COLD CANYON LOOP 18X April 3, 2007

Having been a month since my last uphill workout, I figured on burning the 2 gallons, or so, of fuel, and made this short, 80 mile, round trip, drive out to Cold Canyon, the Stebbins UCD Reserve. I started this afternoon hike at 2:14 p.m., knowing it doesn't take me too long.

There was broken window glass in the primitive parking area, prompting some worry about break-ins. Being a Tuesday, there were only two other vehicles in the dirt lot. Two more cars were parked at the lower trailhead gate.

Signing in the trail register, I briskly climbed up the trail, and noted few flowers. Wondering who I'd see today, I shortly noted new "speed bumps," dirt mounds as water bars. Apparently most of the recent trail work is done. Only the remnants of the old trail, stacked up with cut brush, lay about the hillside.

The hills were still green, but the trail was all bone dry. I spotted a baby snake, and snapped photos. Again, my new camera failed me. Although I was using the telephoto, the blur warning came up repeatedly. It was in shade, but I thought that this camera was especially sensitive in dim light. I'll have to read up on this! Another baby snake slithered across the trail, further along.

While enjoying the hazy views atop Bump 1,475', other hikers appeared. Asked for a beer, I noted they had no packs or water. It was a warmer day, but I suppose hikers regard this shorter hike as so trivial, they don't bring enough liquid. I had my quart canteen, and drank some water, then.

Moving on, I snapped my usual photos of the lichens, and the trail up Pleasants Ridge. That's always a refreshing sight.

Along the main ridge, the trail widening had not proceeded much further, and I was soon hiking in overgrown areas. The poison oak had leafed profusely, and I had to really watch what plants I brushed up against. Many turkey vultures flew overhead. Dozens of lizards flitted about the rocks and trail.

Left to hike alone, I made my way over the high bump, and then down the steps. So much poison oak! I must have been careful enough, and didn't suffer any rashes or undue itching. Then, I am used to this.

The creek at the canyon bottom was trickling, with pools of clear water. I figured on seeing more Chinese lanterns, a hanging yellow wildflower that was once profuse in this area. They make for great close-ups, shot from below, if you can manage that! Some redbud were flowering, and then I was back to the highway.

To the car at 4:51 p.m., I had no need to hike further. I need to develop a better conditioning routine in town, as with my global warming concerns, I refrain from doing like so many other climbers will do. As much as I'd like to hike 5,000' gain or more, the local ops are limited. Even Mt. Diablo is a bit far, now, for that!

The usual stats of 4.75 miles with 1,500' gain went with my shooting some 80 images on the hike. I spent about a dollar for a can of ice tea, and then used a quarter tank of gas. T-shirt and shorts were fine. As the warm weather brings out snakes, I kept looking to the ground. Don't want to step on one!