Saturday, September 17, 2011

habitat ~ 09/17/11 ~ Wilder Ranch State Park

Wilder Ranch State Park
September 17, 2011

I haven't been taking care of myself this past month like I should, and my hormones kicked in with a vengeance. I fully admit I was the grouchiest, foulest person around. To Andy's relief he quickly left on a trail run for a few hours, while I meandered through the ranch and then up a new trail on my own.

There were more people than we expected, even for a Saturday. It happened to be a special "farm day" at this State Park. Everyone was trying to talk to me about homemade ice cream and hand-churned butter. Leave me alone! I posted a couple of pictures on flickr, if you're into that kind of organized stuff.

So, up a new trail I went hoping to escape the people and spot some herps or even a bobcat. Dang dry grasses! Can't see much. I don't particularly like hiking this time of year because of all the dried plant matter. It's much more pleasant under the redwoods like at Nisene Marks, but there's also the increased possibility of yellowjacket stings there this time of year. Erg!

Then I encountered more people than I wanted to be around. First there was a large group of bikers with little kids. It became a game of walk past them as they rested, have them pass me with some of the little boys nearly knocking me over, even though I stepped off to the side of the trail to let them pass, then me walking pass them again, over and over. When a fork in the trail came, I made sure to take the one they did not. Big mistake! Second came several large groups of horse riders. The lead lady assured me their horses saw me and that all would be okay. The fifth horse decided my hat looked tasty and came right at me. Once they passed I had to watch my step for the prolific trail of horse poop they left behind. Crap! After becoming tired of more dry grasses and not a single tree available for shade, I looked at my map and realized the big group of bikers had taken the trail I had wanted for a decent loop to meet up with Andy in time. Like Andy, I rarely backtrack on the same trail, but this time I turned straight around. Sure enough, just my crabby luck, most of my return path was filled with a strolling lolling social hiking club consisting of at least 70 people, all chattering so loudly I couldn't believe they were even aware they were outside in nature. Blasted people!

Sigh... I did one small final loop to visit my favorite Wilder Ranch stream and encountered a buckeye butterfly. For whatever reason, that was enough to calm me down and feel okay about everything. Our timing was perfect and I met up with Andy on a return path to the farm.

For lunch we went to our favorite new Santa Cruz spot: burger. Their milkshakes with Marianne’s ice cream are super yummy. Given that I'm a cheap bastard, I had the idea to hit several State Parks on the way home, since we had already paid our $10 entry fee to Wilder Ranch. Here in CA, day use paid entry entitles you to visit as many State Parks in the same day as you want. We hit Seacliff State Beach (way too crowded with those picnic-type people who prefer to pack their entire house along for a day at the beach, and the "camping" is limited to a lengthy bare parking lot for RVs only), New Brighton State Beach (I have fond memories camping here as a kid with my uncle and aunt, and Andy and I might try this some time), Manresa State Beach (an unpopular day use only parking lot), and Manresa Upland State Beach (hike-in tent camping only that may be lovely in the spring, and despite what the link says, we are not in SoCal). Finally, we hit the relatively new Farm Fresh Produce in Moss Landing along Highway 1. What a pleasant surprise! They have seriously fresh produce for super cheap, and we ended up with more than we had intended. All in all, a day that started off not so pleasant ended up being a really fun outing.


Jeannette said...

I am sorry but I am going to continue thinking of you as this pleasant person who goes on nature hikes and generously shares her discoveries with others just for the joy it it.

Crowds, or the hordes, as I uncharitably call them on some days in August when I get to my overwhelmed threshold require more patience the more diligently one has been seeking quiet. It is not as if you had gone down to Cannery Row.

Imperfect and tense said...

I was going to comment on your meadowhawk post, in my usual 'cheesy puns and innuendo' way, but for some reason I thought better of it. Phew, that was a close call!

And no-one believes me when I say there's too many people on the planet :o(

Joe said...

I love that park! it's one of my favorites in the Monterey area. Nice pics! :)

Allison said...

I enjoyed this wandering and rambling, Katie. Smiled a little, and laughed a lot! xo

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Jeannette, thanks for your vote of confidence. We really didn't expect quite so many people. I enjoyed writing about how irritable I was that day, and I ended up laughing about it all. I try to view the hordes we get around here as beneficial for the local economy. Cannery Row, or anywhere for that matter, is best in the early morning when the sun is just coming up and only the delivery guys are out dropping off milk, bread, and frozen fish products.

Graeme, I wish you did comment on the meadowhawks. I could have used a good laugh last week. I'm not into hard core... environmentalism, but we chose not to have children of our own. All the recycling, composting, reduced consumption, etc. that we could do will never amount to as much good as simply not bringing another child into this world. However, we may adopt an older kid who needs a stable home.

Joe, Wilder Ranch has some fantastic history. For local ranch turned natural areas I prefer Elkhorn Slough or Garland Ranch, both of which are featured on this blog.

Thank you, Allison, for both your comment and your note. I know you and your husband like to go biking with your kids. I'll bet my socks that yours understand and show courtesy much better than the ones I encountered.

Randy said...

Wow, sorry you had not such a good time at Wilder. I have to admit, I was laughing at your naritive of all the people you ran into, even though it sounds like a comedy of errors. Perhaps a day to forget! I usually have good hikes at Wilder, but there are a lot of cyclists and horseback riders. I don't usually see little kids though, or large groups. The area near headquarters is mostly very dry late in the year. I hope this experience will not prevent you from enjoying Wilder under better circumstances.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Randy, it was a comedy of errors! The day ended up being quite fun and a good laugh afterwards. I'll head back once the rains hit and when I have more time to get to the more remote parts of the park (but even Andy who ran to Chinquapin Road met quite a few people on the trails).