Crimson bottlebrush- Local Flora – Stay at home stroll – 9

This is a series about the neighborhood flowers and flowering trees that I saw and enjoyed on my walk in the neighborhood during the stay at home months.  Many of the flowers I don’t know much about and depend on Google lens to get a name.  If there are mistakes, apologize for my ignorance.

Near our house there is a small creek that runs nearly dry during the summer months.  The creek is bordered on one side by a road and the other side a gravel road cum trail maintained by the water district.  The creek is fenced in on both sides by chain link fences.  Between the road and the fence are many trees and wildflowers that start blooming during spring.  I am not sure if some of these flowering plants are really wild or originally planted by the developers when the subdivision was  planned some fifty years back. To me it looks wild now, hiding the creek from the road.  There are quite a few bottlebrush plants by the roadside.  For once I can say that the name is quite appropriate as any one can see the similarity with a bottlebrush.  I am happy that the color is not white. Crimson really brings up the contrast.

stayathomestroll9resized

Did the inventor 

In a rush

Took the idea from nature 

And named you bottlebrush


A Rose is a rose

 

 

 

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

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.

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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.

 

Hiking Calero County Park : An Afternoon Hike

 

Weather permitting, Sunday morning normally is reserved for hiking. For the last few years, with a group of friends, I had been hiking nearby county and state parks when I am in town. However this year had been an exception. For pretty much of twenty nineteen, nearly every Sunday morning it had rained.  A couple of Sundays that may have been rain free, the hilly trails were not ideal for hiking, being soft and muddy due to heavy rains during the week.  This Sunday was supposed to be good hiking weather and as I was leaving for a dinner invitation on Saturday evening, I saw an email in my inbox regarding Sunday morning hike in Castle Rock State Park to view the rain fed waterfalls. But by the time we came back home after the dinner, it was past One AM (welcome to Indian social gatherings). Obviously I was not up early on Sunday morning to go with the group and missed the hike. By lunch time I was feeling lethargic and thought of taking an afternoon nap. The beautiful weather outside though kept tugging at me to hit the trails.

At last the trails won and I went to Calero County Park about a mile and half from my caleroparkresizedhome. This entrance to the park was opened only last year, the old entrance being  about four miles from my home. The trail from one entrance to the other over the hills is about eight miles one way. By the time I hit the trails, it was already around two thirty pm and  I knew that I won’t be able to cover the full trail. A sixteen mile round trip is nearly a day long hike and not even advisable to hike alone in the hills for such a long hike. 

This was my first solo afternoon, after lunch hike of the year. I ended up hiking round trip of 6.6 miles. Gorgeous hiking day. The trail goes up fast then flattens out once it gains about 600 ft elevation from parking lot. A canal pumping water from Almaden Reservoir to canelresized.lpgCalero Reservoir meanders along keeping company till it empties out cascading into Calero Reservoir in a man made waterfalls. There were wildflowers but not that it lit up the hills. wildflower1

Hills were verdant though.

There was a sign  at the entrance to the trail saying that the trail was closed to bikers and equestrians but either bikers ignored it or they were illiterate as there were many mountain bikers making a mess of the damp trail on many places (small streams crossing the trail). Welcome to civilized society where laws are applicable to others only. 

calero

Note: All photos taken by author on March 2, 2019. Please ask or cite source for reproduction.

 

Saturday Serene: Incredulous Life: Set of Haikus

Incredulous life

Raindrops soaked by hungry earth

Barren lies the pond

*******

Wise old oak tree stands

Dark clouds cover blazing sun

Old wisdom wasted

*******

Hear raindrops falling

Stream rushing to meet river

Exuberant life

*******

Wildflowers in bloom

Gently blows the evening breeze

Serene night beckons

*******

Behold the silence

Deep beneath boiling magma

Unsuspecting world

 

Hiking Amongst Wildflowers

I wish I could have written Wordsworth’s famous line ” I wandered lonely as a cloud”. What to do, there was hardly any clouds to be seen on the azure sky.  No daffodils, but flowers aplenty. It was a beautiful morning, perfect for1000864 hiking. Bright, sunny morning with a cool breeze.  A morning when you don’t feel the necessity of sunscreen to keep the sun away from your face, but rather want the golden rays to kiss your face to warm you up. Neither I was lonely, rather enjoying the company of my better half and our lovely, four legged companion, Skooby.  Three’s Company, indeed.

Skooby was straining at the leash, begging me with his doleful eyes to let him be relieved of the undue constraint.  But trail rules are strict, dog on leash at all time.  So, rather reluctantly, I had to restrain Skooby from his enthusiastic endeavour of running after the butterflies and bumblebees.

Ah! the butterflies and bumblebees. The hills were ablaze with wildflowers.  A good rainy season after five long years of drought and mother nature resplendent on her most regal beauties. Alas, this bonanza is not going to be long lasting.  1000842As spring will slowly make its way to summer and the landscape will start to become golden brown, lovely wildflowers will give way to dried grass. Better to enjoy when I can.

Try as I might, I could not take a photo of any butterflies.  They were so lovely, with the 1000843luminescent, fluttering wings catching the sun rays.  I think they also must have realized how short lived nature’s bounty is going to be.  I tried to emulate their example and enjoy nature as much as I can.  But from time to time, I could not restrain myself from trying to capture the abundance all around me in the confines of my 1000853digital camera.  What a waste of time and futile attempt to confine the panoramic canvas in a few megapixels of digital memory.  Try as I may, I could not do justice to what my eyes had seen in my photographs.  I will never be Wordsworth and I realized that I am a lousy photographer of nature.1000872

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Hiking in Almaden QuickSilver County Parks

 

Week 11 of My Fifty Two Weeks Journey with “W”

With the recent rains we had here in NorCal, spring has presented itself in all nature’s glory. Yesterday, I along with a few of my friends, hiked around nine miles from my house along Los Alamitos Creek Trail to Almaden Lake.  Everywhere one can see, it was green all around punctuated by vibrant and colorful wildflowers and spring blooms. At some parts of the trail, one would not have been wrong to assume that this might be a part of a rain forest except the weather was cool ( a balmy 60F) and not sweaty at all. I was going to post a blog in continuation of my earlier posts of Spring is in the air and Spring is in the air II when I realized that today is Write Anything Wednesday.  So this post is my endeavour to kill two birds with one stone.  I could have written a post titled Spring in the air III and then another post for Write Anything Wednesday.  That nine mile hike must have tested my old bones. The spirit is willing but the body is not cooperating at all. The result obviously is one of the many shortcuts that I had taken in my life. End result of not a single one of those shortcuts had been rewarding.  I shall definitely understand the unsympathetic reactions from my valued readers to this post.

The top two right hand corner photos are from my front yard. As I started the hike from my house, I thought it would be appropriate to include these two.  We have two flowering cherry trees in front of the house. The trees bloom with pink flowers in the spring.  Within couple of weeks after the flowers bloom, the trees suddenly become dark green with new leaves. Unfortunately day before yesterday it was raining on and off with some wind. When I was about to start my hike, I realized that the wind and rain had made a flowery pink offering to mother earth at night (that can be seen in the second photo from top right) and we won’t have the blossoms much longer.

While I was randomly babbling, I realized that I have not chosen a word starting with the letter “W” for my poem for Week 11 of my fifty two weeks journey with “W”. Wednesday is sixty percent over and I do not have much time to think and then write a poem  with it.  As I look back at our hike yesterday, I realized that though I was mesmerized by the wild flowers, I was more impressed by the weeds all around. Just a few months back the color of the landscape was brown and in a month or so it will go back to golden brown again. However the weeds, without any help from us, come back year after year, robust and vibrant with multicolored flowers. I know that if I propose to replace whatever is left of our garden, after five years of drought and water rationing, with a weed garden, I am going to get an earful. Just imagine, with a little bit of TLC and without much water we can have a beautiful weed garden.  So “Weed” it is, just not the smoking kind. Now off to think and find some idea about what to write about weeds.  First thing first, need some food for the growling belly before my food for thought.


This post is in response to Write Anything Wednesday 4-13-2016 , Daily Post Community Event, organized by  Writerish Ramblings

Featured image photos by author.