Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fog, Weasel Antics, Skunk foraging and Point Reyes Elk

A cold and foggy Sunday morning, but we headed for Point Reyes, knowing the elk would be forming harems. About 50 feet before we reached the Pierce Point Ranch parking lot, Susan spotted a skunk about 15 feet from the road, out foraging. We backed up to get a photo, and saw another skunk about 25 feet from the first one. Both were ignoring us, just walking around digging here and there.

After a few shots, we park and start down the trail. A few others are braving the fog. A lot of elk are way off the trail, down towards the ocean on the right.

The real surprise comes as we continue on towards the pond, where lots of elk usually hang out. Susan spots a movement almost at my feet, just off the trail. A little weasel is popping in and out of a burrow, and boldly just standing and checking us out. You can't really appreciate him until you checkout this movie Susan made, and posted on YouTube:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ants - an environmental indicator?

When we backpack and hike, ants are ubiquitous, big, little, all black, red and black, etc. Today we were out walking along a road bordering an East Bay Regional Park, and noticed a cone shaped ant lion trap on the edge of the road. I also saw a few in early spring. However, the only ants we ever see locally are the tiny Argentine ants, not big enough for a respectable ant lion snack. Are the local ant lions just a remnant population, gradually starving to death? Why don't we see the variety of ants here that we see while hiking the remote regions of California and Oregon?

My thought is that maybe the larger ants are an overlooked environmental indicator - not able to tolerate human disturbance.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Long Distance Walk Planning

I'm just finishing up a planning effort, both polishing up our GR 653 Arles to Toulouse info based on completing that trip, and doing the initial Toulouse to Puenta la Reina planning.

In all cases, the key document is the spreadsheet in the bottom center of the image. Normally I will use a Google Documents spreadsheet, as I share the info with others. I gather the appropriate guidebooks, and from them build the spreadsheet with names of the stops, and distances between points. To this I add the elevation for each point. Sometimes this is in the guidebooks, other times I have to pull it off of a topo map, or my topo software, or worst case, zooming google maps in terrain mode. I add cumulative distances to my spreadsheet, and with the distances and elevation can do an elevation profile chart with Google charts. Its a little easier to chart if I clone my original spreadsheet, and delete all but the elevations and cumulative distance. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009

Once the spreadsheet is done I can estimate the number of days and we can schedule the trip, buy supplies, book reservations, etc.

Some examples:

A PCT Spreadsheet

A GR653 Arles to Toulouse Spreadsheet