Posts Tagged ‘wild pigs’

Grant Ranch — Are we there yet?

August 25, 2013

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Mid-Peninsula Open Space District had its annual volunteer appreciation fest today. Jacky and I drove to Montebello open space preserve, where there was a considerably larger than expected crowd of volunteers and staff. There were two ranger-led hikes; we went on the Los Trancos hike, a little over 3 miles. Then we stopped at the food wagons, where Jacky restrained herself to one entree. I also had one entree, one, that is, from each of the three food wagons. Plus, for both of us, a stop at the ice cream truck.

Sunday, 25 August

Grant Ranch today. I haven’t been here for a while, and the temperature is predicted to be only in the low 80s, so it shouldn’t be too bad. I parked at my usual spot, on Mt Hamilton road near the old barn on the Washburn road trail.


Nice to see wildflowers, even this late in the season, some of them really pretty.



The trail descends to cross a creek, dry at this time of year, then cilmbs out the other side. As a vague general rule, when you see mostly blue sky beyond the trail horizon, you can conclude that you’re getting close to the top.


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


We go around the curve. Are we there yet? No, but I bet that’s the top!


That post marks the junction with Tamien trail, so yes, we really are just about there.


The view from the Tamien trail junction, looking down at the old barn, my car a white dot at the far right of the expanded picture below.



We go around the curve. Are we there yet?


All right, all right, enough of this. Yes, we are there. Nothing but down in all directions. 1500 feet of gain in about 2 miles. Drenched with sweat, even though it’s still the coolth of the morning.

Even though I have done this many times, I still succumb to the fond illusion that I’m almost there.

Down the other side, nowhere near as far down as it was up, into the valley of the Pala Seca cabin. When I first began hiking Grant Ranch, it was shown on the trail map as the Line Shack. But then they discovered that President Theodore Roosevelt used to use it as a hunting lodge, so they fixed it up a little and dressed up its name.


A herd of maybe 20 wild pigs running along the hill above me, then across the trail and down the other side. Glad they’re afraid of humans; if they wanted to, they could easily kill me and eat me. Really! The most dangerous things in the park. Let’s hope they never get smart.


From the back steps of the Pala Seca cabin, where I stopped for calories, a view of downtown San Jose. I don’t think I had ever noticed that particular view before; it’s a clear day.


Doris, what flavour woodpecker are these? (Acorn woodpecker, she says.)


Many hours later, after having met two hikers, the only two of the day, and two mountain bikies, the only two of the day, I stopped again for calories, overlooking a small pond with a drastically subsided shoreline. Frogs, frogs everywhere. This picture shows at least 7, and that’s just on the mud.


Even though it’s not all that hot, it seems muggy. Clouds building up, and we see that a flying saucer has attacked Lick Observatory, which will never again be so foolish as to report little green men on Alpha Centaurus.

Muggy it was. Using more water than I expected, so I shortened the course a little, down to about 19 miles and 3600 feet of climb. Even so, the water bottle was reading E when I got back to the car.




Killer hikes and pumpkins

October 14, 2012

Saturday, 13 October 2013

The Half Moon Bay art and pumpkin festival is this weekend. We haven’t been to that for donkey’s years… by the time we got started, there was already something of a backup in the traffic on highway 92. The locals were charging $10 (and up) for parking, but we went on down behind the shopping centre to the park and ride area, no charge, almost deserted.

Wall to wall people! This is something to do once in a donkey’s years, and in between, go somewhere quiet. But we walked the six or eight blocks of displays and vendors. Some nice art, but we’re cheapskates. The nicest thing was the free glass of water from the local filtration plant. This year’s massive-est pumpkin came in at 1770+ pounds. I remember when the world’s largest pumpkin was less than half that weight! All that mass is mostly water, of course, but the pumpkin is big enough to fit a person into, maybe two persons if they were good friends.

Sunday, 14 October

I don’t like crowds, but the world is far better shared with a friend. My hiking buddies have included Shan, Jie Hyun, Albert, Elmar, Jaume, Doris, Anna and of course Jacky, but I don’t have a regular hiking buddy for here at home. When I’m doing it alone, I might as well do a killer hike. The last time I did Grant Ranch was June 2… I’ll try it again. My route is from a roadhead at the old barn around the outermost loop of trails in the park, 21.2 miles and about 4400 vertical feet of climb.

The sun had just topped the mountains when I started. The first mile descends to a creek bed (dry at this time of year), after which the trail gains 1500 feet in two additional miles. I like getting this grunt out of the way early, while the day is still cool; it warms me up and avoids the knee-breaking downhill that would be necessary if I went the other way around.

We tend not to have that much colour in the foliage around here, but autumn does have its special points.

Even the poison oak is attractive (look but don’t touch!).

The sun had not completely illuminated the world…

From the top of the climb. The barn at the far right, Grant Lake at the far left. We hike along this ridge, which more or less curves around to the left, then descend into the valley, climb out the other side and close the loop along the ridge on the far side.

In the valley below the Pala Seca cabin, I came upon half a dozen wild pigs grazing for acorns under an oak tree. They didn’t see me for a minute, and I shot a few pictures before they ran off.

These are the most dangerous wild animals around. They are large, intelligent, fast and vicious. I don’t know whether they are intelligent enough to understand the concept of roast pork, but they run from humans, and I’m glad they do. I wouldn’t want to surprise one in tight quarters.

I met one mountain bikie, and one dog walker near the Twin Gates parking area where I crossed the road, and that was it for the entire day. How different from the mobs at the pumpkin festival!

Well, it gets to be a long hard day, hot on the uphills, pleasantly cool when the breeze blows. This time, I brought enough water! And about 4:30 in the afternoon, I got a look at the barn from the other side.

The morning’s hike was approximately along those grassy ridges, left to right. Lick Observatory high above it all. Nice place, but the rains of winter will be welcome.

The beauties of Grant ranch

November 26, 2011

26 November 2011

The weather is good, so I want to do a hike every day during the holiday weekend. Therefore, I’m not going to do any killer hikes, which would imply rest days. Grant ranch today, but only an inner trail loop (14 miles, 3000 vertical feet).

When I arrived at the Grant lake parking lot, five pigs were busy rooting up the grass. I had never realized before how destructive they are, but they really tear up the turf. In small quantities, this is no problem, but they seem to have overrun the park.

These guys were small, probably born last spring, but they had no fear of humans. That’s bad, because when they grow to adulthood, they will be big, nasty, vicious and very dangerous. Speaking as a human, our best protection is their propensity to stay far away from us.

Indeed, I came upon an extended family of about ten later on, and they scurried away as fast as they could. The trails were heavily pitted with the marks of cloven hooves. It’s well past the time for a hunt to clear them out. Suckling pig for holiday dinner, anyone?

It was a cool, clear day, with almost no one on the trail. I came upon a feather, its fluffy bits filled with dew. Nice! And worth a few photos.

What I like in this last one is the little insect off there on the side.

The other micro-adventure of the day was the coyote, walking straight toward me in the middle of the trail, head in the clouds, maybe meditating. It was a full five seconds after we came into each other’s field of view before it noticed me.

A quick 180 and off it ran at full speed.

Grant ranch hike

January 24, 2010

23 January 2010

It has been raining hard and steadily for several days now; the flatlands have received several inches, and the hills even more. So I was only moderately ambitious when I went to Grant ranch – it might well not be possible to do a whole lot.

As expected the Mt Hamilton road was closed at Grant ranch, due to snow further up the mountain. No problem. I started off on the hotel trail, but after jumping across one stream, I decided to turn back at the second. It’s really unpleasant to have boots full of water; there is a stretch further along where the trail goes along the streambed for some distance, further than I would want to walk barefoot. Even so, I had to take off the boots and ford one stream barefoot to reach the higher country where there was not so much standing and running water.

Ended up at Antler point, overlooking the old line shack (now Pala Seca cabin), and Mount Day.


I should investigate whether there are publicly accessible trails on Mt Day, and how to get there. It would be new terrain.

Just down the hill from Antler point, I spotted a family of wild pigs heading for an oak tree to graze on acorns. The guard saw me before long, and they eventually decided that somewhere else would be a good place. They are big and mean, and I was just as glad to be a hundred meters away and well up the hill.


It was a variable day: rain, cold wind, sun, warm enough to take off the jacket, then more cold wind. No problem; a beautiful day. Probably pretty unpleasant on the higher hills.



One thing about this kind of weather is that you get outstandingly beautiful views.


Lick Observatory was largely obscured by its own private weather, but when the clouds opened, it added to the beauty of the scene.



Although I saw one mountain bikie, I actually met no one all day until I was down to the lake, almost at the parking lot. Nice to have the world to myself.

It was after 3. The road up the mountain was still closed. It seemed that everyone in the bay area had decided to come up the hill to see the snow. Ha! – no snow here, sorry. As much traffic as I think I have ever seen on Mt Hamilton road.

Nice day, even if it was only 16 miles, 2500 vertical feet.