Wildflowers

29 05 2017

This year I could finally do a wildflower hike – a hike with abundant views of varied wildflowers that adorned the spring landscape. I managed to visit Henry Coe State Park during the brief span of a few weeks before the flowers could vanish in the rising summer heat. Wilson’s Peak trail in the park had been a good choice for the purpose. We saw a wide variety of flowers spread across the hills. We did the 9 mile loop. It had been an unusually hot spring day, which made the hike a little challenging.

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I have had my fill of California poppies, buttercups, dandelions in bright happy yellow.

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The ample blues and violets, beautiful and buoyant,  complemented well the yellows, making the scenery a perfect sight. Lupines, fiesta flowers, Chinese houses galore.

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Blow wives, milk weed, baby blue eyes and many more.

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California wild roses, geraniums, tree clovers, and other pinks and reds added just the dash of prettiness needed.

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As you might have guessed by now, my general knowledge of flowers is cursory at best. Notwithstanding the lack of the semantic knowledge, I love the cheerfulness and colorful brightness of these wildflowers – free and happy. 🙂





Coyote hills

6 05 2017

A quiet and leisurely sunrise hike with college buddies is perhaps one of the good times one can experience amid the daily buzz. Coyote Hills after the recent abundant rainfall is green and lush, providing magnificent views all around. On this early April hike, we started around 6:30 am and parked just at the intersection of Paseo Padre Pkwy and Patterson Ranch Rd as the park is open only from 8 am. As soon as we slowly made our one mile long way into the park, we were greeted with the surreal sunrise.

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And then we were completely taken away by a surprise appearance at the park’s visitor center:

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I’m not entirely sure if it’s fortunate or unfortunate, but as we friends caught up with each other with some idle chat and some not, we weren’t entirely focused on the trails we followed. As far as I can recall, we did bits and pieces of Quail trail, Red Hill trail, Nike trail and Bayview trail.

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We saw a lot of snails on the trails.

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Spot the animal here:

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The best part is that the 8 miles we covered seemed to happen almost as a byproduct and the only reason we stopped hiking was the rising heat and our weekend family obligations beckoning us to return. 😛





Alamere Falls

12 03 2017

With abundant rains this season, California is finally out of drought and its water bodies are brimming with water. Best time to visit my favorite part of the nature – waterfalls. That Saturday the original plan was to hike to Cataract Falls. But alas! Mudslides the previous day had blocked the access to the trail on both sides. So, the decision was made to head to Alamere falls instead. The last 2 miles drive to the Palomarin trail head was so horrible with unimaginable potholes. Especially in the Porsche Convertible. ( Not my car. I carpooled. 😛 ). Drive past Stinson beach, turn into Olema Bolinas Rd and then take Mesa Road.

It was a 8 mile out and back hike. A sunny clear day after a long time, it seemed everyone is out that day. The trail was so overcrowded. We ourselves are a group of about 20 people.

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Much of the trail was muddy but the hike offered splendid views of the bay on the way.

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Continue on the Coast Trail. Beautiful lakes galore.

 

Turn left into a not so evident trail to reach  Alamere falls at the beach. To my satisfaction, they were lush and roaring.

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Had to climb down the rock to reach the bottom of the falls.

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Access to the beach was limited  requiring one to cross the a-little-too-wide creek.

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I didn’t try crossing the creek. Just spent some time at the falls. Before leaving though, I couldn’t resist recording the sound of the roaring water. It’s music.





Hiking in Sunol

30 01 2017

It was a bright and sunny Saturday. Perfect for a hike. It was Sunol Regional Wilderness the chosen venue. Lush and wet from recent rains. Another Indian Adventurers of Bay Area meetup event. Though, I must say that, the organizer prefers to communicate via email and likes to keep the planning, the participants, and the actual hike itself in a close knit aka on a tight leash. 🙂

As soon as I turned onto I-680, I saw everything shrouded in thick mist, giving rise to misgivings about the impending activity. But as I drove through and past it, all was clear and bright again. 🙂 Nature, being mischievous I guess. 🙂

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The long winding drive on Calaveras Rd seems never ending for the first timers and there’s absolutely nowhere to pull aside. Just stay put, you can’t miss the park entrance on your left when coming from Fremont.

There’s a $5 entrance fee to the park. As soon as you pass the kiosk, you can see a trail to your right and cars parked to your left.  Don’t stop there and take the trail unless you have a permit to hike the Ohlone Wilderness Trail which takes you to Mission Peak. Instead drive past and take right at the fork.

The original plan was to hike along Indian Joe Creek, which requires one to do multiple creek crossings. But it was evident right away, even with the first glance at the roaring creek, that it’s not a wise idea at this time. Perhaps, Summer is a better time to indulge in its beauty . 🙂

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So instead we headed towards Canyon View Trail, onto Backpack Road, up McCorkle Trail, onto Cerro Este Road, Cave Rocks Road, Eagle View Road … Well, I’ll stop right there. It seems like we took a twisted and elaborate path. I couldn’t have figured out myself. I was blindly following the organizer. I think no one can disagree that there’s a sense of comfort in following a capable and knowledgeable leader, without worrying about anything. 😛 After the hike, he kindly traced the path we followed on the map for me.

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On Canyon View Trail, we had splendid views of the creek. We could hear the roar of the water all along.

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View of 3 peaks – Monument Peak, Mount Allison, Mission Peak

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Calaveras Reservoir view. A new dam is being constructed to replace the historic one and Calaveras Rd is closed between Geary Rd (the park entrance) to Oakridge Rd.

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The park at this time is laden with small creeks.

 

Also ponds.

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And cattle. What does ponds and grazing cattle have in common? They make beautiful candid pictures, when together 🙂

 

On the way back, we stopped at Little Yosemite. It was beautiful and serene. Not too crowded.

Foolish attempt to feel the water. It was freezing cold!

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All in all, we made about 9 miles. Thanks again to meetup and the wonderful event organizers for the opportunity. Hiking in small groups is always fun. Good exercise, great conversations!





Mom and son on a hike

26 01 2017

It’s one of my perpetual challenges to get my son out of the house and into the midst of nature. To make him spend and enjoy time away from all the gadgets. In the past, I’ve tried to motivate him and even tricked him into hiking a few times. I can’t say I had much success. He claims he’s not an “outdoorsy guy”. He is a little short of 10. Nevertheless, with all the enthusiasm that new year brings along, I cajoled him into doing a hike during the first long weekend of the year. Just the two of us. Yay!

I chose the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. I admit it’s not a random choice but inspiration from a meetup planned for a hike there that day to Borel Hill. That was about 6 miles of hiking, but I wanted something shorter. So, I picked one from bahiker.com, which is about 3.6 miles. All set.

 

I was totally surprised when my GPS led me onto the very narrow Old La Honda Rd in Woodside. It was super scary. Stupid GPS. I could have just taken 92W and Hwy35 instead.

We reached the preserve’s parking lot (on Alpine road) by around 10:30 am and started on the trail with gusto. We didn’t come across many hikers despite great weather, at least until noon. It was a beautiful sunny day.

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Mom and Son

I had wisely taken the pictures of the entire page on bahiker so that I can peruse it to stay on the suggested trail and not get lost. I’m not being dramatic here. I’ve had experiences before where we missed the trail and went dangerously off planned route even with good maps and non-novices. I must say I managed well sticking to the plan. I greatly appreciate bahiker for providing such a detailed and clear instruction that I, with barely any other preparation, could make my hike a success. We marched along happily discussing party plans for my son’s upcoming birthday.  We took the Ancient Oaks Trail at the first junction.

 

And then turned onto Charquin Trail.

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We had impressive views of the bay all along the way.

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We also took a little detour along Ridge Trail for about 0.5 miles, climbing up the hill for better views, and there we spotted a couple of coyotes.

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Can you spot them?

This is my son exhausted before the last leg of the hike, a 1.2 mile trek back to the parking lot.

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The fact that it’s largely uphill, didn’t help him. On the contrary, he started regretting his decision to do the hike in the first place. Sigh! It’s just perseverance.  Sadly, there was no other way out than to continue walking. It was also very windy on the way up the Ridge Trail, making him even more miserable. The splendid views offered him only meager solace, if anything.

The last mile doesn’t seem to end. 🙂

But things got way better as we climbed down, past the  to the parking lot and he’s happy again, though a little tired. At last, the sight of the destination:

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On the way back to the car, I noticed that there’s a nature’s center on the other side of the road just 0.1 miles away. The fact that it displayed touchable wildlife skulls excited my son. Despite his fatigue. Off we went, only to find that it’s closed. Too bad my conscious mind didn’t register the open hours written across the board at the start of the trail. It clearly said, open only on Saturdays and Sundays. 🙂 But we got to see the beautiful Alpine Pond in all its glory. So, the short trip was still worth it.

 

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In all, we did a little more than 4 miles. I couldn’t be more proud. This is definitely a good start for the year.

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A rainy hike

22 01 2017

I was so keen on hiking that December day, the prospect of rain didn’t deter me. The hike in Joseph D Grant County Park was organized through Indian Adventurers of Bay Area meetup group (FB link to the event). The drive to the park on the Quimby Road was spectacular, albeit a bit dangerous. The road was narrow and very curvy uphill. The views were awesome but I couldn’t risk glancing away from the road for more than a fleeting second. There was nowhere to pull over along the whole stretch. Too bad. 😦

Joseph D Grant is the largest county Park in Santa Clara County spanning across about 10,000 acres. The rolling hills offer spectacular views and great hiking trails.

I always like the parks/nature when they’re/it’s wet. The crisp green all around lifts my spirits up. It rained on and off, sometimes drizzling, and other times a persistent rainfall. I had no rain shell on, so was completely soaked through by the end of the hike. Much to my chagrin, I haven’t paid attention to the actual trail we were following. I was blissfully following the group between small talk with other members and time alone lost in deep thoughts.

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The hike was part of Bay Area Ridge Trail hiking endeavor that the organizer has taken up. By his admission he had organized events that covered about 60 miles of BART so far and that day’s hike would add another 10 miles. I’m hoping that we followed the intended trail, but I can’t be sure.

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We stumbled and retraced our paths a couple of times. We definitely went on Heron Trail and Edward Loop Trail. San Felipe Trail also sounds familiar. 😛 We covered a little over 10 miles with the last mile on the Mount Hamilton Rd.

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As expected, it was cloudy, misty, and muddy. Beautiful even on the desolate, rainy winter day.  Splendid experience, all in all.

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I wisely chose to drive back via Mount Hamilton Rd, avoiding Quimby Rd. Mount Hamilton Rd also offered amazing views, but I didn’t stop to savor them. Next time, maybe.





A cold hike

19 01 2017

An unusually cold December day. Perhaps it was one of the coldest days of Winter 2016.  Early morning temperature in 20s (Yeah, this is damn cold for Bay Area). Decided to beat the cold with a hike in the redwoods.  Teamed up with Trail Mavens to hike the Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve. Trail Mavens organizes all-female camping and backpacking trips, and imparts associated knowledge and skills. In this case, this short hike (6.7 miles planned) was put up in Meetup and was free. Meetup is how I found Trail Mavens.

We were 10 women, age ranging from late teens to early fifties. I must say that I loved the vibe of the group. Energetic and passionate. The event host Sasha did a great job coordinating car pools and having us play games to remember each other’s names correctly and getting the conversation going. We were all shivering in the early morning chilliness. There was faint snow on the ground all over.  The plan was to start at North Ridge Trail, turn into Whittimore Gulch Trail and get back to the parking lot via Harkins Ridge Trail.

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Turning away from the North Ridge Trail:

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It was a nice clear day and as I hoped, the coldness abated under the warm sun. We had beautiful views of the bay.

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But then we climbed down to the creek. It was chilly again at the bottom amid the redwood trees and the creek roaring by. We stuck to the plan until we saw the creek.

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It was so beautiful, the sound of water rushing by soothing and tantalizing, we decided to amend the plans and take the Purisima Creek Trail. It was beautiful indeed, walking along the creek.

This change of plan added about 3 miles to the hike and we ended up doing 10 miles that day, which was the ideal mileage for me. The green path is what we actually took.

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The hike back from Purisima Creek Trail was uphill on the narrow trails amid the grandeur redwood trees.

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Sunset on the drive back:

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