My occasional determination to hike more often resurfaced on Saturday, and I headed out to the Russian Ridge Open Space. For those of you not familiar with this area, the Open Spaces are preserves around the San Francisco Bay Peninsula managed by Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties; the Open Space project is responsible for keeping a surprising amount of the area around the Santa Cruz Mountains free of development. We have many square miles of green space criss-crossed by hiking, biking and horse trails, and enough open land to support even relatively large predators like coyotes and mountain lions.
The path I'd intended to choose would have been about a 1.5-mile hike. The path I actually followed was 3.5 miles. As a friend observed, it wasn't as hard as it might have been since there wasn't much elevation change along that path, varying from around 2100' to 2500'. Of course, that's more elevation change than is actually possible to encounter in Florida, no matter how many miles you walk. (The highest point there is about 350' over sea level. There are areas in the Florida Panhandle which get a little challenging for hikers, but mountain climbing it ain't.) It was a pretty hike, though, through an old--very old--oak grove and out into open fields with panoramic views of both the Pacific and the Bay.
Sunday, I drove north with two friends, Kim and Dave. Dave's the friend who introduced me to the open spaces a few years back, before I moved out here; he's a huge booster for this area, but hasn't been too far afield in Northern California from the Bay Area itself. Kim is the friend I've written about before who I stayed with in Clearwater for two months after leaving NetPoodles, who ended up being laid off from his position and selling his house. He's ended up out here looking for work, for much the same reason I did. Neither of them quite have the coyote-esque wandering urge that I do, but they're both occasionally interested in being taken along on wanders.
The stated goal of the trip was "to see big trees," which was accomplished, although in an unnecessarily meandering fashion--and we only saw the little big trees, as we didn't get any farther north than Willits. We took a long, scenic detour around Clear Lake, through picturesque and, as it turned out, redwood-free farm country. If I'd actually studied the potential route longer before setting out, I would have known to nix the idea of that detour and simply stay on 101 past the point where it meets Highway 1. Next trip, perhaps on a longer summer day to boot.
I did try a few tripod-required camera shots (shooting with ISO 160 speed in dim forest light is not something you can do with a handheld camera). I'll have to see how they come out.
Which reminds me I still have to do the as-yet-mythical web site documenting my cross-country road trip. I've let that project slip more than I should because I'd originally thought about it as a "showcase" for web design, which of course I'm not doing professionally anyway, as it turns out. And which I've lately been thinking doesn't have much future for me, unless I'm willing to go in directions I've so far been reticent to. But that's a story for a different time.