The Thursday Picture – Mindego Hill

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Today’s Thursday Picture was taken on the Mindego Hill Trail at the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

This terrific view looking west towards a fog covered Pacific Ocean over miles of forested coastal mountains is just one of the special places at this preserve.  The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is set to open yet another open space area this coming March!

On March 30th, a new portion of trail will allows visitors to hike out to the peak of Mindego Hill.  I’ve been looking at this peak for a few years now, wondering when I will get the opportunity to hike out to the peak.  For a quick peak at the Mindego Hill Trail Extension, check out this video shot for Doug McConnell’s “Open Road” television show here.

If you would like more information on how you can take part in the Mindego Hill Trail Extension grand opening, visit the Mindego Hill Grand Opening page here.

I can’t wait to hike out to the Mindego Hill Peak for the great views….and, for a surprise or two!   Moo!

Where are you hiking this weekend?

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

Misty Mountains Cold

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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 Four Above:  I took this shot on the North Ridge Trail in the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve in the mountains above San Jose/Silicon Valley.

It was a foggy day high in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I remember that it was really quiet with just a light touch of wind spinning through the tree tops.  At one point, when the fog started to really get thick, I could’ve sworn that I heard “Far over the Misty Mountains Cold…”

If you are in the mood for a great hike among some second growth redwoods, you can’t beat Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve off of Skyline Boulevard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Let me know if you hear any Dwarves singing.

Where are you hiking this 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 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 – Which Way?

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Today’s Thursday Picture, although a bit late, was taken at the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve off of Skyline Boulevard, in the mountains just west of San Jose/Silicon Valley.

Of course, here I am looking at one of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Districts excellent trail maps.  I also hike frequently in the Santa Clara County Park System and in the California State Parks.  Both of these agencies produce excellent trail maps also.

Occasionally, I see other hikers who don’t seem to know how to read a map.  They are usually younger and had intended to rely on their cell phone GPS.  Unfortunately, even in many of the parks and preserves in the mountains above urban areas, there is no, or spotty, cell phone coverage!

Personally, my Dad showed me how to read a map waaayyyy back when I was a Boy Scout.  So, I’ve always been comfortable finding my way.  I worry about those folks I run into who are so connected to their phones that they are lost – literally lost – without them.

Where are you hiking this weekend?

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

I’m