For the fourth day in a row John and I hiked. But today was different.
We went with John’s friend, Becky. It was Becky who made all the difference.
The three of us went first to the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, which is 33 miles north of Santa Cruz on the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. “This preserve has been identified as one of the five best places in the Bay Area to see wildflowers,” according to the trail guide. It certainly was today. That’s because most of the hike was through fields rather than trees.
We say poppies by the thousands, which particularly delighted me. Not only is the golden poppy California’s state flower, but it is showy and beautiful — and I hadn’t seen any since I moved from California four years ago. We also had good, albeit cloudy, views of the South Bay.
Most of the five miles that we hiked in 4 1/4 hours on Russian Ridge were through fields. But along the appropriately-named Ancient Oaks Trail we came to a large grove of valley oaks that are at least 200 years old. Here we had what seemed to us like a good, old-fashioned picnic. It would not have been that without Becky. Or without John reading to us pearls of wisdom from the little book he gave me yesterday.
Five miles on the trail today wasn’t enough for us. So we drove a dozen miles further north in the Santa Cruz Mountains toward San Francisco. We then hiked a one-mile Redwood Trail loop in the Purisma Creek Redwood Open Space Preserve. Becky rightly called this a “cool down hike,” because this hike was totally through a redwood forest.
The three of us then went to dinner at the comfortable Bucks Restaurant in the upscale town of Woodside. I remembered it well from the time years ago when Catherine and I also enjoyed eating there.
Here is a selection of today’s pictures.