Controlled burn near Morgan Hill creates smokey skies in Silicon Valley

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.

Controlled burn Oct 18 2011 cropped - Controlled burn near Morgan Hill creates smokey skies in Silicon Valley

View from Harwood Court in Los Gatos of the smokey skies created by the Cal Fire "controlled burn" in south county

 

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. “

Cardboard Hill in Belgatos Park: Remember to Clean Up After You Play!

“Cardboard Hill” is a much beloved spot in Belgatos Park, but sometimes it looks more like “big trash hill” when the cardboard sledders neglect to clean up after themselves.  Pack it in, pack it out! This is true for all the wonderful parks and trails in Los Gatos.

Here are a few shots from a couple days ago – typical fun on a sunny September afternoon.

IMG 20110927 00652 Custom - Cardboard Hill in Belgatos Park: Remember to Clean Up After You Play!

About a half dozen kids gather to slide down “cardboard hill” at Belgatos Park in Los Gatos.

IMG 20110927 00653 Custom - Cardboard Hill in Belgatos Park: Remember to Clean Up After You Play!

What goes up with some work comes down with some fun at Cardboard Hill.

IMG 20110927 00654 Custom - Cardboard Hill in Belgatos Park: Remember to Clean Up After You Play!

Sliding down “cardboard hill” at Belgatos Park in the Belwood neighborhood of Los Gatos. (more…)

Heintz Open Space Preserve in East Los Gatos has small brush fire

On Friday, September 9th, in the late morning a brush fire ignited at the Heintz Open Space Preserve in east Los Gatos (close to Belgatos Park, the Heritage Grove neighborhood and Surmont area).  Jim and I were at home, working at our computers that morning, and our first hint of the problem was the repeated flyovers by low flying airplanes and seemingly omnipresent helicopter  nearby.  It seemed like another “fire drill” of sorts – except that this time there were several planes plus the helicopter.

Turns out it was a very small fire not so far out of reach from the fire hydrant at the Heritage Grove neighborhood where the trailhead is…just a couple of sitchbacks up the trail.

Jim hiked up there yesterday and took some photos of the burned trail area, which we hope you’ll enjoy.

Heintz fire panorama Custom - Heintz Open Space Preserve in East Los Gatos has small brush fire

Here’s a photo of the fire at the switchback.  No lightening when this broke out.  What caused it – a cigarette?

Heintz fire 2 Small - Heintz Open Space Preserve in East Los Gatos has small brush fire

And…

Heinz fire 3 Small - Heintz Open Space Preserve in East Los Gatos has small brush fire

Finally, here’s what the fire retardant looks like after the fact – orange goo all over the plants and trees which didn’t burn.

Orange fire fighting chemicals Small - Heintz Open Space Preserve in East Los Gatos has small brush fire

So the next time we all gripe about the planes flying over Belwood, let’s be grateful that they practice and that the little fires don’t turn into big ones!

Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

Yesterday we were walking our dog, Bella, to Belgatos Park (as we often do) and spotted some deer. Interestingly, we were inside of the park, and they were outside of it!  Below please see some images from those few minutes when they high-tailed it back into the park.

View from inside the park - Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

It was more obvious in person – next see a closeup:

View from inside the park closer look - Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

The deer watched us carefully as we approached but eventually decided they needed to head back to the park. In the photo below, you may be able to see one of them on the right side of the road and another deer on the far left by the tree (there were 2 babies but none of the photos show all of them, unfortunately).

Deer crossing the road - Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

Here’s a clearer image of two of the deer.

Deer in the road - Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

Back into the park (they went around to the side where the fencing ends to get it).

Two deer - Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

A clear shot of two of the three deer just inside the park again.

Heading out - Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

Heading back into the open space!

Back at home - Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

Away from the fence, the street and the houses, this deer looks to be back where it is most comfortable.

Beware of rattlesnakes, especially in Belgatos Park and trails!

Caution in the grass - Beware of rattlesnakes, especially in Belgatos Park and trails!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.

View of Belwood of Los Gatos Neighborhood from Harwood Court in Los Gatos

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?

View of Belwood from Harwood Court 1024x510 - View of Belwood of Los Gatos Neighborhood from Harwood Court in Los Gatos

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.

And here’s a view over the top of Belwood, downtown San Jose, the east foothills and into the rest of Silicon Valley. Unfortunately it was a little hazy/smoggy that day – but lovely nonetheless!
View from Harwood Ct Los Gatos 1024x699 - View of Belwood of Los Gatos Neighborhood from Harwood Court in Los Gatos

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.