The Thursday Picture – Mule Ears

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Today’s Thursday Picture is of Wiethia Helenioides commonly known as Gray Mule Ears.

I came across this large yellow flower while hiking at Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve.

Here’s another shot of the Gray Mule Ears plant:

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I’ve spent a busy week in Southern California “hiking” around several college campuses on tours with my wife and daughter.  It is an exciting time in our family as our daughter prepares to go off to college next year!

Some of our daughter’s favorite campus tours were at Loyola MarymountPepperdine, UCLA and UC Irvine .  She is looking to study Biology.  I am looking forward to hiking this weekend to get some good shots of more wildflowers in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Although, I can see that in addition to wildflowers, we will be needing to search for scholarships! 🙂

Where are you hiking this weekend?

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

 

 

 

The Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant

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The Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant

I took this week’s photo challenge shot at Rancho Canada del Oro in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains just south of San Jose’s Almaden Valley.  These berries are on a California Native, the Heteromeles arbutifolia !  Commonly known as the Toyon bush, or, sometimes, Christmas Berry, I see this native plant probably every time I go hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Rancho Canada del Oro is just 30 miles from Levi’s Stadium!

If you look really closely, you will see that I was photobombed while on the trail!

So, where are you hiking this upcoming Super Bowl Weekend?

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

 

 

 

The Thursday Picture – Indian Warrior

 

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It’s a TBT Thursday Picture!  I took this shot of an Indian Warrior (Pedicularis densiflora) back in January, 2015.

I was hiking through the Thornewood Open Space Preserve when I came across several of these bright red flowers.  The Indian Warrior is a California Native perennial herb.  I see them most often in our Oak forests.  The Thornewood Preserve is a small preserve with only about 1.5 miles of trails.  This is one of our preserves where dogs on leash are allowed.  I remember seeing several beagles, full of energy, along the Bridle Trail.  The Beagles, barking and dragging their human through the second growth douglas fir and redwoods, were having a great time!

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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering of Fungi

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The Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering

I came across this cool looking gathering of parchment fungi in the Santa Cruz Mountains while hiking around looking for a water line on a rainy day.

Our group was hiking down a very wet and muddy trail when this caught my eye.  I hit the brakes on my Keen’s and slipped and mud-skied to the side of the trail to get this shot.  Disclaimer: No old hiker/photographers were injured during the taking of this shot.

I didn’t have my Nikon with me today.  Luckily, I always have my iPhone 6 with me…and, with it comes a pretty decent camera!  I’ve taken so many shots up in the mountains with my iPhone 6.  Although my Nikon DSLR is a much better camera and takes incredible pictures, I always have my iPhone 6 with me.

The best camera is the one that you have with you to get the shot.

Where are you hiking this holiday weekend?

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