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Pahavit's Universe

pahavit
Date: 2-28-2012 12:07 AM
Subject: St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve
Security: Public
Tags:bird, blue gum, canopy, cat, field trip, flower, fungus, insect, los gatos, mushroom, mutant, mystery object, native wildflower, power lines, reservoir, sign, st joseph's hill, turkey vulture
St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve

On Saturday, D. and I had to get out of the house to fend off cabin fever, so we went to St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve in Los Gatos, because it's small, we haven't been there yet, and it has nice views from the 1,253' scenic viewpoint, and I took these pics.


As we park near the trailhead at the end of a city street, we see a neighborhood cat ambling around.





This cat looks like it's survived more than its share of fights.





This cat says, "I've seen it all.  You don't impress me."







We enter St. Joseph's Hill Preserve through Novitiate Park, a small Los Gatos city park, and set off on the Jones Trail.





As we move through an oak woodland, the leafy canopy overhead reflects our unseasonably early spring.





A mutant fungus grows out of a crack in a stump.  It seems to be recurving into itself.





Perhaps it is protruding through a portal into another dimension. 



As the Jones Trail climbs, we look down on the Los Gatos Creek Trail far below.





The Jones Trail.





Blue gums can grow up to 180' tall.





As we near Lexington Reservoir, power lines come into view.





Because what's a field trip without some obligatory power lines pics?



The trail climbs higher toward the summit of the hill, moving out of the oak woodland and into chaparral.





It's a manzanita sky.





Manzanita has rich, polished, deep red trunks.





This yarrow will bloom soon.





We can see into the Santa Clara Valley from the Range Trail.





A bicyclist enjoys the Lower Brothers Bypass Trail.





Near the summit of the hill, common fiddlenecks are in bloom, thousands of tiny golden stars strewn throughout the grassy slope.







More views from the trail just below the summit.







A turkey vulture soars past us on a thermal.





A small flock of golden-crowned sparrows searches for seeds in the grass alongside the trail.





At the summit of the hill, we are startled to see a clump of torch lilies, also called red-hot pokers, usually garden denizens.









To the southwest, Lexington Reservoir is visible, with Highway 17 alongside.



When the reservoir was built in 1952, the tiny towns of Lexington and Alma were abandoned before the canyon was flooded.  Remnants of some structures are still present at the bottom of the reservoir, and during a recent drought the water level fell low enough to uncover a few foundations and an old bridge over then-free flowing Los Gatos Creek.  But it's usually all submerged below 19,000 acre-feet of water.



One would think everyone knows that open meadows are not trails.








Looking up and down the Manzanita Trail, on our way back down from the summit.







Another look at the reservoir on our way back.  It is only at 33% capacity now, due to almost no winter rainfall.





A mystery device attached to an oak tree has a label that reads, "Please do not disturb.  UC Santa Cruz Wildlife Research."



Aside from a few cobwebs, the device appears empty.  (I'm guessing a trail cam enclosure.)



Bindweed, a morning glory relative, is already in bloom.





A vine of heart-shaped leaves in the forest.





Jiminy cricket!  Actually, it's Jiminy cricket's butt.




As we return to the trailhead, we find the Los Gatos cat snoozing in the late afternoon sun.




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