Meeting at Bear Valley Center at Point Reyes National Seashore, our last gather was on a rainy December 12th in Berkeley. We’re looking for familiar faces. The 1906 Earthquake Trail is beyond the group into the trees and the one to the Kule Loklo Miwok Village to the left past the visitors’s center. We’ll be heading out on the shady Bear Valley Trail towards Divide Meadow following Bear Creek flowing along brightly in the sunshine – sol n sombra. Occasionally, there has been a black bear sighting in Marin County but they are rare indeed, now mostly memories due to lack of bear corridors and the dominance of the human highways and freeways.
Long gone is the magnificent grizzly bear remembered on the California flag, last seen and killed in Orange County (Tulare County by another account) in 1908.
The last grizzly observed at Pt. Reyes was in in 1884. cf. timeline of Pt. Reyes history: http://www.ptreyes.org/learn-about-seashore/point-reyes-timeline
Michael is wearing the orange hat under his sun glasses, that’s a start. Many of us are warmed and fed after a stop at the Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station.
Hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers share the Bear Valley Trail along with the natives a few of whom are on the hill.
It all begins with the first step no matter with which foot you lead.
A Blacktail doe eating for two. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-tailed_deer
Some Wild Ginger at the side of the trail gave an intense gingery perfume as we crushed the leaf, maybe a bit earthy as well. Asarum caudatum is in the Pipeline or Birthwort Family (Aristolochiaceae). Low growing and slow growing it is happy in deep shade to part sun. The leaf is shiny, somewhat heart shaped and slightly hairy on top. The plant likes some supplemental summer water. These leaves have some true grit – sand kicked up from the trail and, perhaps, a fungal growth.
“Wild ginger has no true petals but three beautiful deep maroon sepals hidden under the heart shaped leaves with pointed ends. . . . . The exotic flowers are pollinated by slugs and ants serving as assistants in dispersal of the plant’s seeds.” P. 192, “Wildflowers of California’s Wine Country & North Coast Ranges” by Reny Parker, 2007. http://leftcoastnatty.blogspot.com/2010/04/plant-of-month-western-wild-ginger.html This well done entry adds other pollinators: gnats and flies.
On the Bear Valley Trail, we walk along Bear Creek, (ah, the symmetry) it’s one of the most popular trails at Point Reyes National Seashore. “This stream runs north — the opposite direction you will hike along after passing the meadow. Odd drainage patterns are characteristic of the fault zone.” “Point Reyes” by Dorothy L. Whitnah, Wilderness Press, 1981. P. 35
Divide Meadow opens up after 1.6 miles. We’ll return here for our lunch. A bit more from Dorothy Whitnah: P. 35 “San Francisco’s elite Pacific Union Club maintained a hunting lodge here from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Their quarry included bear, mountain lion, as well as deer.” Ms. Whitnah quotes Helen Bingham who visited Pt. Reyes in 1906 and described Bear Valley in her book “In Tamal Land”. “She took a dim view of the hunt club, however: The deep baying of the hounds from its extensive kennels forms the only discordant note in the Valley, reminding one that even near nature’s heart man’s inherent primitiveness asserts itself. If when wandering the woodland fastnesses, he (man) would hunt the wild creatures with a camera it would require greater patience, skill and acumen . . .” P.35
Heidi found this along the trail and showed it to Michael who asked us what we thought it might be? After some creative suggestions, he told us that this is the
cocoon of the gorgeous Ceanothus silk moth. All of those frog becoming prince stories were true after all, no slur intended on the handsome frog. Here’s a splendid and succinct description in the LA Times by our naturalist friend, David Lukas: http://articles.latimes.com/2005/may/17/news/os-field17
http://www.mendonomasightings.com/2013/04/29/a-photo-of-a-lifetime-a-ceanothus-silkmoth-lays-her-eggs/ http://www.mendonomasightings.com/tag/ceanothus-silk-moth http://waynesword.palomar.edu/redmit2a.htm
As we headed down from Divide Meadow, we spotted some old friends. The Douglas Irises are beginning to bloom. We’d enjoyed them in profusion on earlier hikes here. http://www.pacificcoastiris.org/wildiris_irisdouglasiana.html
Wild cucumber vine beginning to make its way in the world. It either trails on the ground or climbs on other plants for support. It grows phenomenally fast and the Manroot can become gigantic.
Michael spotted a Varied Thrush in the thicket near the trail and mentioned that it would probably be on its way to Alaska shortly, their breeding area.
Truth in lending, this is a photo from my garden while the bird was visiting with his affinity group – a bunch of American Robins. The thrush during our hike was just a little too fast and furtive though we could hear his song.
Hiking down from Divide Meadow along the stream now called Coast Creek which flows south to the Pacific. Was that South Pacific? I can hear the songs now.
A frisky Pacific Wren (Western Winter Wren) who was defending his turf with sass and spirit. The best real estate attracts the best mates.
Michael talked about the differences between a song and a call. The song is usually musical and sung by the male as a part of a territorial and courtship pattern. The call is normal communication by both sexes through the year indicating location, danger, food sources and a great variety of other often nuanced messages.
Larry was asking about these flowers and Michael identified them as California Toothwort, a “right on” idea considering Larry’s background in dentistry. They also fly by the “California Milkmaids” name and seem often to be the first wildflower of “spring” often showing up on shady hillsides in December.
Heading back to the barn from our elegant picnic area at Divide Meadow, Dining at the Divide!
Returning to GO: This was actually the beginning of the hike when we shared where we were born, where we were living when we were 16, and something of significance that happened to us since we last hiked together in December 2014. Let me see? A circle goes round and round like a hula hoop.