Enjoying Plan B with Michael on the Fairfax-Bolinas Road – 3 December 2012

Heading out to the Cataract Falls Trailhead on Monday morning we encountered the following message: ROAD CLOSED. Let’s see, “Always have something in your back pocket. It doesn’t always come out the way you’ve planned. When life serves up lemons, make lemonade.” The last one I learned was a phrase that Dale Carnegie used in his writing and speaking, you may recall that best seller of 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People. In checking this out on Ask, along with the history of the quotation came an ad for fresh produce from Safeway and some lemonade recipes!

And for a variation on the “road closed” we might try Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. http://www.bartleby.com/119/1.html

But no need to worry, we have a master of improvisation leading out stalwart group. Michael was awaiting our arrival hooping in the fresh morning sunshine to the beat of some lively African folk songs. Life is a celebration and it goes round and round.

Michael is checking with the Guru as we awaited the arrival of the rest of this morning’s group. He then went over to check on our parking in this Meadow Club parking area and got permission for us. Next was turning the road closed liability into the asset of a new trail unencumbered by cars. The bicyclists of the morning were ecstatic along with us that they could ply the Fairfax-Bolinas Road without the worry of traffic. Four wheel loss, two wheel gain. We were delighted to be able to hike up the middle of a road on which we are usually minding the curves. Here’s some terrific history of the F-B Road which in earlier days was called the San Rafael Bolinas Road:


The Meadow Club Golf Course below with end of the year shadows and Mt. Tamalpais on the horizon. Because we had to stop here and reconnoiter we got to enjoy this spreading park-like elegance rather than the usual glance as we sped by. This is a wow of golf courses designed by Alister MacKenzie in 1927, his first design in America. “Originally he was trained as a surgeon and served as a civilian doctor with the British army during the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902) where he first became aware of the principles of camouflage. During WW 1, MacKenzie made his own significant contributions to military camouflage, which he saw as closely related to golf course design.” He served not as a surgeon in WW 1 but, are your ready for one lovely word, as a camoufleur. In a lecture he said that “The brilliant successes of the Boers (during his service in South Africa) were due to a great extent to their making the best use of natural cover and the construction of artificial cover indistinguishable from nature.” He writes that “the chief object of every golf course architect worth his salt is to imitate the beauties of nature (and presumably also the hazards) so closely as to make his work indistinguishable from nature itself.”
He worked in an era before large scale earth moving became a major factor in golf course construction, and his designs are notable for their sensitivity to the nature of the original site.” cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alister_MacKenzie The Meadow Club is in the DNA of the greatest golf courses in the world: St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Augusta and many more.

Sean Tully is the assistant superintendent of the Meadow Club and is passionate about classic golf course architecture. Below is an interview and article that compels even if your are not a golfing enthusiast.

History lesson – TurfNet.com


Comforting to know the sign below. Interesting article in the Chronicle this morning about hunting at the interface of Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the base of Tomales Bay:

As we walk up the road, we are observed but only in passing since he “only has eyes for her”.

Michael also talked about the humbler creation when he picked up a passing (maybe it was just sitting there) potato bug which cleans up and recycles the bits and pieces of nature and at the same time can provide a great protein snack to birds like hawks, chickens, guinea hens, grosbeaks and fellow travelers.

Here are some close-ups of some potato bugs alias Jerusalem Cricket in an article with a sense of humor:
and a remarkable picture on Flickr:
American Kestrel Eating Potato Bug | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

The Fire Lookout Tower on the top of Mt. Tam shows some definition as we enjoy a banked curve, cornering well on the Fairfax-Bolinas Road.

Looking down on the expanse of another part of the Meadow Club Golf course are two acorn woodpeckers (at least they were acorn when we saw them earlier, the white on the head is troubling – Hairy? Downy?) Michael talked about the decades (1971) long study of acorn woodpeckers at the Hastings Reservation in Carmel Valley by Walt Koenig and Joey Haydock which Koenig describes as “one of the most bizarre mating systems in the world”.

Michael shares the elaborate and intertwined relationships of the Acorn WP. The following article is excellent even though the title is a little off-putting:


We’ve crested at the trailhead where a variety of trails begin: Pine Mountain, Carson Ridge – 4 June 2012, Azalea Hill to Lake Lagunitas – 4 April 2011, Little Carson Creek – 5 April 2010). Michael pointed out that the Bishop Pine is the only native Marin pine tree and is found on Mt. Vision and other places in Pt. Reyes National Seashore and on Pine Mountain in the center of the picture. http://treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/31878 and in thinking about Mt. Vision we recall the Vision Fire of 1995 which provided a splendid opportunity for the fire born seed spread of the Bishop Pine. http://www.nps.gov/pore/parkmgmt/firemanagement_fireecology_vegtypes_bishoppine.htm

You may recall Armando’s concern about fire on Mt. Tam which he mentioned on one of our hikes, here is an enlightening history:


In the center of the picture you can see the low adapted growth of plants over an area of serpentine.

Looking toward San Pablo Bay to the east. We talked a little later about Ian Fleming’s choice in naming his hero. Michael gave us clues. Ian Fleming was an avid birder. He apparently found the name on his bookshelf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Bond_(ornithologist) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birds_of_the_West_Indies
Michael suggested that had Fleming written today, he could have named him “Sibley, David Sibley!”

We came upon this Black-tail deer track on a short walk up to a spot for lunch. Michael observed that the print shows both the front toes and rear Dewclaws indicating that deer was at considerable speed to show the splay of the whole foot. Check into Black-tailed Deer in this useful site: http://www.bear-tracker.com/mammals.html

Undulations and diagonals toward Mt. Tam

We are joined at lunch by a passing Australian Shepherd dog wondering if we’d like to share or perhaps consider having some group directives.

Because you’ve been good and read this far, here are some shots from the Cataract Trail on our hike with Armando, 1st March 2010.



P.S. Mari recommended a film she’d seen recently – SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/sony/searchingforsugarman/ and Heidi enjoyed seeing an oldie (1988) EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097257/

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