Lyrical Day at Land’s End with Michael – 10/15/18

If the weather was any indicator, Monday was a day for calm seas and a prosperous voyage with just a garnish of sea breeze. The Cliff House area of San Francisco offers stellar views all the way to the horizon and maybe beyond. We met at the Visitor Center for the Golden Gate Recreational Area which greeted us with a stunning aerial photo of the area and a memorable quotation from the Ohlone Indians who lived here for thousands of years.
“I am dancing, dancing on the edge of the world”, Rumsen Ohlone Song. with comments by the remarkable Malcom Margolin

We were able to see all the way north to the Point Reyes peninsula, perhaps 35 miles, where we hiked last week. Gathering at the visitor center, Land’s End Lookout, we began with a walk around the historic Sutro Baths, Cliff House area before heading out to the Land’s End Trails. There is an overview of the Sutro Baths area ruins which look like an enormous swimming pool. But in its prime from 1894 a San Francisco mayor said it was the largest indoor swimming facility in the world. It had fallen from grace by the time our family had moved to San Francisco in 1962 but we did enjoy one trip there after it had been turned into an ice skating rink. The memory is of an enormous glass covered building filled with hundreds of lockers used by swimmers of earlier years. It was being demolished in 1966 when it burnt to the ground.
Enjoy the stuff of our history while we can.

And now a VIMEO VIDEO of our whole hike with sounds of the “Age of Aquarius” and “Let the Sunshine In” by “The Fifth Dimension”.

Many thanks to Michael and to Nancie for some additional photos.

Plenty of parking and buildings that don’t obstruct what’s its all about, the view. The visitor center is in the foreground.

A variety of exhibits frame the views.

Some high school classes visiting the park head up “how many” steps as they explore the area. The Monterey Cypresses add a dramatic, windblown quality to the scene. And just a suggestion of Marin’s Mt. Tamalpais in that diagonal on the far left. I know, that last is like having to identify something on “I am not a robot.”

Michael gifts some Coyote brush seeds to the area. You may recall all this but here’s a short review. The female coyote brush is the “snowy” covered bush while the male is the adjacent greener appearing bush to the left. “Coyote brush is dioecious meaning that it produces male and female flowers on different plants. Blooming between August and December, the while fluffy female flowers and the yellowish male flowers grow on separate shrubs. The male flowers are stubbier, short, flattish with a creamy white color. … smelling like shaving soap.
The female flowers are long, whitish green and glistening. … Seeds are small black nuts and hang off a fluffy tuft of hair called a pappus. From October to January the pappus catches the wind and blows away, like dandelions, helping Coyote brush spread its seeds.”
I don’t recall ever seeing such “snow drifts” of Coyote brushes blooming along our trails obviously delighted with their location. Recently, when they build the visitor center they also paid great attention to putting in native plants.

Solitary sail boat with Pt. Reyes Peninsula in the sunlight perhaps 35 miles away on the horizon.

Another very happy plant along the trail was the Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) which Michael was talking about, “Arguably the all-star of edible flowers, with a somewhat spicy, peppery tang similar to watercress. Flower colors range from a moonlit yellow to bright yellow, orange, scarlet and red”. Brought back to Spain from Peru by the conquistadors in the 1500s they have a rich history.
Michael loves words – their meanings and origins. He spoke here that nasturtium combination comes from the Latin for “nas” for nose and “tortum” for twist from a person’s reaction tasting the spicy leaves. Wikipedia notes that the name literally means “nose-twister or nose-tweaker”. The leaves were thought to resemble shields and the flowers, helmets. The tropaeolum name was given by Linneaus in 1753 from a Latin word meaning trophy. The wiki entry gives more detail about it being a trophy pole on which the Romans put the vanquished foe’s armour and weapons (we hope not with the vanquished foe inside). After sharing this information, Michael ate his visual aid.

Lots of stairs on the way down, maybe more stairs in this area than any of the other parts of the GGNRA, that’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Lots of rocky shoals and lots of ship wrecks along the Golden Gate.

Mile Rock Light House was completed in 1905 to warn mariners about these brutally rocky shallows near the San Francisco coast at Land’s End.

We arrive at The Labyrinth overlooking the channel to the San Francisco Bay and passage beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Labyrinths and Mazes have flown together for many years (into the centuries) but they are being discovered again for their distinct differences. The maze has more than one entry and exit point and “involves a network of paths, passages, dead ends and even traps through which one has to find a way. The maze is defined as MULTICURSAL or as having more than one route between the center and the outside. The Labyrinth on the other hand is referred to as UNICURSAL meaning there is only one path from which one enters and exits. It may make twists and turns or follow a circular pattern but finally exits back through the same entry point.

Michael then went beyond the physical trail that leads to the center of the labyrinth and back, a symbol of the path our lives take from birth to death. In a TEDx talk by Kristen Keyes on 11/21/17 in CoeurdAlene she echoed the idea that walking the labyrinth is to quiet the mind, guide healing, deepen self knowledge and is a metaphor of our life’s journey. In another helpful blog, titaworks below, the writer adds that a labyrinth is a form of moving meditation whereas a maze is meant to be disorienting, an analytical puzzle to be solved. This gives an excellent introduction and also provides access to some helpful youtube videos among other things.

Here we all walk the walk in our labyrinth overlooking San Francisco Bay. VIMEO VIDEO:

Thanks to Michael for this great shot of Roz and Anne’s successful arrival at the center of things.

Michael also captured the group on this gloriously clear day in which it seemed we could see forever.

After all of these ruminations, it was definitely time for lunch and watching the waves.

Mile Rock Lighthouse in the center and another light house all the way across to the other side a little to the left, Point Bonita Lighthouse.

An artist with his easel on our way back to the visitor’s center.

The stellar view continues all the way back.

Michael found the CAMERA OBSCURA on our return. It had been closed when we passed earlier in the day. Some of the group joined him there and he shared this remarkable photo with all of us. It has been at the Cliff House since its construction in 1946.

McClure’s Beach and Tule Elk with Michael – 1st October 2018

We were greeted along our path down to McClure’s beach by a Banded Woolly Bear Cat (erpillar) munching on some plantain leaves. We’ve seen these furry cats a number of times along our trails and they never disappoint. At the end of the description in this link there’s a Fun Fact: “Farmers used to think the amount of orange on the caterpillar predicted the length of the coming winter. Legend has it that a wide band indicated a mild winter, whereas a narrow band predicted a harsh one.”

Here’s a short vimeo video of our hike on October 1st.

The music is from Claude Debussy’s “Children’s Corner Suite, Golliwog’s Cakewalk” played by the pianist Francois-Joel Thiollier. It was first published and performed in 1908. The suite for solo piano “is dedicated to his daughter, Claude-Emma (known as “Chou-Chou”), who was three years old at the time”. – from the YouTube description

David McClure’s mother was Margaret who donated McClure’s Beach to Marin County in 1946 in exchange for the county maintaining the road to their ranch on Pierce Point. David and his brother John operated the Pierce Point Ranch with Jim becoming a partner. The beach became a part of Pt. Reyes National Seashore in 1962. Jim McClure purchased “I Ranch” just down the road in 1939 and Ron partnered with him in this venture. Ron’s son Bob now runs the ranch and became a Clover Dairy producer in 1999 operating it as an organic farm today.
The McClure history on the Pt. Reyes peninsula is substantial starting with the arrival of James McClure, a carpenter who came over from Ireland in 1889. Anyone wanting to sort out the McClure’s genealogy would find a challenge as they went back to the “old sod” since the name has a variety of spellin i.e. McClure, McCluer, McClewer, Maclure, McLewer, McLure and McLuir.

The Pierce Point Ranch in the hills above McClure’s Beach.

Michael talked about our bipedal lives, “How come we stood up on two feet?”

Peanut Butter and Jellyfish –

Some of us climbed the hill at the end of the beach to check out the ocean view. Underlaying the Laird Sandstone is Salinian granite. Often you just get a snatch of this foundational material peeking out at the base of the sandstone cliffs at Pt. Reyes but at McClure’s and Kehoe Beaches the granitic broadcasting is loud and clear. We had the feeling that this was the very edge of the material that has been grinding between the two plates. For eons as the Pacific Plate passed the North American Plate going north, they have pounded and pulverized each other – rough stuff.

The venerable Jules Evans walked this area on his quest to hike and write about every trail at Point Reyes National Seashore in 2013.

We stopped by a Gumplant as we came back up the hill. Also called Gumweed perhaps the Gumplant title is less disparaging – a weed being anything that is planted in the wrong place. Reny Parker writes of the Gumplant (Grindelia stricta) of the Sunflower Family: ” . . this native is found on windswept coastal bluffs, dunes and scrub.
The immature ‘bud’ found atop the stem is covered in a distinct white gummy liquid that discourages the bud from being eaten. . . The gummy substance was used as
a topical skin lotion for poison oak by California Indians.” (Wildflowers of Californias North Coast Range, 2015)

The picnic at the Pierce Point Ranch had a kind of Thanksgiving quality.
After lunch, Michael talked about galls referring to a book he’d been given by the author, Ron Russo.

Michael giving us some history about the Tule Elk of Pt. Reyes with occasional bugling in the background: Bugling at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

Bugling here at Pt. Reyes Pierce Ranch – Tomales Point Tule Elk Preserve From 2009
Dr. Natalie Gates who is interviewed in this video was selected as the new superintendent of Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui in 2013. Haleakala National Park is one of the oldest in the National Park System, established as part of Hawaii National Park in 1916.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden with Michael – 17 September 2018

Our second Footloose hike this fall was at the UC Botanical Garden in the Strawberry Canyon area of Berkeley. Here we’re doing a second circle-gather because a fair number of new hikers came on board that week. This time for a change of pace Michael had us guess where each one of us lives now and where we lived, what we were doing when we were sweet or just maybe not so sweet 16.

It’s a round the world tour without any jet lag looking at plants from almost every continent with an emphasis on the mediterranean climates – California, Mediterranean Basin, Australia, South Africa, and Chile.

Additions, corrections and life lines are always welcome! Janice Thomas writes lyrically for BAHA Berkeley Landmarks about this part of Berkeley using ear photos and quotations from early writers about this “mountain gorge” as described by Frederick Law Olmstead.

Could it be our “footloose” name that has a number of us experiencing the “slings and arrows” of some broken toes? Michael broke his metatarsal and has needed to enjoy flip-flops on the first two hikes, Jeannie who broke her little toe a number of weeks ago has only recently has been able to get back into her hiking boots and Marjory writes that she broke her big toe and fifth metatarsal last April – “Ouch”! Recalling Pub names we might start meeting at the “Sign of the Broken Toe”.

Strange bedfellows and odd juxtapositions:
Looking over Strawberry hill from the entry of UC Botanical Garden we see that it is sharing the area with Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In between is the beautiful Stephen T. Mather Redwood Grove with trees that were planted in the 1930s. Interesting placement, a wall of Redwoods envisioned? An amazing site detailing plaques and e-plaques from David Brower to Richard Pryor. Don’t miss Hillary and Bill.
The national lab was established in 1931 and just prior to this the garden had been relocated from the UC Campus between 1925 and 1928 to the Such Farm location in the hills above campus. Director Thomas Harper Goodspeed and landscape architect John William Gregg directed this plant migration to the Strawberry Canyon site. . Shows an impressive timeline of the garden with brief descriptions and old photos by years and periods.

While the garden was developing and taking shape, Earnest Lawrence was nearby building his first model for an “atom smasher”, a cyclotron with Stanley Livingston. “Lawrence would receive the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the cyclotron. Describes both the beginnings, the development of the bombs and the transition to peaceful uses
of atomic energy in Berkeley as well as its many other areas of scientific research. Nuclear weapons development was transferred to Lawrence Livermore National Lab starting in 1952 with independent administration there in 1971.

From the info by these plants: Pitcher plants of the genus Sarracenia are native to boggy areas of the southeastern United States, with one species extending north to Canada. Insects are attracted to nectar-like secretions on the lip of the pitchers. Slippery, waxy compounds inside the pitchers coupled with downward-pointing hairs make it difficult for the insects to escape. The tubular, pitcher-shaped leaves are filled with fluid containing digestive enzymes. In spring, they produce large red or yellow flowers to attract insects for pollination (instead of dinner).

A Bouquet of Smiles

Walking through and lingering at the New World Desert. James West’s (aka Prince Egon von Ratibor) rock garden and cacti collection formed the basis of this remarkable garden. He was a pivotal player along with Goodspeed in establishing the garden on the hill. He had an equally remarkable and colorful history. He’s described as a close friend of Imogen Cunningham and an eccentric “who preferred to inhabit a tent in the garden of his (Berkeley) boarding house rather than a lodging room.”

From our visit on 16 December 2013, a close-up of an Argentine Saguaro, Echinopis terscheckil. It’s native to Catamarca Province in northwest Argentina and to the western slopes of the Andes in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Heidi takes in a Cycad. Michael mentioned that these plants preceded the dinosaurs. This video from the Jurassic Garden website shows a remarkable variety of South African Cycad Encephalartos
(Encephalartae?) set to beautiful native African singing. Michael talking about how plants have hedged their bets for reproduction.

From our 2013 visit: SEA-URCHIN CACTUS, Echinopsis chiloensis, Quillota Prov., Chile It was the 75th acquisition in 1998.

A new acquisition in its bed still to be logged in.

The excitement caused by the blooming of the QUEEN OF THE ANDES (Puya Raimondii) was perhaps inspiration for our visit to the Garden (UCBG). This rare and amazing plant, the world’s largest bromeliad, planted from seed in 1990 is now blooming after only 28 years! In its austere native environment at 13,000 feet in the Andes mountains of Bolivia and Peru it usually takes almost a century to bloom. This link shows the sequence of rapid growth this past year and has a short video explanation narrated by the current director of UCBG, Eric Siegel.

Looking for all the world as Michael pointed out like a tree from Dr. Seuss “The stalk can be up to 10 m. (30 ft.) tall, have thousands of flowers and set 8-12 million seeds. The Garden distributed seeds of this species in 1988 from (another) plant that bloomed here in 1986. The flowering stalk will last a couple of years, but the plant will die (after that) – it’s monocarpic, which means it flowers and sets seeds once before dying.”

Aeonium valverdense (Crassulaceae) from the Canary Islands of Spain. The plant was acquired in 2009 and was the 282nd acquisition that year and looking even more Seussian.

Having a picnic in the Canary Islands

We held our breath as Anne snapped a photo in the midst of these giant leaves of the Gunnera tinctoria (“Marching to Tinctoria”) but the plant was well mannered and hospitable. The sign said that it came from the Llanquihue Province of Chile. There are a number of these along a lovely walk in the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

On our way out of the Garden we stopped to see the beautiful Dawn Redwood tree (Metasequoia glyphstroboides) acquired in 1948 on an expedition to China by Ralph Woods Chaney. Dr. Chaney has a remarkable history and was a good friend of E. O. Lawrence. “… due to that acquaintance Cheney was appointed Assistant Director of the Radiation Laboratory in 1944.” This was written from a series of interviews with Chaney in 1958 that is a brief biography (but a long article) of this fascinating man. William A. McNamara is director of Quarry Hill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, Ca. It’s on Highway 12 next to the Bouverie Preserve where we have gone a number of times and a remarkable visit.

Without its leaves on 16 December 2013

Footloose hikers on 16 December 2013. Nearest to Michael in red is Nancy. We had a most cool potluck at her home in the Berkeley hills after our 2013 hike at UCBG.

Limantour Revisted – 10/9/18

Here’s a short video of our hike last Monday and just in time! I found some music that worked well with the gorgeous scenery – Respigi’s Ancient Airs and Dances.
I’m getting back on my horse (not a high one!) as far as putting the video together. Always a lot to learn and a lot to forget. Anyway, toe in the water and sorry the birds were a bit of a blur. Just imagine you are having an eye appointment and they haven’t found the right focus as yet. I seem to have lingered on our lunch spot, it was spectacular.
All right, here it is.

Hugs, Lew (Z)

Return to Limantour Beach – 9:10:18

Bon Trails

Dear Lew,

Thank you for sharing the photos with us Lew, but you WILL be with us tomorrow, in our hearts!We will miss you and know you will join us again just as soon as you can.
All the Best and take it easy,

On Sun, Mar 4, 2018 at 6:16 PM, Lew Z <l.zuelow> wrote:

Hi Everyone, As you know, we “enjoy” sharing what’s gone on in our lives at the start of the hiking seasons circling our wagons. Since I won’t be able to share this moment with you tomorrow, I thought you might enjoy some previous circles – like a “wheel in a wheel way up in the middle of the air”. You might try the pics on your desktops for a big picture. Hugs, Lew Zuelow (alias Lew or Z or LewZ)

Mt. Wittenberg, March 7, 2011

Mt. Tam, Rock Springs, March 5, 2012

Roy’s Redwoods, March 6, 2017 (Note the much debated golf course in the photo, I don’t recall anything that has been discussed this much in the Marin Independent Journal.)

See you a bit later, “happy trails”. Z

Thanks to Chris Jones for the photo

Bon Trails

Great photos, Lew! We’ll miss you.

On Mar 4, 2018, at 6:16 PM, Lew Z <l.zuelow> wrote:

Hi Everyone, As you know, we “enjoy” sharing what’s gone on in our lives at the start of the hiking seasons circling our wagons. Since I won’t be able to share this moment with you tomorrow, I thought you might enjoy some previous circles – like a “wheel in a wheel way up in the middle of the air”. You might try the pics on your desktops for a big picture. Hugs, Lew Zuelow (alias Lew or Z or LewZ)

Mt. Wittenberg, March 7, 2011


Mt. Tam, Rock Springs, March 5, 2012


Roy’s Redwoods, March 6, 2017 (Note the much debated golf course in the photo, I don’t recall anything that has been discussed this much in the Marin Independent Journal.)


See you a bit later, “happy trails”. Z


Thanks to Chris Jones for the photo

Bon Trails

Hi Everyone, As you know, we “enjoy” sharing what’s gone on in our lives at the start of the hiking seasons circling our wagons. Since I won’t be able to share this moment with you tomorrow, I thought you might enjoy some previous circles – like a “wheel in a wheel way up in the middle of the air”. You might try the pics on your desktops for a big picture. Hugs, Lew Zuelow (alias Lew or Z or LewZ)

Mt. Wittenberg, March 7, 2011

Mt. Tam, Rock Springs, March 5, 2012

Roy’s Redwoods, March 6, 2017 (Note the much debated golf course in the photo, I don’t recall anything that has been discussed this much in the Marin Independent Journal.)

See you a bit later, “happy trails”. Z

Thanks to Chris Jones for the photo