Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bioluminescent caterpillars on the trail

To celebrate the summer solstice I led a Sierra Club hike to the top of Montecito Peak, which is at something like 3400 feet. It was a lovely summer day. The sun actually came out early on this day, early enough to watch the Summer Solstice parade at noon and then enjoy this evening hike as the sun went down.

I don't do a lot of night hiking but whenever I do, I always wish I would do more. We hiked up to the peak and ate our dinner looking at the view of the ocean, Montecito and Santa Barbara. Then we hiked down again as the sun went down. With a couple miles left to go, it got dark and we hiked the rest of the way with flashlights in pitch black under the shady trees of the canyon. We could hear the frogs in the creek below and best of all, we could see the bioluminescent caterpillars, aka glow worms.

I shined my flashlight on the glow worms to get a better look. They are just tiny, orangish, naked, little caterpillars with one glowing spot on the lower third of their bellies. It gives off quite a lot of light for such a small area. As I hiked, I got quite a bit ahead of the others and so I enjoyed stopping every now and then and turning off my light to see if there were more blue-white lights twinkling in the brush.

In the dark you cannot see well where you are going. All you can really see is the trail. When I reached the end of the trail, it was almost a surprise because I couldn't tell until I was right there.

Everyone on the hike seemed to enjoy it, which doesn't usually happen. Most of the hikers were unfamiliar people and usually unfamiliar people are not in good shape and not expecting an actual hike where people walk with purpose for 7 or 8 real miles. Most people expect we'll dawdle along and when we say 7 or 8 miles and bring 2 liters of water they think we're joking. Then they come and have a terrible time. Not this time. People came expecting a real hike and some of them even thought I was too slow, running little circles behind me or even once physically pushing me to go faster. They were young kids from Korea with different ideas of personal space, I guess. But they all had a good time, they were all good hikers and felt it was the highlight of the Summer Solstice weekend.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Won the lottery

I won the lottery today. Well, not really. But I did find a 6-figure pile of money I didn't know I had. It's in a retirement account so it's not mine yet, but I didn't realize I had it.