Tocaloming with Michael – 2 December 2013

Michael has tapped into Louise Teather’s book, PLACE NAMES OF MARIN, many times on our hikes giving us some excellent context. Her entry on Tocaloma is a delight. She writes that
the name is “believed to be of Indian origin. According to Kroeber, the ending suggests -yome (lume) meaning “place”; an Indian village may have been located here. The nearby stream was formerly called the Arroyo Tokelalume. Kroeber also says that in the Central Sierra Miwok language the word tokoloma means “land salamander.” (P. 82)

Remembering the quiet, “time forgot” quality of our parking spot, the rest of Teather’s entry is just great, “Tocaloma became a ranching community with its own railroad stop, telegraph office, post office (1891-1919), and a big hotel that was a favorite with sportsmen. When the hotel burned down in 1917, it was replaced by a tavern built by former opera singer Caesar Ronchi, and was a well known stopping place for motorists to and from West Martin, throughout the 1930’s. The site is a mile and a half north of Samuel P. Taylor State Park.”

We made a quick carpool to the top of the hill to begin our hike at the Bolinas Ridge parking area. You’ll recall that this area was cordoned off when the government shut down and the National Parks were closed. The memory seems utterly surreal.

Through the stile, Hillary is back with her formerly broken foot healed and healthy.

Heading up to Bolinas Ridge the sign has a cautionary note that some mother cows could be aggressive with their calves about. This is also a great mountain biking trail that eventually arrives at the Bolinas-Fairfax Road 11.1 miles away.

Michael reminded us that we were on the North American Plate and just above the San Andreas Fault – able to look over to the Pacific Plate in the background. We are just up the hill from Olema which sustained dramatic damage in 1906 still viewable on the Earthquake Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore. NPR at its best. Worth it alone to see the photo of geologist Andrew Lawson’s mustache along with a rooster crowing in the audio portion. Lawson’s shake scale was a breakthrough in describing the degree of earthquake impact. Mary Lou Zoback was the other geologist whom we heard in the previous audio. Her account is well and clearly written with lots of fascinating detail. This account is earthquake-lite but is great because of the many associations it makes i.e. Site of the Earthquake Refugee Camps at the bottom. We talked about this on our hike through Golden Gate Park with Don McLaurin.

We are looking over towards Black Mountain which is a West Marin landmark. Michael has tried to arrange a hike up the mountain but so far the only access is on the annual hike of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT).

Black Angus and Black Anguses in the distance with Black Mountain (1280 ft.) behind it all – but not taken on Black Friday. It was named after rancher and landowner James Black of Nicasio who was the father-in-law of Galen Burdell (of Mt. Burdell). Black arrived in 1846 and became prominent in Marin government and owning thousands of acres of land extending from his home in Nicasio to Tomales Bay. His property included the land surrounding Black Mountain which is also called Elephant Mountain or Seven Sisters. (Teather, P. 8)
cf. The Youngbloods:

Michael asked us about the difference between antlers and horns in animals. “Antlers are a pair of only, branched structures that protrude from the frontals of the skull of animals and are shed annually; horns are also paired and protrude from the frontals, but they are permanent, unbranched and made up of a bony core and a keratinized sheath.”
Michael pointed out that in the case of Reindeer that most males lose their antlers by December which means that probably all of Santa’s team are female!

A meditative moment with everyone waiting for the answer. In the background is Tomales Bay. Michael shared the meaning of tomales as in Tomales Bay and not from a menu. “According to one theory Tomales has its roots in Tamal, the Coast Miwok name for “bay,” used to identify local Indians.” Again from the great little book by Louise Teather, PLACE NAMES OF MARIN, 1986. Names with the Tamal prefix were used for local (Marin) Indians: Tamales, Tamallos, Tamallonos. Our signature mountain’s name probably came from this, Tamal Pais with Tamal meaning bay and Pais mountain. Michael pointed out then that Tomales Bay means . . . bay bay.

Serious Stile the second. Sorry, my hat is just obstructing Nancy’s classic, colorful tennies.

Some big old Eucalyptus were planted in these uplands along the Jewel Trail. Now mature, they presented a stately profile along our way. In Australia they have grown to great heights. Centurian in Tasmania is the tallest hardwood tree in the world standing at 326 feet. Some astonishing records from the 19th Century speak of 470 and 492 ft.

This was our picnic spot which we shared with some, you guessed it, Black Angus. They originated in Scotland (along with James Black). The ancestors of the breed had such wonderful names: Old Jock, Grey-Breasted Jock, Black Meg 43 and Old Granny “considered by some to be the founder of the breed.” (from the Wiki entry) “Old Granny was born in 1824 and said to have lived 35 years and to have produced 29 calves.”

We might call this “Waiting for a Chinook” with hats off to Charles M. Russell.
On the bridge in Samuel P. Taylor Park looking for salmon to no avail. Perhaps with all of our scanning we left a vacuum to be filled since the next day the Marin Independent Journal had this headline: “Chinook salmon return to Marin”.

We did enjoy some beautiful reflections and flow patterns in Lagunitas Creek.

We met Joe Woods who is a stream maintenance volunteer at the beginning of our hike. He was marking and yanking out invasive Japanese Knotweed, a scourge world wide:

This bicyclist passed us a couple of times along the Cross Marin Trail his radio playing music quietly and his dog happily aboard, a mellow moment. I think Andrew Wyeth would have liked to paint this.

The Cross Marin Trail provided a neat contrast to our upcountry hiking panoramas with its quiet Redwood groves and Big Leaf Maples splashing spots of color. Here some BLM leaves adorn our way back with Michael heading our way. Autumn in Marin

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