On Saturday D. and I decided to revisit Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve and walk the Bald Mountain Trail to the 2,387' lookout with sweeping views of the Santa Clara Valley and beyond, and I took these pics.
We are only at 40% average rainfall for this time of the year, and the Guadalupe Reservoir shows it as we drive past on our way to the preserve.
A view into the Santa Clara Valley from Mt. Umunhum Rd.
Beyond a locked gate are the remnants of the former Almaden Air Force Base at the summit of Mt. Umunhum. The site is being cleaned of its toxic waste and will be opened to the public soon.
Views toward the southeast from the Bald Mountain Trail.
Coyote brush is in bloom.
Another look at some of the structures left behind at the former Air Force Base on the summit.
Tiny purple flowers of Stephanomeria virgata line one section of the trail.
The trail takes us through a chaparral community of manzanita, sagebrush, poison oak, chamise, coyote brush, monkeyflower, yerba santa, toyon, pitcher sage, ceanothus, holly-leaf cherry, California coffeeberry, and shrubby oaks.
A look back toward Mt. Umunhum Rd. and Mt. Umunhum.
Toyon berries glow in the sun.
Another look back from farther along the trail.
As we get closer to the summit, rock outcrops sport growths of lichen.
At the summit we behold sweeping views, which on a clear day include Mt. Tamalpais in the north, Mt. Diablo and Mt. Hamilton to the east, and all the way south to the mountains of Henry Coe State Park.
The spiky seed head of a yellow star thistle.
Passing through part of the chaparral habitat on our way back down the trail.
As the afternoon lengthens the shadows grow deeper in the gulches of the Sierra Azul range.
One last look east into the Hamilton Range before the trail curves away.
We decide to explore a faint trail on the opposite side of Mt. Umunhum Rd. and soon discover the remains of a car wreck.
We also discover the ruins of what was probably a little shack of some sort.
There are more car parts and other junk strewn through the underbrush.
We follow the path farther west into a woods of California bay laurels, the air spicy with their characteristic fragrance.
Pitcher sage seed pods.
The inside of this manzanita leaf has been eaten by a Marmara arbutiella leaf miner larva, which left an empty silvery tunnel devoid of plant tissue.
One last look at the bay forest before turning around and heading home.