Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baldy Ryan Creek: Rancho Canada del Oro OSP

I remember vividly what I was doing when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck in October 1989. I was sitting on on the arm (I was 4 after all) of a chair in the kitchen munching on potato chips. My parents and Grandmother were out back prepping pea's for diner. We had moved out from New England just a few weeks earlier. Then I remember sleeping on the curb while aftershocks continued and the lights on the block flickered off and on after "the big one".

So, this Saturday being the 20th anniversary of the big quake, I decided to visit the earthquakes namesake, and epicenter. Mt. Loma Prieta (pictured above), south of San Jose. Access to the mountain itself is restricted so I settled upon the closest park, Rancho Canda Del Oro.

The main trail heading through Calero County Park into Rancho Canada Del Oro.

The Bay Area just got socked with the first major storm of the year, dumping 4-6" in San Jose and 10"-12" in the Santa Cruz mountains in just a day and a half. The trails at Rancho Canada Del Oro were muddy and the creeks were roaring and swollen with runoff. A lesser man might have been detoured by an impassable creek, I however had driven a full 15 minutes to get here and refused to turn back. About 100' downstream there seemed to be a better crossing and I was reassured to find the tall grass had been flatted by another individual who had the same idea before me. Sadly even from here the steam was still impassable. Admitting there was no realistic way to cross I jumped across, got one foot on the bank and the other in the drink.

The creek was 10' across and 2' deep at the trail crossing.

Once across I had no particular ideas where I would head inside the park except that I wanted a nice view of Loma Prieta. A small buggy operated by one of the rangers crossed the creek just after I did and I stood watching him pass by, soggy and wet along the side of the trail. Just after that I encountered a little lizzard friend who seemed to adopt the mentality of "if I don't move, he can't see me!" I was more nervous he might have been wounded by another hiker and was injured, so I reached down to touch him after taking the photo below and fortunatley he wiggled away into the grass off the trail.

I get the feeling darwinism might not be on his side.

Decaying fence off the side of the trail.

One thing was obvious the entire trip, this area was very wet. The trail was only somewhat muddy but the streams were roaring and runoff was trickeling off every pore of the mountain. Some segments of the trail and the hillside had clearly slid out in the heavy rains.

The main creek running through Rancho Canada Del Oro.

A small waterfall that probably was dry the day before.

After crossing the creek again (thank goodness this time there was a bridge!) I ran into a fellow by the name of Nick who also happened to be in my "funemployment" situation. We exchanged our thoughts about the economy and our valueless degrees before parting ways into our equally beat up cars at the end of the trail.

Live Oak just off the trail with a horseshoe just above the knot near the base.
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