Posts Tagged ‘Sunol regional park’

Mission peak, Sunol

December 20, 2014

20 December 2014

While I was busy hiking all the trails in the Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District, I pretty much ignored the other parks and open spaces. But now it’s time to revisit the old friends. Today was for Mission Peak and Sunol.

Mission peak - Sunol

As always, I went up the southern route, of which Horse Heaven trail is the best-named segment. It rained yesterday, and the trail was squidgy in a lot of places. A difficult hike under the best of circumstances, the mud made it serious hard work today. Well, I need the exercise: two weekends ago, I was on a plane. Last weekend, after flying home, I did a short 8-mile hike on Saturday and a bike ride on Sunday. So I’m out of shape, overdue.

Mission peak - Sunol

An overcast day, the fog lifting slowly. There were even a few minutes of feeble sunshine toward late morning, but not enough to warm things up. When it greens up, this country is really beautiful.

Mission peak - Sunol

Flag Hill, above the Sunol visitor center. I sometimes go up there when I want to make this into a killer hike, but I think Sunol is enough for today (15 miles, 4000 feet of climb). And as it turned out, the bridge at Sunol park is closed for repairs, and I probably wouldn’t have wanted to ford the creek anyway.

Mission peak - Sunol

 Once a trail patroller, always a trail patroller. I noted the GPS coordinates of this deadfall and reported it.

Mission peak - Sunol

I am reminded that the native rock here is shellstone. Nice.

Mission peak - Sunol

As I start down the front side of Mission peak, my eye is caught by an interesting juxtaposition of rock and tree. I never noticed that before.

Mission peak - Sunol

I stopped for calories not too far from the top, sat on a bench enjoying the world spread below. The calves in a small herd of cows were cavorting around like puppies. I was impressed by their energy.

Mission peak - Sunol

Well, it turned out that the calves had good reason to scamper around. The world’s most optimistic coyote was trying its luck. By the time I was near the cows, the calves were over on the other side of the herd, and the adult cows were studiously ignoring the coyote.

Mission peak - Sunol

Today’s other wildlife sighting was after I had already gone through the parking lot, down the street toward where I had left my car (no one ever parks in the parking lot: it’s always full!).

Mission peak - Sunol

Nice to get out, nice to do a little work.

Rose Peak killer hike

May 18, 2014

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Washing my car is one of my least favorite ways to spend time, but I’m willing to do it, once every year or thereabouts. This time, I was urged onward because of a big ugly splotch that I thought indicated a visit from a very large and very ill-mannered bird. But it was sticky. Even the car-wash goop on a wet sponge did nothing more than smear the stickiness. Spray stain remover from the laundry room worked, also on specks of tar on the rocker panels. I suppose the paint will now come off, but it sure looks nice for a few days.

I have been increasingly unhappy with my GPS receiver, which is a few years old. So I blew a large pile of money on a Garmin 650t. Big hunking thing, but the screen is at least large enough to see. It even has a camera, geotagging of course, which leads me to the thought that Garmin should get together with either Google or Samsung, or maybe both, and make a ruggedized GPS receiver smart phone. (If it happens, you saw it here first.)

Sunday, 18 May

I wanted to try out the new GPS receiver, of course, and haven’t been to Rose Peak yet this year. A cool, overcast morning, breezy and actually chilly.


This is just about as late in the season as I’d want to do this hike. Much of the trail is overgrown with grass, some of it chest-high, and the seed is fading to brown and starting to fall off. Another week or two and you’ll need gaiters to keep this stuff out of your boots.

And it turns out that today is also the running of the Ohlone Wilderness run, 50k and almost 8000 feet of gain. They started at 8 from Mission Peak in Fremont, and are going to Del Valle near Livermore. I started at 8:10 or 8:15 from Sunol. There is no chance I will make it to Rose Peak before they catch me, but it would be good if I could get past the single-track trail onto the fire roads that form the more distant part of the route.

And so it was. The first of the runners passed me only a few hundred feet from the widening of the trail. Near Goat Rock, I passed an aid station. They offered me calories and electrolyte, but I wasn’t really in the market. I told them I’d take them up on their offer if they were still there when I returned. They estimated that they would be packing it in by 1:30; it was 10:30 and easily an hour and a half to the top. Marginal. Well, it would be nice, but I hardly need an assist.

They tell me that registration is limited to 250, and they got 170 or so today. Some of them are training for the Western States 100, a hundred-mile race in the Sierra Nevada. One woman of not inconsiderable age told me this was her 112th ultra-marathon. These people are just amazing.

Not a whole lot further along, the two runners ahead of me veered to go around a rattlesnake. I had my camera out and ready by the time I came up. I warned a runner coming up behind me to keep to the other side of the trail.


The snake was completely unconcerned, which is just fine with me. I don’t want to be around an excited rattlesnake. It made a slow slither across the road and into a hole, the beginning of which is visible at the right side of the picture below.


The first rattler of the season. I’m not even sure I saw any last season. They’re not all that common.



The higher country is still mostly green, and very pretty.


And there is a micro-climate right at Rose Peak itself with these double-headed prickly flowers and their pink neighbors. Didn’t see either of them anywhere else.


Got to the top right at noon. Runners crossing over, picking up a wrist band from a volunteer stationed there, as a token of achievement. From now on, I’m facing into the traffic, and I imagine that, by the time I reach the single-track trail, the lanterns rouges will have passed, and I’ll have it to myself.


And so it was, again. I got to the aid station about 1:15, just as they were packing up, but they gave me water and calories. Thank you, friends!


Really pretty country, especially when there’s still some green to be seen.



These little wildflowers were also localized to a small area. No idea what factors create a habitat that they like, but something clearly does.


I didn’t see it until I got this photo (above) onto the big screen, but notice that spider lurking hopefully for some innocent insect to come along!


And here’s the high view of the dam construction. The old dam was seismically deficient, and was drained completely — the pond is just the low area below the foot of the old dam. I’m told that the new dam is now estimated for 2019 completion, and opening hours will remain at 8 until then.

19.16 miles, 5002 vertical feet. Even on a cool day, it counts as a killer hike.

Sunol from Ohlone college

May 10, 2014

Saturday, 10 May 2014

I have not been to Mission Peak for a long time, and the reason is that it’s too crowded. But I decided to give it a try today, anyway. Foof! I never even attempt to find a slot in the trailhead lot, which parks maybe 50 cars, but I usually find a slot somewhere down the hill near Mission Blvd. Not today, nor on the side streets, nor on the next block. I understand that after fighting my way through the trailhead clutter, the route I like to take will not be crowded, but still…

So I drove on up the road, parked in the neighborhood below Ohlone College. It’s another mile of driving, and I haven’t been here for years. Busy trail here, too, but not as bad as the main trail from Stanford Ave.


We don’t know whether the hillside is supporting the tree or vice versa, but they both have a vested interest in the present arrangement.


The day was chilly, even on the uphill, but the sun, and the climb, made it okay. Here we see the top of Mission peak, and all those little black dots everywhere are, yes, the crowd of hikers.



Glad I’m not going there!

I went around the shoulder of the mountain and down the backside to Sunol. Even here, I met a dozen or more other hikers, well beyond the usual quota of one or two, but I can deal with that. Some trail runners passed me, and I caught and passed quite a number of slower hikers. An off-leash dog came charging at me; I put out a barricade of sharp points from my hiking sticks, but it was friendly, and the master called it away.


On the way back, a couple of hikers just ahead of me spotted a wild turkey. The hiker gobbled at the turkey, which gobbled back. They had quite a conversation going. When I passed them, I remarked that he was a certified turkey whisperer.

16.2 miles, 3800 vertical feet. Nice day.

Winter bouquets

December 14, 2013

Friday, 29 November

I haven’t blogged for a while, and need to catch up. We thought we’d do a day trip somewhere not too far away during the thanksgiving break. Danville has been an attractive destination in previous years, but not now. As best we can tell, the entirety of the interesting part is in a state of collapse, possibly slated for repair, or possibly not.


We went instead to Pleasanton. Much better!



The decrepitude here is off out of the way, and in the distinct minority.


The view from the sidewalk where we enjoyed Mex food and admired the next-door Mediterranean restaurant.



I have had knee trouble since the beginning of November. I can ride, I can walk flatlands, but downhills are not fun, and running is obviously not on the menu. Rehabilitation exercises and taking it easy. By December, I was doing short hikes, such as Windy Hill (7 miles, 1600 vertical feet). I went running a couple of times, and was okay.

Then I spent a week in Naperville, with no exercise beyond the hotel exercycle (bending an elbow doesn’t count). Home on Friday, and I really need to get out. Can I do a real hike?

Saturday, 14 December

Mission peak to Sunol is a good choice. The standard hike qualifies as industrial-grade, and there are options to extend it to killer-grade or to truncate it if the knee complains.

The fact that Fremont’s Stanford avenue is completely built up with houses didn’t deter the coyote that ran across the road ahead of me as I pulled up. Parked far down the street from the parking lot, bemused as always at the amazing number of people who ostensibly come here to walk, and spend many minutes driving around searching for the nearest possible parking. Presumably these are people who consider lottery tickets to be a sound investment strategy.

As for myself, I take the first parking spot I see and get on with it. I wore several layers to start off, but after a mile, I stopped to give back some of the breakfast coffee and stow a couple layers in my backpack.


I was almost at the crest by the time the sun was high enough to illuminate the trail. Cold and windy at the top, but as soon as I started down the backside, I was out of the worst of the wind, and it was okay.

Saw a cow giving her calf a tongue bath. That’s a first! Junior seemed to be enjoying it.


The bare trees, exposed rock, dry grass, have their own beauty. Winter bouquets.


From high above, Flag Hill, which in turn stands high above the Sunol visitor center, my destination. The part facing us looks higher, but only because it is closer. From a different perspective, it’s clear that the high point is really off there to the right.




Here is where I go when I add the killer extension onto this hike. I feel good, but prudence suggests that perhaps I shouldn’t go there today. Stopped at the visitor center to check out the tarantula.

A pleasant young woman told me the breeding males tend not to live all that long in captivity (in the wild, they go out looking for beautiful babes, and never return). She said they once had a tarantula that had lived almost a year in captivity. Today’s specimen has begun to eat again (crickets), so there’s hope he will survive for a while, too. Nice.

The other interesting thing I noticed from the high trail is the evidence of slow but continuing landslides. There is a really good reason these hills are not festooned with houses, and many of the houses that do exist in hilly parts of the Bay area may find themselves in trouble some wet winter. If we ever have a wet winter again…


I still felt good when I got back up to Mission peak, so instead of just hiking over the shoulder, I went to the top. Below, the easy part of the peak trail.



Lots of people at the top, as always. Cold and windy. Put my layers back on while I perched on a rock and soaked up some calories. As soon as I got down off the peak, of course, it was warm enough that I had to take off a layer. No sweat, as they say.

16.4 miles, not all that far, but 4400 vertical feet makes it at least a marginally killer hike. And my knee feels good. Nice.

Jacky brewed up a random collection of ingredients, enlivened with habañero, and I put on Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, with the audio level set maybe just a little higher than necessary. Wonderful to be home!

Pain is weakness leaving the body

October 13, 2013

Saturday, 12 October 2013

After a week of conferring, with zero exercise, I needed to move the stress points from the mind to the body.

Jacky and I had volunteered for an open space project, which turned out to be way the hell and gone down the side roads on the far side of the ridge, Star Hill road and Native Son road, places I never explored even during the heyday of my cycling career.


Very pretty redwood country. There were four or five volunteers, along with two or three from the open space district. We went to an area that’s closed to public access, where a couple of forests of acacia are taking over. They may have been planted intentionally by someone who had a house there, but they have spread.

Small ones can be pulled up with gloved hands. Those whose trunks are up to maybe an inch in diameter can be pulled up with weed pullers. I had never seen these before; they comprise a clamp and a fulcrum at ground level, and a long handle up to hip, waist or shoulder level (three sizes). The long lever arm allows the trunk to be jacked out of the ground. They work very well, except that lateral roots sometimes refuse to come out and require extra effort.

Acacias larger than an inch in diameter — some of them were 20 feet tall — come down with saws, and the open space people then girdle the stump to be sure they die. The saw is obviously the way to build a big pile of debris in a hurry, but all sizes need to come out. To be sure all upper body muscles were equally sore, we used all of the tools ad hoc.

Sunday, 13 October

I had been thinking of doing the Rose Peak hike for a few weeks, but it has been pretty hot. This weekend was cooler, so it was a good opportunity. Rose Peak is the trek that prompted me to originate the term killer hike a few years ago, 19 miles, 5000 vertical feet.


I like to climb up inside my own head for hours on end, and hiking alone on deserted trails is a good way to do it.


Cooler weather is one thing, but today was almost too much! Stiff wind in the exposed areas, and chilly! I love it.


It’s the middle of tarantula season, and I have seen none so far this year. There are tarantulas on the peninsula, but the probability of finding one is lower because the ratio of grassland to forest is so much lower. The Ohlone wilderness is the best venue I know of: here is where I saw six in one day a few years ago.


Their population waxes and wanes. I think this year is a sparse year. One, only one, and very glad to see him. He started off into the tall grass, where the camera can’t track, but I put a boot in front of him, and rather than climb over my toe, he turned back out onto the trail.


Beautiful big guy!


Only a few minutes later, I found a small gopher snake, only about a foot long. It’s not a big year for snakes either.

There are several areas with large new burrows in the ground. When I came past the first, a raptor flew away, and landed some distance away on the ground. My imagination immediately suggests burrowing owls, which I have never seen outside the artificial mounds built up in the city park to attract them (mostly unsuccessfully).

I was hoping to see some owls at the burrows, but didn’t. It would be great if they took over the wilderness and reduced the overpopulation of ground squirrels!


The wind sweeps an arc with this plant, which is probably not broom. Cool!

I spotted a small lizard darting across the trail, on an absolute rendezvous course for dead center of my descending boot. I held the downstroke for a quarter second with a bit of a stumble, and the lizard darted through. That’s my good deed for the day.

Catching up

October 6, 2013

I haven’t updated the blog for a while now. Apologies to my faithful followers (and the spammers, too).


Go all the way back to September 15 (it really has been a long time, hasn’t it!). On a little sport ride out Cañada road, I noticed this mailbox.

Then last weekend, I decided to do a killer hike on the peninsula, maybe a little cooler than going inland. Montebello, Stevens canyon, Saratoga summit, and back along the trails west of Skyline, 19.3 miles, 3400 feet of gain.


Well camouflaged. For some environments, that is. Not quite right for here, but at least I didn’t eat him. I can’t speak for the bird population.


And horseshoe lake, near the end of the route. About 50 trail runners started from here today and ran 30 miles. These are the people who think a marathon is too wimpy to bother with. When the leaders passed me, somewhere around the 12-mile mark, they were still running faster than I can go in a sprint! Good for them.


One reason I have been less active on the trails lately is that I am pulling down the overhead trellis structure over the rebuilt deck. The idea is to eventually rebuild something there, preferably something that won’t be full of termites and carpenter bees. Poking around up there, I met a big garden spider, just hanging out.

Removing the lattice was not a really big deal. Removing the cross braces was a little more technical, because they are heavy, and toenailed into the support beams. I left the two final cross braces for last; once they are down, the overhead beams just run out straight from the house, with not a whole lot to keep them from tipping over sideways.

Saturday, 5 October, I spent an extremely stressful morning pulling down the last of the cross braces, and three of the five beams. They are heavy enough to be beyond easy control, everything was wobbly, there were hidden toenails that I needed to cut ad hoc with a hacksaw blade, and once loose, they wanted to shift a little. A little is okay!

The two final beam sections are the ones attached to the house. They are pinned to joist hangers with bolts too large for the wrenches I had, and I was glad enough to leave them for later anyway. Not much later: they also need to come down. It will be tricky: they are longer, therefore heavier than the others, there is no good place to put a ladder on one area that’s being framed in for the new deck, and a misjudgment could damage the house as well as the deck.

Sunday, 6 October

This yard work has been anaerobic, and I have the sore muscles to prove it. But I need some aerobic exercise as well. So I hiked Mission peak to Sunol and back, 15.7 miles, 4000 vertical feet.


Street parking below the preserve is bounded by eucalyptus on one side, houses on the other. Eucalypts are generally disliked here because they are not native Californians. I am not very sympathetic to that view, because I’m not either.


A cool sunny day as I hiked up the secondary route. Dozens of hikers across the way on the main route; I’ll go down that way five or six hours from now.


Half a dozen cows, each with a freshly minted calf. Not completely fresh; the ones I could check out did not still have umbilical stubs. But their mothers were in aggressive defense mode. One pair blocked the trail. I advanced very slowly, enough to stress the mother but not enough to provoke an attack — at least that was the idea. After a few minutes, she moved aside and I didn’t have to spend the day camped in the middle of the trail.

Hours later on the return trip, most of the cows had moved along to find the shade of a tree or three, but one calf had crept through some loose barbed wire, and was separated from mom. There was a nearby gate, but locked, so not a whole lot I could do about it. Everything was calm for the moment, but when Junior got hungry, I figured things might become a little stressful.

As it happened, there was cell phone coverage out there, and the parks guy I talked to said he would let the rangers know. So I hope I did a good thing today.

Stopped at Home Depot to buy two 1 1/8 inch box-end wrenches (that would be about 29mm for my metric-literate friends), the tools I need to detach the final beams from the house.

Yellow star thistle and Mission peak

June 23, 2013


I got a hummingbird feeder to experiment with my new camera. A few shots here. I think the one above is a male, all ruffled out to show off his plumage. The one below would presumably be the female, not very much impressed.


Interesting how a slight shift in the direction of the light makes a radical difference in the colour of the feathers. Iridescence!


Saturday, 22 June 2013

I volunteered to put in a few hours work for the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District today. Pulling up thistle at Russian Ridge, especially yellow-star thistle, which is highly invasive.


Yellow star thistle


You can see where it gets its name. These photos were from Sunol on Sunday:

Sunday, 23 June

Went to Mission peak, hiked over the ridge to Sunol, up Flag Hill, and back. Almost 19 miles, almost 5000 feet of climb. The new boots were not ideal, but they were okay.


The day was chilly, foggy, condensing enough that I stowed my camera in my backpack for a while. It was windy crossing the top of the ridge, and then I went down the east side, where it was a little quieter.




This memorial to someone’s good friend Rocky has been posted on a tree in the back country for a while now. Nice, and I’m glad no one has torn it down.


There are a couple of trees on the approach to Sunol, flat-topped, something like a gallows, in fact, where the TuVus like to hold court.


This is a great photo, even if I have to say so myself!

I went on up Flag Hill, another 4 miles or so, and 1000 feet of climb, which changes this from an industrial strength hike to a killer hike.


They talk about earth tones being pretty, and they’re right.


I saw a couple of tarantula wasps. At least I think that’s what they are.


They look for tarantula burrows, but will sometimes settle for a large wolf spider. The female stings the tarantula, which paralyzes it. She lays her eggs on the spider, and when they hatch, dinner is served.


Adult tarantula wasps are vegetarians.



The poison oak flowers are especially prolific this year, more than I recall from ever before.

Still cloudy, but at least Mission Peak was no longer fogged in. Lots of people out enjoying the coolth of the day.



A hawk landed nearby and posed for pictures.


It was windy at the ridgecrest, and several hang gliders were showing their stuff.


Just below him, the Morton salt piles.


And here, we see him to the left of the Tesla factory on the near shore, with the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct crossing in the background, the the Hoover tower of Stanford University just visible in the upper left corner.


And there were several adult wild turkeys with their chicks. The chicks were the size of a chicken or a duck. Big birds.


A tale of two Saturdays

January 27, 2013

Saturday 19 January 2013

I hiked Rancho San Antonio today, one I don’t do very often because it’s always busy and crowded, and I like to get out away from things. Off at the far corner of the park is a fire road (Black Mountain road) that goes to the top of the ridge.


Here’s the view from the top, in various directions. My friend Shan was in town during the following week. We walked along the levee trail in Shoreline park, and she asked where I had been last weekend. I pointed to the ridgetop, here.


The outcroppings provide a good place to sit, soak up photons and calories, and enjoy the day.


It is not crispy crystal clear, but that variegated blue stuff below the sky is the Pacific ocean. Looking further down, we see the Christmas tree farm near the Long Ridge open space preserve, which was the destination of my killer hike last weekend.


I like to add on Hidden Villa as a side trip, an anastomosis in the trail, if you will. It turns an industrial-grade hike into a semi-killer hike (less than 20 miles, but 4200 vertical feet of gain). The trail maps of Rancho San Antonio do not show the connector trails going into the Hidden Villa, but there are signs at the trail junctions.

Mid-November is about the latest time at which we ever find tarantulas. But I found one today, dead on the trail. It was in reasonably good condition, surely not two months dead. Interesting!

There is a Bunny trail here. I have noticed the signs before, and wondered whether this is the simple loop for small children. Later, I discovered that it is named after the nearby Bunny creek, and from the topo map, it does not appear to be a wimpy trail at all. Maybe next time, I’ll check it out.

Hidden Villa has a slightly wetter and perhaps warmer climate than Rancho, and spring is in evidence.


On the fenceposts, low patches of moss, but sprouting ambitiously.


In contrast to the springy environment above, many of the low areas back in Rancho San Antonio were still heavy white with frost, the puddles hard frozen, even in mid-afternoon. Where the sun never shines….

Saturday 26 January 2013

I thought I would hike from Mission peak over to Sunol today. It was a chilly, foggy day when I started, but warm enough on the uphill (3 miles, average grade 1 in 6) that I stowed the jackets in my backpack, and climbed in shirtsleeves.

The trail was wetter than I had expected, and that made it more work. Consider the extra effort of unsticking a boot from the mud on each step, sliding backward a little with each step and having to recover both the distance and the balance. It adds up. I’m still optimistic about the day clearing up, but maybe I won’t go all the way to Sunol.

The fog got thicker as I got higher up, and near the ridgetop, the wind picked up, the air filled with tiny icy pricklets of water. Stopped to put on a jacket.

The weather continued to deteriorate. Not really rain, in the sense of large drops, but so much water in the air that everything was instantly wet. Heavy condensation on my glasses. Strong, cold wind.

The fog was so thick that I missed the trail turnoff to go down the backside of the hill, and found myself at the top instead. Maybe discretion is the better part, and all that, so I went on across the top and down the heavily trafficked main trail. At least I have adequate clothing, although a pair of gloves would have been welcome. I couldn’t believe the day hikers wearing tee shirts up here!

The main trail is mostly rock and gravel, so not as treacherous as the muddy Horse Heaven uphill trail. But near the bottom, I skidded out and fell in the mud. Messy!

When I got to the car, I spread my jacket over the seat as protection for the upholstery, muddy side up. At home, I unloaded the backpack and the few things that hadn’t gotten muddy, then went into the little utility room off the garage, stripped down and washed mud off everything. Finally, into the shower to wash the mud off the David.

As it happened, I chose the worst direction to go this morning. In every direction I looked, except the southeast, the sky was blue and clear. The rest of the bay area was having a terrific day. So I went out and wandered around town, where spring is indeed peeking out all over.




Mission Peak, Sunol Flag hill

November 3, 2012

First, a note on yesterday’s blog. Our redwood deck has a significant amount of space under the floor. For a while, raccoons thought it would be a good place to live, until I put chicken wire around the periphery. For the last year or so, it has been home to an alligator lizard (below, photo from last May).

We have always had a lot of small spiders in, on, under and around the deck. Until the alligator lizard came along. Then there were no spiders (burp!).

But I haven’t seen the lizard since last spring, probably about the time I took this picture. And the spiders are back!

Lizards have to eat, too, but it’s nice to have spiders.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

If I go to the Stanford avenue entrance to Mission Peak well before sunrise, maybe I will even be able to park in the lot, rather than down on the street below. So I thought. Wrong! The sky was only just beginning to show a bit of light in the east, and I had to park as far away from the trailhead as I ever have before. People like to do this in the dark!

And indeed, I saw a number of lights from flashlights carried by hikers on the way up. I guess they like to be at the top when the sun comes up.

As for me, I relied on the fact that the first part of the route is fire road, so I don’t need to see anything in detail. After half an hour, there was enough light to see color — we had our first rain of the season last week, and the grass is already green! — and take off my padded vest, having climbed several hundred feet and warmed up.

I was almost at the top when the sun finally rose. A pretty view over the Sunol valley to the north and east; I believe I have never before seen it fogged in. Mt Diablo to the right.

As I crossed the shoulder and started down the other side, I saw a coyote. We looked each other over and went our separate ways. Thirty seconds later, another coyote. Mom and pop? And then yet another. I hope they’re well fed on rabbit and wild turkey — dealing with three at once — oop! make that four! — would be quite a challenge.

These coyotes probably don’t have direct experience, but maybe they bring in guest speaker coyotes from Nevada or Wyoming, speakers who tell them tales about rifles.

Lots of dew in the early morning. It promises to be a wonderful day.

I noticed a rock made of fragmented seashells and had a minor epiphany: I bet shell and shale are derived from the same root word!

Well, the hike to Sunol is an industrial grade trek, but it’s not a killer hike. 15 miles or thereabouts. But I was early, it was a nice day, and well, why not! So I went on up to the top of Flag Hill (below). It adds a few miles and a thousand feet of climb (total: 19 miles, 4900 vertical feet).

At their request, I had photographed a group of half a dozen other hikers here. They enjoyed the hilltop while I went on down.

And what should I discover on the trail, but possibly the last tarantula of the season! Great!

Sunol park was celebrating its 50th birthday, and the visitor center area was full of rangers, docents, pavilions and exhibits. Not that many participants: maybe the real events happen this afternoon. I wandered around, refilled the water bottle, soaked up a few calories and went on.

As I neared the bottom on the Mission Peak side, I was behind Mom and four-year-old daughter, and Dad and six-year-old son were behind me. I stepped carefully across the rails of the cattle gate, and the son remarked, “You know, you can walk at the edge.”

I turned and said, “Sometimes we choose not to do things the easiest way. It’s more of a challenge.” So the boy came up and walked with me. Quite a conversation, about running on the downhills, about my GPS receiver, and then on into skiing, skateboards, snowboards and that was only the limit because we reached the parking lot and had to say our good-byes.

What a terrific day!

Achilles surgery — the end

August 19, 2012

Wednesday was a physical therapy day. I also tried an experimental run for the first time: very slow, only about a mile. Sore ankle.


Last weekend, I hiked 20 miles with 4000 vertical feet, but in two days. This weekend, my goal is to do a real hike, not a killer, but one that I might do on an ordinary weekend day, and not spread over two days. Mission Peak to Sunol, for instance (16 miles, 4000 vertical feet).

On my way into Sunol headquarters, after having crossed Calaveras road, I met six or eight hikers going the other way, up toward Mission Peak. I suppose I should describe the impression they made as immature — the word clueless comes to mind, but that’s not charitable. The leader was carrying a staff topped with a feather.

I stopped at the Sunol visitor center, talked with a very nice young woman about tarantulas (I had seen the first tarantula wasp of the season just a few minutes before), snakes, horned lizards (she told me they are water-lovers: no wonder I have only ever seen one!).

After soaking up some calories and refilling the water bottle — there is no running water, but they bring jug water, and much appreciated it is! — I started back.

Clueless is perhaps the better description. Where the trail crosses Calaveras road, both gates were wide open! Just up from the road crossing, food wrappers on the trail. Half an hour further along, someone’s baseball cap, and then further, a pair of shower shoes. Clueless, indeed.

In distinct contrast, I was overtaken by a guy who had started at the Ohlone colleage trailhead, run not only to Sunol headquarters, but up Flag Hill (twice) and on several of the other trails uphill from the headquarters. Impressive; good for him!

At the top of the climb is a more-or-less horizontal fire road that runs below Mission Peak on the east side. Two guys there, lying in the shade. Part of the Clueless gang? Another four or five over at the campground, whose appearance from a distance definitely suggested Clueless.

I didn’t go that way, turned toward the north shoulder. Where the trail breaks off to go to the top, two guys were standing, waiting, one of them striking a pose with his feathertopped stick, wondering where their loyal followers were. I answered their questions as briefly as possible, and was not in fact very helpful.

As I started down, I was asked by another guy whether that was the right trail to the parking lot. I told him there were two parking areas, but it sounded like he wanted the Stanford avenue descent. Down he went, much faster than I.

I am not wasting time, but I am also in no hurry. Today’s goal is just to do the hike. … At the bottom, my friend was waiting for the rest of his party; he confirmed that it was in fact the correct parking area.

You meet all kinds.


My ankle feels okay, so I went out for a little bike ride. 35 miles, 1700 vertical feet, nothing fancy. Only real adventure was seeing emergency medical vehicles at one of the Portola Valley churches. I wonder if they ask their god for a time-out when something like this happens? I wonder if their god grants it…. Sorry, I shouldn’t be frivolous about medical emergencies. The gods are not really involved in such things.

After going down Foothill expressway and Grant road to join the Stevens creek rec trail, I came back via the new bike bridge across 101, which mostly caters to Google. I picked it up at Amphitheatre parkway and went south along Permanente creek. Where it crosses Charleston road, there is a raised median, and you are advised to ride half a block out of your way to an official crossing. I’m disappointed: Googlers are usually pretty savvy about these things; maybe they couldn’t talk the Mountain View project managers into good sense (I have my own experiences along those lines).

In any event, a new experience.

I noticed yesterday that the laces in my hiking boots are fraying, so I stopped at REI for a new pair, then home. After soaking my feet in a bucket of ice water for a while, I walked to the library to exchange a couple of books.

I think my continuing soreness is the result of the exercises and stretches prescribed by Dave, my physical therapist. That’s fine, as long as I understand what’s going on.

So I promise that this will be the last of the medically-oriented posts.

Ohlone wilderness, Rose peak

January 3, 2010

2010 January 2, Saturday

What better way to start out the new year than a hike to Rose peak, one of the more difficult of the bay area hikes – 20 miles, 5000 vertical feet, out and back from Sunol park headquarters?

I started just before sunrise, and climbed fast enough to stay in the clear, ahead of the fog that was filling in the valleys behind me. Met a couple guys at the backpack camp, but no one else until I reached Rose peak itself. A group there, had come up from Del Valle, also a 20 mile hike; guy told me there were 23 people.

There was an eagle at Rose peak; got a few shots that turned out not too badly, if I do say so myself. Doris says it’s a golden eagle, even though it seems darker than I would have expected.

Also a view of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada in the distance.

The hike down was above and within the fog that had continued to advance over the course of the day. Pea soup sometimes, but beautiful all the time. An exceptionally beautiful day.

The slide show (6 MB): Rose peak