Posts Tagged ‘Tarantula’

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Beautiful big guy!

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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!

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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.

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.