Ribbons. Why did it have to be ribbons…
Hike number 15 started out at Long Ridge Open Space Preserve (OSP) located just off of Skyline Boulevard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I arrived at the Grizzly Flat parking area just across from the Long Ridge OSP trail head bright and early. The Mid Peninsula Open Space District http://www.openspace.org/default.asp always has good signage at their trail heads…Long Ridge OSP would be no different.
I started my hike on a bright sunny day. My intention was to fully explore this OSP by doing a 6-7 mile loop around the park. The sun was shining brightly and their was just a slight breeze – perfect hiking weather. I am always happy to get up into the mountains that surround Silicon Valley…call me a modern day John Muir (ha ha). As I was hiking down into a small valley, I noticed that there were ribbons hanging in a few trees. Hmmm….I wondered if these trees are being tagged for removal? Maybe they have some sort of beetle infestation?
Fortune and Glory!
I decided to follow the ribbons. The ribbons were bright pink, green, yellow, and were tied on to bushes and tree branches along the trail. Surely all of these native oaks don’t have a beetle infestation?! The mystery drew me farther into the valley and up on to the Bay Area Ridge Trail. http://www.ridgetrail.org/
The ribbons had a strange pull over me…I continued to hike on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, following the ribbons, eventually crossing into the Skyline Ridge OSP. I saw absolutely no other hikers, bikers, or horse riders along the trail. The ribbons fluttered in the breeze as I crossed over on to the Chestnut Trail. I would not turn back until the mystery of these ribbons had been found…
And then, far off in the distance, I saw someone. He wasn’t on a bike…nor, riding atop a horse. He was pretty far away….but, I could tell that he was getting closer to me. The Chestnut Trail at this point was only about 2 feet wide…a single track trail. There was no room to pass without leaving the trail and diving into the 3 foot high golden grasses of the park. And then, I saw another man…and then another. Was that a number on his chest?
When I saw the number, I realized that the ribbons did not lead to treasure…but, were marking a cross county race course. And, I was going in the opposite direction! Oops!
I turned around and changed my course. But soon, I heard someone shout “on your left.” It was all over for me on this trail. “On your left, on your left, on your left” like a mocking bird sitting on my shoulder. I was crashing through the grasses that bordered the Chestnut Trail, filling my socks june grass seeds that are shaped like little arrows and are itchy! I remembered that I had seen a private road ahead where I could leave the trail and hike out on to Skyline Boulevard. Luckily, I was a Boy Scout long ago…so I was preparing a plan to leave this runner’s freeway. When I reached the gateway, I was actually moving at a slow jog, water sloshing around in my water bottles, my boonie hat flying off at one point!
I eventually made it to Skyline Boulevard and hiked for about a mile back to my starting point. Disapointed but not defeated, I decided to hike back down into Long Ridge OSP and take the southern trails while avoiding the “on your left” people.
I did eventually make it back to Peter’s Creek Trail…and, avoided the race – for the most part. This part of the trail traveled through a deep canyon filled with native oaks and ferns. Several switch backs led out of the canyon and up (500′ +/-) to the top of Long Ridge. The trail intersected the Long Ridge Road trail – a Fire/Service Road that ran through a mixed oak / pine forest. Oh, and there were ribbons everywhere. I cut over to a private road that paralleled the Long Ridge Road to avoid the race. So, this would be my second time on asphalt! After about a mile, I had to get back into the park in order to make it back to Grizzly Flats Parking and my car. I must have been close to the end of the pack….most of the runners climbing up the hill – while I was hiking down – were now walking. No more “on your left!”
I would rate this 4.9 mile hike as….crazy! The trails themselves are moderately hilly, a mix of both sun and shade, and well maintained. Just watch out for those ribbons! Trails: Chestnut / Skyline Blvd./Peters Creek/Long Ridge/Private Road/Long Ridge/Peters Creek
That’s 15 hikes, 89.3 miles and, 1 “race!” 25 hikes and 110.7 miles to go! No Fortune and Glory…but, I did have a good time! Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.