Chalk this up to market capitalism: when you hike for pay you do things like:

  • Go solo because you can’t afford to be distracted.
  • Walk fast but stop constantly to take scads of meticulously framed pictures in the hope that one might be good enough to commit to paper.
  • Constantly explore new places and write detailed, informative blog entries about the experience (committing it to pixels pays off in time saved writing the paid piece).

When you hike for fun you might:

  • Hang out and share extravagant tall tales with your favorite hiking homies.
  • Go somewhere you’ve gone a half-dozen times before.
  • Dash off a few snapshots of hit-or-miss quality so you don’t slow the group’s progress.
  • Take as long as you damn well please to get to the point of this week’s hike write-up.

OK, so now that I’ve run off all the gimme-the-facts-now-dammit Googlers, we can get down to uh, not business. I went on another FOMFOK hike at Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. We hiked a tad under four hours (with voluminous rest breaks), did the Stevens Creek Nature Trail, lunched at the Backpackers’ Camp, returned. Heard a rattlesnake, consumed wild berries, soaked up gorgeous vistas, got burnt if we forgot sunscreen.

This week’s hike convinces me there is no bad time to hike Monte Bello. If you can get a good hike in under a blazing August sun, the rest of the year is just peachy.

So let’s look at some pictures. (View the Flickr album if you’d rather skip the commentary).

Mike leads the way

Mike leads the way: This right turn goes down to the Stevens Creek Nature Trail, which is shady, lovely, and tracks right through the San Andreas Fault (don’t worry, there hasn’t been a major break along the fault here in 100 years, though it did kinda sorta destroy a whole city when it happened).

In the shade

Along the Stevens Creek Trail. We had a huge group by FOMFOK standards, 15 in all, though I suspect the counts will fall off when word gets around that I’ve started hiking with them again. (I keep thinking when I post people’s pictures it’ll catapult them to global fame and fortune but what actually happens is their creepy boyfriends from 17 years ago find them online and restraining orders ensue. Sorry.)

Biker at the bridge

We forced many a mountain biker to pick their way through our throng.

Pausing on the way up

Pausing along a very steep road to the top of Monte Bello Ridge. This is a beast of a climb in August, but all survived.

Plants and sky

Somebody said these are wild buckwheat. When you go solo you can take your time and get these pictures in focus. Proving there’s more to life than photo composition.

More slogging up the hill

Nearing the ridge.

Made in the shade

Made in the shade near the Backpackers’ Camp.

Black Mountain rocks

Some of us when over to Black Mountain and enjoyed the view.

Mike shares wild elderberries

Back at the campsite, Mike shares wild elderberries. You’d have to consume about 300 before you noticed you’d eaten anything, but they were a bit tasty (though a bit tart).

The whole hiking mob

The whole mob.

Fork in the trali

You know what they say: when you get to the fork in the trail, take it.

Mike grabs wild blackberries

Mike, proving he was a black bear in a previous life, goes for the wild blackberries.

Not quite ripe

The berries start out green and get shiny red before they blacken at full ripeness.

Snake charmers

Rattlesnake observance. One was hiding near the reeds, rattling up a storm as long as people milled about nearby. The guys assured me they were beyond rattlesnake striking range.

Dragon head

This old bit of dead tree always invites a snapshot.

One last turn in the trail

One last turn in the trail before we head back to the parking lot.

More Monte Bello links for your clicking pleasure: