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The rewards of running in the wind

January 27, 2012

The Santa Ana winds came up late this morning, and by the time I got to Santiago Oaks Regional Park around 1 pm they were gusting away–20-30 mph, maybe some bigger gusts on the top of ridge (strong enough to sort of push me sideways on the trail up there).

Big winds = fewer folks out enjoying the trails . . . and the fast-moving air also makes it difficult for animals upwind to sense my presence. That’s how I ended up trotting around a curve in the Bumblebee Trail and surprising a pretty healthy-looking coyote. He gave a startled sideways jump (so did I!) and then loped off the trail up a brushy gully to an open patch on the side of the hill, where he stood for a bit to check me out.

Can you find the coyote in the center of the photo?

Here’s the same photo, cropped to focus on the coyote. My little pocket camera can only zoom so far . . .

What great camoflage fur . . .

Anther notable sighting along the trail was this intensely purple nightshade:

Native purple nightshade: Solanum parishii

Most of my photos are of the native beauty I find on my wanders, but today I thought that it would be more honest if I also included shots of non-native invasives. One particulary pervasive species is star thistle. At this time of year it is dead and gray and dry and ready to ignite, even though we just had a nice soaking rain last weekend. That’s one of the reasons there’s a red-flag fire warning this weekend: the dead annual invasive weeds from last year are tinder dry.

Last year's start thistle lines the trail with gray, stickery nastiness.

These are no fun to step on, for obvious reasons.

Other “truth-in-photography” images from recent hikes:

Who does this?!

One hike's worth of trail trash. Yuck.

Orange peels may be biodegradable, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to litter the trail with them.

This is what belongs on the side of the trail: fungi!

Last weekend's rains conjured up these mushrooms.

To cool off, I dunked my toes in a tributary to Santiago Creek. Hmmm . . . now what could be feeding this year-round rivulet? Not the over-watered landscapes from the nearby housing developments, I hope . . .

A barefoot dunk is the best way to end an hour's fun on the trails of Santiago Oaks.

Going out in nature is a two-edged-sword-kind-of-thing sometimes: I love and appreciate the natural beauty, but get a little irate at the degradation.

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