Friday, April 1, 2011

Monte Bello sunshine

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!
Finally, some wonderful weather after the weeks of rain - and just in time for our Hike and Sketch at Monte Bello. There were seven hikers, and three non hikers who remained behind to continue painting the gorgeous views not far from the car park. We painted here for half an hour, enjoying the grassy rolling hills dotted with oaks and evergreens, and Mount Umunhum off in the hazy blue distance. I've been working on a plan for our upcoming "Introduction to Plein Air Painting" and, aware that I should look like I know what I'm doing, I tried to consciously plan my sketches a bit more than usual. Or course, that wore off by the time I got to sketch #2! There isn't much time for thinking in a 1/2 hour sketch! View of Mt Umunhum

We had a circular route planned out and off we trotted down the hill on a tiny little path. The size of the path should have given us a clue that we were going the wrong way- but giddy with sunshine and beauty we were oblivious. We paused some way down the hill to sketch moss draped oaks, then continued along the path...until it ended at the creek. With calf muscles complaining we had to retrace our steps back up the hill.
Mossy oak

Eventually we did find the right path and stopped for lunch beside a sag pond. This is a depression created by a fault line and filled in with water and plants. This one was home to an abundance of cattails, and some frogs who gave us a little chorus as we painted.
Sag Pond along the San Andreas Fault

After lunch our little group finally set out on the trail we originally intended using. We crossed the creek several times on bridges admiring little waterfalls and cataracts along the way. We stopped once more to sketch a view of the pathway and some trees.
Wooded path, brushpens in my sketchbook

Further along the trail we came across a little garter snake out for a midday adventure of his own. One of our party (who hates snakes!) screamed like a banshee and ran in the opposite direction! Here we branched off the main trail to take a shortcut back to the carpark. Once again our path was blocked by the stream. This time most of our intrepid hikers stomped into the water and, negotiating the slippery rocks, clambered to the path on the other side. Two of us remained on the bank. Not wanting to get our feet wet, we chickened out and went back to the main trail while the brave ones continued on. The route Jenny and I took seemed steep and long in the afternoon heat, so we rested and chatted for a good while under the shade of an oak tree. On the final part of the trail there were wonderful views of the bay, but we were too tired to sketch. Much later than anticipated we returned to the carpark to find that the gentleman of our party was waiting for us. He had been waiting an hour to ensure we got back safely. Thanks Brad!
All in all a good day out - I'm only sorry we didn't all get to see everyone's paintings and sketches.