I did a double dose of hiking this weekend: Windy Hill on Saturday and Garin/Dry Creek park on Sunday. Both hikes were about 8 miles long with blue skies, sun, and temperatures in the low 70Fs just about perfect hiking weather.
I was nervous about Saturday's hike. I was a first time leader for the San Francisco Hiking Club and due to park rules about group hiking, I had to limit the hike to 20 people. I spent last week fielding RSVPs and hoping that I did not get more than 20 people wanting to come on the hike. I was also fretting about the fact that the parking lot at the Portola entrance fills up by mid morning and the hike was due to start at 10 am and I wasn't sure if people would find parking on the street if the lot was full. In the end 15 people RSVPed and the parking lot did fill up but we all found parking either in the lot or on the street outside the lot.
Three cars (myself included) took a gamble and parked on the street despite a sign that said that overflow parking was .4 miles down the road and to not park on the street. I decided that the place I parked was off the street enough to not count as parking on the street. It was a little sketchy to assume that but in the end I did not get a parking ticket and neither did any of the other participants. Its a fact of life you get used to in California that parking lots will fill up and you'll have to scramble for finding alternate places to park. I do prefer to lead hikes to places where parking is not a problem so I may put this park on my list of parks where I will not lead big hikes.
Once all 15 of us got to the park successfully and were safely parked my nerves calmed down considerably and we were off on our 8 mile hike. We started the hike on a flat bit of trail through the meadow and past Sausal pond and then started our ascent in the warm sun on the Spring Ridge trail. The further up the trail we hiked, the more views: Stanford University tower and dish, Mission Peak, Moffett Field, Mt Diablo, San Francisco, Oakland, and the San Francisco bay. When we reached the top of Windy Hill we could see both San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean on the other side of Skyline ridge. We had lunch up on top.
On the way down after lunch we saw some daffodils on the hill side. One of our party told us that a gardening group got permission a couple of years ago to plant the flowers and he was the one who spotted the flowers. Later on Hamms Gulch trail we saw trilliums and hounds tongue wild flowers and enjoyed the cool of the forest out of the bright sun light.
We finished our loop at 1:50 pm and I basked in the glow of lots of compliments about the hike from the participants. Its always nice to get thank you's from the participants after a hike is done especially for a hike that I was nervous about leading!
Sunday's hike with Loma Prieta Gay and Lesbian Sierrans at Garin/Dry Creek park was more mellow for me. I was just a participant on this hike so did not have to worry about logistics or who would show up. I just had to get myself to the car pool location and then head to the park and enjoy the hike!
Vulture in a tree at Garin Park
The hike started with a sighting of vultures circling in the air and then a vulture sitting in a tree with wings spread. I have seen cormorants do this but never a vulture. It was rather exciting and a little menacing! After the vulture sightings we had a nice hike through a meadow on a few narrow bridges to cross creeks. We stopped at Jordan pond for a snack break. Then we headed up hill for nice views and some good
exercise. At the top we saw piles of rocks scattered about and expounded upon theories as to why the rocks were so organized into piles. We could not figure it out. The best guess was farmers had moved the rocks to clumps to clear fields of the cows to graze in.
Piles of rocks at Garin park
We enjoyed hiking along the ridge to Gossip rock where we had lunch. Its called Gossip rock as there are holes in the rock where Indians used to grind stuff and they would also gossip as they ground items!
Cathy at Gossip Rock
After lunch we descended down back to the parking lot through a more shaded part of the park. We saw some wild turkeys and perhaps a red winged hawk and lots of poison oak!
Lots of poison oak growing off the trail!
We finished up the hike at about 2 pm and had hoped to walk through the gardens near the parking lot but discovered the garden was not open on Sundays. Bummer! So we made our way to our cars and said our good byes. It was a wonderful mellow hike with lots of unique things to see and good conversation with the other participants.