Monday, January 27, 2014

Daley Ranch Preserve

John happened to read in the newspaper a notice of a hike in this park with a naturalist.  Unfortunately it was to begin a 7AM, a very ungodly hour for John!  However, he did know that I prefer the early hours for hiking, and an added bonus was that a naturalist was to be our guide.  The park is located in the rolling hills on the northeastern corner of  Escondido.   On the preserve is Dixon Lake, the water reservoir for the city.
The plan was for our hiking group to walk around the entire lake, and we were informed that it would be "moderately strenuous".  Starting out all John and I knew was that it was to be a three hour walk, and we figured on some of that time to be taken up with looking a flora and fauna.  Unfortunately we were all wrong!  We started out on one steep hill which required some boulder scrambling.  We still had some hills to climb after that, which were usually taken at a fairly rapid rate.  After two hours of walking Bill, our guide,  let us stop for a break.  I then mistakenly thought we had one hour yet to go, and I was ready to quit.  Bill had so far slowed down only once, and that was to look at the lake and mutter that there was some black and white duck out there that he had never seen before.  That was one of our few good looks at the park, which does have a variety of plant and animal species.  Well, I stubbornly did stop a few times to use my binoculars, even if that did put me behind the rest of the group.
During our break Bill informed us that we were half-way through the 7 mile walk.  My thought then was oh no, are we going to do the next 3.5 miles in an hour?  I did not dare ask or complain, our guide is 81 years old and usually kept a half a mile ahead of the group!   Our last brief stop was at the ranch, which had been farmed by the Daley family since about 1880.  In 1996 the city of Escondido voted to purchase the land and use it as a habitat preserve.  The ranch house, built in 1925, is still on the land and has been remodeled.  On the ranch grounds we observed some acorn woodpeckers pecking on a utility pole.  They had already done a good deal of damage to the porch pillars where they had pecked many holes and filled them with acorns.  We finished our hike in 3 hours and 30 minutes, and were told by Bill that we had covered 8 miles. I found it hard to believe that he was going to take another group out the next day for a 14 mile hike!  I guess, in light of that, that John and I are not in good physical shape!

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