Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Stage Rd to Dusty

Since I have 2 kids home sick today, I thought I'd throw up a post.  The end of last week I headed out of Castle Rock.  This has become somewhat of a treat for me anymore. Traffic is so bad in the morning that it takes me nearly 45 minutes to even get to Castle Rock Park. Living so close to Mitchell Canyon, it's much quicker for me to just go there.  Sometimes I convince myself it's worth sitting in traffic for.  Last week that really proved to be true.  The traffic delay meant I was heading out on the trail at just the perfect time.  The sun was perfectly back lighting all the beautiful trees.  It was a beautiful hike! Warning - if pictures of beautiful trees bore you, this will be a very boring post for you, although there are some berries and thistles, too.













 









Monday, September 19, 2016

Fire and Tarantulas

I mentioned a small fire out of Mitchell Canyon. It was quickly contained to just 2 acres.  It was in some tricky terrain that has been being rehabbed for the past few years.  They've cleared invasive plants, and planted native saplings, and done a lot of work on the creek bed.  They stopped the fire with in feet of where the rehab project starts.  It would have been years of hard work lost had they not.

 The yellow fire line tape was still there, but the trail was open. 
The sign says no smoking, but this is a suggestion, not law, unfortunately. More on that later.

 You can see the fire hoses still on the ground. This is as I headed up Red Dirt Road to Black Point Trail, looking down on the burned hillside.  This small fire happened to take place almost 3 years to the day after the big Mount Diablo fire. 

 
 After going up and over Black Point and coming back through the bottom of the valley a few hours later, this trail was closed.  It seemed the "morning after the fire" investigation was underway.  There were fire trucks and sheriff trucks parked where I took this picture.  The fire started at around 5:30 on a Wednesday, and hikers were spotted in the area at the time.

And now....here are a few pictures of the tarantulas I spotted last week.  This first guy gives me a headache.  These guys normally have 8 legs, and 2 shorter things in front that look like fangs.  Notice the guy below...he has 8 legs, but one is coming right out the top of his head, in the middle of his forehead.  Poor dude. I wish I could have got a shot of him straight on, but he wouldn't cooperate, and I don't like to irritate them too much.
 This is a good shot at what they should look like, without a leg coming out from the front of their head.



 Now is definitely the time to get out on the mountain if you want to see some of these gently spider giants.

Lastly, I have to give a shout out to the East Bay Regional Park District for a move that is long, long overdue.  I've vented here on the blog before about how livid it makes me to find cigarettes on the trails. I'll try not to launch into a lecture here, but we live in an area that is at high fire danger for the majority of the year.  We are in a drought for years on end.  It should be a law that there is no smoking in any of our parks, whether they be regional or state.  As of right now, smoking is legal in state parks still.  This means that as soon as you cross a cattle gate and leave EBRPD property and enter Mt. Diablo State Park, you can light up.  Ridiculous.  The only ordinance is when we reach Extreme Fire Danger level, people must only smoke in areas that are for that purpose.  By the way, the assembly repeated tries to get this made a law.  The last person to veto it was Schwarzenegger.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Black Point Loop, Mt Diablo and Tarantulas!

 I previously mentioned we had a fire out of Mitchell Canyon last Wednesday evening. I headed out Thursday morning to see if the trail was open and what the damage was. It was a small fire, and I'll post those pictures in a later post.  The fire was right off the beginning of Black Point Trail, at the first park bench.  I headed up for a better view.  Originally, I intended to just get a view of the burned area and come back down.  However, for no particular reason, I just kept climbing.  Before I really realized what I was doing, I was more than half way up the ridge, and just decided to keep going and go up and over and come down the back side.  I had done this loop years ago with Brian, in the opposite direction, and he had ended up covered in ticks.  I couldn't make myself stop, though. I hope you'll be able to see a small bit from the pictures how beautiful of a trail this is!
 Below, center of the pic, is the old water tower I so enjoy getting pictures of.







 Below, I stopped to look back down behind me. The view looking back was as beautiful as the view looking forward.
 Once I got to the top of the ridge, I had views down both sides, the front of Diablo, and the back.  Below is looking down the front of the mountain.  This is looking towards Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill.  It is also a nice shot of Brian's office.  He's the last building on the right in the cluster of office buildings.
 A lot of the trail on the back side of the loop looks like this, it's pretty overgrown.  I was really hoping we were past tick season because there was no way through without brushing up against plants.



 The back side has a lot of loose, steep gravel.  However, now having done this in both directions, it was much easier going down the gravel than it was coming up it.


 Below, Black Point Trail ends at Red Dirt Rd in White Canyon.
 It's called White Canyon because there is a time of year it's full of "wild white bushes".  The only white thing I saw, however, was a galloping white horse. I caught it in the below pic right at the last second as it went over the hill.
 Once I made it back out to Mitchell Canyon, I started seeing tarantulas! This was the first morning I had seen any this year, and was treated to 3 different ones.



It was yet another morning I went home feeling very spoiled to live where we do, having such a huge, beautiful, wild back yard!