Crockett Hills Regional Park with Michael – 20 March 2017

Hi Everyone,

Here’s the hike-log for last Monday’s hike in Crockett which you can read at If you would prefer that I send the hike in the email form or prefer not to receive these at all, happy to do oblige.

Thanks much, Lew


Crockett is a California river town along the confluence of the mighty Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Here they flow from Suisun Bay into San Pablo Bay, the northern portion of great Bay of San Francisco. Crockett was also a company town and in the 1920s “some 95 % of Crockett residents worked for the California and Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company toiling away in its huge brick building along the waterfront. . . In addition to being the town’s economic lifeblood, the plant gave workers and town residents access to a virtual fairyland of public amenities.” Today only a small percentage of Crockett’s citizens work there. After over a century of close working relations with Hawaiian sugar producers, the last shipment of “pure cane sugar from Hawaii” was made by the Moku Pahu as it docked at the C & H Refinery in Crockett on January 17, 2017. Cane sugar will continue to be the source of their production but sourcing will be more from Brazil, Viet Nam and places other than Hawaii. (March 5, 2004) The information sounds good but the last photo looks like Bodie, the famous ghost town.

Crockett is on the Carquinez Strait. The name comes from the Ohlone Indian word Karkin – Native Americans who lived on both sides of this tidal strait. Karkin was the name for their language and by extension of the group. The name became los Carquines in Spanish and then Carquinez when anglicized.

The Crockett name comes from a famous lawyer, Joseph B. Crockett, who came to California in 1850 after successful careers in law and government in Kentucky and Missouri. Before he left for California he became editor of the Daily St. Louis Intelligencer. He is described as a likable and engaging man and a family man with 12 children “that blessed his home”. He’d left her and the children in Hopkinsville close to St. Louis during this time of transition but he made several trips back to visit them. Arriving in California in 1852 by himself he became a respected lawyer in San Francisco and “his practice was one of the most lucrative on the Pacific Coast”. He wrote to his wife from San Francisco in 1854 where he was establishing his law practice before bringing his family out to California. “That Crocket got in on the lucrative Spanish-Mexican grants title settlements is apparent from the fact that he received as a fee 1800 acres of land in Contra Costa County where the community of Crockett which was named after him, is now located.” He was named Judge of the California Supreme Court in December of 1867 retaining the office until 1881. “Judge Crockett called and presided over the first public meeting held for the purpose of establishing the public library of San Francisco.” “When the founding of Hastings College of Law was announced at the commencement exercises of the University of California in June, 1878, Crockett shared speaking honors with Hastings, the founder and other distinguished men.” We’ll skip over his then Democratic Party affiliation supporting McClellan for President in 1864 since he referred to Lincoln as “the flagrant violator of the Constitution.” Still, he got along well with the abolitionist he replaced on the California Supreme Court. He retired from the Court in 1881at 73 when failing eyesight made his “labors especially arduous”. He said, “Justice is said to be blind, but I have found out that it is a very bad thing for a justice to be blind.” written in 1917


We need to find a park somewhere in all this history and the East Bay Regional Parks has added for our hiking pleasure Crockett Hills Regional Park on 1300 acres of land that was formerly the Crockett Ranch. This newer park is near the Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline Park where we went in part of our hike to Port Costa with Armando on 27th September 2010. If you don’t do many links and only want one, this is the one you want. (Oct-Dec 2006)

Crocket Hills Regional Park which opened in 2006 is just down the Carquinez Strait in Crockett on land that was part of Rancho Canada del Hambre y las Bolsas.
“In 1843, the governor of Mexico granted the entire southern shore of the strait, including the Crockett Hills, to one Teodora de Soto.” This property “encompassed the area from modern-day Crockett to Martinez. Señora de Soto, like neighbors Ygnacio Martinez and General Mariano Vallejo, ran Spanish longhorn cattle on the steep, dry hills. Each year, the ranchos shipped thousands of pounds of hides and tallow by schooner to New England to be manufactured into shoes, soap and candles.” In the transition from these great ranchos becoming property of the United States, “California’s Mexican citizens were compelled to defend their property rights in U.S.Court. Land-rich but cash-poori many paid their attorneys in property. Among them was de Soto, who settled her debts with lawyer Joseph Crockett with 1,800 acres near the western edge of the strait.” California on its entry into the Union by the Compromise of 1850 became a non-slavery state and the 31st on September 9, 1850. California schools used to celebrate this history with a day off but this faded later on perhaps because of its proximity to the opening of schools in the beginning of September. California Admission Day remains a legal holiday.

Michael leads the way from the parking area to the Crockett Ranch Trail that is affectionately known as “heart attack hill” by mountain bikers. This excellent video is well GoPro-filmed and freshly narrated by Brian Kennedy covering a number of the trails we traced Monday. ( filmed on June 22, 2016)

He called our attention to a small tree and asked if we could identify it. The leaves had a distinctive “perfume” that comes from an organic chemical called juglone which occurs in it leaves, roots, fruit and husks of Juglans nigra. The juglone is toxic or growth-stunting compound to plants that try to grow too closely to the tree – its allopathic defense. Where this is raised commercially in orchards the native rootstock is used with Juglans regal grafted atop for its preferred fruit. This research paper by Susan Labiste does “soup to nuts” and everything in between – extensive, detailed and well written study of Ohlone Indian foods and their preparation. Excellent photos are included.

We crest the top of this hill and catch our breath looking out over the Carquinez Bridge (actually two bridges) extending from Crockett to Vallejo. Prior to this the crossing over the deep and treacherous Carquinez Strait was solved with ferries. The original 1927 cantilever bridge (on the right in the picture) was dedicated in 1927 and “was the first major crossing of San Francisco Bay” and hailed as “America’s Greatest Highway Bridge” at its dedication on May 21st with President Coolidge pressing the opening button in Washington. This West County Blog records this 1927 opening event with original and endearing photos from the time – this entry traces the beginnings I-80 and I-580 from the original East Shore Highway. It provides a great assemblage of photos combined with fine writing.

In the foreground is a part of the village of Crockett and across the strait is a ship which is the California Maritime Academy, a part of the California State University System. Vallejo extends into the distance.

The tunnel leads under the Cummings Skyway for the next part of our hike on the Soaring Eagle Trail – mixed grassland, chaparral and expansive views.

We reconnoiter from the rolling green hills and spot San Pablo Bay and Sonoma and Marin Counties in the distance along with some enormous electrical transmission towers on either side of the Carquinez Bridges – the Carquinez Straits Transmission Span. “In 1901 the general design “consisted of a main span of cables, 4,427 feet in length, with a deflection of 227 feet from the highest elevation. The lowest wire was 206 feet above the water at its lowest point. This distance allowed large ships with high masts to travel under the cable and continue up the river to Sacramento and Stockton.”
For a time this was the longest and highest voltage electrical transmission span in the world. It is listed as a California and National Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

A harbor tug passes the C & H refinery on the way up river. With major shipping going to the ports of Sacramento and Stockton there is much demand for their services and for bar pilots in these relatively shallow depths and narrow passages for large ocean going vessels. Rare footage of the Liberty Ship Jeremiah O’Brien in the Carquinez Strait. This series of beautiful photos was taken by the author from 2006-2012, they all expand for your lap top or desk top and give a sense of tug life in the greater San Francisco Bay. The site is now devoted to his/her (Pat thinks we need new a new pronoun for this and suggests hesh.) new quest of sailing the west coast of the United States and into the South Pacific.

Gaining some more altitude we seem to be developing measured distances.

A cattle stock pond fills out our impression of rolling hills in Ireland. “May you have warm words on a cold evening. A full moon on dark night. And the road downhill all the way to your door.” An Irish Blessing (found on a box of McCann’s Irish Oatmeal)

We arrive at a picnic area with a view known as the “helipad” but are pre-empted by an incoming rain storm. Michael explained how the wind was coming from the south and the storm was coming from the north and swirling together were signs of rain incoming. While we surveyed the scene, we may have seen an eagle glide seamlessly overhead toward Carquinez Strait.

Heading back hoping to out walk the rain which is blustering on the horizon we see that California Live Oaks seem to have each selected their own personal hill.
Passing along the way Michael spied some Purple Sanicle (Sanicula bipinnatifida) and nearby some Plantain (Plantago major) which he’d talked about extensively
on an earlier hike at the Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga.

We opt for the sculpted downhill of the Edward’s Loop Trail that shows the hard work of many mountain bikers. There was no restriction for hikers on this trail, we as well as mountain bikers and dog walkers were equally welcome. But because this is a single track much of the way with downhill speeds on a mountain bike it might make sense to have some restrictions at least at times of high usage. Sounds did travel well up the trail providing an early warning. This was no problem on Monday or this past Saturday for that matter.

On the way down we saw Coast Mule Ears (Wyethia glabra) in the Sunflower family. Reny Parker writes that Nathaniel Wyeth’s name is part of this genus and that he is best known for his discovery of Mule Ears. Along parts of the trail the invasive Poison Hemlock was ascendent covering extensive swaths of land. Common Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum) rather than the Western trillium because it does not seem to have a stem rising above the three large leaves. California pipevine (Aristolochia california) or Dutchman’s Pipe is where the beautiful Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly exclusively lays its eggs., That’s poison oak peeking out from underneath.

Time for that lunch postponed which gets shortened with the rain.

Hydration, hydration, hydration

This reminded me of Michael’s love for Halloween. Hasta luego!

P.S. That hike with Armando on September 27, 2010 was a warm summer’s day. We took our vantage from the Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline Park
on our Port Costa Hike.

Hiking Highway 1 from Stinson Beach with Michael – 13 March 2017

California State Route 1 is a wonderful, variegated gem of a highway winding its way along California’s West Coast. It travels up from Capistrano Beach at Dana Point in Orange County to where it joins Rt. 101 just outside Leggett in Mendocino County after passing through “rugged redwood-forested, mountainous terrain”. Like a foreign operative with many passports, it has many names as it makes its way up the coast: Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway, Coast Highway, or Blue Star Memorial Highway in recognition of those in the Armed Forces and along many other local names as it passes through various areas.,

A beautiful children’s book Pat (and I sometimes) used to read to our classes was called, “What Good Luck, What Bad Luck” by Remy Charlip featuring various disasters that were intervened with happy outcomes only to be met with a new disaster. Our hike last Monday was one of those “disasters” turned into a sparkling opportunity and we hope, not the sequel to the book’s sequence. Can you have a sequel to a sequence? The “disasters” were the mudslides and the various under minings of highway 1 resulting in its closure. The good luck part was our being able to hike the Shoreline Highway from Stinson Beach to the Steep Ravine area and back. There were a few cars allowed for local travel, some Cal Trans workers with their white hard hats & distinctive orange trucks and the occasional biker pumping or zinging by. Other than that, the road was ours with the blue Pacific extending to a sparkling infinity on our right and the variegated yellow/orange/reds of the exposed hillsides to our left.

Memories of “Detour (There’s a Muddy Road ahead) by Paul Westmoreland echo with our footsteps: “Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead. Detour, paid no mind to what it said. Detour, all these bitter things I find. Should have read that detour sign.” Wiki calls it a Western swing ballad with “The original version performed by Jimmy Walker with Paul Westmoreland and His Pecos River Boys, issued around the beginning of November 1945.” The singer shares he’s spent five years in jail and shoulda read that “Detour” sign but now he’s out and able lament at his leisure.

Enter Robert Frost with “The Road Not Taken” bringing up opportunities and choices we make in our lives, the decisions for going one way and then the wonderings. “What if we had we chosen that other path?” Of course, we’ve done this in our personal lives and these days we also have these thoughts tumble in on us with our national persona.

Katherine Robinson gives a splendid description and explanation of the poem in Frost’s context. She writes that he actually wrote it as a joke for his poet friend Edward Thomas. “When they went walking together, Thomas was chronically indecisive about which road they ought to take and – in retrospect – often lamented that they should , in fact, have taken the other one. Soon after writing this poem in 1915, Frost griped to Thomas that he had read the poem to an audience of college students and that it had been ’taken pretty seriously … despite doing my best to make it obvious by my manner that I was fooling … Mea Culpa.’ However, Frost liked to quip, “I’m never more serious than when joking.”

So off we go on the road not taken.


En route a finger of fog still extends down the valley over Nicasio Reservoir and the double yellow leads our eye to Elephant Mountain in spring green. Those specks are turkey vultures finding some morning thermals – an auspicious day begins.

We know we’re in the right place because we spot signs for the Parkside Cafe and Bakery and a young guy with a surf board in hand riding a skate board seals the deal. We are also early enough to easily find parking places which won’t be the situation later on.

It was Monday after a busy weekend and all of the rest rooms and honey buckets had seen, shall we say, extensive use. Those hoping for relief there had to opt for plan “B” – standing for bushes. Footloose friends look on bemused at the quest having gone that way themselves.

Beginning to feel we really have the highway to ourselves

Michael decided we could drive up to the road closed signs which proved fortunate. Had we made our way along the beach we would have had to scale this hill. Not much activity in this south parking area yet but it is totally packed on weekends. My shadow is by some young Pride of Madeira plants.

What a classic finger point, just like the one you see coming down from a clouds. This one was to spot one the southern Farallon Islands just peeking out from the fog.

Michael was talking about humming birds enjoying a reddish stage of Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) and avoiding the later blue spectrum. Here’s a different Echium (Wlidpretii) in red with a very attentive hummer. Most guides speak of red as the top attracting color but here’s a small study with contrary conclusions with some Anna’s Hummingbird observations.
But the preponderance of sources proposes that they are attracted to brightly colored flowers – yellow, orange, pink and purple but red most of all.

Here’s a sequence of Pride of Madeira along the highway. It creates a spectacular and arresting display and is still sold by normally responsible nurseries. It’s not broom and you can see why gardeners would be attracted to this plant. But it is an exotic that can invade and dominate native plant habitat.

Spying some warblers in the hillside bushes next to the roadway Michael initially thinks some may be a migrants passing through but eventually decides that we have spotted an Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) which is resident in this area. David Lukas writes appealingly in his BAY AREA BIRDS: “Every year, there is a thrilling moment when Orange-crowned Warblers suddenly appear and announce the coming spring with bright trilling songs.” They arrive just “in time for the newly unfurling oak leaves that host huge numbers of bright green, oak moth caterpillars that help sustain the warblers and their hungry nestlings.” These foraging birds “are active, frenetic feeders, nearly always in motion while searching for caterpillars in the canopy. Utilizing a wren-like probing behavior, they poke their fine bills into leafy tangles or even forage while hanging upside down.” P.236 He continues that they prefer to nest on steep brushy slopes which was exactly what we were looking at.

Caltrans repair work proceeds all around us. Here they are vacuuming out rocks that have blocked drainage from the hillside.

Above Larry in the midst of a fishing story perhaps. A Caltrans crew is working on roadside debris – we spy their honey bucket behind the van with fascination. Below a big semi brings in steel girders to shore up the road at the other end of the closure by Muir Beach. Considering the twisting roads the driver navigated to get here with a 50’ + long load, we imagine he’s as happy as the proverbial clam to have the roadway opening up before him.

The stalwart group crests a section of highway with the light green of springtime spreading up the hill dominated by a large, gray rock exposure. “The road follows close to the trace of the San Andreas fault all the way between San Francisco and Point Area. West of the fault, it is on the Salinian block, part of the Pacific Plate. East of the fault, it is on the Franciscan rocks of the North American Plate, the stuff that was jammed into the oceanic trench while it defined the plate boundary. Most of the rocks along the coast are somber Franciscan sandstones, along with the occasional outcrops of colorful radiolarian chert, greenish black pillow basalt, and serpentine. The Franciscan sandstones are fairly dark where they are exposed in the sea cliffs. A crust of lichens paints a coat of pale gray on outcrops in the hillsides above the road.” P. 186, Roadside Geology of Northern and Central California, Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2016.

Looking down on Steep Ravine Environmental Campround:

Talking about the Farallone Islands just outside San Francisco Bay which is a very rich area for marine life from krill to Blue whales with everything in between. “On July 24, 1579, English privateer and explorer Sir Francis Drake landed on the islands, in order to collect seal meat and bird eggs for his ship. He named them the ISLANDS OF SAINT JAMES because the day after his arrival was the feast day of St James the Great. The name of St James is now applied to only one of the rockey islets of the North Farallones.”

Michael relates a rare experience sailing out to this Island of Saint James:

Time for a picnic on a promontory as Margie continues Larry’s fish story.

Navigating a sharp cleft on the way to the lunch spot, you know that the round boulder hasn’t finished its trip – perhaps just a small earthquake, Michael finds a neat view on the upside of the boulder and as we lunch in this “picnic” area really less traveled.

Lunch gave an opportunity to enjoy some wildflowers in this pristine area starting [clockwise] with the Footsteps of Spring (Sanicula arctopoides) in the carrot family. These were fresh and buffed out while some we’ve seen have hugged the ground more closely, Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) in the Lily Family. “The corms were an important source of starch in the diet of California Indians. Traditional gathering sites were visited annually over long periods of time.”
Remy Parker, P. 168,
Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) in the Mustard Family. McHoul notes that the “Greek word means to help or save, because of the plants supposed medicinal value. The specific name means a ‘head’ referring to the fairly dense form of the compact flower cluster.” p.12, finally Checker Mallow (Sidalcea malvaeflora) in the Mallow Family. Sidalcea malviflora – Wikipedia

Armand is the first up from the picnic spot taking his ease on our “ribbon of highway” giving us a great John Muir pose.

Looking across the Bolinas mesa towards the peninsula of Point Reyes National Seashore extending out into the Pacific with the white of the Lighthouse just catching the sun.

Reconstructing an eroded hillside with native planting. This is technical and definitely for extra credit.

Sharing the road on the way back we see some Plein Air painters, you recall that we saw another group awhile back at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma., bicyclers on the uphill and then on the downhill and a bumper sticker I hadn’t seen before – it appears they like owls too.

Some rocks we got to know along the coast

A raven perhaps gathering nesting material, we were wondering if this was a joint venture? This entry on the rich Cornell Lab of Ornithology website writes that males may bring some sticks but most of the building is done by females.

Some of us spotted a rancher filling up his 5 gallon jugs of water from this spring and thought we’d give it a try too.

Back to the traffic and heading home

And a final souvenir – Sisyphus takes a break for lunch.

Roy’s Redwoods with Michael – 6th March 2017

We were back on the trail last Monday with an auspicious beginning to our Footloose Forays Hikes, spring edition. While the bookends of the day gave us some more rain showers, the hike itself was in lovely, warm sunshine amid the green ver-dance of spring. Many in the group were returning from winter trips to faraway places: Tanzania, Galapagos, Sikkim, and New Zealand to name a few. Others of us have gone domestic in our journeys and some like me have watched the waters come down here in Marin in an amazing series of rain storms that inundated many areas around the San Francisco Bay – our local beat.

Some of our car pools from the south came up to the San Geronimo Valley on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. This trip was over White’s Hill which separates east and west Marin. During the hike Sarah reported that the route in had been closed due to a landslide – seemingly in the DNA of White’s Hill. Voila, the return trip south required a new direction back home. White’s Hill has long been the separator between the different parts of Marin County starting as a “cart trail” and becoming a stage road from Olema to San Rafael in 1865. Later two tunnels were bored through White’s Hill with the construction of the North Pacific Coast Railroad in 1873 and 1874 and each one was called “Roy’s Tunnel”. The road was paved in 1929 and rail service was shut down in 1933 because travel by automobile became the preferred way to go . . . that is, unless there was a landslide.

The title to this entire valley area, Rancho Canada de San Geronimo, had been originally awarded to Rafael Cacho in 1844. Cacho was a Mexican military officer and friend of General Mariano Vallejo. The Rancho Canada de San Geronimo is a little less romantically The Valley of St.Jerome. “The Mexican government in this grant acknowledged Cacho’s loyal service. After only two years his finances forced a sale and the property went to Lt. Joseph Revere for $1000. Revere was a naval officer and grandson of Paul Revere who had served under Vallejo as well and had released the General from imprisonment at Sutter’s Fort. He’d discovered the valley while hunting elk and had fallen in love with it as a must have. He held the property only four years selling it to Rodman Price for $7500. But Price returned New Jersey when elected governor and left the operation to Lorenzo White, a 49er gold miner. For many years the area was known as White’s Valley, White’s Hill still bearing his name.”

Sold several times when Adolph Malliard acquired the Rancho in 1854 now for the handsome sum of $50,000, showing a nice foretaste of real estate values. He initially lived in San Rafael involved in horse breeding and railroad construction, perhaps an effective way of hedging his bets. Malliard’s father Louis was the son of Joseph Bonaparte who was the older brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. Malliard finally moved to the valley with his wife Annie in 1873 setting up housekeeping near Castle Rock in an area that would become today’s Woodacre. Annie loved her house in the Valley refusing ever to leave even though her family “pitied her isolation”. Her sister, Julia Ward Howe, who authored “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was an active abolitionist and suffragette who visited Annie many times in the Valley. It was Adolph Malliard who transferred title of two separate parcels of land of about 400-600 acres each to the brothers Roy, James and Thomas. From them we got the name for our destination, Roy’s Redwoods. The 309 acre tract for Roy’s Redwoods Open Space Reserve was a purchase by Marin Country Open Space District in 1978 made possible by a voter passed bond measure.

Below is an excellent history of the area by the Marin Conservation League and is part of their “Walk Into (Conservation) History” series # 18, a very helpful resource.


I relied on the previous site for the details of the historical background along with another excellent reference by Brian Dodd and Jean Berensmeier, found on the San Geronimo Community Center website. HISTORY OF THE SAN GERONIMO VALLEY.


Close to our parking area a beautiful stand of Redwoods is the appetizer of a hike to come Michael suggesting it for this fall’s Footloose hikes. We see the mother tree which was logged many years ago surrounded by the Redwood circle of new trees born from sprouts that form at the base of the tree. They utilize the nutrients and the root system of the mature tree. When it dies, a new generation continues its life creating a circle of trees called fairy rings.

Because of trail closures we needed to go to a different trail of Roy’s Redwoods Open Space which delivered wonderful views of the Valley – the Rancho Canada de San Geronimo spread out before us.

We circle the wagons as we are wont to do at the beginning of our hiking year to share a special moment in our lives since our last hike in December.

With mist rising on the far side of the Valley we begin some uphill stepping lively. It all begins with that first step. The map says this is the Moon Hill Trail. My read on the iPhone for the hike was 10,842 steps or 4.6 miles – we could correlate our figures sometime.

Pacific Hound’s Tongue (Cynoglossum grande) This is a Nature/Plus Blog that reminds me of Michael’s far-ranging and big picture observations along with smart commentary on a wide variety of subjects. The location of the blog is to the south of us in Carmel, Big Sur-Ventana area but the thoughts are expansive, fascinating and relevant. Other interesting segments are yours if you go to its “Home” marker at the top that includes “The Way of the Cyclist – Roads, Races and Rides”.

At one point our trail paralleled the road the leads from Nicasio to San Geronimo Valley. Along the roadway is a loving memorial to Cecy Krone, “A bicyclist killed by a drunk driver” on September 4th, 1999. Here is the beautiful website honoring her memory.

Heading onto Barnaby Mountain Fire Road (?), a different approach than we’ve done before from Devil’s Gulch Trailhead.

Stopping along the way to catch up and catch the view

True Turkey Tail Fungi (Trametes versicolor) or False Turkey Tail?
I needed a better view of the underside.

We passed some new bee boxes not yet in use and Michael recalled his time bee-keeping when he was living in Tennessee.

“To bee or not to bee . . .” With his usual spontaneity Michael shared a fascinating account of bee life and loves – all ad lib – there’s a bit of wind noise at times but hopefully not too distracting.

Sun Cups (Taraxia ovata – Calflora notes that Camissonia ovata is not an active name in their species table). The two photos on top of the grid are Sun Cups.
Reny Parker uses Camissonia ovata, Lilian McHoul uses Oenothera ovata and Margaret Armstrong in her 1915 “Field Book of Western Wildflowers” calls them Lavauxia primiveris. But she is describing a desert version in Arizona and does in her write-up talk of Taraxia ovata “on the southwestern coast with “the same little fresh, sunny faces.”
Michael has alerted us a number of times to the changes of many Latin names for wildflowers, I’m still hanging on to Zauschneria californica for California Fuchsia even though Calflora uses Epilobium canum as the primary name now. Zauschneria does appear as an alternate, I don’t want to give up on any name beginning with Z.
Sun Cups are also referred to as Golden Eggs. McHoul comments that her Oenothera ovata name comes from the Greek meaning wine-scenting, “the plant once being used for that purpose”. She continues, “This plant has a rosette of basal leaves that sometimes have reddish main veins. . . the large yellow petals are roundish and pointed at the apex.” Parker mentions something that Michael commented on, “There is no stem, as what looks like a stem is a very long flower tube and the ovary is hidden underground.”

The two photos at bottom are the common Western Butercup (Ranuculus californicus) is called Ranunculus repens by McHoul but all the rest seems to stick with californicus so less of an identity crisis. The Ranunculus comes from the diminutive form of Latin “rana” for frog because the plant thrives in a moist habitat.

Many Indian Warriors accompanied us on our hike so we felt well protected. Pedicularis densiflora has a long blooming season beginning in winter and extending into summer. “Before the flower blooms one may confuse the leaves for that of a fern. Common to dry bushy slopes, the Indian Warrior is an early harbinger of the flowers of spring.”
Parker, P. 112. McHoul points out that the pedicularis is the Latin word for louse and the alternate less appealing name of Lousewort. She too mentions the leaves which Michael commented about are fernlike, “much dissected and toothed.”

We all enjoyed meeting a Marin County Work Crew at the top of our hike, so fresh and enthusiastic they recharged us as we topped that hill. They were monitoring and pulling out the invasive broom which is a scourge in Marin, Sonoma, many other places in California and the west coast. This is an excellent Broom Blog (I had to say that) but actually this is more a site that is thorough, detailed and clearly written even sometimes with a sense of humor. The links are also very helpful. Check out the Documentary which puts it all together.
Here’s a short video from Oregon, They are struggling with broom in Australia as well. One different technique mentioned is cutting close to the ground and immediately covering the stump with chemicals.

Michael spots a great overlook of the Valley for our lunch but it seems to have gigantic ants which could prove problematic. We need to read “Leiningen Versus the Ants” by Carl Stephenson again. That goes back to me listening in bed to the ESCAPE series dramatized for radio. I think I pulled the covers up over my head on August 4, 1948!

And, yes, the ant is wearing sun glasses and carrying a golf club.

Picnic lunch viewing the Valley

Rowena went on Michael’s recent trip to Tanzania and in addition to a huge life experience she brought back a genuine Tanzanite Necklace. Tanzanite is so rare because it is found and mined in a small area only four kilometers wide and two kilometers long at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in the Manyara Region of Northern Tanzania. It was discovered by a Tanzanian Jumanne Mhero Ngoma in the Mererani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha.

Going downhill? It’s always easier with that momentum on the way down.

Michael has a regularly broadcast Perspective on KQED fm, this most recent one was on Totem Animals. Here it is should you have missed it:

Stern Grove Foray with Michael and Harriet – December 12, 2016

It was a beautiful day in the midst of a series of storms, the rain was much welcomed and admired but the pause was a delight. It was like that moment of silence in a piece of music that can make all the difference. We met at the entrance to Stern Grove – corner of 19th Avenue and Sloat Blvd. This was our final hike of the fall season 2016 so you know what that means – POTLUCK. Harriet’s home is nearby the Grove, most conveniently located for whetted appetites.
The Stern Grove Festival website notes that it was established in 1938 and is the “oldest admission-free summer performing arts festival of its kind in America”. Rosalie M. Stern bought this land at the suggestion of John McLaren then Supt. of San Francisco Parks to be used as a memorial for her husband Sigmund who had been a great civic leader and she gave it to the City of San Francisco in 1931. She stipulated that it was to be used solely for recreation including “music, dramatics and pageantry” and under the jurisdiction and control of the Playground Commission of San Francisco of which she was president.

Many in the group said that they hadn’t been to the Grove recently or even at all after many years living in the area. It was a day of discovery for some and for others who’ve gone to the grove for the summer concerts, a chance to see it in a December mood. During the 19th Century the areas of Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach and Stern Grove were called “Outside Lands” because “the area was covered with sand dunes and was considered inaccessible and uninhabitable.”

Because Michael was slowed down with a flat tire, Harriet led our walk down the hill into a very different world on a roadway with WPA origins lined with stately eucalyptus trees and the occasional Redwood. Harriet loves red!

Our first stop was near the Trocadero – the area was once called the Trocadero Ranch. It’s a grand Victorian cottage from the turn of the 19th Century built by George Green, Jr. in 1892. The Trocadero was a famous Victorian-style road house in what was originally this remote part of San Francisco. It became a a destination for socializing, dancing, gambling at roulette tables and in a doff of the hat to the sportsmen, fishing. At the Trocadero we looked about for a for a view of the Eiffel Tower but for that had to rely on our memories. Whether we’re hearing echoes of the swirling music of the Can Can or the Ragtime music of Scott Joplin, the word “Trocadero” transports us to another time.
But along with those echoing memories we were enjoying the calm and quiet of the Grove. Harriet filled us in on some of the history of this destination.,_San_Francisco

All the world’s a stage 1-7 with variations in the cast: Great introduction to the Festival From Rick Prelinger’s Internet Archive, yes it’s without music but also a chance to see the sunlight of 1948 at the Grove. I kept turning up the sound which isn’t there. Quite sprightly and fun once you get into it. The Archive is well worth exploring and has plenty of sound as well in other visuals. And I became quite restless for the music after a few minutes. What about a world without sound? Even the “silent” movies had that musical backdrop. Then there’s color as well not only in films but in our everyday lives. Sound and color, are we lucky or what. Remembering the Mazurka of Coppelia by Leo Delibes done by the Bolshoi Ballet in another venue – music at last! – Covers the high points well and you have to love them for the title “From a Cow Pasture to Cantatas” The Romantic Story of San Francisco’s Sigmund Stern Grove.

Our audience seems to have gone home, oh well, we were just rehearsing! Off to Pine Lake Park which I hadn’t discovered previously even after going to Stern Grove for a number of years.

Moon noticed this remarkable eucalyptus log which seems to contain the waves of the sea.

Construction as we walked toward Pine Lake: a workman locating a large water pipe – improving the infrastructure below.

Coyotes were mentioned in 1847 records and now they’re back. Some think they returned to San Francisco by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

We came by a great meadow filled with dogs . . . and their owners. This area is a place where the dogs can run freely unlike some of the other Federal areas that are now minimizing off-leash prospects. There is a remarkable dog owning community here with a long history.

There was a special bulletin board for the dog owners with some memorials as well as some practical suggestions for taking care of your dog.

Eucalyptus reflections in Pine Lake which was also known as Laguna Puerca or Pig Lake in the 19th Century. It is one of three fresh water lakes in San Francisco along with Mountain Lake in the Presidio and Lake Merced. Some special history in this one after the bus directions: “Established:1931” includes how “A homesteader, a widow, a tenor and a park superintendent became the unlikely mix that produced Stern Grove and Pine Lake Park.”

Michael asks us about this one called poly got, smart weed or Polygonum amphibium (alternately Persicaria amphibia). In the knotweed family it takes a variety of forms so having more than one name may relate to various types or just be synonymous. It is native to North America. “Plants that occur in wetland habitats typically specialize in either growing on waterlogged but not flooded muddy soils , or in the water itself (either submerged or floating on the surface). Relatively few plants are able to grow under both conditions.” Water Smartweed is one of these as the Polygonum amphibium name implies.

Jeanne Alexander writing for the Neighborhood Parks Council in San Francisco mentions another invader, the Pine Lake was “covered with a smothering blanket of aquatic primrose in 1997 which was removed with an aquatic harvester . . . but the plant has come back in full force and again needs mass removal.”
A Ludwigia water primrose has been a huge challenge in the freshwater wetland of Santa Rosa (CA.) Laguna.

When I first came to Sonoma, California in 1962, I was introduced to the then huge Eucalyptus trees leading up to the Buena Vista Winery and was amazed coming from the east coast that this tree kept its leaves but shed its bark. The frequent shedding may prevent fungi, parasites and epiphytes (mosses and lichens) from persisting on their trunk and stems. It also reduces the risk of sheltering insects that could damage the trees.

The Blue Gum Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globus) trees of Stern Grove have great majesty and define the area of the dell with their striking size and presentation. But there has been a long running discussion in California about invasive vs. native because of this imported exotic. George M. Green settled the area and stabilized the sand dunes by “planting thousands of cypress, pine and eucalyptus trees” in 1871. (The trees had been introduced to California by Australians at the time of the Gold Rush in 1849-1850.) He also “further developed their land by planting “Holland Grass” on the sand dunes to prevent them shifting with the wind.” The venerable John McLaren planted them in Golden Gate Park (along with beach grass) and by 1879 there were more than 155,000 trees there, mostly Eucalyptus globulus, Monterey pine and Monterey cypress according to one source.
They were planted for fast growing windbreaks in treeless areas, what oak growth might take 200 years the eucalyptus could achieve in 20. Initially, they were thought to be useful for lumber but the young trees though large had irregular grains and bent and shrank when dried. It was discovered that good eucalyptus timber required decades or centuries of growth and the young wood wouldn’t even make good fence posts or railroad ties.
As the role of beach grass and eucalyptus in California’s landscape is discussed, it is good to remember that the pioneers were faced with galloping sand dunes in these “Outside Lands” of what would become Stern Grove and Golden Gate Park (along withthe adjoining districts). In 1853 a map designated this area as the “Great Sand Bank” for the sparsely settled and treeless landscape, some have said it was “Sand Francisco”. Area just south of San Francisco and further down the coast in Santa Barbara

Michael pointed out the beauty of this eucalyptus stump. (algal or fungal etching?)

Courtesy along the trail. The dog owners also showed courtesy by what they didn’t leave as well.

The return trail – the outgoing trail was just like the incoming trail, curious symmetry.

Harriet tells us about the new tiers (that’s tiers) for concert goers. It was always a “tradition” to have to dig in your heels on the hill in order not to end up in someone else’s picnic. There are also some poles laid sideways further up that ought to help too but these stone walls are really functional and beautiful.

Paul and Larry point out some amenities of today’s Trocadero

Thinking Iditarod thoughts

Harriet gives us instructions about getting to her place.

In her kitchen she describes the lay of the land with deserts lurking in the background

Harriet’s family also gave us a warm welcome – Mitchell, Janet and Harriet.

My fork was on the way so I just happened to finish my Peet’s.

All around me were vegetables, Harriet’s colorful kitchen theme at last gives them front & center rather than as an afterthought or an also ran.

We traded in our usual rocks for this delicious indoor picnic.

Barb and Inge are finishing a bowl of Scott’s homemade ice cream this time flavored for the holiday with candy canes. They’re good neighbors and serious ice cream aficionados.

Quiet conversations and view of the incoming fog from Mt. Tamalpais?

Fond Farewells

Footloose Forays Farewell – 2016 (with a few unable to make it, sigh) Wishing you a most remarkable holiday and a sweet Solstice on December 21st @ 2:44 AM (in San Francisco) but don’t set your alarm in alarm – the days will be getting longer. Looking forward to the Spring Hiking Series in March 2017.

Many thanks to Harriet for making this great shot available, here we’re rehearsing our footloose.

Michael writes in his new Footloose Forays brochure for 2017-2018, “I started this Footloose series in 1984 and some folks have been hiking with me since nearly the beginning! Monday morning hikes are a great way to start the week. We identify the abundant flora and diverse fauna in our backyard and learn about the geologic and human history of the Bay Area. Our endlessly fascinating and entertaining fellow hikers are yet another bonus!”

My previous hike-logs can be found at They are a small record of this wonderful group and its remarkable leaders just since 2011 and perhaps a bit earlier. My WordPress site continues the process of construction like the worker exposing the pipes in Stern Grove. Friends in the group and beyond are helping with this step back into our history together and forward into the future. I’ve always thought about Footloose Forays as something rare and special, definitely to be shared, savored and remembered. Lew

From that bulletin board in Stern Grove and, of course from the magical and whimsical writing of Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Rush Ranch with Michael – 5 December 2016

We continued our edgy San Francisco Bay adventure last Monday at Rush Ranch near Suisun City in Solano County. Unlike our hikes at the former Hamilton Air Base in Novato and the Baylands hike near the Petaluma River, the area around Rush Ranch appears to have no history of “ditching and diking”. It is considered one of the best examples of brackish tidal marsh in the United States. This makes it a perfect location to study the original interface between the Bay and its surrounding wetlands. Rush Ranch along with China Camp State park are both part of the San Francisco National Estuarine Research Reserve. Being able to look back at these historic interfaces of land and water can provide invaluable information for future decisions in Bay reclamation and the management this unique ecotone. My favorite article about Rush Ranch Reserve comes from the remarkable BAY NATURE magazine which always provides great writing with verve & vitality and, of course, of a piece is Michael’s “Ask the Naturalist” column.


We reconnoiter by some huge, blooming eucalyptus trees that marked the ranch for us as we arrived. Rush Ranch is a busy place for nature education, has visits from various organizations & schools and is a destination for special events.

We were delighted by some “Dalmatian” horses in the corral and learned that they are a special breed developed by Michael Muir, the great-grandson of our naturalist icon, John Muir.

Observing a visiting raptor

We see that solar energy can also pack a punch, get some cautionary equine information and here’s the very gate through which we began our hike on the Marsh Trail.

Michael answers a bird identification question coming out of the gate. and talks about the English words coming to us from the Quechua language of the Andes. And finally a discussion of another huge bird that flew over – Paul finally sets us straight on the right id – a C 17 Globemaster. Mari and some of the rest of us with our backpacks look a bit like we’ve just parachuted down to arrive on the scene.

a binocular kind of day

Or if you’ve been really good, a view through the scope. Perhaps Semipalmated or Western Sandpipers in a reflective mode but check with Michael, Inge, Karen or Sibley!

Looking out on Suisun Slough

Through the high Jubata grass, Cortaderia jubata, with plumes, the grass that is.

Bristly ox-tongue, Picris echioides, in the aster family like the similar bloom of the Cat’s-ear. ‎ – Fine job by the Marin Audubon Society!

Poison Hemlock beginnings, Conium maculatum: The guide above has this description. “Noxious robust annual weed of levees, disturbed soils with late-spring moisture; often in extensive stands. Purple-blotched stems, fetid scented dissected fern-like foliage. Highly toxic if ingested; toxins may be absorbed through skin.” Michael recalled the classical use of Poison Hemlock in the death of Socrates. – Michael hears a clapper rail and tries to start a conversation with some responses but the larger sound came from another kind of rail – Amtrak!’s_rail

Heading up a hillock for lunch with a view

A picnic by the Slough (part of the slough food movement), Sheri shows off her true colors, Larry does a reprise, we actually have seating with the view and . . . there’s that quartet again.

You might recall that the New York Central Railroad prided itself with a “water level route” following the Hudson River north, the Mohawk River west and bordering the Great Lakes to Chicago. Here we head down the hillock back to our own water level route. Not quite the glories of steam in this video but you get to see that “water level” and hear some haunting whistles.

Some birds along our path starting with the distinctive Kildeer , Great Egret,
Say’s Phoebe and Great Blue Heron and the bird Michael mentioned earlier, Snowy Egret

Brewer’s Blackbirds adding some life to a walnut tree gone quiet at the end of its season.

Peaceable Kingdom: Two Stonewall Sporthorses have a recline in the pasture with a Brewer’s Blackbird doing a flyby and a trio of California Ground Squirrels making a busy backdrop.
Any relationship to unicorns is purely coincidental.

Framed by Eucalyptus trees and the supple hills of Solano County a KV-10A fades into the distance en route to Travis Air Force Base.

The Bay Trail at Sear’s Point with Michael – 21 November 2016

It all began not as a dark and stormy night but a bright and foggy morning as we found our way to the edge of San Pablo Bay in southern Sonoma County. Perhaps the freshest trail that we’ve hiked, it was dedicated in October of 2015 after extensive restoration by the Sonoma Land Trust. Opened to the public in 2016, it was exciting to see the new project’s beginnings next to a smaller, earlier one completed in 1996. We could observe them side by side both the fresh beginnings and the remarkable progress in these tidal wetlands after just 20 years back-to-nature. – How a diametrically opposite “solution” became popular in 1949 along with its fortunate eventual demise.

This 1990s project restored 289 acres and involved a variety of supporting organizations. “Congress blessed it with money and Vice President Al Gore came out for its dedication.” Looking ahead and projecting what the Bay will be like 100 years from now.

The day’s foggy beginnings were mysterious, softening edges and images – an opportunity to let your imagination romp and roam. Then all of a sudden color is all around us.
As we were looking at the fog dissipating with an entire field of whipping and whispering tendrils, Karen was recalling a poem by the Spanish poet which matched the scene beautifully. Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, (1836-1870) is considered the most read Spanish writer after Cervantes.écquer

“Los suspires son are y van al are” “Sighs are air and go to the air”

Los suspiros son aire y van al aire! Sighs are air and go to the air!
Las lågrimas son aqua y van al mar! Tears are water and go to the sea!
Dime, mujer, cuando el amor se olvida Tell me, woman, when love’s forgotten
¿Sabes tu adonde va? Do you know whither it goes?

Note the “no drones” clause.

Looking across the rich farmland toward Cougar Mountain to an area otherwise known as Sears Point or on its other side something completely different, Infineon Raceway.

Observing the earlier 1990s project we can see the richness and colors of the restored tidal marsh. Start with the video BRINGING BACK THE BAY. The PDFs are quite exhaustive and scholarly. I especially liked the “Kids’Species Accounts” providing some very accessible and interesting information about the California Clapper Rail, Salt Harvest Mouse and Soft Bird’s-Beak. Fun FLICKER photos with ids as well

The hillocks in the marsh are an important part of the restoration design and the water birds have discovered them with pleasure. One particular joy was seeing a Forster’s Tern hovering over the water looking for food. I had flashed on a white tailed kite id since that hovering quality was definitive for me. But others hover too (in addition to drones)!

We were talking about glorious mud previously but today we got to enjoy it in spades as we hiked out to the dike opening. We all gained at least 2 inches in height and our shoes when they weren’t being sucked down in the ooze were getting strangely heavy. Mudflats took on a whole new meaning.

Mud Season on the East Coast requires special considerations, maybe the first is staying by the fireplace.

Near the dike opening with fog receding across the bay.
Michael gave us a spirited review of tidal action so basic to these salt marshes.

Michael said this was wild mustard – it wasn’t quite up to “Wordsworth in the Tropics” but still a bit jungley and adding to the mud we were beginning to feel just a little that nature isn’t always warm and fuzzy.

Observed along the way were amaranth in bright red, raccoon tracks in the mud, pickle weed and in the last, looking for some dry areas along the way but it was hard to outfox the mud., Michael explores and dances with some fauna.

Picnic lunch is the next stop as we absorb the view without the fogginess and with a spring in our step.

Lunch on the quiet side

Lunch with conversation, were we in writing class we might write a short account of what is going on here.

After lunch we took a short stroll down the path atop the new much more graduated rise from water level which facilitates survival for marsh creatures when faced with rising water and storm surges. Perhaps sometime we can return and walk all the way down to Sears Point.

The view from our path looking toward Cougar Mountain now much more clearly defined in the noontime sunshine. Fortunately, Route 37 is just far enough away to minimize any sounds of traffic.

The Bay returns

Post Script:

We enjoyed a small segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail on this hike. The SFBT is a bold plan to ring the entire San Francisco Bay with an enormous, accessible trail for hiking and
bicycling. From the Wikipedia article account: “As of 2016, 350 miles (560 km) of trail have been completed. When finished, the Bay Trail will extend over 500 miles (805 km) to link the shoreline of nine counties, passing through 47 cities and crossing seven toll bridges. It is a project of the Association of Bay area Governments (ABAG).” In 1986, State Senator Bill Lockyer of Hayward came up with this idea to develop a pedestrian and bicycle path around the entire San Francisco Bay with shoreline access. Cf. history in the Wiki article

On an earlier hike we enjoyed another Bay Trail section at the old Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato where there is a similarly breached dike allowing the return of the Bay waters to their former foot print. Here’s a delightful account from the great BAY NATURE magazine by Ariel Rubissow Okamoto discovering this trail.

Spring Lake & Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa with Michael – 10/31/16

And what to our wondering eyes did appear but Michael with his sling at our trailhead last Monday morning. It was a happy rendezvous after the successful surgery for his shoulder injury.

We are about to follow a trail adjacent to Annadel State Park which my computer is intent on calling Annabel State Park. You can see from this map where we started at Parktrail Drive and where we are going We edged Annadel heading toward Spring Lake where we had lunch and the came around Lake Raphine in Howarth Park returning on our inbound trail. Annadel is a remarkably loved and frequented park in heart of Santa Rosa – or any other vital organ that might better describe its location. We’ve happily hiked here on a variety of trails in the past on Footloose Forays with Michael.

While he was introducing the hike, a flock of migrating Snow Geese flew very, very high overhead adding some primal excitement to the day.
Amid California Drought, Migrating Birds Enjoy Pop-Up Cuisine : NPR Food for the geese along their way in California’s Central Valley.

1. At the beginning of the trail we stopped a moment to observe the rocks where Michael returning from his regular run took the spill that resulted in his shoulder
injury. 2. Larry and I discover that we have the same haberdasher, L.L. Bean, from whence our smile – and not . . . Michael’s fall!

We stop above a spillway and Michael share’s some of the history of the adjoining Annadel State Park. “In 1871 Irish immigrant Samuel Hutchinson purchased nearly 3000 acres of the former Rancho Los Guilicos land grant.” His house was called “Annie’s Dell” or “Annie’s Dale” in honor of his oldest daughter. “Henry Bolle, owner of neighboring lands, established a winery in 1880 and named it Annadel. When the Santa Rosa and Carquinez Railway began rail service through Sonoma Valley to Santa Rosa in 1888, they adopted the name Annadel for the train station near the Hutchinson home.” P. 191

The area was sold in the 1930s to a “flamboyant entrepreneur” named Joe Coney who bought the property from Annie and proceeded to have lavish hunting parties and invited local scouting groups to camp there under the oaks. “In 1953 he dammed Spring Creek to create Lake Ilsanjo, which he named after his wife and himself: Ilsa and Joe. Coney’s far-flung empire included steamship companies, gold mines and vast tracts in the Andes, but when his finances lagged in the 1960’s, Coney put the ranch up for sale. Annabel nearly became a vast subdivision, but State Parks – – with matching funds from local financiers – – was able to scape together the money to acquire most of Coney’s estate in 1969.” Primary in that financing for the purchase of Annadel lands was the remarkable, farsighted and generous Henry Trione.

Michael also mentioned that Lake Ralphine formed after an earthen dam was constructed in 1882 was built by Colonel Mark Lindsay McDonald was named after his wife. We’ve visited the substantial “summer house” he build for his family on historic McDonald Avenue in Santa Rosa. Here’s are some splendid links about him, his family, his mansion and his pivotal career in Santa Rosa. Col. McDonald was a trained engineer who was instrumental in many Santa Rosa improvements including the Santa Rosa Water Works Company, an early private utility as well as fruit packing yards, Santa Rosa’s first library and the first steam railroad in the area. an artful and fascinating account of the McDonald mansion and its occupants.

Michael continues the description a la Vimeo:

One of Michael’s friends and former neighbors on McDonald Avenue, Marielouise brought along her terrific, mellow poodle (?) thanks for your help, we keep up the pace on the fire road on a bit of a hill, passing along the edge of Annabel Park we see sign for one of its many trails – Rough Go, keeping up the pace and the conversation.

Michael tells us about “Hollywood” frogs and how they found their way to “Africa”: Extensive link on Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pacific Tree Frogs)

A bridge along our way dedicated in 1977 and a part of the Lions International mission to support the vision impaired.

Numerous dogs greeted us on these trails and their owners joined in the conversation. Michael describes the area in more detail.

A kayaker slides by on Lake Ralphine and Michael spots some swans across the way. Some details and swan songs too

He tells us how his son Hunter, our leader last week, got his name.

We were treated to quite a variety of passing pets as well as a greeting from a small size trail blazer.

Picnic under a Live Oak by Spring Lake while we enjoy spotting water birds and find the ground squirrels in quite abundance. The conversation went to movies and Michael said he really enjoyed “Elvis and Nixon” which he’d seen on the plane returning from one of his trips. Judy mentioned and recommended “Eight Days a Week -The Touring Years” (about the Beatles) as well.

After lunch some mallard ducks passed by along with these Canada Geese, Michael talked about the mallard’s aggressive mating behavior. Here’s a thorough explanation that I found helpful:

A sentinel ground squirrel makes sure that we continue on our way or was it just a fond farewell?

And in a lovely bit of serendipity, Michael finds his friend’s DMV license which she lost today on an earlier return. It was just lying in the grass by the path as we finished the hike. The universe was getting things back in balance.