Sunday, April 15, 2007

MyOutdoors.net: St. Joseph's Hill Trail

I don't know how many times I drove past Lexington Reservoir. The big lake you see alongside Hwy 17 in Los Gatos. Recently I decided it was time to explore it a bit.

And I'm glad I did. I saw nature that I haven't seen yet at such close and vital range. Red winged black birds, a garden snake, quick to go away turtles, a full breed of wilderness right by Hwy 17th.

It is like going by the side of a piece of network fiber and watch it from a totally different frame of time. Like being outside seeing these bits going upstream now, alongway ducks, birds and turtles.


Getting there

Exit at the Alma Bridge Road overpass, take the Alma Bridge Road South and park on the left side of the road. Kinda empty and without much movement so an ugly car wouldn't call much attention by itself up there.

Otherwise, if you want the official Parking spot and probably safer place to park you need to exit just by the top of the last hill before the Santa Cruz Ave Exit.

You can make your own trail along the borders of the water right from the Parking lot or use the trails starting at the gates. You can loop around the lake so it has trails at both sides.

It is a weird place to walk by, reminds you of leftovers from the time the highway was built, pieces of black tarp holding the change in the original terrain. And walk at the grass is like entering in a world that is so apart from the fast rhythm of the asphalt.

Check the trail at MyOutdoors.net (and here is the link to the actual maps.) The for-sale webservice I have to say has a pretty clean interface. Lots of Ajax probably going on behind the scenes.

But on a bit of UI Design the dot in the toolbar could instead be a hand so one can see right away which one is the selection tool, if that is really it (or an arrow). The Upload .gpx link should be in a more visible spot. And I couldn't figure out why the URL for the corresponding Flickr photo wasn't taken.

So I guess the fate of a web service lives on its easy of use and quality of response. At this point easy as 1-2-3 fits pretty well.

[Like the way GpsTagr works for example. A webservice that doesn't get in the way. GpsTagr converts Location info (GPS data) from embedded Exif headers of .jpg images into GeoURL Tags.]

A tool at its best shouldn't get in the way of what you are trying to accomplish.

Geotagged photos

Some other photos from the trail are available at Flickr, imported also into Panoramio and EveryTrail.

And as you grew to expect, you can also download the corresponding .kml file from MyOutdoors.net and open it in Google Earth and its virtual reality. Panoramio will even provide a tour with your uploaded and geotagged photos that is still buggy on the Mac.

By bits, by feet. So close by and so far away.
It was nice to stop, by it.