Chilly Chimney Rock/Shell Beach Combo (hold the mayo) – 15 April 2013

We rallied at Chimney Rock on Monday recalling again that it’s . . . a really different microclimate. Most of you sensible hikers had packed for the wintry experience. Even Michael wore his down and a wooly hat along with signature shorts. Ok, it’s not Fargo, North Dakota but it’s our “winter” and we’re hanging on to it. Actually, the nearby Pt. Reyes Lighthouse area has some remarkable weather. It’s called “the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent” in the NPS description. Forty mile an hour winds are common and gusts have been reported at 133 mph. It’s not unusual to have 2,100 hours of fog annually. It was not an envied light house keeper assignment. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 1887, “When the storms are their worst, spray dashes up two hundred feet . . (the keeper’s) only safety is in crawling on hands and knees up and down . . . the stairs.” Perhaps we could talk to Armando about this since he lived out at the Lighthouse housing for a time.

http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=66

http://www.nps.gov/pore/historyculture/people_maritime_lighthouse.htm

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1007617-fog/ John Carpenter shot a lot of footage for the 1980 film The Fog at Pt. Reyes Lighthouse and Bolinas.

I’m conveniently slurring Chimney Rock with the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse micro climates here and realize that Chimney Rock has big wildflower credibility which probably means more sunshine and some wind protection. Still, for most of our hiking visits to Chimney Rock the winds have rolled out and over us most impressively.

Has everyone shown up from Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station?

Sir Francis Drake’s Déjà vu, “By Jove, it looks like Dover!”

Mule Ears – always a robust presence. Lilian McHoul in Wildflowers of Marin calls them Wyethia glabra (Sunflower Family) and relates that they are named for Capt. Nathaniel Wyeth who discovered the species in 1833. There are a number of other Wyethias.

At the Northern Elephant Seal overlook Michael has spotted some deer (who will not be named) on the hillside.

Michael talked at length about the the Northern Elephant Seals almost exterminated for their blubber in the 1880’s surviving as a small colony on Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja California. There were a number of excellent websites that discuss these remarkable mammals. Michael’s description is best reprised on the MarineBio Conservation Society site: http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=295 There with a number of other exceptionally good sites:
http://www.pinnipeds.org/seal-information/species-information-pages/the-phocid-seals/northern-elephant-seal
http://www.elephantseal.org/E-Seals/migration.htm
http://www.marinemammalscience.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=424&Itemid=295
http://www.calacademy.org/blogs/library/?p=1435

The beach from the overlook was still remarkably busy and convivial.

Moving on toward lunch with due recollections of Maureen’s 11:30 “line on the trail”, Michael pulled out “out of the wind Plan B” for Shell Beach on Tomales Bay. And so we left Chimney Rock to the other hearty souls. Here he is just coming into a pastoral view approaching a Caltrans cautionary road sign of a cow with real cows as visual aides.

Parking at the end of Camino Del Mar we took the short trail to Shell Beach. As if there was a call to central casting, Michael turned over a log as he talked about the California Slender Salamander and there he was waiting in the wings. He’s proudly Batrachoseps attenuatus and he breathes through his skin requiring him to live in damp environments. As he was eager to return to his home beneath the log, Michael accommodated with alacrity.
http://www.californiaherps.com/salamanders/pages/b.attenuatus.html#description

Scott checks out a Pacific Starflower (Trientalis latifola) further down the trail. Michael said that there is irregularity in the leaf presentation.

A shady grove with Sword ferns.

Belladonna or Purple Nightshade as we approached the beach.

http://flowersofmarin.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/plant-of-the-day-common-nightshade/

http://www.smmtc.org/plantofthemonth/plant_of_the_month_200601_PurpleNightshade.htm

Lunch out of the wind, the sol of sol n sombra.

Every seat contoured for comfort we wrap the day looking out on Tomales Bay with whitecaps adding excitement.

P.S. Oh yes, the Lupine: http://phyteclub.org/2010/05/26/californias-native-wolf/ & http://spot.colorado.edu/~mitton/webarticles/Lupines.htm
and only for Harry Potter fans: http://tearain.tripod.com/hp/remus.html

Thanks much Michael, Lew etc.

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