February 18, 2017

Water Finds a Way

With a respite between storms, I could have completed my errands by cycling around town. That would have been quicker, but I wanted more exercise. More time outdoors.

Water spills from a side channel into the muddy waters of Los Gatos Creek, Los Gatos, California
I laced up some hiking shoes and set off on foot. I first crossed the creek on my way to the dry cleaner's. Fast-moving water, the color of caramel.

Backtracking to the creek trail would likely save time: no traffic lights or crosswalks, just a direct (and scenic) route to downtown. The acacia trees are in bloom.

Yellow acacia blooms on the bank above the muddy waters of Los Gatos Creek, Los Gatos, California
I was lucky to score some Girl Scout cookies after I left the Post Office, just as they finished packing up and started to roll their cart back home.

That was a genius move, as I had brought along a bottle of water—but no snack. My plan was to continue following the trail upstream, to see how much water was flowing over the spillway at the dam. Lunch could wait.

Agitated, muddy waters of Los Gatos Creek, Los Gatos, California
So much water, raging urgently down the creek.

Splashing and tumbling, surging and swirling.

Muddy waters of Los Gatos Creek heading toward town, Los Gatos, California
It seemed almost angry when it sprayed up and around any obstacle in its path.

It picked up speed as it flowed from one level to the next.

It slowed in apparent confusion, losing direction when the banks widened enough for the water to pool.

Lexington Dam with water streaming down the spillway above the muddy waters of Los Gatos Creek, Los Gatos, California
Once the spillway was in sight, I couldn't resist continuing across the face of the dam to behold the sights from above.

Top of the spillway with smooth water above, Lexington Reservoir, Los Gatos, California
So much water, and more on the way.

Logs washed to the shore of the Lexington Reservoir, brown water under a gray sky, Los Gatos, California
Raindrops sprinkled now and then, which kept many people at home. There were joggers and dog walkers, mountain bikers and road cyclists, parents and children.

Plenty of mud, along with puddles and rivulets, on the trail.

And one lone lupine.

Single purple lupine near Lexington Dam, Los Gatos, California

February 11, 2017


Dried mud coats the seat tube, rear brake, and chainstays.
No, I wasn't off-roading on my skinny tires.

A friend recently asked if I'd stopped riding, or stopped blogging. Not exactly.

The thing is, we've been having a bit of weather this winter. Wet weather. Wet, windy weather. Trees topple. Hills slide. Roads crumble.

Highway 9, closed. Highway 84, closed. Highway 35 (Skyline) will need to straddle a small new ravine that washed away the roadway (needless to say, closed). A section of Skyland Road was similarly torn away. I can't imagine what Highland Way must look like, given that the hillside had already taken its toll on a stretch that had been under reconstruction for years. Trails, which typically run alongside creeks, flooded and closed; some will need repair, like a section where Stevens Creek eroded and widened its banks.

Clouds touch the foothills of Mt. Hamilton, San Jose, CaliforniaThe lower portion of Mt. Hamilton seemed like it would be a reasonable place to bike—and it was ... mostly. The asphalt was patched where a falling eucalyptus had torn out a chunk. The remains of the enormous tree were cut and left on both sides of the road. Culverts did their job, channeling much water safely beneath the surface. The road was in much better shape than I'd expected, though one section had some ominous cracks.

White fence and green fields at Joseph D. Grant County Park, San Jose, California
The road was also in much better shape than I was; I had no intention of trying to reach the summit today. In fact, I was never so happy to reach the intersection at Alum Rock Road, after descending cautiously through mud-caked and wet curves, on slick, sandy tires.

I felt victorious after covering 17 miles—not to mention climbing (and descending) 1,985 feet. After six long weeks without a “real” bike ride, it required a serious effort to pull my routine together. Luckily it was, well, just like ... riding a bike!