery, I’d recommend they give it back.


The forest before and beyond is pleasant enough, and includes a rock with an interesting little cave.

Anything worth doing …

June 21, 2014

… is worth overdoing.

Saturday, 21 June,2014

It was supposed to be fairly warm today, so I thought I’d go do a trail patrol at Purisima Redwoods open space preserve. On the trail by 7:15, I started by hiking out North Ridge trail. I have been on this trail before, but not for a while, and it is not maintained all the way to the end. I turned back when the poison oak became too much of a barrier.

P1130831Then the more traditional hike down Wittemore Gulch trail and back along Purisima creek. I’m looking for new trails and also something of a killer hike (20.1 miles, 5400 vertical feet: I succeeded!). So I went up Borden Hatch Mill trail and explored Bald Knob trail (above), which I have never done before.

There is a closed gate, but no keep-out sign, and a poorly maintained spur trail that goes to the top of Bald Knob. The name suggests grand panoramas, but it’s forested, and we see no more than the usual slots between the trees.

To see a distant view, we go back down, on south along Irish Ridge trail (below). Notice the poison oak asserting itself in the center foreground.


There is yet another trail branching off from Irish Ridge, namely Lobitos Creek trail, another 2 miles out and back, but I was beginning to think I had already committed myself to as much as I really wanted to do today. I’ll come back another time, park on Tunitas Creek road, and finish this particular adventure.


I have no idea what these flowers are, but they’re really elegant. Their seed pods are balls, sized somewhere between a big peppercorn and a small blueberry.




And who could resist a rich slurp of nectar!


On the way down Skyline toward home, I could see the fog blowing in off the ocean, brilliant in the sunlight, and soon to come boiling across the ridge to cover the bay with the usual summertime blanket.

Nice day, good to get out. Tomorrow I’m on a plane for Denver.

Huddart and Purisima

May 4, 2014


Saturday, 3 May 2014

A nice day for a walk in the woods. Cool, even chilly, but very pleasant. The usual hike from mid-way up Kings Mountain road down to the Phleger Estate, thence up to skyline. I bypassed the Kings Mountain village completely this time, turned north on a trail somewhat lower down the hill, a trail I haven’t taken before, and crossed Skyline considerably further north than usual.


Lots of newts; I saw four in one 10-foot length of trail. Populations fluctuate year by year, and this seems to be an exceptionally good year for newts. While I’m on the topic of populations, I think I’ve seen far fewer ground squirrels this year than usual.

From the north Skyline gate of Purisima, I returned by way of the Craig Britton trail, much of it open and sunny. Because it gets so much more rain (from fog condensation), the west side of the ridge is far more lush. Huddart (above) is beautiful, but dry and open.

15 miles, 3000 vertical feet. Qualifies as an industrial strength hike. Nice day.

Windy Hill, Purisima Redwoods

March 30, 2014

Sunday, 30 March 2014

I often write about volunteer work for the open space district, more often than not, pulling weeds, and more often than not, pulling broom. Here’s what broom looks like. The large bushes are full of pretty yellow flowers, starting right about now.


Last weekend, I did a quick hike at Windy Hill open space preserve. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary, except for these pretty little green bells. I have no idea what they are, but I like the way they try to hide, showing their true selves only to a view from below.



Today, I hiked Purisima creek redwoods open space preserve. It has been rainy this last week, but I got my annual REI dividend and bought myself a new rain shell, so I was happy to try it out. (So of course it didn’t rain, but that’s fine, too.) I volunteered here a few weeks ago, unplugging invasive ivy from a slope, and today picked off a few stragglers that had been overlooked the first time.


Tis the season. The caterpillars are out in force, roughly a gazillion of them!

This hike is not all that long, not all that hard (Allison would disagree), but I can make it a mini-industrial strength hike with a 4-mile 800-vertical feet extension up Borden Hatch Mill trail and down Grabtown Gulch trail (total: 14 miles, 3500 vertical feet). And yes, once upon a time, there really was a Grabtown up in these hills.


Nice to see a few fungi, fresh from this week’s rains.


I also flagged six downed trees at various spots along the trail. The drill is to catch a GPS location and a photo, and file a trail report to the open space district. I’m only scheduled for trail patrol volunteer training in June, but I know the login password, so why not!


The hiking sticks are there to provide a scale for evaluating the problem.


And I spotted a tiny gray furry mammal, most likely a vole, as it ducked into the duff. I fired up my camera, then pulled away the duff, but it could burrow faster and deeper than I could uncover it. I loosed off a few desperation shots with the camera, but of course nothing came out.

Nice day, good to get out.

Purisima Creek redwoods

December 22, 2013

Saturday, I volunteered yet again to pull french broom in one of the open space district’s preserves. For those who care, here’s a picture of french broom from today’s hike. The tallest in this photo is about a foot; they grow to 20 feet if left alone.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Today’s hike was from the usual spot where I leave my car, halfway up Kings Mountain road, down through Huddart park, around the long way through the Phleger estate, and up to Kings Mountain village at Skyline.

My first adventure happened as I drove up the road. A multi-point buck appeared at the left side of the road in my headlights, and not smart enough to wait for passing traffic, bounded across in front of me. And stopped in my lane, gathering his strength for a bound up the embankment to the right.

How close? Close enough that I would certainly have hit him, had I not braked. Crazy critters!


I had several layers of clothing with me, but they turned out mostly to be backpack ballast. A nice day as the sun rose. In the picture above, the antic clowns in the center of the redwoods are madrone.

When I crested the ridge at KM village, I took the KM sidewalk (a trail along Skyline) to the north parking lot of Purisima open space preserve, thence down the west side. I usually go down Whittemore Gulch trail, but took Harkins Ridge trail this time, just to vary the routine. Warm enough to be a little uncomfortable in the sun.


Clear enough to see Half Moon bay. I understand that the white dome houses radar used by SFO traffic control. To the left, the line where Mavericks surf breaks. The breakwater around the marina is visible if you look, with Princeton-by-the-sea behind it, and the one runway of HMB airport off to the right.

Probably doesn’t count as a killer hike: a bit less than 20 miles, a bit less than 4000 feet of vertical gain. But for all that, it was enough work. I poured a beer on my way to the shower; by the time I was out, it had warmed up enough to be very tasty, and well deserved.

Heat wave — Purisima

June 29, 2013

Saturday, 29 June 2013

I volunteered for trail maintenance today, but with the heat wave warning, the outing was cancelled. I only found out when I got to the rendezvous area at El Corte de Madera open space preserve. Having already driven to Skyline, I just went on up to Purisima for a short hike.

I have only a small water bottle, and it’s very hot even at Purisima, so maybe I’ll only hike out the North Ridge trail and back. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the dead end of this trail before.


Nice view of Half Moon bay, the surf of Mavericks visible to the left of the point.


Today’s collection of small animals were all flying creatures.


I like the way this one (above) rolls up its proboscis when there’s no nectar to be had.


The eye appears to be a thin surface laid over the hairy back of the head (above); even in the shot below, the eye almost looks detachable. But I really like the elaborate antenna here, not to mention the flexible proboscis drinking straw.

P1030514  P1030543


Even the grasshopper is photogenic.

The trail is not as forested as I had expected, and it was very hot. And there were sections of steep loose rock, and poison oak growing over the trail. So I got somewhere near the dead end of the trail, but finally declared victory and retreated, sucking the last of my limited water supply by the time I returned to the parking lot.

Purisima, Fitzgerald marine preserve

May 5, 2013

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Jacky had to monitor server alerts today, so she didn’t come with Friedrich and Petra and me to Half Moon Bay, where we first went to Purisima redwoods open space preserve and hiked the trail along the creek, out and back. Very pleasant.


Of course, I was watching for small animals.


I stirred this one up with a small stick to get a look at its thousand feet.

We also saw lots of banana slugs, but not a great deal of other wildlife.


From there, we went up highway 1 on a cold, cloudy, very windy day, to Fitzgerald marine preserve. The tide was falling, but with another two hours before hitting full ebb, and the ebb was not all that low anyway.


So we went out on the rocks, such as they were, and looked for interesting things. The wind disturbed the surface so much that there was little chance of seeing anything interesting under water. Mostly just seaweed of one kind or another,



The wind was so strong, those of us wearing shorts felt like the paint was being sand-blasted off our legs. So we retired from the beach after only a few minutes, and went into the Montery cypress forest overlooking the preserve. Still windy, but nowhere near as cold and unpleasant as on the beach itself.


From the overlook, we could see a pod of harbor seals, one of which decided to go for a swim while we watched.




Below, we see an incipient collapse of the cliff. You can see that the trail used to run there; now the barrier fence is 10 meters further back.


The other interesting thing about this forest is the red algae, not everywhere, but on much of the vegetation closest to the water. It is visible, though not obvious, in the picture above, and lends a nice touch of colour to the picture below.


Home again for naps, an early meal, and best wishes to our friends for their return journey to Munich. It has been fun!

Redwoods and rain

November 18, 2012

Saturday was rainy. I drove to Purisima creek redwoods open space preserve, which was foggy as well as rainy. Steady rain throughout my hike. Whenever a bit of wind stirred the trees, the trees shed their accumulated load of water, so it was at least as wet in the forest as in the open.

A foggy redwood forest is a beautiful place. And as they say, there is no such thing as bad weather, merely inadequate clothing. I had the world to myself until about fifteen minutes before I got back to the parking lot.

It was the first time this season to see the newts out on the trail. Of the ten I saw, half were scrambling away at full speed. (Full speed would be on the order of 10 cm/sec.) The others froze, hoping to be invisible. One of the scramblers probably started as a freezer, but changed tactics when its onboard ballistic computer indicated a high probability of being stepped on. Given the motion preference of my visual filter, I imagine I passed by a lot more freezers that I didn’t notice.

A nice day. By the time I got drove back down into the valley, the sun was even peeking through. Not a long hike, just a pleasant one. Ten miles.

Sunday started cloudy, but also showed signs of improving. I ran to the baylands, around the levee loop, back through the town. It turned out to be just over ten miles again, which is further than I have run at one time for many years. Really nice to have the ankle back in working order! I don’t know whether I aspire to work up to a marathon, but a half-marathon is clearly attainable.

It is certainly the prettiest time of year here in town.

These are all imports — the native vegetation is not colourful. A reminder of how the opponents of global eclecticism impoverish their lives.

Killer hikes and tarantulas

September 23, 2012

I spotted this little guy on the back door, then (for this picture) on the doorstep, just another of the small spiders you see all the time. More interesting when you get a magnified view.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The first day of autumn. Tarantula season ought to be getting under way, and the best places to find them are the open grassy lands of the east bay. But my car shows a Check Engine light (NOx sensor), and I don’t want to drive it excessively until I take it in and spend money on it. So I parked on Cañada road just south of Edgewood, where a one-mile frontage trail along 280 gives access to Huddart park.

I hiked up through Phleger estate and stopped at the Kings Mountain fire station to refill the water bottle. I’m told that the trail along Skyline is called the Kings Mountain sidewalk, so I took the sidewalk north to the Purisima Redwoods parking lot. Then down, the Whittemore Gulch trail to the bottom and the Purisima Creek trail and fire road back to Skyline. From Skyline back down on Crystal Springs trail to the starting point. 22 miles, 3800 feet of climb.

Does that count as a killer hike? Less than 4000 vertical feet is a little wimpy, but 20 miles is a fair distance. Yes, I suppose it counts. Sore feet. Nice day, nice hike, but no pictures.

Sunday, 23 September

Before my Achilles surgery, I could run about 3 miles, maybe once a week, with a rest day afterward.  I have been doing 3-mile runs since recovering, but I think it should be possible to extend the distance. What better time than today?

Ran from home through Stanford, detouring to the succulent garden (no pictures, wrong time of year). On up to the Stanford dish trail. I am a little short on energy from yesterday’s hike, but still able to run up most of the hills, walking for a few minutes where necessary.

Open grassland up here, and there he was, the first tarantula of the season! Cool!

One of the other hikers spotted him first, and he was in the tall grass when I went over for a look. Tall grass makes for impossible photography, so I picked him up and put him out in the short grass, where he posed for a picture or two. Thanks, big guy!

Down the hill (500 vertical feet for today), walking the steeper parts in respect for my knees, but running the gentle downgrades. I am radically extending the length of my previous runs, and probably ought not overdo it (well, not by too much). So once I got back into town, I started walking, at least part of the time. The total distance was 10 miles, and I probably ran about 8. That’s a good extension over 3, assuming I’m not limping tomorrow.

Stopped at Elizabeth Gamble House, a small park and garden. They always have nice flowers and sometimes interesting small animals, too.

The second interesting small animal of the day was a butterfly, busy nozzling up nectar from a flower.

And the third was a leafhopper of some sort, so well hidden that I kept losing it every time I diverted my attention to the camera.

There are small animals in California, too!

September 3, 2012

The return from Europe used all of Saturday. Sunday I went out for a little hike to see if I was still okay (pretty much zero exercise in Europe, just a few km of daily walking). 10 miles, 2000 vertical feet — yes, I’m still okay.

And there were a couple of small animals to photograph. The Käfer above isn’t as beautiful as the one we found in Bucharest, but it’s not bad. And I love the transparency of the one in the photo below.

At home Sunday evening: I headed off to bed first. When Jacky came up a few minutes later, she saw my camera lying on the dresser, not its usual place, and said, “I bet there was a spider.” She knows me far too well!

Needless to say, I didn’t damage this guy, although I did encourage him to stay out of the way of bare feet.

Monday is Labor day, and I always like to get to the Kings Mountain art fair. It was definitely subliminal this year — I had forgotten that this was the right time and place until I got partway up Kings Mt road and observed the heavier than usual traffic. As always, I left the car at the wide spot in KM road, hiked down to the Phleger estate trailhead and up the long way through the Phleger estate trails.

This vendor sells woolen yarn and fabric, and I thought the name was outstanding, especially since we’re just back from Deutschland.

I have thought for many years that it would be nice if there were a trail from the Phleger Estate Lonely Trail to the north Purisima parking lot. I talked to one of the Kings Mountain volunteer firemen, and learned that there is indeed such a trail. Cool!

I had not really intended to make this a killer hike day, but it was only noon-ish, and what else am I doing today anyway… ? True, I had worn a tee shirt on the assumption that I would be almost entirely in the forest, and there are some open stretches on the other side, but it isn’t all that bad. And I would have been short on water, but a refill was available at the Kings Mountain fire station.

Not the world’s most congenial trail, but it works, except for walking in the road for about the last hundred meters. It’s an extra thousand feet of elevation gain, exercise that I need. And a good time was had. 16 miles, 3200 vertical feet.

Huddart-Purisima fungi

January 3, 2010

I left the car at Huddart park and hiked over the ridge into Purisima. Down the hill to the bottom, back up Harkins ridge trail and over the ridge again, where I returned by way of the Phleger estate.

Beautiful hike, and in December, the fungi are out in their full glory. View the slide show (12 MB): Huddart-Purisima fungi