Thanks much for NYC 1911!!

Hello Everyone, This is a forward to my hike leader and friend Michael Ellis who sent one of his occasional newsletters today which I’m much enjoying. I wrote in response to a couple of links he sent:

and this articulate paragraph:
“…The president is expected to travel to Utah on Monday to announce that he is repealing protections for as many as two million acres of public land in the American West, an area more than six times the size of Grand Teton National Park, including vast portions of two national monuments in the state, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Mr. Trump’s plans add up to the largest elimination of protected areas in American history. He is a vandal in our midst, coming in person to lay waste to the land. This theft of our heritage should awaken us to the damage being piled up across our public lands under this administration…”

But amid all this darkness I’m sending all of you hugs and hurrahs for the sunshine (albeit chilly) of this new day, Love, Lew


Thanks much for NYC 1911!!

Dear Michael,

Love the historic stuff as you know and the footage here with the music was remarkable. Also the link from Curbed LA which I sent to my daughter Kyrie. She works at UCLA and had been assigned to the emergency center there this past week. The Skirball Fire was close to campus but when some Bel Air mansions went up they poured even more support into that area.

Thought all of the special stuff about LA was perfect antidote right now from Curbed LA.

I’m back home from Kaiser Hospital last Friday with my son Darrin driving and Pat riding shotgun – Pat at shotgun somehow doesn’t work! Feeling a bit better but two surgeries to recover from is efficient but seems to take twice as much energy so it’s a slow go. Just finished the first parastomal hernia repair last week which was in emergency mode when a week later had a second emergency with repair of my groin hernia. Hopefully these nemeses are now handled and healing. The emergency part of this gives way to slow and steady improvement. I feel a bit like I’ve been riding around the streets of Paris in one of those Euro ambulances sirening with that up and down pitch echoing out into the world.

Get my staples out next Thursday and a progress report from my cool surgeon, Dr. Novich. Tempting to call him “Dr. No” but he’s been anything but being decisive, timely and very skillful – just the kind of pilot you want in a storm.

Thanks again for the meaty email. I’m told I need lots of protein.

Love to you and to you all from this street corner of life. Better go back to hawking a few newspapers.

Hugs, Lew

P.S. Loved that paragraph on Bears Ears

I’ll also try to forward this email response to the group so sorry for any duplication.

Lynch Canyon with Michael – 6 November 2017

Driving the water level route on Highway 37 often means a traffic jam but at 9 AM on a Monday morning it was “anything but”. There was a surrounding sense of the greater San Francisco Bay heightened by old farming levees coming down in the process of reclaiming the bay.
Returning the tidal baylands to their original buffer role between water and land is preparation for rising sea levels in the not so far future.
Added to this there is the remarkable beauty of this scene as you drive by with shorebirds and migrants just outside your window. This view was
only heightened by a hovering white-tailed kite, the slow circling of a flock of white pelicans riding a thermal high into the sky and a beautiful array
of surrounding clouds highlighted by the sunshine.

I recalled Cunard Line’s 1952 advertising slogan, “Getting there is half the fun”. This was a bold but late attempt to appeal to traveler’s by promoting relaxed travel of ship. The airlines were about to take market share but these last years of going to sea to get somewhere was still a shining moment in travel history filled with many comforts, luxuries and maybe even a ship board romance. First out of the gate British Overseas Airways (BOAC) began its DeHavilland Comet 1 jet service between London and Johannesburg in May of 1952. Determined to maintain their lead in spite of accidents grounding the Comet 1, BOAC “inaugurated its .. weekly transatlantic service on 4 October 1958 with the new Comet 4. Pan Am Clippers were soon to begin their new era of jet travel with the Boeing 707. On 26 October1958, Pan Am inaugurated its first 707 daily transatlantic service from New York to Paris shrinking travel time and offering “Only seven hours to brush up on your French.” This unique and rich website is a trove for all things Berkeley. The particular link has assembled a splendid series of Cunard travel posters about “getting there is half the fun.”

You may recall our last visit to Solano County Parks on our hike at Rush Ranch in December of 2016 or at least recall our star Dalmatian actor, a
Stonewall Sport Horse.

We talked at the time of other Solano County Parks and got our chance to explore a new one on this hike at Lynch Canyon. Solano County was named after a famous Native American Chief of the Patwin, a word meaning people. He was a friend of Mariano Vallejo and an ally of his in conflicts with other tribal groups in the area. His native name was Set-Yeto meaning “brave or fierce hand” and his baptized Christian name was, Francisco Solano. In addition to being a charismatic leader “one of his most striking and imposing characteristics was his height, topping off at 6 feet and 7 inches.”

Gathering at the parking area a dramatic hill sets the scene as does the welcome rest room after out travels. You can spot a few black dots on the hill – Black Angus cattle keeping down the grass. They seem content with more solitary work.

Gathering at an information sign we read that Lynch is home to golden eagles and hawks as well as being a magnet for migrating and over-wintering birds of prey providing “over 1,000 undeveloped acres where they can hunt and rest.”

Michael noticed some Northern California black walnut trees. In agriculture they are used as root stock for the tastier English walnuts which are grafted on top of the black walnut root ball. this description of the Southern California Black Walnut relates that the Chumash Indians of the Channel Islands eat the nuts. – If you can stand the advertising, this is an interesting article about some special black walnut trees in the Napa Valley area from an article in the Napa Valley Register by Bill Pramuk in 2009. They were found just across the Napa County Line in Lake County on a UC research station at the Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Preserve in Pope Valley.

Michael points out a bluebird house or better “nesting boxes” which have been constructed by local cub scout troops and the Napa-Solano Audubon Society. The location and design of the box are as crucial as its location. The hole needs to accommodate the particular bird size. If it is too large it would allow starlings to take it over destroying the fledge of the desired birds: western bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens and a few others.
In placing a box, crews face it to the east or south away from prevailing winds, the round entry holes measure 1 & 9/16ths of an inch, six inches from the bottom of the hole to the box floor. “If the box is too shallow, predators can reach the chicks. If it’s too deep, the chicks can’t crawl out. To make the box just right, the box builders carve little grooves on the inside for the chicks to stepladder their way out.”

Spotting a ……?

The sign urges us to resist the urge to pet a cow, hadn’t seen this one before. Getting between a cow and her calf could be problematic and dangerous.

Solitary and substantial black cottonwood tree, Populus trichocarpa. Or it might also be a Fremont’s cottonwood, Populus fremontii,

High wires keeping up the clouds

Michael spots two Golden Eagles, one mature and one immature, on the horizon with a white cloud helping as background.

Topping another rise we looked way up a hill to an object of interest, that dark spot on the crest. The cattle perform a valuable service keeping down the grass as well as enjoying the forage. She’s enjoying a view from close to 900 feet with “panoramic views extending from the Coast Range to San Francisco Bay and across the Delta to the Sierra Nevada”.

Lynch Canyon Reservoir provides habitat for many waterbirds both locals and those migrating through, a great white egret can be spotted in the center. In the foreground is a border of tule grass which was used by the California Indians to make “shelters, boats and sleeping & sitting mats”. from 2014 Tule fog can transform the Central Valley of California and make the roadways a gamble with markers at the side of the road your only guide.

Michael makes an explanation with hands added for emphasis, what does his body language tell us?

Heading uphill to take the high path so we can “get to Scotland afore ye” or at least to our lunch spot with everyone else. Harriet leads the way.

Michael mentioned that some animals like to leave their scat atop cow paddies, all sorts of signatures out there.

And a purple star thistle in bloom as well as we continue up the hill, there is also one with a yellow flower called a golden star thistle.  The lancing thorns and the delicate bloom provide a vivid contrast.

Lunch atop the rise: Michael loves Halloween and he shared some of this year’s celebration on McDonald Avenue in Santa Rosa at lunch.
The owners of the McDonald Mansion, the John Webleys, decided that a celebration this year after the recent devastating fires would be a nice respite, a healing time and a welcome back to normalcy for everyone and especially the kids. This year there was a crashed spaceship in their front yard, a cafe in Roswell, N.M and live music. Michael went as the Disco King and rode his bike over hanging a disco ball from the handlebars with a boom box accompaniment.
He’d met a lady from Israel, Ellen, giving her a ride on the way back from Burning Man. They hit it off, she’s a spinner – you’ll recall Michael’s love of hula hooping. Ellen and her friend Issac came by on this scene and Michael gave them a grand tour of an American Halloween. They joined him trick or treating and got a royal welcome at all the houses since Michael is a well known participant in this celebration. The next day they were off home to Israel. Some shots of the McDonald Mansion through the years with a few photos of Halloween through the years toward the end of the series.

We find a fascinating and beautiful thistle as we head down the hill after lunch.

There were remarkably few rocky outcroppings on these hills. Here Michael finds some weathered sandstone. In “Roadside Geology of Northern and Central California”, the authors describe this area’s geology: “The highway (I 80) passes through a spectacular road cut in Franciscan rocks at the top of Sulphur Springs Mountain, just east of Vallejo. Basically similar Franciscan rocks form the hills north of the highway between San Francisco and Vacaville, where the highway passes the southern ends of several long ridges and wide valleys that extend to the northern horizon. These are slices of the Coast Range that moved horizontally along faults parallel to the San Andreas Fault.” P.271

Armand talks to a Solano Land Trust Volunteer at Lynch Canyon, Jeff Bonneville, who has the Disneyesque title of “Bluebird Monitor”. Michael greeted him warmly and Jeff shared an array of interesting information about the nesting box program.



Heading back, following the clouds home.

P.S. Last week I misidentified a Bald Cypress for a Dawn Redwood on our Golden Gate Park hike. Here’s are three youtube videos which give some helpful, basic information about both:

P.P.S. I discovered this helpful link on the WordPress site which organizes some of my more recent hike-logs (as well as many other blogs) with select photos and introductory sentences as well – a nice diving board.

Tilting at Windmills in San Francisco – 30 October 2017

Golden Gate Park is a mecca for people and nature in the heart of San Francisco. Wrested from the sand dunes starting in 1870, this precious green space provides a haven for city dwellers, tourists and is a special destination for Bay Area residents. From the Wikipedia entry: “It is over three miles (4.8km) long east to west, and about half a mile (0.8) north to south. With 13 million visitors annually, Golden Gate is the fifth most-visited city park in the United States . .”. We’ve enjoyed hiking here with Don McLaurin, our friend who is a City Guide, in the Panhandle and the eastern section of the park in recent past hikes. Michael surmised this western part of the park was last visited by our Footloose group “ . . about 15 years ago.”

We gather for the hike circling up for instructions – we might have looked like this 60 years ago plus or minus! Many classes and school groups are always out and about in the park enjoying the mysterious pathways filled with fascinating discoveries. Our hikes all have special highlights but this one especially seemed like a “Pictures at an Exhibition” experience with focus moments followed by a promenade to the next frame. This is a remarkable series with at least 7 parts on a variety of local subjects. These “lymarchvideos” by Glenn Robert Lym who is an A.I.A. Architect open up a fascinating window to San Francisco history, carefully researched and presented with sensitivity and style.This one is HERE2 – A History of Golden Gate Park.

Harriet, stylin’ for the day, sets the tone for our ramble with some autumn colors in a bow to the east coast and her cherished Baltimore.

Michael talks to us by the Buffalo Paddock about the history of the North American Bison species. excellent narrated video set in Yellowstone Park

Barb suggested that we explore the casting pools which were just across the way from the buffalo paddock – a new island in our voyage of discovery. Along with three casting pools there is “a rustic mountain-style lodge, home of the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club where generations of San Franciscans have learned to fly fish. The lodge was organized in 1933, as an offshoot of the San Francisco Fly Casting Club, which dates back to 1894.” Dropping the fly in the target circle was amazing to watch.

A member of the club, Victor Lee, spoke to us enthusiastically about their history and the opportunities offered here. At the end of his comments he was talking about the Spey Casting technique used in fly fishing and fly fishing competitions, a name that comes from the River Spey in Scotland.

New Zealand Tea Tree or Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) contorts beautifully along our path. Manuka is a Maori word for Leptospermum scoparium and the name of a coveted honey. On Captain Cook’s arrival in New Zealand in 1769 his crew boiled the leaves of the Manuka to make tea. This artful, well written and illustrated link details 18 other New Zealand trees as well.

A shady grove with a stream on our right as we promenade two legs and four. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Valery Gerfiev playing the Promenade (part 1) by Modest Mussorgsky:

Mallards to the right of us:

Michael pointed out a Dawn Redwood which unlike other Redwoods is a deciduous tree. It was discovered in China relatively recently – in 1943 during WW2.

Nearby Michael spotted an American Chestnut tree. Here’s an American Chestnut Leaf, burr and nut. You can see the leaf is toothed as its Castanea dentata Latin name indicates. From the Wiki entry it was “a large, monoecious deciduous tree of the beech family native to eastern North America. It was one of the most important forest trees throughout its range, and was considered the finest chestnut tree in the world. It is estimated that between 3 and 4 billion American chestnut trees were destroyed in the first half of the 20th century by blight after its initial discovery in 1904.”

From The American Chestnut Foundation site: – Don’t miss the video which is a remarkable piece of Americana nor be put off by its 27:37 minute length. There are interviews with many people of the Appalachians who have lived with and love the American Chestnut tree. The language immerses you beautifully into their culture.

As advertised, a windmill looms at last. This is the first windmill constructed to pump water to the growing Golden Gate Park in 1902, called the Dutch Windmill. and this one to satisfy your engineering instincts This brief video gives you a good idea of how the windmill works, this one from Derbyshire, UK was built in 1797 and restored in 2002. Sorry, it feels un-Dutch to feature an English windmill but they had the best brief video. Here’s a brief windmill history from which we learn that our Dutch windmill is a smock mill allowing just the top part of the windmill to be turned to face the wind. “This was a vast improvement as it was lighter and easier to turn. More permanent structures could be built to house the mill beneath. Brick and stone towers developed from this innovation.” More detailed going back to the beginnings of wind power though not quite as far back as the discovery of fire. Whether grinding grain or pumping water, the windmill was a technological marvel of its time and continues its remarkable history today. This extensive link takes us up from ancient history to wind turbines of the present day.

The displays of tulips at the Dutch Windmill are an exciting destination in San Francisco from mid-March to mid-April. In fact, they are part and parcel of the Dutch Windmill’s identity today.

Crossing JF Kennedy Drive at Ocean Beach

Scott reads a memorial plaque about Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) to the group. He was a remarkable Norwegian explorer of the early 20th century who arrived to a hero’s welcome in an earthquake ravaged San Francisco on October 19, 1906. He and his crew had just successfully completed a three year Northwest Passage voyage traveling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean over the North Pole. They sailed into San Francisco Bay on their ship the Gjoa. The name means “god” and “beautiful” in Norse and is pronounced simply as “Joe”. The Norwegian American community sought to buy the ship from him. He didn’t want to sail back home around the Horn and so pleased them when he donated it to the city of San Francisco. The ship was “dragged up on the beach to the Northwest corner of Golden Gate Park where it became a display. It deteriorated through the years and repairs were postponed by WW 2. Finally in 1972, it was returned to Norway where it was lovingly rebuilt and restored. It remains honored in a separate building of the Fran Museum in Oslo.øa

Amundsen went on to the hero’s life after completing the Northwest passage, becoming the first to cross the Arctic by air and also the first to reach the South Pole. This was a memorable competition with Great Britain’s Robert Falcon Scott in which Scott and his companions perished. Amundsen “was one of the greatest figures in the field of polar exploration.”

We break for lunch in the garden behind the Beach Chalet .

And Louise’s dogs take the opportunity to relax being dog tired.

The murals, mosaics and wood carvings on the ground floor of the Beach Chalet building were a 1936-37 project funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The frescoes were done by the French-born painter Lucien Labaudt. “The images depict residents at play in Golden Gate Park and Land’s End during that time. Labaudt recruited friends and family as models, but several well known figures are included, among them legendary Golden Gate Park Superintendent John McLaren.” Here are some links to this “time capsule” of history.

We joust with the other windmill in the park that is also near the beach. It’s a bit more than quarter mile further south and is called “The Murphy Windmill”. It was a $20,000 gift to the city from a banker, Samuel G. Murphy. It was considered the largest in the world when it was completed in 1908. We’re beginning to have some sympathy now for Don Quixote riding against his nemeses astride faithful “Rosinante” along with his loyal companion Sancho Panza on his donkey “Dapple”.

Perhaps this was our “Great Gate Of Kiev” but we still needed to find our way back to Go . . . and home.

You have many choices on this Yahoo page, I chose the performance in the middle of the top row. From Radio-Television of Slovenia in Ljubljana Maestro En Shao leads the RTV SLO Orchestra.

How to complete our circle? Scott, our urban pathfinder, studied a map of the crisscrossing pathways and mapped out our route back for which he received a hug from Michael and a smile from us all. He got us to the church on time.

Estero Hike with Michael – 23 October 2017

The Estero Trail at Pt. Reyes National Seashore is one of Michael’s favorite hikes and we could see why. Rolling golden hills meet the blue waters of Drake’s Estero in the quietness of nature all under a sunny blue sky and for extra measure, a Christmas Tree farm gone feral.

Having a quick gather as we get it and us together

We’ll be walking the Sunset Beach Trail today full of bird calls and scenic overlooks of Home Bay, named after this area of Home Ranch. The greater Drakes Estero (Estuary) opens into Drakes Bay and thence into the Pacific.

Stepping out smartly we find the hills are alive both with the sound of music and blooming coyote bushes.

Here’s a look at the considerable expanse of the Christmas Tree farm from an overlook of Home Bay from an earlier hike I took on 7/10/10. Jules Evans mentions in an excellent hike write-up from December of 2012 that according to our local historian Dewey Livingston the Christmas trees were planted to enhance the value of the ranch land in the area. Were they ever a destination for families seeking their trees for the holidays? This needs some more research. Here’s the fine, solitary hike that Jules Evans took on the Estero Trail on December 12, 2012 courtesy of BAY NATURE.

We stopped in the quiet Christmas tree forest where Michael talked of many things, no cabbages or kings but the origin of the Audubon bird count, ravens, crows and the whole passerine scene.

Three VIMEO videos of Michael sharing:

The bridge over Home Bay and a convenient stop to observe what’s coming in on the tide.

With views of Home Bay quite resplendent

A great Egret works on his reflection and checks the menu for lunch.

We’ve seen White Pelicans in the Estero area on previous hikes but currently the ones I’ve watched are by the Village Shopping Center in Corte Madera and in this photo at Vintage Oaks Shopping Center in Novato behind Costco. Why would they choose what seem kind of marginal tidal areas and not be out in the beauty of Home Bay and Drakes Estero at Pt. Reyes? The very idea!

Climbing the hill out of Home Bay we again find plants growing in the seep provided by the hillside. One of Michael’s favorites is Sneezeweed: We just missed the bloom on this one but it still provides great food for birds.

Michael pointed out a debris spider’s web along side the trail. The spider resides in the debris “house”.

Heading down the trail past some trail maintenance to a couple of stock ponds

On a previous hike, June 25. 2010, I spotted some river otters in the near pond.

Moving well to high ground overlooking Drakes Lagoon

Looking down on Drakes Estero from our picnic aerie. Was it here in 1579 that he had the Golden Hinde’s bottom scraped, parlayed with the Miwok only to continue in his circumnavigation of the globe? The link below describes him like an astronaut returning from space when he came back to England. What to do for an encore? Why not defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588?

Some ponies from Iceland spruce up our return trail.

Almost all downhill from here

I’d like to tell you that everyone celebrated on our return by hula hooping in the parking area and that seems the right ending to a beautiful hike.
Michael brought his hoops because he was planning an event at his house and he wanted some photos to include in the invitation. He’s used hooping on his international trips as neat way to get to know and bond with the people of many other cultures.

Limantour Beach with Michael – 9 October 2017

The day began early with the smell of smoke in the air and the sleepy rational that someone next store had been barbecuing the night before. But the smoke and the smell were pervasive and we began to wonder if it would just “blow over”. It was early on, hard to make the call for the hike. Some emails set the scene:

“Safe and sound in west Sonoma county at my daughter in laws parents home. Fires raging in Santa Rosa. I could hear many explosions at 3 am and our neighbors dog continually barking coming through my dreamscape. My son Hunter contacted us from India to wake us up to flee. I suspect our houses are ok at this point. But who knows??
Warmly, Michael Ellis, Footloose Forays

Because of the fires in Sonoma and Napa Counties, Michael has evacuated west from his Santa Rosa home. He may – or may not – make it to our hike, but he said that we should still plan on meeting at the main parking lot at Limantour and hiking. ~ Jeannie

Huge fires here in Santa Rosa. Sebastopol ok so far. But I think I’m going to stay home. If I’m not at Point Reyes by 9.0am don’t wait for me. What are your cell numbers? Please leave on around 9.0am. Diana

Looks really bad up in the north Santa Rosa area, read that they evacuated Sutter and Kaiser Hospitals. Take good care of you and your Daches.
See from Michael’s email that he has evacuated from his house. I’ll be here at home until I head over to the Bovine at 8:45 AM. That’s the plan at the moment. Lew

Fingers crossed for the properties. Glad you are safe! Sue

I’m not coming. Just in case. Right now it’s west of me. I can hardly believe this. Have a good hike. Diana

Take care of yourself. Matt

I made it back home to pack a few things in case I need to make a run for it but it looks like they’re holding the fire about a half a mile north of me. Santa Rosa will never be the same. Warmly, Michael Ellis”


Heading out on the back roads to Pt. Reyes National Seashore we began to see the smoke blanketing the landscape.

The back roads coming down from Sonoma County were crowded with refugees who had already fled the blaze and the smoke looking for a safe harbor in West Marin. All of Pt. Reyes Station was filled with evacuees and parked cars, most atypical for a Monday after the weekend.

What would seem like a normal scene at the Bovine, but here uprooted families greeting each other in the smoky air, children full of energy and dogs lending their quiet support.

Even at Limantour Beach the smoke followed us.

Kit’s carpool had brought bandanas for masking during the hike and she kindly loaned one to me. Thanks to Kit for the photo below.

Heading out through the high European beachgrass the sky is orange with a smoky plume overhead, we’re walking just behind the beach in the dunes. Greeting our ears as we brush by are the sounds of the scratchy grass on our clothing and backpacks and in the background ocean waves finding the beach.

Cones of the Monterey Cypress and Monterey Pine extend out into the trail, planted in the 1960s as part of a fortunately failed housing development along the beach. Marin and Sonoma at the time were in the gunsights of developers who had great and monstrous plans to build a freeway to the coast and cover the land with housing and shopping centers. This was a time when a freeway was proposed down the center of Sonoma Valley and when PG&E blithely began to build a nuclear reactor at Bodega Head directly over the San Andreas Fault.

Prior to this was the Reber Plan in the 1950s to “build two giant dams to transform most of the San Francisco Bay into two freshwater lakes which would have destroyed the estuary as we know it.”

The beauty of these cones belies their origin.

Here is the visitor guide printed for the 50th Anniversary of the creation of Pt. Reyes in 2012 which shares the beginnings of PRNS in clear, compact and compelling writing. There’s even a photo of Lady Bird Johnson, California Governor Pat Brown and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall getting their feet wet!

Monterey Cypress along the way both skeletal and virginal following the same lilt and design.

Time to head up over the dunes and see the waves that have been our background as we walked along.

The sun back lights the incoming waves projecting a volcanic image of fire beneath the waves – earth, air, fire and water.

Jeannie reads a new email from Michael to our Footloose group on the beach:

I came back to my house to get stuff in case I need to do evacuate fast. I’m watching the fire is now in downtown Santa Rosa it’s all around Fountaingrove burning a lot of businesses

I may have to run so I’m staying close to home packing up valuables

Back home now I just rode my bike to the Home Depot and looked down on the fires burning all around

Kaiser hospital was evacuated this morning at 5 am, many houses in Fountaingrove and the mobile home park called – ironically enough called – “Journeys End” completely burned to the ground, Kmart burned to the ground Trader Joe’s burned to the ground, furniture stores burned to the ground. a guns and ammo place on fire right now

Birds are flocking to my backyard, the sun is orange and this morning the moon was orange. Those of us in this neighborhood seem to be OK right now. But I’ve got a few things packed just in case. They’re just things. My son is safe in India and my daughter-in-law ensconced with her parents in West Sonoma County. So all the important things are OK

Can you read this to the group ?

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out — no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.
– William Stafford

Nearby migrating Sanderlings gather just above the incoming tide:

It’s “Maureen Time” for lunch so we pull up a friendly dune with an ocean view.

Being a beach, Matt shows us how to really take a break.

Nearby was some Sand Verbena (Abronia latifolia) living up to its name and decorating our “tables”. Here’s a lovely list, of nicely detailed Wildflowers at Point Reyes National Seashore and leading the charge is Yellow sand verbena (Viva Abronia!) The Beach Sand Verbena (Abronia umbellate) with its purple flower umbels is considered relatively rare.

Armand spotted a sand dollar and shared it with the group. The following article refers to them as “a “species of extremely flattened, burrowing sea urchins belonging to the order Clypeasteroida.” Etching front and back is fascinating. This one has symmetric holes unlike others that I’ve seen – why in some and not others?

Heading back the presence of the waves in their steady tattoo lends a steadiness and security on the edge of the wild fires raging to the north.
Thanks much to Karin for this photo.

On the return we spot a Sanderling Ballet in the breaking waves.

Home is the sailor

Mt. Vision with Michael – 2 October 2017

Mt. Vision was a new hike for us. We’d not done this as a group before and proved a happy proof of the theme for “Star Trek”. As William Shatner’s Captain James Kirk used to say, “Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of the Star Ship Enterprise … our mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Our hike was purposely planned to be a recollection and remembrance of the Mt. Vision Fire which started 22 years ago on 3 October 1995 . As Dave Mitchell editor of the POINT REYES LIGHT wrote on the 20 year anniversary, “The Inverness Ridge Fire of October 1995 (a.k.a. the Mount Vision Fire was big — even for a state that has become accustomed to large wildfires. The amount of damage was staggering. The fire …. destroyed 45 homes in Inverness Park. The blaze charred 12,000 acres, including 15 percent of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It took firefighters five days to contain the fire and 13 days to fully stop its spread. Even so hotspots remained for a month. The fire was accidentally started by four teenagers camping on Mount Vision in the Pt. Reyes National Seasohore. Their campsite was illegal, although others had camped there before. The teens tried to be fire safe, carefully burying the ashes of their campfire under dirt and rocks before leaving. Over the next two days, however, the smoldering fire burned its way up through the forest duff, arriving on the forest floor during a high wind.”

An assemblage of gathering hikers, their car pool steeds and a line of Bishop Pines all in a row. We’re all making long shadows again.

Michael introduces a friend of his with whom he graduated Oakridge High School, Oakridge, Tennessee in 1969 (?). Is my math right? I’m not questioning that they graduated! His friend Greg was in the Coast Guard and then wore a Captain’s hat on the Golden Gate Ferries followed by other headgear or none at all!

On the road to the crest of Mount Vision . . .

I’ve run into a lovely blog for our area called THE WILDFLOWER SCOUT by Sara Silver with superb and breathtaking wildflower and nature photos
along with lovely, eclectic writing all done with a neat touch of whimsey. Here’s a brief entry in her blog on Mt/ Vision:

Mt. Vision is also the name of a mountain bike series:

And looking down the list for “Mt. Vision” you’ll eventually find advertisements for optometrists.

Elephant or Black Mountain from the crest looking east with some Bishop Pine and happily blooming Coyote Bushes (the showy white ones are the females and the muted yellow ones the males) in the foreground. Black or Elephant Mountain is a touchstone of western Marin County.
The curiously deep series of stream bed erosions distinguish this mountain from many others in the area. In a USGS evaluation of the Nicasio Reservoir terrane they suggest the area perhaps including Black Mountain “represents a fragment of a Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous ocean island (similar to Hawaii)”. In more recent history, this area was part of a much larger Mexican land grant. Normally these were manipulated away or brazenly stolen from Native Americans. An exception to this pattern was granting the area in 1843 to a Miwok Indian chief, Camilo Ynitia (one of two native American to receive such a land grant). “In 1852 Anita sold most of his land to James Black, who was on his way to becoming one of the largest landowners in Marin County.” The mountain acquired its Black Mountain name from him but as to the Elephant name, that may need more inquiry or even some speculation. There are many Elephant Mountains but this link is about an album by the American rock band, “The Youngbloods, released in 1969.

Odd to find an FAA air traffic control unit out here but we’ve already seen that big dome still working on Mt. Tamalpais, they’re out there. There are many considerations for over-flying airplanes from noise abatement for ground dwellers to safety and sequencing for those in the air. The first map in this linked document shows this FAA arch over our heads. Fascinating later maps are quite revealing for the flight patterns over our heads and seem quite surreal but then we could take it to another level sometime mapping the satellite overflights as well adding to this picture.

Taking a short turn down the Bucklin Trail, we head to the view of the Pt. Reyes Peninsula and Pacific Ocean beyond.

Michael talks about the 1995 Fire:

The ocean view with more coyote bush or brush in the foreground, first Limantour Estero with the water on the left, then Drake’s Bay with its distinctive exposed cliffs and to the right the blue of the large Drake’s Estero. That land mass before you get into a serious Pacific has Chimney Rock fingering out to the left and the hills of the point of Point Reyes to the right, just above the lighthouse. Probably you can’t spot a passing whale since it is a little early for that and they are still “krilling up” off Alaska. Michael is often able to spot the Farallon Islands out in the mist but you need a seasoned eye.

Often it’s said that the Spanish mariners missed San Francisco Bay because of the fog covering its mouth. In concert with that Michael mentioned that the main reason the passing Spanish galleons did not discover San Francisco Bay was actually more a matter of their routing miles out in the Pacific to avoid the dangerous coastal rocks in this area. Now interestingly, some of the air travel considerations involve routing airships out over the Pacific when that is needed. This seems almost a 500 year tradition!

We’ve just passed a mature Bishop Pine (perhaps just a tad senescent) that reminds me of a west coast tryout for Respigi’s “Pines of Rome.”
The wiki account records “The common name ‘Bishop Pine’ resulted from the tree having been first identified near the Mission of San Luis Obispo, California. . . . Other English names that have been occasionally used are prickle cone pine, Obispo pine, Santa Cruz pine and dwarf marine pine.”

I like the Cell biology definition of “senescent” i.e. “(of a cell) no longer capable of dividing but still alive and metabolically active.” from

Some understory plants along the way, first the coyote bush we’ve mentioned. Atop is the female coyote bush in full bloom (a quite lyric moment) and below are male coyote bush to the left and the female to the right.

California Coffeeberry or Rhamnus californica

California Wax Myrtle (Morella california)

Pacific Aster or Aster chilensis in a coffeebery surround. It’s now flying with a new name, Symphyotrichum chilense.

Salal, Gaultheria shallon

We enjoyed another view looking north and east. Below is Tomales Bay under which runs the San Andreas Fault separating the North American Plate from the plate which we are on, the Pacific Plate.
On the horizon to the northeast and a bit right is the familiar profile of Mt. St. Helena and nearby to the left Geyser Peak.

Having broken for lunch, we get it together to head back up the road to our parking area.

Looking west again we can see more of the expanse of Drake’s Estero which cuts deep into the peninsula. Below you can see the Christmas tree farm of yore (planted 55 years ago) that has grown into a mature forest happily enjoyed by owls and many other creatures. You can spot the bridge across the finger of the lagoon. We’ll be taking the Estero hike on October 23rd. You’ll recognize the bushes or brush in the foreground.

Ponds along the road I’d originally thought to be “stock ponds” but now I’m wondering if they have a more “geological” origin?

We all enjoy meeting at the Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station for both breakfast and luncheon snacks, it’s kind of a before and after hike place.
That’s where Jill is headed and that’s Rod looking on through the sunflowers.

Tocaloma and Lagunitas Creek with Jim – 25 September 2017

The old bridge at Tocaloma, PLATFORM BRIDGE, was our rendezvous point last Monday morning. Michael who was away in Tennessee had arranged to have Jim Coleman come on board the good ship “Footloose Forays” for this hike. We’ve enjoyed Jim a number of times when he has substituted for Michael and this time continued the tradition. We all recall Jim’s daughter, Lucy, who joined us on the “Five Brooks Hike” some years ago. She is now amazingly in 6th Grade and one project her class is working on is a production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. Jim suggested that she and her classmates might need to have some chocolate – just for research. She is also thrilled to have a new pet at home, we remember her sheep from our visit to OAEC, where Jim works, this time it’s a dog!

Gathering at a prolifically producing BUCKEYE tree (Aesculus californica) at the start of the trail. We’ve seen some remarkable buckeyes on a number of our hikes. They always seem to be in celebration either with their early leaf appearance in winter, the fragrantly smelling blossom bouquets in the springtime or the beautiful orbs of the buckeye nuts in the autumn. Some stalwart ones even remain decorated for Thanksgiving and Christmas.–aesculus-californica

The blooming buckeye is paradise for native bees and other insects. The springtime perfume of the buckeye is remarkably alluring to us hikers. Art Shapiro, UC Davis professor, who has monitored butterfly populations across central California for 45 years writes, “California Buckeye: Blooms from April to June. This tree is attractive to nearly everything flying at the time.”

Yet, it is toxic to European honeybees and “All parts of the California buckeye are toxic to humans and livestock. . . . native pollinators relish the collection of nectar without side effects. The adult pale swallowtail butterfly (Papillio eurymedon) appears particularly fond of this plant. . . . Never (though) seen a buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) nectaring on a California buckeye, though!” writes Kathy Keatly Garvey a UC Davis Communications Specialist on her Bug Squad Blog.

After careful observation, Jim levitates as he tries to dislodge an unoccupied paper wasp (yellow jacket) nest from a nearby tree overhang.

Looking closer at another nest ensconced in this California Coast Live Oak we’re amazed by the beauty and delicacy of its construction. We mostly remember yellow jackets for barbecues gone bad or being stung along the trail or in the garden!

The trail beckons to bicyclers, dog walkers having as one said a “sniff hike”, hikers and other creatures as well. This is a classic example of rail to trail following as it does on the narrow-gauge North Pacific Coast Railroad. It ran from Sausalito to Sonoma redwoods in the Cazadero/Duncan’s Mills areas from 1874-1902, after which it continued under various names until it was abandoned in the 1930’s.

Here’s an idea of some of the rolling stock that used to follow our trail today.

While some of the trail opens up to sunshine, large parts of it have the beautiful shade of redwoods and other trees making the hike ideal for hot days.

Jim discussed the habitat restoration that has been in process at Lagunitas Creek which we are paralleling on our hike. Going on for a number of years and supported by various federal and local government agencies as well as volunteer support groups it is proceeding impressively. (And, your’re right
the photo is from the parking area, just wanted to see if you were paying attention.) – A mostly clear video with Jim sharing his background in creek recovery and restoration but there’s a diesel finale by a passing truck – not a train on the old North Pacific Coast tracks.

Some of the substantially heavy logs and rocks being added to Lagunitas Creek to provide pools in which salmon can make their beds or spawning nests (redds) in which to place their eggs (roe) . . . in “a riffle with gravel as its stream bed” as the Wiki account shares.

Serendipitously, Gregory Andrew who is the fisheries biologist for the Marin Municipal Water District, was passing by and he generously shared information about the Lagunitas Creek restoration and the salmon & steelhead runs. He’d actually give a tour to our friend Armando Quintero and some of the other MMWD directors the previous Friday. Jim welcomed him to our group. I kept thinking that his talk was over and so stopped the video a couple of times so that you have not one but three short vimeo videos to enjoy. KQED Newsroom done during the drought in 2014 that includes Gregory Andrew in the report. video from the the Bay Nature Institute

Some of the creek restoration constructions with the goal of recreating a water flow like it was before the dams, rail tracks, homes and highways adjacent to Lagunitas Creek. Erosion from all these manmade projects has been followed by significant erosion into the creek. The sediment made up of clay and fine sand can suffocate the salmon eggs in the stream bed. It is the gravels that the salmon rely on in their reproduction. Logging likewise would have been a source of erosion though log remnants could have helped the salmon along. Shade is vital to the process so the planting of willow walls can be a significant help.

Detail of some of the project’s tools in the process of the rehabbing of the creek.

Stringing out along the creek

We went up the Jewell Trail to gain some perspective. Jewell was a small town along the Lagunitas Creek from the 1860s that continued to be inhabited with just a house or two into the end of 20th Century. The remnant houses will be torn down and the debris moved to landfill as the creek restoration proceeds.,_California one of the smaller wiki entries. The Jewell trail commemorates this area.

A few switch backs await us going up the hill

Black Angus on the hill above in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. Would the scene have been different in 1860s when Oscar Jewell started ranching here?

A line of large eucalyptus trees provides some welcome shade for lunch. The eucalyptus were planted by ranchers like Oscar Jewell as fast growing windbreaks in the 19th Century for farms, ranches and orchards.

Jim in his “praying mantis mode”, he’d had one in hand that flew away and was hoping to find it again with this unique hunting style. long article just for dipping into

Jim collected a bouquet of grasses in the area which he shared with us after lunch. He’s often intrigued us with his enthusiasm for the grasses expanding our knowledge into terra incognita. The video begins clearly but later on the winds and breezes came up to challenge you a bit.
In what seemed a small bouquet he had bromes, English plantain, Italian thistle, rough cassia. wild lettuce, European barley, velvet grass, tall fescue, California mellic grass, ripgut brome, wild oat, European rye grass (Lolium multiflorum), vicia or vetch, another brome and barley. A splendid link for much of this can be found at a Sonoma State College website which we’ve enjoyed before:

Back on the Cross Marin Trail (which doesn’t exactly cross Marin but we hope someday . . . ) we are passed by a bicyclist creating his own breeze.

In addition to the blazing crimson poison oak, we’d been noticing red berries glistening in the trees and bushes. Jim shared that they are California Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula). California Flora Nursery shared on their site that small flowers decorate the tips of the vining branches in spring and are attractive to bees and hummingbirds. “The high point is the drooping clusters of red luminous berries in late summer which are beautiful to behold and provide a feast for birds.” Las Pilatas Nursery in Sant Margarita, California has some photos of other honeysuckle stages of growth.–lonicera-hispidula

Another denizen on the trail was this moth which showed some colorful markings before I put it in the leaves next to the trail so he could fly another day. There’s an interesting play of display and camouflage going on it seems.

A walk by a Redwood forest would not be complete without a Banana slug, famed mascot of University of Santa Cruz. Be sure to click on the fabulous video from KQED Science called the “Secret of Slime”.

Tomorrow’s hike is on Mt. Vision where a huge fire began on Tuesday, October 3, 1995. written by Dave Mitchell in 2015 Article on the 10 year anniversary