Posts Tagged ‘Windy Hill open space preserve’

‘Nother rattlesnake !

August 15, 2015

One of my volunteer projects is to eradicate — well, try to eradicate — yellow star thistle (YST) at Windy Hill open space preserve. I went to the Anniversary trail section this morning to sweep for YST. At this time of year, I think once a month is about right, and it has been about a month. I found enough to justify the effort, but it really is getting pretty sparse. Definitely making progress. The seed remains viable for a few years, so it is a continuing effort, but there’s hope.

The air was heavily hazy in all directions, as wildfires burn everywhere. My venue was windy, cool and pleasant until about mid-morning, when the smell of smoke became stronger and I called it quits.

Today’s adventure: as I uprooted a small thistle, my eye noticed several smooth and tubular things about a foot from my hand. My first thought was a pile of droppings of some kind; when my eyes zoomed out, I realized it was a heavily squinched rattlesnake.

I am very happy to report that we each went our separate ways without confrontation. No picture; I reached for my camera (having retreated to a safe distance), but it didn’t stay around. As it disappeared into its hole, it shook its rattles goodbye.

Two rattlesnakes in two weeks. That’s pretty special.

Snake day at Windy Hill

August 9, 2015

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Today was for hiking all the trails at Windy Hill, a bit more than 18 miles, a bit less than 4000 feet of vertical gain. Nice to get out and get a little exercise.

I haven’t seen very many snakes this year, nor for the past few years. I think the drought has reduced the amount of vegetation available for the little field mice and voles that form the snakes’ diet, and the snake population has declined accordingly.


So I was delighted to find a rattlesnake today.


It was quiet and relaxed. I was quiet and relaxed. Two or three minutes, during which I fired off a number of photos, and then it oozed off the trail into the bush.


I mentioned having seen a rattlesnake to several dog walkers I met afterward. Some of them tightened up their leashes. It’s good if no one gets hurt, including the snake.


Not much further along, another snake, this one a gopher snake. My cup runneth over!

And just to gild the lily, I came upon two hikers a few minutes later, still looking off the trail into the weeds, where they told me a ringneck snake had just disappeared.

Great day, great place!

Golden summer

July 3, 2015

Friday, 3 July 2015

A couple days ago, I worked on yellow star thistle at Windy Hill open space preserve. This requires going off-trail into the tall grass, and I spent half an hour picking seeds out of my socks afterward. Today I tried a pair of gaiters that I have had for quite a while and possibly never worn before. They helped a lot, but I need to figure out how to properly fasten them down.

Los Trancos today, where I spent four hours, prevented hundreds of thousands of seeds from entering the next-generation ecosystem, and didn’t even make a dent. Foof! Only the photos made it worthwhile.


From a distance, this looked like a fox lurking in the tall grass.


I found two manti, this one in amongst the YST (that’s what we regulars call yellow-star thistle). There were probably a few thousand that I didn’t see, and if this one hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t have seen it either.


It wasn’t really happy about posing for photos, but I fired off fifty or eighty shots, and a few of them turned out not too bad.



Later on, a big spider hiding behind a grass seed pod. If it can’t see me, I obviously can’t see it. When I worked around behind it, it scurried down the stem and disappeared on the ground.


Hot day, hard work, good to bail out after a while and head for home.

Photon accumulation

June 19, 2015

Thursday, 18 June 2015

I try to minimize jetlag by collecting all the photons available. So of course, I did a trail patrol at Windy Hill today, spent an hour or so removing thistle, and came upon this beautiful alligator lizard.




Alligator lizards are especially good photographic subjects because they freeze instead of running. I was only a couple of cm away from it when I shot that last photo. Just to make sure it was healthy, I then nudged it with my toe, and it took off into the bush.

Good to be home.

Easter, Windy Hill

April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday, 5 April 2015

Russian ridge yesterday, with a volunteer crew, working on Italian thistle and broom. Cool and clear, nice day.

It was supposed to rain later today, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time driving. Better to hike before the rain starts. Windy Hill is closest, and by doing a figure-8 on the trails, I can make it a non-trivial hike (almost 15 miles, 3300 vertical feet).


When the wild flowers are out, the wild animals can’t be far behind.







Not sure what these are. Interesting. [Follow-up: Tom C says they are dwarf owls clover.]





I have no idea what the English (latin) name for these would be (above), but in Caterpillar (below), they’re called Delicious.




Collected my first tick of the season. I gave her the brush-off before it occurred to me that I should have photographed her first. Well, there will doubtless be other opportunities.

Never did get real rain to speak of, a cool pleasant day. The weather discouraged the heavy turnout that might otherwise have happened, but those of us out there on the trail had a great time.

Trail patrol in the rain

February 8, 2015

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The radio predicted a chance of rain, scattered showers with the possibility of a thunderstorm. That’s much less ominous than yesterday’s forecast. Having a nasty, suspicious mind, I looked at the weather radar. Clear now, and a solid block of green and yellow and orange pixels off the coast, heading this way. Right! So much for the radio optimists.

But there is no such thing as bad weather, merely inadequate clothing. And although I did some work yesterday, it wasn’t cardiovascular exercise. Start early, maybe avoid the worst of the rain?

And it was raining, fairly seriously, as I drove to Windy Hill, the closest and most convenient of the preserves that offer a route to Skyline ridge. Having washed the urushiol off my jacket and cap yesterday (I hope), I was back in business with some level of resistance to water. The newts are out, and good for them. Haven’t seen any for a while.

I decided to wear my padded vest over the long-sleeved tee shirt. Glad I did; the wind and rain were vicious at the top. Well, not vicious enough to make me zip the armpit vents of my rain shell, but vicious enough. I turned back down Hamm’s Gulch trail, and after descending not very far at all, the weather was vastly improved.

As always under these circumstances, there was debris on the trail, much of which was small enough that I could remove it myself. Only one that I had to report for subsequent attention by the chainsaw crew.


This photo shows a situation that’s worth special mention, a tree just getting ready to fall, levering its root up out of the ground. I don’t know whether it has minutes or hours, but I bet it won’t last for days before coming down.

Nicely timed. As I got back to the parking lot, the desultory rain turned into hard rain. Had I been a minute later, I would have been in the car, rather than on the way to the car, but then, I would have missed the photo above. Nice to get home where I draped jacket and cap over the bicycle handlebars in the garage, dropped socks and gloves on the slate floor of the solarium, shed everything else into the bathtub to drain and dry, and stepped into a hot shower!

Sierra Azul

October 26, 2014

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Sierra Azul open space preserve is said to have 24.4 miles of trail, and hiking all of them generally adds an overhead of 50%, so it was clear that I was not going to do all the trails here in one visit. Two, probably. It was raining — the first rain this season — and wonderful to get out into it. The faded, dusty colours brighten up and the world looks great. And there is no such thing as bad weather, merely inadequate clothing. Not a problem.

I parked at Lexington reservoir and hiked the figure-8 trails (well, I actually hiked a PG-rated 33 set of trails), as well as a 4-mile down and back side trip to Kennedy road parking. Total 19 miles, over 5000 vertical feet. Hard day, but it felt good in the coolth.

Because of the rain, I put my cell phone and car keys into ziploc baggies, and left the real camera at home. So there aren’t many pictures: the GPS receiver has a camera, probably not even as good as the cell phone. These are from the Limekiln quarry, across the canyon as I descended back toward Lexington reservoir at the end of the day.




Jacky and I dined at an Indian restaurant (street food: and indeed we ate on the street), then went to a performance of the SF chamber orchestra at a local church whose pews have been padded in the seat in compliance with the Geneva convention, but still torture the lumbar vertabrae. We lasted until the interval. A good day.

Sunday, 26 October

I had rather intended to do another killer hike today and finish off Sierra Azul, but decided instead to go to Windy Hill and chase broom. I had volunteered to work on the broom along the lower part of Razorback ridge trail. I had already suspected that there was some form of Ur-forest of broom uphill and upwind from the trailside manifestations, and in last Sunday’s visit, I speculated on the location, a clear spot visible in the aerial photographs on Google earth.

Today I thought I would try to reach the hypothetical eye of the broomicane, but I was unable to find a good way to get there. What I did discover is an old power line, possibly inactive: at least one pole had no wires on it. The comparatively open space under it was a hotbed for broom, but unfortunately, also for poison oak. I looked for broom, found a lot, removed a lot, until my enthusiasm waned.


When I got home, I checked the GPS track with Google earth. Today’s work is above. Alpine road goes uphill across the upper right corner of the picture; Rapley trail goes uphill more or less straight down the picture. Damiani creek from lower center to upper right. GPS track in blue, erratic because of unreliable reception in the  woods.

Google earth includes aerial photography archives. The oldest available photos of this area date from 1953. I overlaid today’s GPS track onto it for reference. As we see, there was a patch of open country at the time, where today we find a lot of broom. The 1953 resolution is good enough to show shadows of the trees, so if there was ever a house in the clearing, it was gone by 1953.


I traced the outline of the open space in red and overlaid it onto the 2014 photo. Broom likes to get started in open areas, but it is perfectly capable of spreading into forests, which seems to be what is going on here. It is clear that unless this Ur-forest can be controlled, there will be a rear-guard action along the trail, continuing forever.

Today’s adventures. Check this space to see whether I managed to avoid the poison oak.

Completing more anvil trails

August 30, 2014

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The anvil award goes to those who patrol all of the open space district trails. For today’s increment, I started just after 7 on Page Mill road at the head of Montebello road, and completed my remaining trails in Montebello with a hike of a bit less than 5 miles.


Then I drove to the Horseshoe lake parking area at Skyline ridge, and with a bit less than 7 miles, completed the set of trails there. Fir knoll trail, very pretty, and from the high point on Butano ridge trail, a look back at Montebello ridge. I started this morning on the left, at the top of that ridge, and hiked to a point just beyond the communications towers.

In the nearground, the tree farm, and in between, Stevens Canyon, along which runs the San Andreas fault.


From the Ipawa trail, an overlook view that goes on forever. Butano ridge in the background (well, Pacific ocean really in the background), and any number of creeklets that, if it were ever to rain again, would ultimately deliver water to Pescadero creek, thence to the sea.


Some of the oaks are amazingly large, not so much in trunk size as in sheer span. It is not surprising that branches come crashing down every now and again.


As far as I know, oaks live until something kills them. Disease, I suppose. Elegant in death, and they give the woodpeckers something to do.

From Skyline ridge, I went to Long ridge, where I invested another 5 miles of hike in the northerly trails. I’ll need to come back once more to complete the trails here, but I can probably combine that visit with the Saratoga gap trails.

Historically, I have tried to hike the biggest loop I could construct on the map, or failing that, killer out and back routes. By committing to hike all of the trails, I discover any number of really pretty little fill-in choices that I have either never hiked before or have forgotten over the course of the years. Glad I’m doing this!

It has been three weeks since I finished my yellow-star thistle project at Windy hill. I know it’s impossible to get them all, and the seeds continue to germinate, even in the absence of rain. So I stopped to have a look. The yellow star thistle was fairly minimal; I did a good job. But I also attacked a small colony of purple star thistle, which filled my bucket to overflowing, likewise the garbage can when I took it home. Overall, I’m pretty happy with that project.

17 miles, 3200 feet of climb. I earned my beer.

And as it nears its second birthday, my car turned over 10 000 miles on the way home. Being mostly a telecommuter now, I don’t need to drive all that much. Nice.

Windy Hill, Russian Ridge

August 2, 2014

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Last weekend, I discovered yellow star thistle at Windy Hill. Not very much, but it would be good to eradicate it before it can spread.


So I left the car on Skyline at the top of Spring Ridge trail about 7, hiked down to the area I had skipped last weekend. It was just at the top of the fog that was blanketing Silicon Valley, cool and pleasant.


I think the temperature was around 60F, cool enough that this bee was lethargic. A bee never lets a camera get that close! I’m sure that the warmth of the sun rejuvenated it a few minutes later.

The thistle colony on Spring Ridge trail proved to be fairly small and local; although I swept the area on either side of the trail, I didn’t find anything more. For completeness, I thought I’d go back to Anniversary trail, along the top, where I had tried to clean it all out last weekend. It’s impossible to get them all; a second pass is a good idea.

And there were indeed a few along the trail, where I had been last weekend. But in being thorough, I went up the steep embankment above the trail, into the tall grass, and found a lot more. A lot more.

I ended up spending three hours on this stuff, at which time I had run out of hauling capacity and enthusiasm. Maybe I (or someone) will come back and get the rest of it.

Stopped at another gate on Skyline, did a quick hike to pick up a little stub trail that I had missed in last weekend’s effort to hike all the trails at Windy Hill. Now it’s complete.

Then I went on to Russian Ridge, parked at the vista point along Skyline, and hiked all of the trails in the northwest area of the preserve.


We hear about Langley Hill, and in particular, Langley Hill quarry. It has the look of a long-abandoned dig, until we zoom in, and then it looks pretty active. Not as big as the massive Permanente quarry west of San Jose, but big enough.


The windmill, turning lackadaisically in the light breeze. It has the appearance of being in full working order. Maybe it keeps that tank filled from a well, and provides reliable water pressure to the few homes below here.


Stopped at Alder spring, which really does have a few alders. I think they’re not native here; maybe imported by some settler long ago. Under their shade, a thick growth of berries, a dozen of which were both ripe enough to eat and accessible. After wet winters, there are berries all over the place, but they’re pretty rare during the drought. A good thing to do.

Only 11.5 miles, 1800 vertical feet today, but with an investment of 7 hours, it still seemed like a fair bit of work.

Anvil trails: Windy Hill

July 27, 2014

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Maybe something less than a killer hike today? Maybe just a few local trails to contribute to the anvil total? Somewhere close and convenient, like Windy Hill?

For those who haven’t been following the details, the Anvil award goes to anyone who hikes all of the open space district’s 200+ miles of trails. Nothing says that any given open space preserve has to be conquered in one day, but it’s something of a challenge.

What they don’t point out is that, because of the topology involved, you end up having to hike most of the trails twice over, some of them three times, and on yesterday’s adventure, even one short stretch four times. And it will get to be another hot day.

So I started around 6:30, by hiking the outer perimeter trails, along with their stubs and loops.


A nice dawn. We don’t get a lot of really pretty or interesting clouds here, so this is a little unusual.

With a jaded eye, especially from yesterday, I was watching for undesirable plants. Windy Hill is impressively clean, but I found two small colonies of yellow star thistle (YST), the stuff I have been battling at Los Trancos. I had neither gloves nor a bucket, so the best I could do was mark the spots with GPS for subsequent action.


The view from the top of Windy Hill, looking off toward the ocean. Nice! Windy up here (funny about that!) and almost chilly. Too bad I can’t bottle it for the heat we’ll get later.

Along Lost trail, I heard a tree fall. A brief creak, then a sound like a shot. I couldn’t see anything, but it was well below me, somewhere down there where I’m going. Kept an eye open, and found a freshly broken bay laurel branch arching over the trail half an hour later. No way to know whether it was the one I heard, but the leaves were still fresh, so it had fallen very recently.

Did my trail patrol duty by GPS marking and reporting a spot where a clump of vines had come down across the trail. I am not equipped to deal with poison oak, and certainly have no inclination to do so. Still itchy, sore, greatly swollen.

Returned all the way back to the parking lot, where I picked up gloves, bucket, and the water I had left in the car. Figured out a route back up to Skyline that went through forest, even if not through cool, deep forest, and would result in giving me all the trails in the preserve by day’s end. When it’s time, I’ll go back down on the sunny route, but in the hot sun, down is better than up.

It was hot enough that my ass was dragging. Even carrying the (almost) empty bucket up the hill got to be a nuisance. But eventually, there I was at the YST colony on Anniversary trail. More growth there than I had thought; I ended up pretty much filling up the bucket. One pair of hikers made a point of thanking me for doing a thankless job; I talked with a runner, who may turn out to be a volunteer himself one of these days.

And I headed back down the hill. I’ll report the other colony of YST on my patrol log, but I have neither time, water, bucket space nor enthusiasm for attacking it today. Rationed the last of my water carefully, got to the parking lot dry.

An easy day? Windy Hill is advertised to contain 12.2 miles of trails, but hiking all of them cost me over 19 miles, and 3700 vertical feet. Yet a second killer day in a row; the car thermometer said it was 90 degrees when I left the parking lot.

Home in time to welcome Steve and Mary to see our new deck, soak up some munchies and drinks, swap stories about any number of topics. Good to see them!

Windy Hill

April 20, 2014

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A nice day for a short hike. Windy Hill is nearby, easy to reach, and enough work to make it feel worthwhile (short loop 7 miles, 1500 vertical feet). This is one of the parking lots that overflows severely on weekends. But as a morning person, I never have trouble.

I like to ascend Spring Ridge trail, open and steep, good for the cool time of morning. Off to the side, a coyote prowling around looking for breakfast. The wildflowers are out, yellow and pink and red and orange. Nice.

Along the ridge top, I can see fog lying along the coast, but ocean beyond.


The descent is long and gradual, mostly through the forest. I had never particularly noticed before, but it’s true that the wildflowers in the forest tend toward the blue. Not to say there aren’t blue flowers in the open country, and pink flowers in the forest, but there are differences in the predominant groups.

At one point, the ground was peppered with tiny blue flakes, and the overhead was filled with the sound of buzzing. I looked up the embankment, to see the expected ceanothus, surrounded by bees.


I heard a snake, saw the vegetation move to indicate where it was going, but never did get a glimpse of it. Probably a garter snake. Good show!


Guaranteeing a continuing supply of beetles.


On the way back, I stopped for a moment at Sausal pond. A few frogs lurked until it was time to jump away, a lizard froze in hopes I wouldn’t see it, a few dragonflies darted around, quite a few tiny fish prowled the shallows at the edge.


Mellow weekend

October 20, 2013

Saturday, 19 October, 2013

I hadn’t been out on the bike for quite a while — I blush to think how long it’s been — so I did a little sport ride, 52 miles, 2000 feet of gain. Nice to be outdoors, nice to get an endorphin high.

Sunday, 20 October


I had some work to do, so cut today’s hike down to a minimum, 9.75 miles, 1900 vertical feet. Windy Hill, with a nice view over silicon valley and out toward the coast.




When first I saw this chunk of log atop a fencepost, I thought it was a joke. But I have seen a couple more here and there, and finally figured out that they are intended as perches for raptors. If the result is a reduction in the overpopulation of ground squirrels, more power to them!

New boots, Windy Hill, Small animals

May 25, 2013

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Last weekend, I had new hiking boots, and set off on a 19-mile hike under the assumption that they were going to be just fine. Not!

REI took them back without a squawk, dusty as they were. What a great company! How many places would do that!

With a new, new pair of hiking boots today, I’m a little more cautious. I went to Windy Hill, whose short loop is about 8 miles, and whose long loop is about 12. As well as being able to turn around and go back, I can stitch these together to a total trek from roughly 8 to 24 miles, in 4-mile increments, assuming I go around not more than twice.

Bottom line: twice around, once on the outer loop, again on the inner loop. 15 miles, 3000+ vertical feet. Sore medial malleolus of left tibia, until I loosened the laces. I think they will be okay.

It was chilly. I set off without a jacket, but there was enough wind that I went back to the car and put on my padded vest. Glad I had it; even in the afternoon, it was chilly.


The day started off with a dragonfly, considerately posing on the trail for photos. I hope no one steps on it.



When a millipede goes for a walk, it’s a really big deal! Either that, or it’s nothing to even think about. Or maybe both.


But when mom takes the kids for a walk… well, shouldn’t the kids do at least a little bit of the work?


By the way, this is a really special sighting, one that doesn’t happen very often at all!

She got tired of posing for photos and headed for a convenient hole at the side of the trail.



An unintended consequence, but a good one: minutes after she ducked into her hidey-hole, upward of a dozen runners came along the trail. I probably increased her odds of survival by several orders of magnitude.

The trail is indeed a pretty dangerous place. I noticed another millipede, squashed, an antique Packard beetle, squashed, a little snake, likewise, a lizard, flattened. Mountain bikies are worse than pedestrians because riders don’t see as much, and they flatten more territory.


It is the time for larvae and pupae.






I was thinking about the common and the rare small animals, and how they change, year by year. Some are obvious: last winter was relatively dry, and I find few banana slugs, scorpions and newts. But some animals vary a lot, for no apparent reason.

Assuming that I spend about the same amount of time, at about the same locations, the same seasons, the same time of day, and that I am no more nor less observant in one year than in another — questionable assumptions, all — assuming all that, I think there are radical changes in the population of small animals over time.

Some years, I see no tarantulas; some years there are dozens. This year, there seem to be very few snakes around; some years, there are lots: gopher snakes, rattlesnakes, even ringnecks, not all of them in the same years. Fewer snakes? I don’t even see very many snake tracks in the dust of the trail this year.


This year, there seem to be a lot of alligator lizards.

Some animals have found the area a congenial habitat recently. For example, it is only within the last five years, to pick a random number, that I have seen wild turkeys, and now they are quite common.


It is the season for moths. Lots of them flying in clouds. This one was on a moss-covered oak in the forest.


I stopped for calories at the top of the climb, second time around, and this little guy came out to cross the trail. Pretty! Notice the nozzle with which it can suck up nectar from flowers.


Finally, just before returning to the parking lot, I stopped at Sausal pond and waited quietly for whatever might be in the neighborhood.




I continue to boggle at the fact that the leading edge of a dragonfly’s wings are completely open, no membrane whatever. I wonder whether some aeronautical engineering student (or professor) has analyzed and simulated this with a view to using the idea in short takeoff or hovercraft.

P1170756  P1170785



Windy Hill, twice

March 24, 2013

Sunday, 24 March 2013

I have been taking it easy due to some knee pain (fibular collateral ligament, and thanks for asking). I know from experience that doing too much, too soon, is a bad idea. But it’s almost not hurting at all, so maybe I’m okay.

I didn’t want to invest a lot in driving to a trailhead, in case I needed to cut the hike short, so I just went to Windy Hill. I can do a short loop, or a long loop, and if I feel good, I can even do it twice. Which I did, 15 miles, 3200 vertical feet. Nice day.

The most interesting animal sighting of the day was a coyote, which was loping across the road as I approached the turnoff into the parking area. Rabbits, deer, banana slugs, lizards, nothing I particularly wanted to take pictures of.


(I have to admit, this one would have won the animal of the day award, had I encountered it on the trail.)

The world has turned green, and the wildflowers are coming out. But the more interesting vegetation of the season is in town.


I have no idea what these are, but they sure are interesting, as they start in tight, fuzzy curls that unfold into stalks.



The flowers of spring are worth a look.









As to small animals, I poked around in the duff and got a pillbug to ball up for me.


I waited quietly, camera poised, and sure enough, after a minute or so, it decided the coast was clear.



It ended up on its back, but quickly righted itself and took off to continue doing whatever it had been doing before it was so rudely interrupted.


This guy (below) is impossibly small, but you will notice that there is a second one, even smaller behind the “big” one.


Look delicious, don’t they! So we find a full array of spiders hoping for lunch.





Running Windy Hill

February 16, 2013

Saturday, 16 Feb 2013

I had a few things to do today, so I didn’t want to go off on a full-day hike. I went to Windy Hill, instead, but decided to run the route as a way of increasing the challenge level. Beautiful day, lots of people out. The parking lot was full, and I had to leave the car at the Portola Valley town center, which is said to be 0.4 miles from the Windy Hill parking lot.

I am not strong enough to run all the way up the hill, but I alternated running and fast walking to keep my heart rate well into the yellow zone, if not red. Starting from the parking lot, I consider myself as doing well if I make it to the Skyline parking area in an hour; today it was 50 minutes and from a more distant starting point. Nice. And I completed the whole circuit in less than two hours (8.1 miles, 1600 vertical feet).

When I first started running many years ago, I made the mistake of running hard on a downhill and damaging my knees. Having just started running at the time, I probably didn’t have the muscular strength around the knee joints to properly stabilize them. I have avoided running downhill since then, but today I gave it a try: my knees are reasonably well-behaved, and I probably do have muscular stabilization. Older and wiser, I also ran gently, tried to avoid impact as much as I could. Bottom line: I was able to run the entire downhill. Nice. The first time I have ever run more than a trivial distance downhill.

Of course, I may be sore tomorrow. We’ll find out [note from tomorrow: a little bit, not much]. Muscular action that results in elongation under load (running downhill) is called eccentric. My anatomy text says

For reasons that are not well understood, repeated eccentric isotonic contractions (for example, walking [sic] downhill) produce more muscle damage and more delayed-onset muscle soreness than do concentric isotonic contractions.

Now the question is whether I log this as a hike or as a run. A run, I think; it hardly counts as a hike, but as a run, it’s significant.

One of the other things I wanted to do today was wash my new car, for the first time since I got it in October. Yes, I admit it: washing cars (and bicycles) is one of my least favourite pastimes. Note to self: one of the disadvantages of white cars is that it’s hard to get them clean!

Achilles surgery + 4 weeks

August 5, 2012

My ambition this weekend is to hike from the flatlands to Skyline, probably the short loop at Windy Hill: up Spring Ridge trail, down Hamm’s Gulch trail. I’ll do the hike Saturday; if it goes really well, I will also try a modest bike ride on Sunday.

The hike: only 7.2 miles, but 1500 vertical feet. From the parking lot at the bottom to the parking lot at the top is usually just a bit more than an hour, a bit less if I push it (but without running). This time it was about 1:15. Taking it easy, not risking injury.

Cold and windy up there; fog blowing hard across the ridgetop. If I had had a jacket, I would have worn it. No jacket, no problem. The downhill goes through the forest, and the trail was wetter than I would have expected for August. I guess the fog and the consequent condensation has been a fact of life up here this summer.

Stopped at Sausal pond, just before the parking lot on the way down. Nine people out of eight would probably have said there was nothing interesting here, certainly no animals around. Dave, of course, pokes around to see what might be lurking just out of sight.

Even the vegetable matter is not completely devoid of interest.

As to small animals, we first discover the empty husk of a dragonfly nymph.

But the real story here today is the proliferation of small frogs. They’re about 2 cm long, and shy. Dozens of them within three or four meters of my vantage point in the reeds at the shore.

And if reptiles aren’t enough, there are even a few unusual insects around.

When I got home, I filled a bucket with water, dumped in lots of ice and plunged both feet in. Yow! Fifteen minutes of that, and I’m happy. My first impression is that it went very well today. Will I change my tune when I wake up tomorrow morning?

Sunday morning: a little pain, but not bad. Let’s see whether I can do a bike ride.

The Portola Valley loop is less than 20 miles, less than 1000 feet of climb, and I can extend it if I feel good. If I take the physical therapist’s advice, I need to change many years of habit, and the way to do that is to put in the time, reminding myself constantly to adjust my pedaling stroke and riding position.

Felt good; I extended the ride to 35 miles, 1300 vertical feet, down Foothill expressway and back through the Baylands. Another fifteen minutes of ice water when I got home, just as a precaution, but I am very optimistic about progress. I don’t think I”m yet up for 20 mile hikes with 5000 feet of gain, but maybe it won’t be all that long.