0 In California Diaries/ Travel

Christmas in California, part II

After a few busy weeks, I finally had a couple of hours to sort through and upload the remaining pictures from our Christmas trips: watching the sunset at the Skyline Boulevard, visiting the Redwood Bassin, and hiking at Mount Tamalpais.

Nature here is abundant and engulfs every man-made construction. I used to tell Flo that moving to The Netherlands was like “moving into nature” for me, because of the amount of green in comparison with my hometown in Spain, which is all brown. But here in California nature is much wilder, and it is everywhere. If I would put a night surveillance camera, I’m sure through our garden would happily camp raccoons, opossums, foxes, and a bunch of other creatures, both big and small, that I am not yet aware of. I really like it, but I am dreading my first face-to-face encounter with a raccoon!

Skyline Boulevard

Within 40 minutes from Palo Alto, you can go for really nice hikes. A highlight that is fairly easy to reach is Skyline Boulevard, a long road that borders several preserves and woods, and that offers wonderful valley views, especially at sunset. Below are the pictures of a short afternoon trip we took. From up there, you can see the whole Silicon Valley, and when you turn to the other side, you can enjoy miles and miles of nature melting into the sunset.

It was also the first time that I came across a “mountain lion territory” sign. I now know they are everywhere, because the whole Nothern California is home to mountain lions. They advise you to never hike alone, and to make loud sounds if you see one. If you are misfortunate enough to be attacked by a mountain lion, you should fight back, the sign reads. They don’t really tell you how, though…

In case you were wondering, yes, Mountain Lions are my new hot topic! I seem to have moved on from obsessing with sharks… I wonder what animal will become the source of all my fears next!

Big Redwood Bassin

The big Redwood Bassin is amazing. Why? Because it is a short hike (yay!), because driving up and down there is fun when you have an automatic car (I am becoming an experienced mountain driver!) and because the air amidst all those trees is really pure. For those of you who don’t know it, Redwood trees are some of the tallest in the world and can live up to 3000 years. They are related to Sequoias in a way that I am yet to understand: the internet is both confusing and confused about this, but given their latin species names, I concluded that they belong to the same family (with Redwoods maybe being a type of Sequoia).

Mount Tamalpais

Our dearest friends Kate and Tim are avid hikers. You can read about their adventures on their blog here. Every time I am summoned to do some activity in the nature, I have to think of them. How do they cope with the tough hiking paths? What is it that they find so enjoyable about hiking? And, especially, how do you go to the toilet in nature? I keep on thinking that the moment I pull down my pants, a mountain lion, rattle snake, or bear is going to show up behind me (or worse: all together!).

Let’s face it, I have little endurance, and even less patience when it comes to sporty activities. I enjoy taking a 2h walk in a forest, yes, but a 4h trail with a steep component is too much for me. I think the only reason why I agree to go on hikes is because of my love for photography. I don’t think you’d see me on my jogging pants and atop a cliff “just for the LOL’s”.

This Christmas we hiked up and down Mount Tamalpais. I have to agree that the nature was beautiful. It felt like we were entering Jurassic Park meets the Enchanted Forest. We hiked a descending path called the “Steep Ravine”, followed by an ascending route that made me cough my entire lungs out, and swear in pretty much every language I knew. At the top, the view was really nice, with the mountain on one side and the coastline and sunset on the other.

By the end of the day, I had learned my lesson. Next time we go hiking, two things will happen: 1) I’ll try to behave better and complain less, and 2) I will properly learn how to read maps, especially the altitude component, and only aim for the flattest trails I can find, so that I can have the most enjoyable experience. It is my free time, after all!

Lots of love,

♥ Ingrid ♥


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