The Thursday Picture – I Like Big Rocks

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I like big rocks and I can not lie,

You other hikers can not deny…

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Because big rocks force me to be spry…

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Yo, some of ‘dem make me feel like I’m going to fly…

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Big Kahuna Likes BIG ROCKS

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All of these snaps were taken at Pinnacles National Park in Central California.  I tried to do my best “Kanye Scowl.”  Unfortunately…I had so much fun hiking around those big rocks…that, I couldn’t help but smile!

How close is Pinnacles National Park to San Jose State?

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It’s 95 miles from California’s first Public University to the West Gate of Pinnacles National Park!

So, where are you hiking this weekend?

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

 

The Thursday Picture – Wearing O’ The Green

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“Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!”

Today’s Thursday Picture was taken at Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve.    Yes, the hills of La Honda Creek OSP do a great job of “wearing the green” this time of year.  

If you want to hike in a sea of green, submit a request for a permit here and then get your hiking gear ready!

Green socks are not required…but, are highly recommended.  Make sure you keep an eye out for Leprechuans!

“Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!”

 

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 – Beach on Top of the Mountain

The Beach on top of the mountain!  Hike 2310 million years ago, the sand beneath my boots on the hiking trail in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was part of the ocean floor!  This trail crosses a ridge in what is known as, appropriately, “the Sandhills.”

From 1,500 year old Redwoods to a beach on top of the mountain…Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park has something unique around every turn on the trail.

And, if you’re looking for me on the trail, well, I’m over the hill!

 

Hike No. 19 – Rancho San Antonio OSP – Lower Trails

Lower Meadow Trail shadows the creek Hike 19For Hike Number 19, I would return to one of my favorite places to hike in the Bay Area, the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve / Rancho San Antonio County Park.  The OSP and County work together on these adjacent areas to provide miles of interconnected trails that cross mini ecosystems such as grasslands and coast live oak woodlands

http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_rancho_san_antonio.asp

http://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/Ride%20Here/Pages/Rancho-San-Antonio-County-Park.aspx

The Mid Peninsula Open Space District manages over 2,300 acres of park land here.  As with all of the OSP’s, they do a very good job of keeping the trails maintained, providing up to date information signs, and bathroom facilities at the trailheads!  This OSP is very popular and located adjacent to the cities of Cupertino and Los Altos.  If you want to hike here on the weekend, arrive early.  I usually park in one of the upper parking lots…which is what I did on this day.Rancho San Antonio Upper Parking Lot Hike 19Rancho San Antonio Road Trail Heading up to the Hills Hike 19There is a very short (2/10 mile) segment of maintenance road that you must travel to get to the Hill Trail.

Hill  Trail up and over dry grasslands Hike 19Climb up about 300 feet for 1/2 mile through dry grasslands to get to our first trail junction.  Take the Coyote Trail to the right! The Coyote Trail travels through shady live oak woodlands for about 1 mile.  

Coyote / PG&E Trail transition from grasslands to coast live oak hike 19Coyote trail winds down into a Oak covered canyon  Hike 19

Coyote Trail HIke 19
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Poison Oak on both sides of the Coyote Trail Hike 19

There is a lot of Poison Oak on the hillsides…so, stay on the trail…unless you have an “itch” to explore!

Farm Bypass Trail Coyote Trail junction Hike 19

The Farm Bypass Trail / Coyote Trail Junction is a good example of the many interconnected trails here…well maintained and good signage!Farm Bypass Trail very shady!  Hike 19Farm Bypass Trail – 1/3 of mile of shady oak forest!  Cross this bridge, a maintenance road, and then stay to your left to join the Lower Meadow Trail. 

Farm Bypass Trail bridge connection to Lower Meadow Trail Hike 19Stay to the left Hikers!

Lower Meadow Trail shadows the creek Hike 19

Stay to the right hikers and runners!  Lower Meadow Trail Hike 19

Permanente Creek Trail Huge California Bay Tree Hike 19

The Lower Meadow Trail ends and the Permanente Creek Trail begins.  The creek will be on your left and a large grassy meadow will be on your right.  There is a large California Bay Tree along the Permanente Creek Trail that guards the entrance to a large grassy meadow.  This meadow was once the location of St. Joseph’s College which was destroyed in the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989.  Site of St. Joseph's College destroyed in Loma Prieta Earthquake 1989 Hike 19My 3 mile loop ended as I crossed this bridge over Permanente Creek and entered the large lower parking lot.  Another great day hiking!Bridge over Permanente Creek and lower parking lots Hike 19

Trail Details

Mileage: 3.0 miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 feet

I would rate this 3.0 mile hike as easy.  The trails themselves are moderately hilly at the start of your hike, a mix of both sun and shade, and well maintained.  Trails: Hill / Coyote / Farm Bypass / Lower Meadow / Permanente Creek. 

I always enjoy my hiking here at Rancho San Antonio OSP.  There are enough varied trails to give you a varied experience.   Well, that’s 19 hikes and 103 miles!  21 hikes and 97 miles to go.  Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.

Hike No. 16 – Grizzly Peak Recreation Area – Redwood Challenge Trail

After my mis-adventures on Hike No. 15, I was looking for a nice, simple trail to get my “40 Hikes / 200 Miles” effort back on track.  Luckily, while my family and I were on our southern California Adventure, I was able to do a very short hike on the Redwood Challenge Trail in the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area.DSC_3711

The Grizzly Peak Recreation Area was very crowded with families of all sizes and shapes on this sunny May morning.  You do have to purchase a pass at the front gate.  However, on this day, it didn’t appear that the Ranger’s were checking anybody’s pass.  As I entered the trail head for the Redwood Challenge Trail, I noted that this trail appeared to be paved through out.  I would guess that the heavy use of the trail required that the trail surface needed to be upgraded.  DSC_3674Being knowledgeable about construction, I was surprised to see numerous animal tracks – coyote, beaver, bear – imprinted in the trail!  Evidently, the concrete wasn’t protected after being poured!

The trail did have some great interpretive signs!  DSC_3672But, I was a little shocked that most of the younger hikers that I saw ran right past the signs and continued on down the trail.  Not only were they not pacing themselves, it didn’t appear that any of them were carrying water or any of the ten essentials (1. Map, 2. Compass, 3. Sunglasses and Sunscreen, 4. Extra Clothing, 5. Flashlight, 6. First Aid Supplies, uh, 7. Popcorn, 8. REI Card…well, you get the idea).  I did see some of my fellow hikers wearing sunglasses…a few had extra water.  But, other than that, I appeared to be the only fully equipped hiker.  I could tell from the looks I was getting from my fellow hikers that they wished that they were carrying my full kit.

This trail also provided access to not one, but two fire lookout towers!  I appreciated that there was easy access via stairs to climb the 30 feet to the top of these towers!  DSC_3675Once I reached the top of the towers, the view was pretty magnificent!  However, to continue on the trail, I was faced with cargo net bridges that seemed to be made to grab my size 13 feet and trip me up!  DSC_3681

Note how well the other hikers are able to traverse this bridge!  After falling a couple of times, I am convinced that these younger hikers have some sort of weight advantage that allows them to glide across the trail…

Unfortunately, I am hampered by my ice cream diet and am unlikely to ever again have the same weight advantage…DSC_3688

The trail does provide an excellent trail map and activity manual.  I was a little bit shocked that the ranger at the start of the trail informed me that I exceeded the maximum age allowed to complete some of the challenge trail tasks…DSC_3694here you can see one of the young hikers (they were everywhere!  Silently mocking my height and weight disadvantages!) conquering the face of a granite wall.

The trail had multiple routes one could take.  All of these routes did end up at a cave, “Hibernation Hollow” where each hiker’s native spirit was revealed.  A little hokey…but, the young hiker’s did seem to enjoy it.  DSC_3700Did I mention that my native spirit is the noble wolf?

Although short, the Redwood Challenge Trail was fun and, well, challenging!

I would rate this .5 mile hike as easy.  The trail itself does have several elevation changes of 30+ feet, a mix of both sun and shade, and is very well maintained.  Trail: Redwood Challenge Trail.  Although no Yosemite, I will have to admit that everyone I met on the trail did convey the feeling that is one of the happiest hiking places on earth.

That’s 16 hikes, 89.8 miles and, 1 “race!”  24 hikes and 110.2 miles to go!  Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.

Hike No. 4 – Febuary 16, 2013 – Las Alamitos / Calero Creek Trails

After the “thighmaster” of the Limekiln Trail, I decided to take it a little easy on Hike No. 4!  Just a short drive into San Jose’s Almaden Valley, and I was at the trail head.  The Los Alamitos trail runs along…Los Alamitos Creek, which meanders through a residential section of San Jose.  http://www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?nid=2871

Winter ending on Calero Creek

Winter is beginning to end and many of the trees are just starting to blossom along this well maintained trail…

Los Alamitos Trail Sign Hike No 4

This easy 4.7 mile hike is mostly flat.  This trail in San Jose is really well marked, maintained, and has plenty of parking on gravel lots.  The trail is part of a large network of trails…this trail links up with the Calero Creek trail which I will cover in a later post.

That’s 4 hikes and 21.7 miles….36 hikes and 178.3 miles to go!