Photo 101 – Water & Orientation

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


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.

Hike No. 18 – Heinz / Santa Rosa OSP

Heinz OSP UP UP UP Hike No 18Located at the base of the Sierra Azul Mountains above Los Gatos, California, the Heinz OSP and the Santa Rosa OSP were my destination for a quick late afternoon, mid-week hike.  The trail head for this hike is located up a hill above a residential track in eastern Los Gatos.  This is the only OSP located in and maintained by the Town of Los Gatos.  There is curb side parking and a message board at the trail head.  However, unlike the Mid Peninsula Open Space District, there are no maps available.  I was able to download some crude maps from here: OSP Trailhead Hike No 18Bear left at the trail head to head up the mountain!Heinz OSP Hike No 18

Bees working along the trail Heinz OSP LG Hike No 18There were a lot of bees busy with the California Buckwheat blossoms!

View Of Cambrian Park Heinz OSP Hike No 18

The trail is mostly covered by tan oak, bay, and some other native oaks.  Occasionally, there is a break – like here – where you can see good views of the Santa Clara Valley.  This is a view of the Cambrian Park area of San Jose.  But soon, I was climbing again…like these bikers who whizzed past me!LaAs I climbed about 500 feet in elevation, I started to see some pine trees sprinkled amongst the oaks…note how dry the vegetation is!Upper trail Heinz OSP very dry conditions  Hike No 18Which Way? Heinz OSP Hike No 18I was heading to Belgatos Park on the Valley View Trail…so, I turned left after hiking about 1 1/2 miles to the summit…er, I think it is left…

Bikers, families, and dogs all use the lower trails!  Heinz OSP  Hike No 18After reaching the top, the trail winds down about 100 feet where it connects to the hill trail and to the Bel Gatos Park Trail.  I saw several families hiking together on this trail.  I also saw these guys:

Even horses use this trail!The Bel Gatos Park Trail winds downhill to a nice grassy area nestled amongst some oak trees.  This is where you turn around and head back to the trail head.

Late afternoon sun on the Heinz OSP Summit Trail Hike No 18

As the sun started to set over the Santa Cruz Mountains in the west, I was glad that I had explored this open space area nestled above the hills above Los Gatos and southwest San Jose.

Native Oak on Summit Trail early evening Hike No 18Trail Details

Mileage: 3.2 miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1300 feet

Heinz trail to Belgatos park with Elev ProfileHeinz OSP Los Gatos Hike No 18Well, that’s 18 hikes and exactly 100 miles!  22 hikes and 100 miles to go.  Hmm, I should’ve done something to celebrate 100 miles.  Then again, being outdoors and hiking is something I really enjoy.  You know, I’m going to say that being on the trail is celebration enough for me.  Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.

Hike No 14 – St. Joseph’s Hill OSP – Jones/Novitiate/Brothers/Manzanita/Serpentine

Located just a short hop from downtown Los Gatos, California, St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve is one of the smaller OSP’s of the Mid Peninsula Regional Open Space District  The trail head is located adjacent to Lexington Reservoir’s parking area just south of the dam above the town of Los Gatos.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Los Gatos Creek Trail – which travels through Los Gatos and San Jose, can be taken up past the dam and  to St. Joseph’s Hill OSP.  Because St. Joseph’s Hill is located so close to Los Gatos and San Jose, this trail is heavily used by hikers, runner’s and mountain bikers.  Although on the day I hiked, I didn’t really have any problems with trail traffic. Of course, our local critters are also “users” of the Santa Cruz Mountains!.  DSC_3040

The Jones Trail, which is fairly steep for the first half mile, follows a historic stagecoach road.  Prior to this being a stagecoach road, the Spanish Mission founders used this same trail which, it has been discovered, is based on a route that the Ohlone Native people used to cross from the Sierra Azul mountains into the Santa Clara Valley. DSC_3042

The Jesuit’s Catholic Order founded a winery on St. Joseph’s Hill in 1888.  The road to the winery is now known as the Novitiate Trail.  It is this Novitiate Trail which breaks up the hill off of the Jones Trail.  Traveling through a large grove of Eucalyptus trees, this trail is 8-10 feet wide and is mostly in the shade.  Several other trails wind over the sides of St. Joseph’s hill.

DSC_3049I took the Brother’s Bypass, which is out in the open across some hills that were vineyards long ago, and winds up to the summit of St, Joseph’s hill.  There is quite a view from the top of this 1,250′ foot hill of downtown Los Gatos and south San Jose.DSC_3126   

Although the native grasses have really started to turn from their bright greens to the golden browns, I was surprised to see many wildflowers still blooming along several spots along the trail.  DSC_3045I wonder how long I will be seeing these bright flowers throughout the summer months?

After I rested a bit at the summit and watched a few Air National Guard planes approach Moffett Field, , I wandered back down the hill along the Manzanita Trail, DSC_3149and ran into some of the very friendly MROSD Park Rangers (Becky and John) who were setting up a speed trap for mountain bikes!  Apparently, this OSP has a problem with Mountain Bikers being a little too enthusiastic on their way down the hill!

Becky and John were great ambassadors of the MROSD – answering my questions about the other preserves and even taking my “Hike No 14” picture!St Josephs Hill OSP Hike No 14

That’s 14 hikes and 84.4 miles!  26 hikes and 115.6 miles to go.  I want to thank Becky and John, and all of the MROSD Park Rangers and District Staff for taking great care of our Open Space Preserves so that everyone in the South Bay can enjoy them.  Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.