Monarch Butterflies at Ardenwood

On Friday, Nov. 24, the rangers at Ardenwood Regional Farm offered a tour of the area where the monarch butterflies stop in their winter journey to Mexico.  Several of us took advantage of the opportunity.  The weather was great.  We had time to tour the farm before the talk.  There were numerous groups of grandparents, grandchildren, and young families enjoying the farm experience.   It was also a great opportunity to find out more about these beautiful insects

IMG_0378.jpgMonarchs are miraculous creatures.  Every year they fly north to Southern Canada and then back again to Mexico.  On the trip south, every butterfly makes the trip in one go.  Three generations make the trip north.  How do they know where to go?  How do they know where the milkweed will be to lay their eggs on and for the new caterpillars to feed on?  How do they find the same grove of eucalyptus to rest in?  We saw a stand of milkweed with a few eggs and caterpillars on them.

We all walked out to the grove after the ranger talk stood for a moment under the trees.  Then we became aware of hundreds of beautiful butterflies flitting about in and out of the tree branches.  It was truly an awesome experience.  What a great way to spend the day after Thanksgiving.

 

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Hiking in Mt. Diablo Foothills

IMG_0373.jpgToday we hiked at Macedo Ranch, a park in the foothills of Mt. Diablo.  It was a lovely day as it had rained a bit the night before and cleaned the skies of the smoke that had come from the wild fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties the previous week. The trails were a bit sticky at the beginning of the hike, but they soon dried out and walking was good.

It seems so amazing that parks like this exist in urban areas, but we were surrounded by hills and long range views over the foothills.  This particular trail covers varied terrain, including hill climbs, stream-side walking, and open hillsides.  We were particularly impressed by the rock formations that are reminiscent of Yosemite.

The directions we followed said the trail was 3 miles, but later we found there was a correction to those directions that upped the mileage to over 5 miles.  We certainly felt we had walked that far.  It was a good feeling to know we can do that much.

 

Redwood Regional Park, Skyline Gate

Because it is summer and it is hot in Livermore, we try to go closer to the Bay when choosing places to hike.  Friday, July 28th, we went to Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland/Berkeley hills.  It was a beautiful day, and much cooler weather than we have been having here.

It’s a very twisty road getting to the park, but lots of people had made the drive and the parking lot was nearly full, as well as cars parked on the street.  Many people come here to walk their dogs, run, or just stroll along.  We took our favorite trails, starting out on Stream trail.  It is very well shaded with groves of redwoods along the way.

After about a mile, we turned off on Sendas trail.  Because we had come down quite a lot from the parking lot, of course, we had to go back up, and this is the trail we take.  Somehow, it had gotten much steeper and harder than it was the last time we were there.  At least, that’s the way it seemed.  A lot of tree roots to scramble over and steep climbs.  Each time we came to a flat spot we thought we were finally at the top, but no, there was more yet to do.  Finally, we got to the top where there was a conveniently placed bench.  We gratefully sat down and rested.  A dog walker came up the same trail with 5 dogs and he complained about what a tough trail Sendas was.  That made us feel some better.  The last part was West Ridge Trail which was flat and more shaded than I remembered.

The total hike took us about 2 hours, going at a leisurely pace.  It was very good to get out into the hills with all the beautiful views and trees.  Glad we were able to do it.

 

Urban Hike–Civic Center and City Hall in San Francisco

IMG_20170714_121928.jpgOn Friday, July 14th, our group did an urban hike.  We got on the bus in Livermore and rode to Bart, where we then traveled to Civic Center Station in San Francisco.  We met my son, Keith, who is training to be a City Walks guide, and he and his mentor started our tour.

We went to City Hall first, which is a very beautiful, domed building.  There were weddings taking place in the rotunda, so we skirted that area and saw some of the back hallways.  Our guides give us a lot of information about the building itself and about some of the things that have taken place there.  Particularly interesting was the hallway leading to the mayor’s office where Harvey Milk and Mayor Musconi were shot by Dan White, who had been forced off the board of supervisors.

After leaving City Hall we toured around civic center where many municipal, state and federal buildings are located.  After the tour Keith took us to the Twitter Market for lunch.  It was a very interesting day.

Hiking at Del Valle

After an unseasonably warm week, we got relief today and were able to get in a very good hike.  We went on an old favorite trails from the parking lot on the north side of Lake Del Valle up to the dam, then past Cresta Blanca.  We were anxious to see how much water was in the lake after the winter rains.  It looked like the water was flowing out of the lake in order to make room for the melting snow in the mountains, but there was still considerable water in the lake.  We stayed on the trails as there have been reports of rattle snakes in the regional parks this year.  Didn’t see any, thank goodness.

There is still a lot of green grass and wildflowers, and still very spring-like.  We did about 2.6 miles on the round-trip hike, with quite a lot of up-hill and a good work-out.  Nice to be back in the hills.

 

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Morgan Territory in the Spring

After a month of not being able to hike because of rain on Fridays, we finally got a beautiful day.  We went up the windy road to Morgan Territory Regional Park to see if the wild flowers were out.  Indeed they were!  There were fields of yellow buttercups, sprinkled with white, purple, and yellow/brown flowers.  This is one of my favorite places to see the flowers and it didn’t disappoint.

We did our usual trails, a 3 mile loop starting at the parking lot and going mostly on Volvon Trail.  The ponds were full and there were a few muddy spots on the trail.  at one point, we could look out over the Central Valley all the way to the snow covered Sierra Mountains in the far distance.  That has not been the view in recent years.  It was really good to get out and hike again.  2017-04-21 10.13.53.jpg

After the Rain

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The creeks were full and running fast today in Sunol Regional Park.  The rain stopped earlier this week, but the results were obvious.  The road into the park had been closed for a couple of days while crews removed mudslides from the road, and the road which is normally gravel had been scraped and was a bit muddy.

It is so beautiful there right now with the green hills and spring flowers just  starting to bloom.  Lots of folks were out walking to take advantage of a school vacation day and the nice weather, along with the wild turkeys who put on a nice display for us.   This is one of our favorite places to walk.