All Was Quiet

December 2018 Hiking


The tale

South of San Jose, the Sierra Azul Preserve covers a wide range of the Santa Cruz Mountains foothills. I’d visited two of the parks within it before, namely Mt. Umunhum and Almaden Quicksilver.

This time I went west, seeking two trails east of Lexington Reservoir. My plan was to hike east along Limekiln Trail, find the junction at Priest Rock Trail, and follow that back to the reservoir. My plans don’t always work. But this time, that’s exactly what happened.

There wasn’t much to the trailhead. A sign. A gate. A muddy track leading into the cold woods. Parking was limited to the two-lane road’s wide shoulders. I left my car next to four others.

Overcast sunrise
Sunrise was sluggish over the eastern hills.

At 7:40am, the air was a brisk 45°F. There was no wind, just a thin layer of clouds.

The sun came and went, as did the views. Dense oaks covered most of the uphill trail, but occasionally they parted. One opening let me see a surface mine to the north.

Exposed surface mine
I had a clear view of a surface mine north of the trail.

Marching uphill fought off the cold, and half an hour later I pulled off my hat and neck gaiter, and opened my jacket. I also passed two fellow hikers going the other way and a cyclist cruising downhill faster that was strictly necessary.

I reached the junction sooner than expected. The two trails crossed atop a hill with no scenery worth mentioning speak, in spite of being open. Mediocre sunlight didn’t help.

Electrical tower from underneath
Electrical towers punctuated the sky.

The most interesting shots were of the electrical towers. There were no fences, rugged terrain, so I was able to get underneath for a photo or two.

Mud and water across the trail
The trail was muddy, sometimes with standing water.

As the day progressed, the clouds began to clear. The vegetation seemed to vary more as well. At one point I found bright red buffaloberries on thin green leaves. How appropriate; ’tis the season.

Buffalo berries
Bright red buffaloberries — at least, I think that’s what they are.

I was back at the road around 10am, much sooner than expected. The trailhead for Priest Rock Trail was five minutes south of where I’d left the car. And then …

… nothing, really. Sometimes hikes are peacefully uneventful.

Lexington Reservoir
I stopped by the Lexington Reservoir on my way out. Finally, we had some sun.

For next time

  • I should have waited another hour to start, both for the clouds to clear and the weather to warm.
  • The trail system is more extensive than I first thought. A longer day hike is possible, if I time it better. Maybe next summer.
  • I was glad to have worn layers.