a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: No Dogs Tonight and Sore Legs

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Dogs Tonight and Sore Legs

SUMMARY: In which we realize why we shouldn't slack off on the uphill/downhills.

I've been trying to be very good about getting out with the dogs for at least a mile or preferably two every day, like I used to BK (before knee [issues]). It's good exercise; I move at a brisk pace--to the dogs' dismay, because they NEED to minutely examine every shrub, tree, and large weed along the way--and I get my heart rate elevated. But the elevation changes around here are a bit slim: in the two-mile loop down past the high school, I'm thinkin' my elevation change is cumulatively about 5 feet. If I turn right instead of going straight, we can dive under the freeway and actually get in a--what?--30 foot each way? elevation change.

Last night was my first outing with the Sierra Club since it's been light enough to go into the parks with hills (mostly flattish walks during the winter in suburban areas and parks). A brisk 5 miles round trip, up at least 500 feet to the top of Black Mountain above Los Altos Hills. My legs were SO tired by the end of the trip... Lost all that conditioning from last year!

You'd think that, with legs this long, they wouldn't get tired.

We were quite a crew--in addition to my out-of-shapedness, our Fearless Leader damaged her ankle (or achilles tendon?) last year and is still recovering, so she wasn't as brisk as she was last year; the schoolteacher who hikes hundreds of miles in Europe every summer, 20 miles a day, is still recovering from a broken foot this winter and is still in pain although she's up to (she says) about 8 miles she can do in a day. Who knows what the other 16 people were up to, but I am certain it wasn't as brisk a hike all around as we were doing last fall.

View to the northwest from the summit near sunset.

A wonderful friend loaned me her digital Nikon D50 SLR to try out for a while, so I hauled that up to the top with me, took about 6 shots, and then got an "Err" display. We tried all kinds of things but I didn't find the answer in the instruction book until I got home. It's better now.

The air over the valley and bay was too hazy for worthwhile photos.

But it caught the amber light of the setting sun on the view to the southwest, where a deer made a brief appearance on the hill below us, spotted us, and dashed away.

On the drive back down the mountain, a coyote crossed our path and then a deer nearly ran into us. And 10 minutes later we were back at the Interstate with thousands of vehicles streaming by.


  1. That photo with the deer - breathtaking. Love it, love it, love it.

  2. Thanks! It was nice to be there, too.

  3. Very pretty! Grass looks so dry though, is that normal for this time of year?

  4. Yup, it is. Rain typically starts tapering off in April, don't usually get much in May at all, and by June everything's pretty dry.

  5. WONDERFUL pictures, you still using the "baby" camera for these?

  6. Nope, this was the borrowed Nikon I mentioned in the post between a couple of the photos.

  7. Great, great photos! You almost don't even see civilization, not an easy task around here :)

  8. Thanks. It's amazingly easy to get away from civilization in this valley with something like 1.5 million people. Because (a) they're all crowded together on the valley floor, and (b) we have very active open-space organizations, buying up and preserving open space.

    One weekday in February a few years back, I took the day off and drove south on 101 (a major north-south freeway). Half an hour from here, I turned onto a side route--completely straight, 55mph highway, drove for about 30 miles and passed just one vehicle going in the other direction. Arrived at Pinnacles Nat'l Monument and there was no one there, and it was a beautiful day (California--sunshine, maybe a light jacket needed). Saw a bobcat, a coyote, several wild turkey, quail in their little lines.