Instead of putting in another long day at the office here in Silicon Valley, I took the afternoon off and headed for the hills. The west hills to be specific, up to the Monte Bello open space Preserve for a quick hike. Well, that's not precise, really. What I did was drive towards the mountains and after a bit of time I found myself at the preserve. Who need maps when you can see your destination from half the city?
The scenery was quite breath taking. It's been 7 years since I was last in California and I didn't quite remember it being so beautiful. The road up was tree lined and covered with a thick canopy. At the preserve, there was more grass than trees; golden grass that almost looked like wheat.
I hiked for 2.5 hours. The trails were really well maintained and there were lots of people out. Half of the people I saw were one mountain bikes - I wished I had one of them myself. I even saw one guy on a road bike with slippers and wool socks (there are a few crazies here).
I saw a little bit of wild life, lizards and birds mainly. I didn't see any mountain lions (happy and sad about that at the same time - it would have been a great photo op). I did see a rattle snake which was pretty cool (a first for me).
If you find yourself in the valley for any length of time and you want to go for a hike ( and you aren't afraid of winding roads - more below), I highly recommend the preserve.
The drive to the preserve is the most exhilarating and terrifying drives I have ever done in my short driving career. Page Mill road is twisty and turny all the way up and my knuckles were white for most of it. Very fun, but a little intimidating. The ascent was about 2000 feet over 7 miles - fairly steep. I really really wanted to get some photos of the road itself, but there weren't any shoulders (let alone guard rails) for me to pull off on. That said- if I find myself with another free afternoon, I may just make the trip again. Here is the map.