Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day Hike in Suburbia

I'm visiting my family in Southern California and Christmas Day I decided to do a little exploring behind my dad's house in San Juan Capistrano. There is a little ridge behind his housing tract on the other side of Trabuco Creek and I wanted to know what was on the other side.

When I lived down here I didn't do much (if any) hiking so it was a real treat to get up high and get my "topographic bearings." Suburban sprawl is definitely a theme here and I could see roads, communities, and cities that didn't exist when I was a kid. The views were nearly unobstructed. I could see north through the smog to Mt. Baldy capped in snow and south through the gap in the hills to the Pacific Ocean. To the east was Saddleback Mountain in the Santa Ana Mountain Range with Santiago Peak the tallest in the range at 5,687 feet. To the west was I-5 and more rolling hills. I also saw some remnant straggly orange trees left over from the old Rosembaum Ranch property back when Orange County's name brought to mind something other than a teen TV series and tract home sprawl.

I didn't have a trail map (or any map) and was using a satellite image from the EveryTrail iPhone app. I thought I saw a loop trip that I could do but I was thwarted by private property. I ended up calling my dad to come pick me up in Ladera Ranch as I was running out of time and needed to get home in time for Christmas dinner at my uncle's house in Capistrano Beach.

Note: More pictures to come. I don't have the proper USB cable here in Orange County, so I will need to wait until I get back to Oakland to add them. In the meantime, view the EveryTrail GPS track map with my iPhone photos:

village san juan / rosenbaum ranch to ladera ranch via trabuco ridge trail

Map your trip with EveryTrail

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice 2009!


Happy Winter! The solstice officially happened this morning at 9:47 a.m. Pacific Time in the northern hemisphere. The time of the winter solstice refers to the point at which the hemisphere you live in is tilted farthest away from the sun. I posted a slightly more specific definition from Wikipedia here last year.

These pictures are from a few weeks ago when the snow level in Oakland dropped down to about 500 feet above sea level. That’s a really rare occurrence here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The picture was taken at about 1,500 feet elevation in the hills above Oakland at Sibley Volcanic Regional Park. I was able to get up to the hills after my reading tutor volunteering gig by late-morning. The snow was melting fast, but I was lucky to capture some photos of it. You can view the album on flickr. Here is the link to the the flickr map view.