Springtime Wildflower Extravaganza

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Mimulus poses for top honors


The beer was flowing freely at the Cedar St. Brewery when Eric called. "Ah, I'm thinking about a ride up the Oat tomorrow", he said.

"Works for me" Eric (A.D.) answered.

"Good, see you at the trailhead at the usual time, I've got a friend that I've promised a Girl Scout loop." Eric reported.

"Cool," A.D. replied, "I think Jim might be interested also."

The four bikin' enthusiasts met at the Oat Hill Mine Road trailhead. The sky contained several layers of clouds. The lowest of which partially shrouded the Palisades, making the grand view rather tame and bland. The temperature was nearly ideal, though slightly on the chilly side.

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Jogging babes add more beauty to the trail

The four made steady steerage up the busy Oat. Due to being a weekend and a day with no rain, outdoor enthusiasts flocked to the Oat to get exercise and the attendant glory that comes with a vigorous outing. Anyone who treks only a short distance up the hill is blessed with superb views of the lovely Napa Valley and as a bonus are greeted with a huge assortment of stunningly beautiful flower displays.

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Celia pedals into the beauty

The group continued up the hill without a firm plan. Several options had been discussed. The Girl Scout (G.S.) loop was the initial offering, yet A.D. stymied that notion by bringing Miss Swift. She would not be able to cover the highway miles at the end of the ride. The Picket loop was suggested. For the moment, it mattered not as the OHMR (Oat Hill Mine Road) offered plenty of challenge and lots of views.

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Eric heads for the P.O. and beyond, causing stress to his guardian angle

The weather continued to be a concern. The clouds still covered the Palisades and the breeze was chilly. The trail was relatively dry and water was not a problem, except for Miss Swift who would not stop unless the pack also stopped.

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Jim charges over the rocks

At the top of the OHMR, the group considered plans for the rest of the day. Still not able to decide entirely, the group headed for the deck cave for lunch and a pleasant break while the sun attempted to break thought the overcast.

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Eric's Fuzzy Duds™,  rockin' with the natural beauty at the deck cave

The consensus of the group after lunch was to explore the land beyond the Holmes place. The group returned to the Oat and pedaled towards the back country. The flowers continued in massive proliferation. Eventually the destination of the Wind Cave was chosen.

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Bikers hanging out in the Wind Cave

By this time the sun had actually broken through the clouds for brief moments. The result was very pleasant followed by cool, windy conditions. After a lengthy break at the Wind Cave, the bikers returned to the Holmes place. The back country riding was challenging, invigorating and fun. The varying terrain allows for a fast passage, compared to the steady uphill grunt of the Oat.

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Celia brilliantly cleans a massively difficult section

There were discussions of whether to process the options on the way down. However the consensus trended towards a direct route to the Cali-Inn. The event was nearing the six hour mark and beer began to have a lager say in the process.

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Jim points out alternate trails

Once down off the tortuous top section of the oat, the group shredded the trail at warp speed. Two senior hikers were seen in Superman mode trying to avoid Jim as he neared the speed of fright. Others had to scramble to accommodate the downhillers. The number of hikers increased significantly near the bottom.

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A retry on one of the hardest sections

The sky never really parted though the clouds lifted enough to clear the top of the Palisades section of the mountains. The soft light added a nice diminution to the viewing of flowers.

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A sleeping Poppy, Seep Spring Monkey flower and a Grand Hounds Tongue


The riders all made it down the hill and proceeded to the Calistoga Inn for a well earned beer. As luck would have it, Danny was on hand to take care of the biker's beer needs. Tone eventually showed up to help close out the day.

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