Toni’s birthday is on April 4th and this year she turned 15. Shuwen and I skipped work today and went for a birthday morning hike on a segment of the Coast to Crest Trail with her (last year we hiked at Love Valley).This particular segment of the Coast to Crest Trail is one that I frequently use for my runs. I start at the Old Coach/Coast to Crest Connector trailhead along Highland Valley Road and run to the Raptor Ridge viewpoint, which overlooks San Pasqual Valley. Out and back it’s about 4.5 miles with ~350 feet elevation change.
When I ran there on Monday, I noticed that a surprising number of wildflowers had come out – astonishing amounts of Wild Hyacinth swaying in the breeze, Blue Fiesta Flower under the oaks and mixed with California Four O’Clock, plenty of Morning Glory, Deerweed of course, some Caterpillar Phacelia, and even one or the other Tidytip. Hey, it was worth going there with a camera!
We started relatively early and the marine layer kept us nice and cool. Once it burned off and the sun came out it warmed up quickly, but once more, Shuwen and I kept our pace at over an hour per mile :-D and Toni didn’t mind – if there’s one thing she likes less and less as she gets older it’s the heat. According to some smart stuff on the interwebs, for a small dog like her, 15 years equals ~76 human years and if I’m still hiking like she does at that age, then I won’t complain.
Here are some impressions from along the trail. I’ll add more flower photos to my archives at a later time (and as usual, will include them in the next monthly summary). A few notes about the lens choice today follow below the gallery.
I brought “Big Bertha” this time, the heavyweight 200-500mm telephoto zoom lens that I bought in December (it hadn’t seen much use yet I must admit). I practiced isolating flowers and plants with it today – and got a good workout too, hauling those 4.5 pounds around… :-P
The difficulty is that it is not exactly a lens to bring along when casually walking the dog or going for a little hike, which kept me from using it more often – it just doesn’t fit into my style or making photos very well, so far. To change that, I left the tripod at home today, and used this heavy beast hand-held. The stabilization is pretty good, and I think I’m getting the hang of it – thought I must admit I need more practice on composing these flower photos with it. At these focal lengths, things are quite different, somehow, and I need to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Today I had fun and so did the rest of my little family, which was the most important thing anyway.