Friday, February 24, 2012

Hike No, 8 - Olmstead Loop South

February 24, 2012
5.5 miles

It was much too beautiful a day not to play hooky. So after dropping Tanner, our 10-year-old Shi-Tzu off at the vet in Cool for teeth cleaning and to have a few cysts removed, I drove south on 49 to Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA) State Park Gare No.128, which is perhaps 1/4 mile on the right after you pass Northside School. There is room for perhaps four cars there, but no problem at 9AM on a Friday. I hung my Golden Poppy Pass on the visor, and headed off with my Panasonic GH2 and two lenses: a 14-45mm and a 45-200mm. On this camera the focal length factor is 2, so in terms of a full frame, or 35mm camera, they provide a focal length range of 28mm to 400mm. The whole kit weighs only ___ ounces. The camera with even the long lens is a barely noticeable weight around my neck.

From the Journal

The trail winds through an ecoregion I have seen referred to as rolling oak woodland, which to me is descriptive of the low, rounded grassy hills dotted with copses of oaks. But Wikipedia refers to the foothill grasslands and oaks as blue oak woodland, consisting of Blue Oak, interior Live Oak, Valley Oak, Canyon Live Oak and California Scrub Oak. I've not yet learned to identify the various oaks, but I did also see pines on the slopes of Knickerbocker Creek Canyon, possibly Ponderosa, and some large Manzanita, one in full bloom.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Taken with the 200mm (400mm as 35mm equivalent). And cropped quite a bit. The 16 megabyte images tthe GH2 produces are clean enough to survive considerable enlargement.
Cattails near one of the creek crossings. It has been a very dry year so far, so I was able to keep my feet pretty dry.

Rolling oak Woodlands. These beautiful, open grasslands and groves will be a brilliant green for a while in April and May.

I just can't resist rustic fence posts

Oaks in winter mode

Horses are thankful for this spot in the summer. Even in February, I could have used a second bottle of water.


It was a treat to come upon the pond, which I hadn't seen before. 

There were a few Coots and a pair of Mallards. But they hid in the rushes and over-taxed my photographic patience this day.

My "secret" pond. There is a fine grassy meadow sloping down to the water here - perfect for an afternoon of reading, napping, and photographing birds. I flushed a covey of quail near here, with a thunder of wings. I also encountered a couple groups of Flickers, and saw A red-Tailed Hawk, and the ever-present Turkey Vultures soaring in the distance.

A fine day to be out

My Ruby-Throated Hummingbird again

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