52

Wow.  I did it.  52 hikes in one year.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, one of my favorite places to hike, was just spectacular yesterday!


I pushed myself to get outside on many of my hikes.  But, once on the trail, I easily fell into my hiking rhythm.  I took some good pictures too.  Well, most of them were ok.  


Most of all, Given the choice, I opted to get outside.  


There is a lot of trail to explore…

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

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Look Up

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The Weekly Photo Challenge:  Look Up

I consider myself very lucky.  I love the outdoors and have so many great places to hike here in Northern California.  But, sometimes, I catch my “Engineer Brain” focusing on how many miles I’ve hiked, or which trail to explore on the map.

Occasionally, I catch myself doing too much of this…

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When, I should….well, look up.

I completed my 30th hike of the 52 Hike Challenge (see, there is my Engineer brain…LOL!) this past Sunday at California’s first state park.  Located only a little over an hour from San Jose/Silicon Valley, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located in the heart of Redwood Country.  It is known for big trees.  Really big trees!

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Coast Redwoods make their home in many parts of the mountains that surround San Jose/Silicon Valley.  I find it to be interesting that a place that focuses so much on the future is surrounded by Coast Redwoods that are anchored in the past.  I think that it is a good balance.  If you are ever out this way on business or vacation, I strongly urge to take some time to visit Big Basin Redwoods State Park or, Henry Cowell Redwoods Sate Park and….look up.

So, where are you hiking this weekend?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

 

 

Climbing Kamet in the Himalayas

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2015 was a big year for me hiking.  No, I didn’t actually climb Kamet in the Himalayas.  However, the total elevation gain from all of my hikes did add up to 25,407 feet!  Kamet, pictured here, rises up to 24,446 feet.  Kamet’s elevation is the closest that I could find to the total elevation I gained while hiking over the year.

Of course, I didn’t need any oxygen on any of my hikes!  So, how did I do in achieving my hiking and photography goals for 2015?  As a reminder, here were my goals posted last year at about this time:

For 2015, I will hike at least 20 times for a total of 120 miles and complete at least 20 “training” hikes around my neighborhood at the base of the Sierra Azul Mountains here in Northern California.  I will also venture further out into the East Bay and up the San Francisco Peninsula to discover more trails, take more pictures, and write more about my adventures.  Finally, I would also like to hike in any OSP of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) that I have not yet visited and explore more trails in the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority lands!

My year started out in one of the Open Space Preserves (OSP) that I have not visited:  Thornewood OSP in the Santa Cruz Mountains above the Town of Woodside.  I’ve now hiked in nearly every preserve of the MROSD.  You can tell this was my first hike because I have very cleverly provided a clue…

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I did fairly well on my goals.  I actually went on a total of 20 “Regional Hikes” for a total of 105 miles and 39 “Training Hikes” for a total of 107 miles.  My Regional Hikes took place in the parks and open spaces around California that I visited.  As you can see, I’m still working on my outdoor photography skills.  I’m getting better at composition…but, light still gives me trouble sometimes!  Typical of my Regional Hikes was my 3rd hike (7.3 miles/1,089 feet elev. gain) at Russian Ridge OSP :

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My 7th hike (3.9 miles/16 feet elev. gain) along the San Francisco Bay at Ravenswood OSP at Cooley Landing was my hike with the smallest elevation gain:

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My 9th hike (8.6 miles/2,500 feet elev. gain) took me to the top of Tahquitz Peak in our San Bernardino National Forest .  This was my hike with the greatest elevation gain.  The hike was challenging, but the views from high up in the Sierra Mountains were spectacular:

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In fact, like 2014, I hiked in some beautiful places and was able to spend a lot of time working on my outdoor photography skills.  Here are just a handful of my favorite shots of 2015:

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Unfortunately, one goal that I didn’t accomplish was to hike in the East Bay Regional Parks.  This will be a goal that I will carry over to 2016!

So, where will I go in 2016? I’d like to explore even more of the great trails at the Mid Peninsula Regional Open Space District, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, the Santa Clara County Parks, the California State Parks, and the National Parks here in California.  To help ease my “engineering brain” which compels me to assign numbers to my hikes, I’ve signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge.

I do know that whether the trail is flat…or, I’m squeezing by a railing on a trail up in the sky, DSC_6432

I will be having fun challenging myself while I explore California!

 

“I only went out for a walk…, for going out, I found, was really going in.”- John Muir

 

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Thanks for visiting my hiking / photography blog!

– Dale

 

As always…

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

 

 

The Weekly Photo Challenge: Circle

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The Weekly Photo Challenge: Circle

I took this picture while hiking down a hiking/equestrian trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains earlier this week.  If you look to the left of this trail, notice how these Coast Redwood trees are growing in a circle.

What you can’t see is the trees are growing around a stump of an old growth Coast Redwood that was cut probably more than 100 years ago.  One of the secrets of the longevity of our Coast Redwoods is that new trees will will sprout from the shallow roots of the “mother” tree…even if it has been cut down!  In fact, a DNA sample would reveal that these trees growing in a circle are genetically identical!

For more great hiking through the fantastic redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, try the trails through some of my favorite open space preserves and state parks:

Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve – Pursima Creek Trail

Big Basin Redwoods State Park – Berry Creek Loop

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park – Redwood Grove Loop Trail

 

Where are you hiking this weekend?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops

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The Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops

I had a hard time with this photo challenge.  A hard time because when I get home from one of my hike’s, download my pictures from my trusty Nikon into Picasa 3, and review them….well, let’s just say that there are always 1 or 2…or more pictures where I say, “Oops!”  LOL

I took this horrible picture in the beautiful Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Northern California.  Our daughter Casie had to complete a writing assignment describing something in it’s natural environment.  Naturally (no pun intended), I thought of visiting the ancient coast redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains above the western edge of Silicon Valley.  This particular trail, the Redwood Grove Loop Trail, takes you through some beautiful old growth Coast Redwoods.

I intended my picture to come out like this one:

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Although, as you can see, I still didn’t get the mottled sunlight drifting through the forest canopy correct.  Oops.

I’ve got to work on my outdoor photography skills where the light is mixed like this in the forest.  This picture of Casie sitting on a redwood log that has been made into a bench, surrounded by redwoods and bay trees, is the best shot I took on this day.  A day I really enjoyed…even if it was a day filled with oops.

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Where are you hiking this weekend?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

The Thursday Picture – Stay on the Trail!

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Today’s Thursday Picture was taken at the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve in the foothills above San Jose/Silicon Valley.

I hike a lot.  Before this year is over, I will have gone on over 50 hikes.  Many of my hikes are up Harwood Hill in the Sierra Azul Mountains above my neighborhood.  I’ve also hiked this year on trails in National Parks, California State Parks, Santa Clara County Parks, Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Authority.  All of these agencies struggle with maintenance budgets that just barely allow them to maintain our trails and the natural environments around them.  When hikers venture off marked trails, like these clowns above, bad things can happen to our trails, parks, and open spaces:

  • Surface vegetation, animal habitat, fragile soils, and/or entire communities of life can be trampled beyond recovery.
  • Organic matter, such as leaves and even the soil itself, helps protect land from the erosive forces of rainfall and wind. Walking, biking, or riding your horse off trail disturbs the protective cover and can accelerate erosion. Do not use shortcuts.
  • Damage to surface vegetation can disrupt natural processes and may destroy a food source or otherwise harm wildlife habitat. Be careful where you step.
  • In some areas, disturbing rocks can leave a visible impact for hundreds of years. Lichen-coated and time-varnished rocks are irreplaceable. Leave rocks where they lay.

If you look closely at this picture, you can see how these hikers….uh….er….those look like black tailed deer.

Never mind.

Where are you hiking this weekend?  Wherever you go, Please do stay on the marked trails!  See the California State Parks information about staying on the trail above and here!

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

 

 

 

 

The Thursday Picture – Giant Jacket Giant Redwoods


Our youngest daughter had an English writing assignment that required her to go out into nature and record her observations.

Fortunately, we live close to the Redwoods here in California.  Even though it was a cold and wet day, we decided to go to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to hike among the old growth redwoods.

She found a great “study hall” across from the John C. Fremont tree.  She also borrowed my jacket…it can get cool in the shade of 250 foot tall redwoods!

Where are you doing your homework this week?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.