Particulars

The tale

For the past decade, the Bay Area’s dry season is more of a lifestyle than part of the year. So for my first hike in September, I went to see what a dry waterfall looked like.

Near Morgan Hill, and almost an hour south of San Jose, Uvas Canyon County Park is a compact space adjacent to the Swedish American Patriotic Club. The one-lane road to the park ambles past many private-property signs. Before I reached the park, a woman flagged me down — and scolded me for driving above 20mph. “Children live here,” I was informed. If so, I didn’t see any. But I did pass about 20 adult joggers.

The drive down highway 101 had been foggy, and when I arrived, I was glad for my long sleeve shirt and zip-offs. My thermometer said it was 60°F.

At 8:30am on Labor Day, no one was in the entrance station to take my $6 fee. So after parking I returned to find an automatic pay station. For some reason the station no longer took cash or coins. For no particular reason, I had to swipe my credit card five times before the machine read it properly.

This was my first hike with trekking poles. I felt clumsy at first, and spent the rest of the hike experimenting with different rhythms.

Remember my quest for dry waterfalls? Whoever said California was in a drought forgot to tell Swanson Creek. The stream that runs through Uvas Canyon was active. Noisy, even. And there were plenty of little falls along the way.

I wandered up the nature trail, an easy walk and a steady ascent, stopping to snap photos or adjust my poles. The trail was well-kept, with markers every so often pointing out flora, both indigenous and invasive.

Every waterfall on the map was different. Little Falls and Granuja Falls were steady trickles at different rates. Upper Falls churned the pool into which they cascaded. Black Rock Falls was more of a drip. At one point I heard falling water behind an ancient, moss-covered landslide, but saw nothing.

Although I only noticed one coastal redwood, there was plenty of shade from maples, oaks, sycamores, and alders. I didn’t need to use my hat or sunglasses until I left, half an hour before noon. There was also plenty of poison oak, which hasn’t started changing colors yet.

Also, I almost stepped on slug.

Views

Mid-morning September light
Mid-morning September light.

Mid-morning sunlight.

Fire warnings abound
Fire warnings abound.

Fire warnings were plentiful.

Did the tree grow there or suffer a fall?
Did the tree grow there or suffer a fall?

West of the Upper Falls I found either a tree that was either persistent or lucky.

Stone steps embedded in the hillside
Stone steps embedded in the hillside.

Someone spent a lot of time building the trails.

One of several narrow stream crossings
One of several narrow stream crossings.

One of several narrow stream crossings.

The nature trail had good signage
The nature trail had good signage.

The nature trail had good signage.

Crumbling dam from an old reservoir
Crumbling dam from an old reservoir.

Crumbling dam from an old reservoir.

A slug I almost squashed on the trail
A slug I almost squashed on the trail.

A fellow hiker I almost squashed on the trail.

For next time

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September 3, 2018