On Sunday, D. and I went to Skyline Ridge Regional Open Space Preserve to visit Horseshoe Lake and Alpine Pond. I took these pics.
The hills are dried out and the fire danger is high.
At the trailhead, we get instructions.
I have yet to put any of this into practice, to both my relief and my disappointment.
I especially like this part.
That's going to be my new motto.
We set off down the trail toward Horseshoe Lake.
We'll never know what it said.
We catch our first glimpse of Horseshoe Lake through the trees.
On our way to Alpine Pond, we see hillsides dotted with large stands of pink Clarkias.
Tiny blue skunkweed flowers are popping into bloom all over the preserve.
The lichen-encrusted limbs of a dead oak scratch the sky.
The trail winds onward.
Bird's-foot lotus grows everywhere; it is an invasive non-native, taking over many of the ecological niches normally occupied by native lupine and deerweed. But it is also a host for the Acmon Blue butterfly.
The trail winds onward.
A milk thistle blossom has gone poofy with seeds.
Some of the views from the trail as it climbs up toward the ridge.
Looking east again, across San Francisco Bay toward hazy Mt. Diablo barely visible on the horizon.
On the way to Alpine Pond, the trail plunges into mixed oak woodland. The shade is quite welcome on the hot day.
A view west into a closed area of the preserve.
Around a bend in the trail, we see a water tank.
Finally we reach Alpine Pond.
I could watch the water sparkle and shimmer all day long.
The little island looks like it is built on a platform of lumber.
I wonder if it floats around on the pond.
On the pond's east shore, we are pleased to find the preserve's nature center open. Inside, a sign on the wall is welcoming.
That large skull is a bear; probably grizzly. The one next to it is a raptor; hawk, I'm guessing.
The only live animal they have inside is a garter snake. Everything else is skulls, skeletons, skins or stuffed (in other words, dead).
There is a lot of other cool stuff inside. First, dragonfly moltings.
Tiny tarantula moltings.
Stone mortar and pestle used by native Ohlone Indians.
Overhead are cool edumacational mobiles about pond life, above and below the water.
Stuffed creatures include a barn owl, coyote, raccoon, bobcat and quail.
Another skeleton, a garter snake.
Tarantula under glass.
Leaves of three, let them be -- sometimes. Learn which is no-no-no, which is ok and which is good at the nature center.
The late afternoon sun washes over the hills as we make our way back.