Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not Quite Spring

We have been hiking the last two weeks, but I haven’t sat down to post on any of it because I don’t always have time to burn sitting around on my derriere. Sometimes I find the computer a little confining, and don’t even turn it on. And occasionally my wife kicks me off to get some real work done.

We hiked at Sierra Azul a week ago just as a gas saver. This was also good training hike for Sue as she gets back into hiking shape after some layoff to take a class. We started in Lexington County Park, and were able to get a good visual update on the reservoir there. It seems like only yesterday that we could see the old Alma bridge still lying there at the bottom like a ghost. Normally that old 20s era concrete bridge is submerged deep under the surface of the reservoir. Officially we are now at over 90% of normal rainfall, even thought the reservoir still looks quite low. The water also looks especially brownish and muddy as though there were a lot more silt and erosion present than usual. It’s going to be a long recovery, plus I don’t think the seismic retrofit of the dam is completed. They may need to drain it again.

The morning was unexpectedly cold, 36 degrees by the thermometer in my car. We didn’t get any sun until much later. Subtle signs of the approaching spring season are noticeable, but I wouldn’t say blooming. We saw some Indian warrior, and scarce displays of other fledgling early season wild flowers like filaree, buttercups, and milk maids. But nothing to get excited about. Great views are still available there before the sunny season brings more smoggy air to the south bay. The photo at left shows the view toward Almaden valley. Mt Hamilton is obscured by clouds.

This week we went to Grant County Park. Again we got a very chilly day. There were a lot of low clouds obscuring the views, and the wind was cold and moist. We both kept our cold weather gear on all day. Without the sun, there wasn’t much chance of wild flowers occurring, but we still saw a few. Again, very modest, sparse, displays of violets, shooting stars, hound’s tongue, and checker bloom. We got the opportunity to use the Washburn trail I had heard about from other bloggers. Our old maps show this route as private road, but now it’s part of the park. I heard it was killer steep, but we found that most of the trail is not bad. It has a few sections of killer steep trail, but they’re not very long. When we got to the highest point it was so windy, we enjoyed a quick view opportunity, and immediately began hiking down the other side just to get out of the chill. Better to keep moving. Later we had some fun by wildcatting straight up the side of antler point from the cabin site instead of meandering up the trail. This was Sue’s idea because we had a combination birthday party and wedding celebration to go to later that evening, and we needed to save time. But we just had some great fun doing it, by making it a little race.

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