Today is May Day, International Workers’ Day or Labor Day all over the world except in a handful of countries including USA. However due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, large percentage of the population in the world is in some form of stay at home or lockdown with many activities curtailed.
In our home state of California, stay at home is extended till end of May with certain exemptions like walking, hiking, biking, jogging etc., maintaining proper social distancing etiquette. However I had a much more pressing need for getting out of the house. I have not even started my car in last month or so and I was afraid that when I need it, it won’t start.
I started the car today after exactly a month. The twenty year old faithful started in one try with a nice hum. I drove around for about two and a half mile to the trailhead of Stiles Ranch. It was past 11:00 AM when I arrived at the small gravel patch of land that can accommodate about ten cars. Luckily there were a couple of spots left. On the other side of the main road, the developed parking lot of Calero County Park was nearly full with few cars parked by the side of the road. Normally I always come here just after the rains when the poppies bloom covering the hillside with blazingas golden yellow color. I have attached the link below from my previous post of last year. I was not expecting the same this year and was fearful that I may not find any poppy. The rains had gone long back and it was dry for a few weeks now. My heart sank as I could not see anything except tall grass swaying gently with the breeze. As my eyes got accustomed to the strong sun, here and there I could see some colors peeking their heads through the dancing grass. And then I realized what happened. As it did not rain very much this season and had stopped now for a few weeks; poppies, though blooming in large numbers still, were much smaller in size. I decided to go up the hill and see. Glad that I did not allow my first impression to deter me from hiking up. Even though the sun was very strong and blinding, a soothing breeze made it a pleasant hike. I also needed to ensure that I was not rusted from the month and a half stay at home regimen. Glad to report that the old engine is still humming nicely. The hike up was, pun intended, a breeze. Met only a few hardy hikers daring the mid-day sun and a couple of mountain bikers. It’s the bikers I was most afraid of regarding social distancing. The trail being quite narrow, there is not much space to keep the six feet social distancing when a bike suddenly comes down the hill. It was one of the reason I started late. I was hoping that Friday being a weekday WFH and the late morning would naturally result in less people out on the trail. It turned out to be true . I saw a young couple cuddling and kissing beneath a tree, well hidden by the rocks. Nature had provided them quite a romantic getaway and terrific weather to be out of the restraints of stay at home. Once I arrived at the top of the ridge with the old heart beating a nice rhythm, it was time to head back home. The honey pot was calling.
Though the poppies were smaller in size due to less nourishment and were hidden by tall grass, it was still a worthwhile hike. The hardy wildflowers along with the abundant poppies were a sight to behold.
I also realized that even with maximum brightness setting, cell phone screen in bright sunlight is nearly useless to take good photo/s. I was clicking blindly with the hope that I shall get a few worthwhile photos to share. I am disappointed at myself with the result.