Taylor Mountain with Michael – 24 November 2014

The trail beckons as Michael reviews the troops. He just returned from leading a Footloose Forays’ trip to Bhutan and is handling the jet lag with aplomb. We last hiked here on March 15, 2010 when Sonoma LandPaths was beginning to steward this land and establish the area for park use. “LandPaths’ Mission is to foster a love of the land in Sonoma County”. http://www.landpaths.org/meet-landpaths.aspx Since our previous visit, Michael has joined the LandPaths’ Board of Directors.

Come, take the hike.


The music is “Fireflies” played by Michael Silver.

Those long autumn shadows keep joining our hikes sometimes going to great lengths.

This fenced area is dedicated to oak trees, rocks and an 18-hole Frisbee disc golf course. One hole is visible at the left middle edge of the picture.
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/local/3082873-181/aerodynamic-feats-on-display-at As Barb commented, it’s fenced so the rocks don’t escape.

An early morning hot air balloon flight settles back to earth behind a live oak.

One of the upsides of the drought is the slowing of sudden oak death – sudden oak death takes a holiday. We hope it will be extended.

Michael talked about the oak savanna that we were walking though and said that this is like the land in which our ancestors grew up, that it feels like “home” with all of its familiarity and comforts. He also shares some “sound” observations!



A spray of mistletoe in some oak branches. Here’s an article by one of our hiking leader alums, David Lukas.


As we climb, we begin to have a view of Santa Rosa. The large green spot is the race track at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds. Having walking, hiking and other recreation nearby and in a city can make all the difference. We’ve also hiked a number of times at Annadel State Park in another area with easy access from many neighborhoods in Santa Rosa.

Our group on the March 2010 hike which we took with Michael and some LandPaths leaders. Note the color of the grass. We fondly hope that the current rains will help this scene come alive again.

There were many birds along the way initially welcomed by the carousing Acorn Woodpeckers with their “Woody Woodpecker” calls, Blue Birds flitting amid the basalt rocks and fence posts, Black and Say’s Phoebes together on a fence wire and a wonderful American Kestrel who seemed as interested in us as we were of him. We kept hoping for a Golden Eagle and even thought we’d seen one circling in the distance but as it came closer by Michael identified it as a Ferruginous Hawk. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ferruginous_Hawk/id

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_kestrel/id I guess the arrow points where to look.

Taylor Mountain (1404’) “is named after a California Gold Rush pioneer, John Shackleford Taylor, who settled the mountain slopes in 1853 to raise dairy cows and plant a vineyard.” Michael has found his grave in a historic cemetery in Santa Rosa and an oak branch is beginning to obscure his name. But with Taylor Mountain Park, his memory is up in lights, well daylights.


Walking through a field of some Sonoma Volcanics debris. Basalt is a very functional rock that shears well and was utilized extensively to make paving and building stones in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Here’s discussion of Bay Area Volcanoes talking of their origins in subducting plates. Toward the end mentions it the Sonoma Volcanics.

This remarkable geology is the very underpinning of the remarkable wine growing regions of the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. Here is a Wine Institute link which gives some helpful and salient background.


Still another wrinkle in the Sonoma Volcanics story are the Geysers just north of Santa Rosa with the largest geothermal energy production facilities in the world. Here’s a commercial site with an interesting video that gives some good explanations: http://www.geysers.com/ The views of Mt. St. Helena are from the other side.

Sounds from below getting fainter and fainter as we climb toward the top.

Jeannie, Scott and Michael stop for a view of the dominant mountain profile on our horizon, Mt. St. Helena (4327’).


Lunch on the rocks. Michael spotted a trio of ravens stunt flying together. One time on the Pierce Point Trail I saw a raven chugging along in flight when for no seeming reason, he turned upside down and continued flying quite lyrically that way for quite awhile. http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/facts/common_raven_712.html

You can just make out the suggestion of a tower on the top. Here are some close-ups of the detail.


You could spot the distinctive east peak of Mt. Tamalpais (2571’) when looking south at our mountain sentinel in Marin.


A passing Sheltie or rather, passing a Sheltie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetland_Sheepdog

Gathering some downward momentum on a clear path

The same area from a distance with a profusion of Star Lilies in at the foreground enjoying a boggy area along the trail.


Closer up, closer in: http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=11103

Sharing and shadows

Two great contrails celebrate the hike winding down: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrail

How they dissipate:

Michael saves a description of the communal life of the acorn woodpecker for the finale:
http://www.hastingsreserve.org/Resident Web Pages/Koenig Web Pages/AWIntroPoster/AWposter.html


We often talk about loss of habitat due to human expansion. In 2009 Rossmoor, a senior adult community in Walnut Creek, California, expanded into a wooded area that was prime habitat for the acorn woodpecker. http://baynature.org/articles/trouble-in-rossmoor/

This week’s quiz. What are these symmetrical hollows about?

Frisbee golf in action, can you spot the Frisbee in mid-air? (hint: not that shiny roof beyond the trees)

Sarah and Michael bid adieu as do we all until next time. P.S. Find Armand in the picture, he’s handling the quality control.

Addendum: Hikers have gone this way before and we appreciated their artistry on Taylor Mountain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairn A great Wiki which I think I shared a while back.

And a couple of additional views from March 2010:

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