|Here comes the sun|
Date: January 25, 2019
Place: Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, Menlo Park, California
Coordinates: 37.375695, -122.223361
Length: 2.5 miles
I have a friend who is a docent at the Mid-Peninsula Open Space Preserve agency. One day he sent out an invitation for an Friday early morning hike at Windy Hill Open Space. I took a second to check my calendar and another to reply with yes. Then I told papa Quail that he's in charge of taking both chikas to school on that day to which he answered with a resigned nod.
Windy Hill Open Space Preserve was a new place for me and I didn't know where it was. Our meeting time was set for 6:45 am and a quick check showed that I'd have to get up at 5:40 am to get there on time At first I wondered the wisdom of my speedy commitment to this hike but then realized that it has been a very long time since I went on a sunrise hike. Moreover, it has been a very long time since I went on any hike in which I wasn't the one in charge. So on Thursday evening I set the phone's alarm app, prepared my backpack with water and some snack, filled the kettle, and went to bed earlier than usual.
It was dark when my phone started shaking. I turned if of and rolled out of bed before being tempted into staying there. I dressed up quietly, filled my thermos with tea and sneaked out of home without waking any of the quails.
It was still very dark when I arrived at the Windy Hill parking area. My friend was there already, rubbing his palms and pouring his hot tea from a thermos into a cup. He said there should be about ten people in the group but when time came to get on the trail we were only five.
At 7:00 am it was still dark and most of my photos didn't come out right. Still, my eyes were quickly used to the low illumination and I spotted some interesting things along the way, some of them came out all right on camera at a close up, with the flash on.
|A Bright Horizon|
It wasn't as dark as when we started, and I could see better and farther between the trees. Already keelung and eye out for wood rat nests, I was thrilled to see one, perfectly shaped, a pyramid of sticks on the ground. The rest of the group showed a mild interest, then moved on up the trail. I snapped a few shots and hastened to catch up with them.
|Wood Rat Nest|
|Any moment now ...|
|Junco at Dawn|
Eventually we started downhill on the Meadow Trail. The light was getting stronger each minute and I could see the line of sunlight getting closer and closer until we met.
I saw many mushrooms on that hike. Not as many as I've seen on hikes in previous years, but still a good number. The forest smelled heavily of fungi.
The trail leveled off and once again we were out in the open, now walking in full sunlight.
But we turned on the lower part of the Spring Ridge Trail, heading north in the direction of the parking area.
To the west of us lay a pond, its water very calm. A single bench stood by the trail, overlooking the pond. We went down to look at the water, then u to the bench were we sat down.