So on Saturday, I adventured out to Monte Bello Open Preserve. This is across the street from Los Trancos Open Preserve (At least the trailhead is). I didn't have a particular route in mind, but I wanted to do something like what I did at Fremont Older last weekend, a longer hike that was challenging. I headed down Canyon Trail, and quite enjoyed the seemingly flatness it was following. There was a cool dead tree that looked like a dragon from one angle :) There was an excellent burbling stream, although it reeked of sulfur.
I found this fairy ring of trees quite enchanting nearby:
Not too far in, I saw a sign for "Bella Vista Trail". I thought, that sounds pretty. Note to self, Bella Vista, beautiful/pretty view, probably means GO HIGH TO SEE. Bella Vista == UP. The steep incline probably should have been a hint as to what was coming, but I wasn't really thinking about it. I wasn't feeling entirely into the hike at the beginning, and the thought kept crossing my mind to go home and curl up with hot cocoa and warm blankets and just get better.
So up I hiked. Around, up, around, up. There were some awesome vistas on the way up, and I took pictures of them :) but I got bloody tired of the round-up, round-up, round-up. So high up, these birds flew directly over head and I could hear the wind through their feathers. Very surreal.
Finally reached the top (view from one direction):
You can see the Christmas tree farms way off in the distance in one direction too.
Saw the campgrounds, and then headed down the Indian Creek Trail. Later I read up about this hike, and discovered that this was a bad choice. It's much better to go up Indian Creek Trail and down Bella Vista, as Indian Creek trail is STEEP. It really is incredibly steep. I have photos up on flickr where I attempted to illustrate the steepness, but I don't really think I did it justice. If you find yourself on this trail, go UP Indian Creek trail, and DOWN Bella Vista.
At some point it flattens out, and you get some shade. In that shade, I discovered something I haven't seen in any of my hikes yet. ACORNS! I've read a lot about the missing acorns on the East coast so I wondered if there was actually some problem over here in the West coast too.
After hiking that 4 miles of fun, I wasn't done for the day. I headed up, and over to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach. I had read up a lot about the Reserve and knew what you should/shouldn't do. I was surprised to find people doing the "collecting marine life" and "picking it up out of the water". Seriously folks, fish don't breathe AIR!
It was incredibly awesome to see urchins:
and starfish, and crabs, and just a living cornucopia of goodness.
Then on Sunday, I visited the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It was only a 1.5 mile walk so I am not counting it in the year's count of hikes!