Tuesday, November 30, 2004


I went backpacking over the weekend in Henry Coe State Park, which is a great local place to go to when it's not too hot. Since it gets dark at 6 p.m., I had time to kill after dinner, and went on a night hike.

First thing I saw was when I was using my headlamp at the beginning of the hike - something glittery and shiny on the ground. I reached down to touch it, and it scuttled away. It was spider eyes. The glint distracted me from the body.

I turned off the headlamp and walked in the moonlight. Nearly stepped on a very large toad, which is surprisingly unusual out here. It seems like back east I would see toads everywhere, but not so often in California.

Then I saw salamanders, lots and lots of salamanders. I had to watch my step to avoid crushing them. It hadn't rained in over a week and the rainy season is just starting anyway, so I was surprised by the numbers. The next morning it rained buckets and I saw only one. My lesson is that salamanders may like wet, but they like dark even more.

More reason to hike at night and see what's out there.

Update (5 p.m.): During the night hike, I took a break and sat in this oak tree with these weird growths that made an excellent seat. I just now got back from a meeting on oak woodland conservation as part of my job, and the person doing a powerpoint presentation had a picture centered on that exact tree! I of course had to interrupt the presentation to announce the very important point that I'd been sitting in that tree several days earlier. The coincidences in life...

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