Yesterday Jim and I attended the Los Gatos Creekside Sports Park kickoff celebration (will nearly touch Vasona Lake County Park and is just off of University Avenue) and as we often do, drove east on Blossom Hill Road to get home. Straight ahead of us, hanging over south San Jose and Santa Teresa and extending north, was a huge and darkened cloud. Smoke? Smog? Rainclouds?
We drove up Harwood Road and to the top of Harwood Court to get a better view of it. It did look like it started in south San Jose or further south than that. Some hikers were trekking up the challenging hill and we asked them if they knew if it were a fire. “Can’t smell it,” one replied “so it must be smog – just awful!” Smog, though, tends to dissipate from side to side and not hang together so tightly as what we saw.
We flipped on KLIV, the San Jose based AM radio station (channel 1590) that best covers local news & traffic, and learned right away that it was a controlled burn. This morning I googled the fire and learned that it’s a 2 day burn at part of Henry Coe State Park, overseen by Cal Fire, with more scheduled for today.
The Morgan Hill Times reports that “The prescribed burn is part of the ‘Western Zone Complex’ controlled fire in the remote area of the park. The fire will take place on the Middle Ridge Trail off Hobbs Road, about eight miles northeast of Morgan Hill, according to Calfire fire prevention specialist Chris Morgan. “
The town of Los Gatos has a trail map for the Heinz Open Space Preserve and also one for the Belgatos Park Trails and the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve Trail.
My husband, Jim Handy, drew out the local trails on Google Maps and this provides a much better sense of what’s where. Enjoy!
View Blossom Hill Trails in a larger map
Summer time and the rattlesnakes are out, so be cautious when walking or hiking – especially in Belgatos Park or in the nearby east Los Gatos trails of the Heintz Open Space Preserve or Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve. Someone reported to the Belwood Facebook group that there have been 3 sightings in the last 2 days alone.
These rattlers sometimes crawl out from under the brush to sun themselves in an open space. Unsuspecting joggers can land on one and catch its furry in return if not looking.
Stick to the paths! You’ll be less likely to run into not only rattlesnakes, but ticks, poison oak and other unpleasant reminders of your day communing with nature.
Want to learn more about rattlesnakes? The San Diego Zoo’s website has lots of cool facts and photos.
A couple of days ago I was visiting a beautiful home for sale on Harwood Court during the Realtor tour or “broker’s open house”. We have hiked the trail from Belgatos Park up to the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve, which goes just past this house, and I’d always been curious about it. Also, we live not too far below that area in Belwood, so it’s fun to see the neighborhood view from way up top. I took a photograph off one of the back balconies (the view was stunning) and thought my Belwood & Belgatos neighbors might enjoy seeing it too.
Can you make out any landmarks?
Near the top, just left of center, you can see a whitish splotch – those are the buildings in the Wallgreen’s Shopping Center. A little to the right of them and a little closer to where the pic was taken you might be able to distinguish some tall vertical green lines. Those are some Italian Cypress trees growing across the back and side yards of a home on Jamie Court, just off Harwood Road.
Of course, you don’t have to see an open house to enjoy a similar view. Go hiking in Belgatos Park or through the trails at the Heintz Open Space Preserve (or cheat and just drive to the top of Harwood Road or Harwood Court!) and take in the beautiful Santa Clara Valley.
Today is Labor Day – it’s many things, but it’s also the end of summer. But it’s not the end of the dry season. In fact, the rains won’t really arrive until November. So between now and then, the fire danger will continue to rise in our hilly, rural areas.
A few days ago, the coastal hills near Stevens Creek Reservoir and the Montebello Ridge over Cupertino (just a little north of Los Gatos) burned fiercely. It took a couple of days and a lot of firefighters to extinguish it.
Now the hills by Mount Hamilton on the east side are ablaze too. We just took a quick drive to the top of Harwood Road to see the enormous plume of smoke rising over the hills by south San Jose.
What does this have to do with Belwood, Belgatos & Surmont? Earlier today, Bella and I took a walk down Bacigalupi Drive and into Belgatos Park, entering on the side, as we do most days. The grassy area there is parched. The path is covered in wood chips and tanbark. And to my horror, I saw two cigarette butts among the wood chips.
Smoking is not illegal in the park, as my husband (the volunteer parks commissioner) reminded me today. But it is very unwise to do it in the tinderbox areas which comprise most of the park.
Should we put a polite request at the entrance to the park that cigarettes are a great danger to the park, to Belwood and to Los Gatos as a whole, and that putting them out in the grassy areas is inadvisable???
To me it’s obvious: fire season and burning objects over dry grass don’t mix. But apparently it’s not obvious to everyone.
Fire season’s not over yet. Let’s hope that common sense prevails and we won’t have any more senseless fires.
Blog: Why Live in the Belwood, Belgatos, or Surmont areas in Los Gatos?
by Mary Pope-Handy, posted 8/22/2007
Jim and I bought our first home in Cambrian Park in 1989, and scrimped and saved, and fixed our fixer ’til we could make a move into a nicer home in a better area in 1999. As a Realtor, there were a couple of neighborhoods I had my eye on, but the one I really hoped we could live in was Belwood.
Luckily for us, a home that fit the budget and the needs came up on Bacigalupi Drive in Belwood of Los Gatos just as our starter home a mile and a half away sold. It had all the “right things wrong” (if everything had been “done”, we couldn’t have afforded it!) It had a great floorplan on a great street with all the rooms we needed (4 bedrooms plus an office, large family room, decent living room, open kitchen – and the dining room was small but has potential). It was not perfect, but no house is. I wished I could have had a larger dining room for our massive family parties (I have a scheme on how I can eventually expand it) and I wish our lot was one of the larger ones (it’s not, the home is newer than most here but also on a smaller lot). Compromise is a big part of home buying. We did, however, get 95% of what we wanted.
And we got great neighbors – fantastic, really. They are all nice, they are quiet, they are wonderful folks.
Why choose Belwood? I had wanted it for the same reason my buyers now want it. It’s close to the hills so is extraordinarily scenic, it has a huge, fabulous park, Belgatos Park. It enjoys a cabana. The streets meander (not straight grids). You see people out and about – walking, jogging, riding bikes, exercizing dogs, and sometimes you even see someone go by on horseback. It’s a real community and it has a nice feel to it.
Folks here take care of their homes. You don’t see a lot of dilapidated cars sitting around. Yards look nice. People are friendly.
In summer, neighbors gather to watch films at the cabana. Folks with little swimmers sign up to be a part of The Dolphins Swim Team.
There’s just a lotthat’s right here in this far corner of Los Gatos.
As for us, I think we’ll be here another couple of decades. We love it here in Belwood.