On Sunday, I hiked with a bunch of folks from Bay Area Linkup who gathered at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. The trailhead is on Highway 35, otherwise known as Skyline Drive, a few miles north of Woodside. The trail starts at the top of the ridge and dives deep into the valley where Purisima Creek flows. It’s all downhill at first, which of course means all uphill on the way back, after having hiked five miles. Elevation gain is around 1400 feet but it’s stretched over five miles.

It’s a strenuous hike, but it’s also a gorgeous one.

Unfortunately, most of the gorgeous parts are darkened tree-tunnel stretches of the trail … getting good pictures from these areas is beyond the specs of my cheap digicam, whose flash has only one setting: Full blast. It’s also a challenge to get good pictures and keep up with a hiking group, given that my default hiking pace is only a tad bit quicker than grannies with walkers.

I did squeeze off a few frames, though.

Pacific Ocean in the distance

One section of the trail opens up vast vistas of the Pacific Ocean and Half Moon Bay, but most of it is covered.

A fern

One attempt to see if could take a picture with the flash and not have it whitewash everything. These fern-looking plants remind me of Jurassic Park, minus the genetic experiments gone terribly wrong.

Plenty of blue sky

Lots of sunshine to enjoy if you don’t mind staring straight up.

Bringing up the rear

Bringing up the rear, as usual.

Snacking  hikers

Another hiking group pauses for lunch. They’re with Absolute Adventures, last seen on my hike in the rain at Tomales Point last year.

This looks like an excellent locale for a solo hike or a rain hike. Along the creek it’s really dark below the towering forest canopy, almost primeval as Vindu, my co-worker who came along on this hike, described it. Come on a day when the blue skies aren’t inviting everybody who owns a pair of hiking boots and you might well have it all to yourself.