Mt. Hamilton Ride, 27 Apr 08

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides' started by jobst.brandt@stanfordalumni.org, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. Sunday 27 Apr 08

    Only a few days after I rode from Palo Alto to San Jose and up over
    Mt. Hamilton in chilly weather with long sleeves and pants, the
    weather changed to the opposite with temperatures in the 90F region.

    Ray Hosler, Marc Brandt and I started from Milpitas at 07:30, taking
    Piedmont Rd. south, literally at the foot of the Hamilton range to
    Penitencia Creek Rd. taking a left and a quarter mile later, right on
    Toyon Ave. across to McKee Rd that joins Alum Rock Ave, the approach
    to HWY130, the Mt. Hamilton road to Lick Observatory and beyond.

    http://tinyurl.com/54j5ye

    Having started when we did, the day hadn't gotten more than
    comfortably warm and as we climbed to the top of the ridge, remained
    that way as we descended into Halls Valley and Grant Ranch Park, where
    on a hot day, we often stop for a drink of water, but not today.
    Halls Valley has an idyllic character with rolling meadows, lakes and
    a few old farm houses, one of which is obviously a school house from
    the days of the one room school (with belfry).

    The Valley was lush green grasses and a blue tint from wildflowers, a
    fitting foreground for Mount Hamilton and its observatory rising above
    the next ridge.

    Marc was riding a city bike with a fixed gear and a single speed
    freewheel on the other side. It was his intention to ride only to the
    top while Ray and I went on to Livermore, Pleasanton and Sunol to
    return to the start in Milpitas. With green slopes and wildflowers,
    we took a leisurely pace taking pictures as a couple of riders looking
    like they were in a race wen huffing and puffing by at about twice the
    speed.

    In the fall we see migrating tarantulas on the mountain and in spring
    rains, newts crossing the road, many of which get killed by traffic.
    This time we saved a "potato Bug" that moved about as slowly as a
    tarantula. We took its picture and moved it to the road shoulder in a
    manner similar to my 2ft rattle snake with rodent in belly on my
    previous ride a few days earlier.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_cricket

    Up at the observatory we rode through fairly thick swarms of small
    flies that clung to arms, legs and jersey. One got in my eye and has
    acrid irritating juices. Meanwhile small caterpillars that feed on
    new foliage were on the road under trees. Birds don't like eating
    these little furry bugs. That's what their hair is for.

    In spite of sunshine, it was hazy and had high altitude humidity,
    shown by the persistent vapor tails across the sky with bits of cirrus
    clouds here and there. We hadn't hit the predicted high temperatures
    as we proceeded down the steep back side of the mountain, stopping at
    the "radiator refill" watering spring at the 3-mile marker. The ice
    cold water went down well and assured us that we would have an easy
    ride to the Junction Inn.

    Wildflowers from two weeks ago (pinkies) were drying up but remained
    in blossom in shady places. In contrast, there were more California
    poppies and lupine that before. Clear water in Isabel Creek looked
    great after which we had a short steep climb into Arroyo Bayo where
    wildflowers abound. The road follows the west side of the valley to a
    place where the river runs through a rocky defile around which the
    steepest short grunt of the ride occurs before descending back to the
    river at the Arnold Ranch at milepost 10.

    Arnold ranch peacocks replied to my peacock imitation, about five or
    six of them all giving their classic scream.

    From here the road climbs gradually getting a bit steeper at the end
    before descending into San Antonio valley. In spite of a relatively
    dry winter, streams and ponds had plenty of water and some ducks were
    still there before moving off to their summer haunts. The buffleheads
    that are usually there all winter had already gone, as had the Canada
    geese I saw recently.

    At one place a paved driveway climbs up past a dam and because I
    passed there too often to not know what was up there, we rode up the
    road and saw a full lake with ducks and surprisingly many ~8inch trout
    clearly visible near the shore. A farm house lies at the end of the
    lake with a small jetty on which two small plastic skiffs were stored.

    We stopped at the San Antonio Junction Cafe where we met plenty of
    bicyclists and many more motorcyclists. When I came here last
    Thursday the place was closed, even though they are open daily now.
    The reason was a scheduled power outage that morning. I was told they
    opened at 4:00 in the afternoon that day. I also has a chance to talk
    to Ruthie of Ruthie's Emporium a mile farther on mines road. She has
    a great collection of curios and hardware, all for sale.

    Ruthie ran the Branding Iron road house about 20 miles down the road
    as many years ago. It was painted deep red and had a good following
    from the bikers. The ceiling was about 8ft high and was papered with
    geologic survey maps of the area. Today the place is a private
    residence. What a loss. Ruthie also said that the infamous
    "Jot-em-down" store was burned to the ground by hunters the day before
    hunting season opened back in those days.

    In all, although a bit scarce, we saw beautiful birds all along the
    way. Bullocks orioles, black headed grosbeaks, meadow larks, western
    king birds, bluebirds, yellow billed magpies, lewis and acorn
    woodpeckers, humming birds at the junction cafe, and finally a pair of
    bald eagles.

    After climbing the two passes that got us over into Arroyo Mocho, that
    we would follow all the way to the Livermore valley for the next 30
    miles. The road (Mines Road) crosses the creek a couple of times
    before the Alameda County line that lies below a short descent and one
    more creek crossing. Oaks in this area are just budding out from
    their leafless winter and wildflowers color the roadside.

    Farther down, at about 2000ft elevation, we crossed the creek once
    more after which it dives down its huge canyon while the road stays
    high on the east slope, wending its way in and out of small tributary
    gulches.

    http://tinyurl.com/3tsfmf

    Mines Rd. is mostly on a slight descent with a couple of dips as it
    stays near 2000ft before making its final descent to the Livermore
    Valley where we crossed Arroyo Mocho again and Del Valle Rd. Before
    the road descends, water tanks of the SF water department mark the
    place next to the creek where the Tesla Cutoff, the worlds longest
    tunnel (22miles) in its day passes beneath the mountains on its way to
    Irvington. This replaced the conspicuous surface aqueduct adjacent to
    the road through Niles Canyon.

    http://tinyurl.com/54mx2f

    Interestingly we rode into increasing headwinds regardless of our
    direction until late in the day. Livermore greeted us with 94deg heat
    but reasonably dry, so it was no problem. Parallel to the RR right of
    way where formerly Western Pacific and Southern Pacific lines ran
    parallel but to day Union Pacific remains on the WP tracks, the SP
    track being sued to store container rack freight cars from Oakland.
    At times there are more than a mile of parked empties.

    http://tinyurl.com/49zmz9

    We stopped at the Milk Store in Pleasanton across the street from the
    historic former Sp Depot before rolling on down to Sunol and turning
    south on Paloma Way that turns into Calaveras road at I680. White
    throated swifts nest in the vents under the freeway bridge. Calaveras
    Rd. has a line of Cork Oaks on its west side and for some reason, dead
    mans foot mushrooms grow under these trees on the barren dry road
    shoulder.

    http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Pisolithus_tinctorius.html

    We saw groups of four or five as we rode along, many of these looking
    more like horse apples than mushrooms, but in one spot a fresh one was
    emerging in its typical white skin of a "puffball" mushroom.

    http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Bovista_plumbea.html

    After crossing Alameda Creek and Geary Rd. that goes into the park,
    Calaveras road begins its climb out of the narrow valley that ends at
    the base of Calaveras Dam of the SF Water Dept. (Hetch Hetch Sys.).
    The high point of the road is at about 1200ft giving a grand panorama
    of the Mountains to the east above which eagles and turkey vultures
    soar gracefully.

    Today we cam upon a couple of birders with powerful optics and cameras
    who were obviously on to a good sighting. It turned out, they were
    observing a pair of bald eagles, the symbol of the USA who had an
    aerie on top of a high voltage tower a few hundred yards away. First
    on, then both took wing and flew overhead in a striking display of
    their black and white plumage better than the one on the US Postal
    Service logo.

    http://tinyurl.com/3maryh
    http://www.bluevalhalla.com/v/wildlife/raptors/bald/calares/

    From here it is a few miles to the pass out of this valley and all
    down hill to the car parked just off Calaveras Rd. in Milpitas.

    http://tinyurl.com/4b97ju

    That's a 103mile loop with 7800ft climb.
    -----------------------
    Jobst Brandt
     
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  2. On Apr 29, 11:47 pm, jobst.bra...@stanfordalumni.org wrote:
    > Sunday 27 Apr 08
    >
    > Only a few days after I rode from Palo Alto to San Jose and up over
    > Mt. Hamilton in chilly weather with long sleeves and pants, the
    > weather changed to the opposite with temperatures in the 90F region.
    > That's a 103mile loop with 7800ft climb.
    > -----------------------
    > Jobst Brandt


    Nice picturesque reports as always, Jobst.

    I find it interesting and mildly amusing that you never mention some
    of the animals and birds that are real pests in the midwest, above all
    squirrels, but also rabbits, racoons, opposum, sparrows, mourning
    doves, crows and geese. (You do mention deer). Are they missing or
    just too commonplace to mention?
     
  3. Ron Wallenfang wrote:

    >> Sunday 27 Apr 08


    >> Only a few days after I rode from Palo Alto to San Jose and up over
    >> Mt. Hamilton in chilly weather with long sleeves and pants, the
    >> weather changed to the opposite with temperatures in the 90F region.
    >> That's a 103mile loop with 7800ft climb.
    >> -----------------------
    >> Jobst Brandt


    > Nice picturesque reports as always, Jobst.


    > I find it interesting and mildly amusing that you never mention some
    > of the animals and birds that are real pests in the midwest, above
    > all squirrels, but also rabbits, raccoons, opossum, sparrows,
    > mourning doves, crows and geese. (You do mention deer). Are they
    > missing or just too commonplace to mention?


    Ground squirrels are food for the raptors, we see skunks and raccoons
    mainly as roadkill, that if not messy get tossed off the road so the
    turkey vultures have some safe food. Bob cats, coyotes, and rarely
    mountain lions along with a couple of elk herds make the day
    interesting occasionally.

    http://www.geocities.com/rayhosler/

    Jobst Brandt
     
  4. Tom Sherman

    Tom Sherman Guest

    Ron Wallenfang wrote:
    > On Apr 29, 11:47 pm, jobst.bra...@stanfordalumni.org wrote:
    >> Sunday 27 Apr 08
    >>
    >> Only a few days after I rode from Palo Alto to San Jose and up over
    >> Mt. Hamilton in chilly weather with long sleeves and pants, the
    >> weather changed to the opposite with temperatures in the 90F region.
    >> That's a 103mile loop with 7800ft climb.
    >> -----------------------
    >> Jobst Brandt

    >
    > Nice picturesque reports as always, Jobst.
    >
    > I find it interesting and mildly amusing that you never mention some
    > of the animals and birds that are real pests in the midwest, above all
    > squirrels, but also rabbits, racoons, opposum, sparrows, mourning
    > doves, crows and geese.[...]


    Those animals are pests?

    The real pests in the Midwest are loose dogs (and of course the bipedal
    varmints).

    --
    Tom Sherman - Holstein-Friesland Bovinia
    The weather is here, wish you were beautiful
     
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