The Thursday Picture – Stand Still!

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Today’s Thursday Picture was taken at Santa Teresa County Park in San Jose’s Almaden Valley.

This Calypte Anna (Anna’s Hummingbird) perched on spent wildflower right as I started hiking up the steep switch backs of the Stile Ranch Trail.  As I switched lenses…this scrappy guy kept shifting on his perch…

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I think he must have been protecting his territory…

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Stand still will you buddy!

Santa Teresa County Park is one of my favorite places to hike in the winter and spring.  There are many birds and wildflowers, rolling green hills, and interesting vistas not far at all from busy San Jose/Silicon Valley.

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So, where are you hiking this weekend?

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

The Blue and the Green

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I’ve been nominated by my friends, Kathy Bauman and Laura Better-Henry, to participate in a seven day nature photography challenge. I will post one nature video/photograph every day for seven days.

Day Five Above:  I took this shot on the Longwall Canyon Trail in the Rancho Canada Del Oro Open Space Preserve located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains just a short drive from San Jose’s Almaden Valley.

I hiked here on the last day of January, 2016.  It had rained the night before, so the trails were fairly muddy in places.  It started out cloudy and threatened to rain some more.  However, I stayed dry – although it did get windy and cold along the ridge line – for most of this 6.75 mile hike.  The sun did start to peak through as I was hiking back to the nice staging area off of Casa Loma Road.  Now, parts of this hike up to the the ridge line are quite steep.  However, the view from the ridge along Bald Peaks Trail is spectacular.  I was able to see downtown San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco from the trail!  I was also able to see Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of Super Bowl 50, from the same trail!  Rancho Canada del Oro OSP, along with neighboring Calero County Park  offer hiking, biking, and equestrian trails for everyone!

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 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 – High Tech and Nature

  Living and hiking in Silicon Valley, I really appreciate how we are able to create the future while appreciating the natural world.  This interpretive sign along the wonderful Los Gatos Creek Trail that travels past gleaming new high tech is a good example.
We can promote business and creativity while also encouraging an appreciation for the outdoors.  Now, I know it can be a challenge to get business, government and citizens to work together.  However, amazing things can be accomplished when we work together.  

Where are you hiking this weekend?

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

“Going to the mountains is going home.” – John Muir

20130127 Looking West from Saratoga Gap Trail Hike No 1

20130127 Looking West from Saratoga Gap Trail Hike No 1

Today’s Thursday Picture is from my very first hike that I posted on this blog back in 2013.  As a new year’s resolution, and with a little help from my daughter Kelley, I started my hiking blog, “I’m Over the Hill” to record my hikes and post some pictures of my adventures on the trail.  It was also a way to force me to take the time to exercise by doing something I really enjoy…hiking.

I chose Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California as the location of my first hike.  I wanted to go to the mountains.  I suppose, a little like John Muir, I’ve always felt at home in the mountains.  Although this guy looks a little cold (I was!) before setting out on the trail:

20130127 Castle Rock Hike No 1

20130127 Castle Rock Hike No 1

I’m posting pictures from my first hike because I hit a significant milestone today.

“I’m Over the Hill” attracted the 100th follower and also earned the 1,000th “like” today!

Now, I’d like to think that my brilliant prose and my incredible shots had something to do with these achievements.  But, the truth is, when I am able to hike in so many beautiful parks, wilderness areas, and open spaces, it is just not too hard to post something of interest to the outdoor and WordPress communities.

So, I would also like to thank the folks at WordPress’ Daily Post for helping me to polish my writing and photography.

I would also like to thank the following organizations for being great stewards of our land and for providing me with so many beautiful places to explore:

The National Park Service

The Forest Service

The Bureau of Land Management

The California State Parks

The Santa Clara County Parks

The Santa Clara County Open Space Authority

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

I’ve only just begun!  So, are you going home this weekend?

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

 

 

Photo 101 – Water & Orientation

Today’s Photo Assignment was to take a picture of water that tell’s a story.  First, in horizontal mode:

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And then, in vertical mode:

2-DSCN5630We spent many hours with our daughters feeding the ducks and geese years ago here at Vasona Park along Los Gatos Creek.  Of course, now, we know that it wasn’t really that great for the health of the water fowl to get used “fast food.”  Here you can see some Canadian Geese enjoying the late afternoon on Los Gatos Creek.

I think that I like the vertical shot better.  I like how I’ve framed the rocks along the bank, the reflections in the water and how the late afternoon light casts a glow on the whole scene.  I don’t like how the light sky blew out the top of the horizontal shot.  What do you think?

These shots were taken with my Nikon Coolpix 4600.

As always, if you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.