Blithedale Canyon Loop with Michael & Jeannie – 22 September 2014

It was the first hike in this area for us Footloosers. We were looking forward to some new adventures on the flanks of Mt. Tamalpias. It did not disappoint. Jeannie’s thorough and careful scouting opened up these new trails for us beautifully. Many thanks for all that preparation. Michael led us along the trails with his usual savvy, gusto, and good humor combined to make some memorable moments on the mountain.

Part of our trail followed the path taken by the Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway whose heyday around the turn of the twentieth century is still fondly remembered in Marin. It became known as “The Crookedest Railway in the World” and was as much of a destination for travelers to San Francisco as the city itself.
It took tourists to the summit of Mt. Tam with an additional option of Muir Woods. The downhill to Muir Woods and Mill Valley was done in Gravity Cars,”four-wheel coasters that took advantage of the steep, relentless grade, .. first introduced in 1902. Gravity cars had an operator known as a gravityman who sat in the right front seat (on most cars) and operated two brake levers that pressed heavy duty brake shoes against the car’s wheels.” Imagine that on your resume or c.v. – Gravityman, Gravitywoman.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tamalpais_and_Muir_Woods_Railway http://www.nps.gov/muwo/historyculture/upload/mttammuworridp.pdf
http://www.mendorailhistory.org/1_railroads/nwp/mount-tam.htm http://www.friendsofmttam.org/railroad/crookedest-railroad.html

Here’s whole trip on Vimeo with music “Wedding Day at Troldhaugen by Edvard Grieg:

https://vimeo.com/107224600

Another part of our hike involved “The Mystery of the Missing Earring”. Roz starts out with two hoops at the start of the hike. Note the circle on her right ear.

http://www.marincountyparks.org/depts/pk/divisions/open-space/blithedale-summit
http://www.marincounty.org/~/media/Images/Departments/PK/Open%20Space/Blithedale%20Summit/Map%203%20Blithedale073114.pdf

Michael is pointing out the pattern of the drainage that leads down this canyon. Protected by the State of California and the Marin Municipal Water District, Mt. Tam provides an amazing number of drainages and reservoirs in its watershed (s?). Michael corresponds with the Director of the Water Institute at OAEC, Brock Dolman, who signs his letters, “I’m mostly water,” http://www.oaecwater.org/watershed OAEC (Occidental Arts and Ecology Center) is where our other esteemed hike leader, Jim Coleman, works.

For Latitudinarians, named latitudes include the Arctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle and Longitudinarians. Some who read
“Longitude” by Dava Sobel highly recommended her book. http://davasobel.com

Michael pointed out a curious mottled pattern on a Big Leaf Maple leaf. The blight seems to have maintained a green moat to protect itself even after the leaf has lost most of its chlorophyll to autumn.

Madrone tree shedding its orange-red bark, as the tree matures this outer bark “naturally peels away in thin sheets leaving a greenish, silvery appearance with a satin sheen and smoothness. The exposed wood sometimes feels cool to the touch.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbutus_menziesii

Steady drumming sounds caught our attention

Did Michael ID this as a Hairy Woodpecker? http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hairy_Woodpecker/id
https://vimeo.com/123869304

An empty spray can becomes a prop for Michael illustrating what NOT to do. Jeannie snaps the shot.

Jeannie makes a point, she has done this trail numerous times.

Giant Chinquapin nut in its “spiny outer casing” looks like it could be dropped successfully on Mars. http://www.nwplants.com/business/catalog/chr_chr.html
Is that a high contrail top center?
http://www.marin.edu/cnps/Trees_of_Marin.html

These are popular trails for dog walkers as well.

Carol captures our first big view of San Paablo Bay showing the San Quentin Peninsula and the line of the Richmond San Rafael Bridge beyond.

Close up of the Golden Gate Catamaran (Catamarin?) passing San Quentin heading for Larkspur Landing. The Richmond San Rafael Bridge is in the background.

This is the Native American name for the particular tribe of Miwoks (Miwuks) of this area. Here is a remarkable discussion of the language varieties of this group of California Native Indians written in 1907 by C. Hart Mirriam, note page 341 for the family tree: http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/mewan_distribution_1907.pdf

Heading up the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo

Madrone berries against the sky http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_arme.pdf

Lunch along the trail with some precious shade amid the Madrones

This is a popular mountain bike trail, keep listening for the singing wheels. They are the Gravitywomen and Gravitymen of today!

Close-up of the Sleeping Maiden’s profile with the just barely showing the fire lookout on top of the East Peak. She appears altogether from a distance.

And in more detail

Fortunately some observant hiker found Roz’s earring and put it on the Watershed Cycle of Life – reminiscent of Michael getting his iPhone back at Burning Man. It gave the hike a swell, full circle finale.

That terrific feeling when something lost is looked for and . . . found! Bravo!

Sweet sounds of water round out the day as well, the sound of flowing water is more and more precious as the drought continues.

P.S. At the beginning (and end) of the trail was this terrific idea:

One thought on “Blithedale Canyon Loop with Michael & Jeannie – 22 September 2014

  1. Pingback: Blithedale Canyon Loop with Michael & Jeannie – 22 September 2014 | Zulu Thoughts | Zulu Thoughts

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