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Christmas Day in Sunol Regional Wilderness

Christmas Day in Sunol Regional Wilderness

The short but strong rains on Christmas Eve fueled the gushing waters of the Alameda Creek through Little Yosemite in the Sunol Regional Wilderness.

The large boulders and gushing waters reminds me of hiking through the Sierra Nevada

Along the trails to get to Little Yosemite, the nearby Calaveras Dam project is clearly visible. Slated to be completed in Spring 2019, Calaveras is the Hetch Hetchy’s largest reservoir in the Bay Area holding 96,850 acre-feet of water!

The Calaveras Damn replacement project nearing completion

Up near the Eagle View trail, the winds picked up and we spotted a couple of American Kestrels fighting the wind while hunting for insects in the grass. American Kestrels, next to the Red Tailed Hawk, are one of the most common raptors. Much smaller than hawks, they’re related to falcons with cool looking eye strips and red-blue feather colorations.

American Kestrel fighting the wind and hunting for food below

And with the moisture brought by rains, mushrooms spontaneously erupt in the shady spots around fallen trees.

Tick Season

Tick Season

Spider Looking Critters

Ticks don’t seem to be a major concern in the East Bay and in the past 40 years of living here, I have never come across one. However, this experience felt like a scene out of Arachnophobia!

We did about a six mile hike this past Saturday doing a loop in the Sunol Regional Wilderness through the Indian Joe, Eagle View, and Flag Hill trails. Traversing the steep slope of the Eagle View trail, J exclaims “There’s lots of spiders climbing on me!” Upon closer inspection, those spiders were actually ticks!

Tick along Eagle View Trail in Sunol
Tick along Eagle View Trail in Sunol

This section on the Eagle View trail was a bit overgrown with tall grasses on which the ticks were waiting for unsuspecting passersby like ourselves. At any given time, 4-5 ticks could be found on our pants, gradually climbing up in search of bare skin! All in all, be probably had to flick off about 20 ticks each during the traversal!

Clothing Matters

Fortunately for J and I, we foiled the ticks’ plans by wearing hiking pants and long sleeve shirts. Even though shorts can be more comfortable during those super hot and dry East Bay days, one trip through some overgrown thistle can make you glad you wore pants. And added protection from those surprise ticks doesn’t hurt either.

Tips

  • NPR Page on what to do if you’ve been bitten by a tick
  • TickEncounter page for submitting tick pictures and identifying the tick
  • Wear long pants and long socks!

Update

Got this response from TickEncounter who identified the tick as an American dog tick. Snipped for brevity:

FYI, American dog ticks do not transmit Lyme disease but can transmit the germ causing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). Studies have shown that American dog ticks can transmit an infectious dose of the RMSF rickettsia as well as other less dangerous rickettsiae in as little as 12 hours of attachment. The chance for disease from a bite by this type of tick is typically low as the tick infection rate in American dog ticks is generally less than 1in your area, but if this tick is  the chance for disease would likely be low due to the shorter duration of feeding.