Hiking Stile Ranch Trail : A hike during the stay at home, May Day, 2020

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.

StilesRanchCOLLAGE


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.

Hiking Stile Ranch Trails : A morning with poppies

California Poppy- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 2

The state flower of the Golden State, California, is aptly California Poppy heralding the advent of spring. Luckily its enchanting beauty is intoxicating for the eyes and heart and not the source of the drug opium. As the rainy season tapers down and the temperature warms up, roadsides and hills get covered with blooming poppies, opening their hearts to the sun.  In my blog I had written before the enchanting sight of hillside in Santa Teresa County Park completely covered by blooming poppies.  However this season, due to the restrictions I have not gone hiking on the trails of Santa Teresa County Park and had to satisfy myself with local blooms by the roadsides and creeksides.  Though California poppies are planted in gardens, I find them more beautiful in the wild.California poppy (2)

Graceful you are

The California State flower

Enchanting but not addictive

Brighten the hearts of nature lovers


StilesRanchTrail1

A Rose is a rose

 

Hiking Stile Ranch Trail : Part 2 – Fortini Loop

It was a gorgeous morning today, sunny but cool.  A perfect hiking weather.  Tax preparation was finished yesterday.  As I have to pay some, I decided to postpone filing till later and mail the checks to IRS and franchise tax board on April 15, Tax Day.  To reward myself decided to go hiking.  Hiking is my usual stress reliever.  Couple of weeks back when I had gone hiking up Stile Ranch Trail and taken photos of poppy blooms, my wife wanted to go to the trail.  So off we went, me, my wife and my companion, Skooby.

Fortunately for us, the rain had stopped last week, the trail was not muddy and more wild flowers had bloomed after the rains.  This time I had my dslr with me as Skooby was handled by my wife and I had my hand free for most of the time.  We decided to complete Fortini Loop this time and was rewarded by majestic vistas, hillside ablaze with wildflowers, running creeks and floating birds of prey.  Sharing a few photos from our hike today.

StileRanch2-2R
Mount Umunhum to the west of Stile Ranch
StileRanch2-3R
Mount Hamilton with Lick Observatory visible at top to the west of Stile Ranch
StileRanch2-4R
Big Blue-IBM Almaden Research Center.  IBM had given access to the Stile Ranch easement to Santa Clara County Park and Recreation.

Ah, I had forgotten about the wildflowers.  So without much ado, here are the flowers.

Fortunate to call this beautiful place home for last thirty years.  However we all need to be vigilant that, for the generations to come, we nurture what we enjoy and leave this earth a better place than we found.  Today while hiking, I found a mother with her young daughter hiking the trail from the opposite direction.  In the mother’s hand I found a small bottle with water and a few varieties of wildflowers in the bottle.  For a moment I thought of just passing by, but my conscience won’t let me go .  I stopped and told the mother that she was not supposed to do that.  Specifically picking wildflowers from state and county lands without authorization in California is a misdemeanor.  The lady told me that she found it so beautiful and she picked only a few.  I told her that if everyone started picking only a few, there will be none left for people to enjoy.  My wife was not pleased with me but I reasoned that it was my civic duty and I did not do anything wrong.  As it turned out, we met again after an hour or so on the trail ( it was a loop) and I had a pleasant chat with the lady and was happy to find out that she saw that my point of view was correct.

Soar high my friends.  Spring is in the air.

SR11

 

Note: All photos taken by author on April 13, 2019. Please ask or cite source for reproduction.


 

Hiking Stile Ranch Trail :Part 1 –  A morning with Poppies

This weekend was supposed to be a hike to view wildflowers but by Saturday night very few group members signed up for any one of the two hikes suggested.  At the last moment it was changed to St. Joseph Trail hike in Los Gatos.  My mind already set to view wildflowers, I decided to skip the hike and instead hit the Stile Ranch Trail on my extended backyard.  The trailhead of  Stile Ranch Trail is couple of miles from my home.  After a good rainy season, the hills are always ablaze with poppy flowers along with other wildflowers.  This trial was opened in September of 1991 and I hiked this trail nearly every year after that, specially during the d3988b0f-ee68-4449-aae0-c23c61710bdcpoppy blooming season.  Last few years were a disappointment due to paucity of rain.  This year we had very good rains during February and March and I was hopeful that this would be a boom season.  I was not disappointed.  

My dog, Skooby, loves this trail and he lovesb6dffa56-b1db-4127-91ca-68f63a0a2360_RS the flowers ( I think he likes to chase the bees).  He had been hiking this trail every year for last nine years with me.  By the time I started, it was already mid morning and it was getting warm.

 

The trail itself is not a hard one.  From the trailhead to the crest is less than three hundred feet elevation gain but is shared by hikers, bikers and equestrians.  Though46904f4e-fb61-4cba-95b0-3f9a30adad2d_RS I did not see any horses yesterday morning, there were many bikers as usual.  The rail had cut deep gullies on the middle of trail making it difficult for the bikers to navigate.  With Skooby I had to be extra careful to ensure that he was not in the path of oncoming bikes coming down hill. 

After spending a few hours among the lovely flowers and fresh air, Skooby and I left for home for a warm lunch.  Till next year and hoping for a good rainy season.

Note: All photos taken by author on March 31, 2019. Please ask or cite source for reproduction.

 

Hiking Stile Ranch Trail : A morning with Poppies

 

This weekend was supposed to be a hike to view wildflowers but by Saturday night very few group members signed up for any one of the two hikes suggested.  At the last moment it was changed to St. Joseph Trail hike in Los Gatos.  My mind already set to view wildflowers, I decided to skip the hike and instead hit the Stile Ranch Trail on my extended backyard.  The trailhead of  Stile Ranch Trail is couple of miles from my home.  After a good rainy season, the hills are always ablaze with poppy flowers along with other wildflowers.  This trial was opened in September of 1991 and I hiked this trail nearly every year after that, specially during the d3988b0f-ee68-4449-aae0-c23c61710bdcpoppy blooming season.  Last few years were a disappointment due to paucity of rain.  This year we had very good rains during February and March and I was hopeful that this would be a boom season.  I was not disappointed.  

My dog, Skooby, loves this trail and he lovesb6dffa56-b1db-4127-91ca-68f63a0a2360_RS the flowers ( I think he likes to chase the bees).  He had been hiking this trail every year for last nine years with me.  By the time I started, it was already mid morning and it was getting warm.

 

The trail itself is not a hard one.  From the trailhead to the crest is less than three hundred feet elevation gain but is shared by hikers, bikers and equestrians.  Though46904f4e-fb61-4cba-95b0-3f9a30adad2d_RS I did not see any horses yesterday morning, there were many bikers as usual.  The rail had cut deep gullies on the middle of trail making it difficult for the bikers to navigate.  With Skooby I had to be extra careful to ensure that he was not in the path of oncoming bikes coming down hill. 

After spending a few hours among the lovely flowers and fresh air, Skooby and I left for home for a warm lunch.  Till next year and hoping for a good rainy season.

Note: All photos taken by author on March 31, 2019. Please ask or cite source for reproduction.

 

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