Saturday, April 3, 2010

Back In the Saddle Again!

I was able to hike for the first two days after my bike accident, ride a stationary bike on the third day, ride a short distance on the road on the fourth, and back in the gym on the sixth (where it hurt less to breath than before). Seven days after breaking my ribs I decided to try and go for a hilly 30 mile round trip to Cerro Alto (a campground about 8 miles inland from the coast with riparian and chaparral) and look for some new BIGBY species. I was surprised - the ride was fairly easy! I hit the eight mile mark at 27 minutes, and had not been pushing it, so I knew I was OK. The climb up Highway 41 (the shoulder and visibility to cars is acceptable as you ride inland) was not too bad and I locked my bike up near the entrance with plenty of energy for a hilly 5 mile hike.


It was noisy with bird song as I walked up the entrance road to the campground, following the creek. It was also cold and my sweaty clothes didn't help, even though I changed into a fresh dull green shirt for my hike (put my "screaming yellow" bike jacket in my pack). I should have brought a thermal shirt. House Wrens sang their beautifully complex song, Yellow-rumped and Townsend's Warblers sang an accompaniment from the willow tops and sycamores along the stream. Two Black-headed Grosbeaks (BIGBY # 220) sang for a nearby female. Brown Creepers, Spotted and California Towhees, Wilson's Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Hairy Woodpeckers, and Swainson's Thrush (BIGBY # 221) added to the avian symphony. I was unable to find the Cassin's Vireo seen by Maggie earlier in the week so I decided to take the trail up from the campground and look for Mountain Quail. The flowers were more conspicuous than the bird, such as the clematis pictured here. Ceanothus was blooming all around the trail (photo).
As I got out of the lusher vegetation on the campground side of the ridge, I came into more open and drier chaparral with manzanita and a different set of resident birds such as Wrentit, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (photo) and Bell's Sage Sparrow (pictured). Many of these birds were local breeders and were acting very territorial. As I neared a grove of eucalyptus I heard Mt. Quail (BIGBY # 222) call and flushed a couple from within the grove. I wasn't able to get close enough to one in the open for a photo.

The views all along the trail were incredible and it was a very enjoyable hike till I took a wrong fork and ended up on Highway 41 about a half mile below the road where my bike was parked. The ride back was uneventful except for the 2 mile stretch on Highway 41 where there was no bike lane or shoulder, and I was right next to the slope where my visibility in turns was poor. Most drivers were courteous, but one blared its horn angrily in a spot where I could get over no farther. I need to be better about controlling my language in response to such behavior!

This gnarley gnatcatcher was defending his territory!

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