San Geronimo Valley Hike – March 10, 2014

San Geronimo Valley shares its name with the famous Apache religious and military leader Geronimo. The tie in is St. Jerome, Geronimo in Spanish. Geronimo got his name while in battle with Mexican troops who called out to St. Jerome for help and Geronimo willingly accepted the name as a compliment. His Apache name was Goyahkla (One who yawns.).

St. Jerome you will recall is the one who took the thorn out of the lion’s paw and cared for him until he was well. The lion in gratitude stayed with Jerome ever after as a tame animal. He’s seen in paintings even looking on as St. Jerome, an eminent scholar, is translating the Bible into Latin (Vulgate) from Greek and Hebrew from 382 and finishing in 405.

“The San Geronimo Valley name comes from the San Geronimo Ranch established by Adolph Mailliard and Ann Eliza Ward in 1868 where they bred thoroughbred horses, including the famous stallion Monday who sired most of the race horses in California.” from Now, how did the ranch get its name?

Willis Evans lived in San Geronimo in the later years of his eventful life. After graduating from Oregon State in 1940, he began his career as a ranger/naturalist in Yosemite National Park. Then he found and followed his core dream and worked as a fisheries biologist for his entire career traveling the world. The appreciation by Ann Thomas that follows details some of his fascinating life.

Another great hiking trail with the Marin County Open Space District

Michael gives a chortle of delight as he spots something along the trail and Nancy checks it making some up-close observations.

Front and center stage, it’s SLIME MOLD. Michael wrote about it in his BAY NATURE column which he was able to bring up and read from his iPhone. Larry thought Michael’s rendering was prize winning and dramatic enough for animation.

Trillium ovatum, Lily Family, Lilian McHoul also calls it Wake-Robin. She writes in her lovely little book WILD FLOWERS OF MARIN , “The botanical name means triple referring to the number of petals, sepals, etc. The plant is about a foot high and has three pointed dark-green leaves just below the flower stalk. There is one single stalked white flower, fading to pink.” We saw versions in violet and gorgeous purple on the hike as well.

Stopping by some Redwoods on a muddy morning . . . By 1897 most of the large redwoods in Marin (Napa, the East Bay and the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains) had been cleared. Here we stop by a circle of new redwoods surrounding the remnants of the original mother tree. The new trees receive nutrients from the original. This remarkable pattern has gone on through history. Michael here mentions that the great John Muir was happiest being remembered with Muir Woods National Monument. He had a glacier in Alaska and a mountain in the Sierra named after him too. But he said that the glacier would melt eventually and the mountain will be worn away by erosion. But the Redwoods will continue in their eternal cycle of growth and life.

Scoliopus Bigelovii, Lily Family, Fetid Adder’s Tongue or Slink Pod – Again permit me to quote Ms. McHoul, “From the Greek ‘skolios’, bent or crooked and ‘pous’, foot, because of the long crooked flower. The specific name refers to John M. Bigelow, botanist on the Pacific Railroad Survey . . . In 1854, he made collecting trips in Marin County.”

“The flowers are one-half inch across, greenish, striped with purple, on long stems which twist with age and turn downward when seeds are maturing. Found on moist shady slopes, generally under redwoods.” Fetid Adder’s Tongue, as Michael suggested, is a great name for a rock group.

He mentioned that the flowers exude an odor of decaying flesh which attracts gnats who swarm the blooms and spread the pollen to plants nearby for future generations. The verdict on this bloom was “not so bad” and kind of earthy.

We’ve just crested a vertical dogleg huffing a bit, Michael mentioned one reason why our hikes are often in Marin is the great variety of parks – federal, state, county and local availabilities.
Michael was the master of ceremonies at the 2013 Bay Nature Annual Awards Dinner where he was introduced as a “stand-up naturalist”. Here he bucks the image.

A shady grove

opens into a gorgeous view.

Looking over to White’s Hill middle right which we climbed with Armando last autumn. [If I click the photo twice, it fills the screen or at least “largifies” for more detail] We thought that was Mt. Diablo faintly in the far background but twas unconfirmed. What do you think?

“The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, Tra La” – The Mikado or maybe, “Little Buttercup” – HMS Pinafore in a NZ production –

The maitre d’ has a neat lunch spot for us with a opulent view, and it’s just up the hill.

As advertised, we’ll take in the view and then, “that large cushiony spot with the overlook”.

You’ll recognize another of our hike destinations which we climb out of Devil’s Gulch, Mt. Barnaby and as you recall Barnaby was a faithful mule of Samuel P. Taylor. On the summit is a fire lookout and large “fake tree” mast that’s a cell phone tower. Ok, they keep spelling it Barnabe.

P.S. On the way home at the Nicasio Reservoir, I stopped to watch some white pelicans bookended by two preeners. Some of these majestic birds winter in Marin County area – magical to spot both in the water in various spots as well as in flight often making lazy circles high in the sky.

And then looked into my mirror and took a shot of the blooming mustard on the hill, odd, the traffic seemed to ANGLIFY. I was in a space warp with no phone booth available.

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