Austin Explorer's Logbook


Total Log Entries: 324 (Rank: 3rd) [List Them] [Map Them]
Total Distance: 1,279.53 Miles (Rank: 4th)
Average Distance: 3.95 Miles

Average Rating: (3.04)
Average Difficulty: (2.21)
Average Solitude: (2.51)

Earliest Log Entry: 4/7/2001
Latest Log Entry: 1/14/2018

Average ratings are based on the published values and not the values entered in your own log entries.



Birds and butterflies are not the only animals to see at the center. This fellow was cautious, but kept nibbling away at some grass with me only a couple of feet away. [Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Restoration Research Trail]

Log Entries

Guided Fire Ecology Hike
Sonoma Valley Regional Park - 1/14/2018  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.43 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Coppertone and I went on a guided hike with the Sonoma Ecology Center to illustrate the area's ability to recover from the recent wildfires that ravaged the area.  Technically, the hike was in the Sonoma Developmental Center property but it's adjacent to Sonoma Valley Regional Park and many hikes there include a visit to Lake Suttenfield here.  Many locals also consider the undeveloped acres of the SDC part of the park anyway.

We found grass fields with verdant green abundant new growth.  Even trees and bushes with blackened trunks have started to show bud breaks for new leaves.  Still, there were dark black or whitish ash patches where the fire burned hotter and regrowth has not yet been able to establish itself.  In some cases trees that had previously fallen and burned on the ground left marks that reminded me of body outlines at a crime scene.

Overall, the area showed more improvement at this point than we were expecting.  We left feeling a bit better about the valley's ability to recover.  This wasn't the first fire to come through the area and it won't be the last.  In time it will look as beautiful as when we first saw it.

Small rough park on the western edge of Napa
Westwood Hills Park - 12/31/2017  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 3.63 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Coppertone and I decided to hike today instead of tomorrow because Jan. 1 is for college football.  Last week we hiked at nearby Alston Park and this was our backup at that time.  When arriving at the parking area we were a bit surprised to find the parking lot full and lines of cars parked along Browns Valley Road on both sides of the road.  The park just isn't that big, but it seems to have drawn quite a crowd on this day.

According to signs posted near the entrances, a mountain lion has been spotted in the park.  Despite Coppertone wanting to catch a glimpse of a "kitty", we spied only birds and the dogs accompanying visitors.

We hiked up the main path to the summit and then picked off the park's perimeter along its property lines.  There remain a number of additional trails within that circle to be mapped and explored.

This park turned out to be much rougher than expected, particularly the trails other than the main thoroughfare that leads the majority of people to the park summit.  The main trail is a difficulty level of 3, which is what I rated this hike.  A few segments here could earn a difficulty rating of 4 due to steepness.

We were a bit surprised to find a small burn area not far from the trailhead in the Eucalyptus grove behind the house close to the trailhead.  Though it may have occured around the same time as the devastating North Bay fires in October, it doesn't really look like it was part of the larger named fires around the area.

Fitness Walk
Nathanson Creek Preserve - 12/28/2017  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.00 Miles Duration: 37 minutes

Just a walk along the trail and in the surrounding area to get some mileage in rather than sitting at a desk all day.  Weather was warmer than normal for this time of year.

Doggie Dreamland
Alston Park - 12/24/2017  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 3.29 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes

On this overcast Christmas Eve we avoided the crowded shopping centers and opted instead for a more sedate outing.  Coppertone and I weren't sure of what to expect here.  She had heard good things about it from a coworker and we finally got around to visiting to see for ourselves.

We hiked the trails around the perimeter of the park and other than one or two steep sections found the trails to be very easy going.  There's no shade to be had here, but that certainly was not an issue with the cloud cover today.

We saw a hawk carrying what must have been a snake in its talons onto a power line pole before flying off again with the quarry still in his grip.  Another hawk was perched atop a solitary oak scanning the grassland for prey.

A good portion of the park is designated off-leash and this draws a large number of dog owners here.  It may not be the right place for you if you don't like dogs!  

Hiking and drinking with the Sonoma Activity Group
Sonoma Valley Regional Park - 9/15/2017  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.14 Miles Duration: 49 minutes

Coppertone and I did another short hike at Sonoma Valley Regional Park with the Sonoma Activity Group and continued on into Glen Ellen afterwards for some drinks and conversation at the Wolf House.

The lake was notieably lower given the high temperatures and little rain as of late.  For the second time in a row when visiting we found young folks hopping the gate saying do not enter to go out onto the walkway leading out over the water.

Our previous visit to the Wolf House was not quite as pleasant given the mosquitos along the the creek, but tonight there no bugs and very pleasant weather.