Foggy beginnings as we gathered at the San Marin Trailhead but moisture in whatever form is welcome these days. We took off to the right for a “counter” clockwise loop because we wanted to quietly protest the hour we’d lost to Daylight Savings Time the day before, take that time keepers. We’ve enjoyed Mt. Burdell a number of times but this particular hike had a spring sparkle, a presence with that mix of discovery and contentment we all seek. The Marin newspaper, Marin IJ, even had Mt. Burdell up for the “Hike of the week by Tacy Dunham” and Sarah snagged a copy for Jim. You can see him sharing it with the group hot off the presses. We did a large part of her hike but due to time constraints left out the Old Quarry and Cobblestone Trail portions.
For those who’d like a quick review of Galen Burdell for whom Mt. Burdell is named some fun links follow. If you scroll down in the last link for the Jack Mason Museum you can see a picture of the lovely and determined Mary Burdell. Well, that link is having issues so you can just type in your search box: Jack Mason Museum, then put your cursor on “Under the Gables” and then “Winter 2014”. The whole site is very rich in Marin County history.
http://www.jackmasonmuseum.org/Under the Gables 2-14 final web.pdf
We are not alone on the trail, here a sentinel of the larger herd gives us the once over. In the background are a group of Garry Oaks seemingly sculpted into the edge of the hill and the rocks which were part of an early rock wall. Originally, the cows running in pastures of wildflowers were a concern – they’re munching all the wildflowers! But actually they are breaking up the hard soil so that plants and wildflowers can come up and additionally at no extra cost, they fertilize the area with great generosity. Now in a joint venture with local farmers who are often the original owners of the land shared use is now more the norm blending agriculture with parks and people. Jim mentioned that breaking up the hard land surfaces and land manuring used to be done by wild elk herds now missing in the equation. Moving the cattle around on the land keeps it healthy and forestalls over foraging. http://www.carangeland.org/images/GrazingHandbook.pdf
Checking out the Blue Dicks (Michael’s Azure Williams allays the sensibilities of teenagers.) These are a bit shorter perhaps due to serpentine soil in this area – you can just make out some nice serpentine outcroppings in the fog on the hill beyond the tree profiles on the right.
Blue Dick central with admirers. You can see from the Latin that they come by their name honestly. But the first wikipedia article conflates Blue dicks with Brodiaea which raises questions for us since they make rather different blooms and presentations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichelostemma_capitatum
Two enormous California Bay Trees just off our path get some ahtention. Jim mentioned that size is not necessarily a determinant of age. Sometimes the good fortune of location or weather can produce size without a great time span. Often these trees form a growth circle eventually joining together forming one communal growth. Do they retain their individual identiities or somehow meld into one tree? If you’ve tried cooking with these leaves, you’ll know that they have a sharper, more vigorous flavor than the usual bay leaves of Laurus nobilis. The nuts look like tiny avocados and the tree is in the same family. Unfortunately, as the Wikipedia article mentions, Umbellularia californica along with the tanoak are hosts to the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death.
Jim pointed out a California Woodpecker Granary tree usually made in dead tree trunks but in this instance using the wonderfully textured oak bark.
Author, author – presenting the voice, the whimsey if not quite the profile of Woody Woodpecker.
Give me an “S”, a leaf miner showing off some artistry on a Live Oak leaf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaf_miner http://www.chemical-ecology.net/insects/leafmine.htm
Cattle trough ready when the herd comes this way and . . . our trail beckons. We are now out of the Oak Savanna and into forest habitat. http://hcp.stanford.edu/oak.html
Lovely tiered mushroom in fallen California Bay leaves, maybe from the large Agaricus family, Agaricus crocodilinus ?? Agaricus augustus or californicus ?? ?http://mushroomobserver.org/name/show_name/1340
Gnat swarm with California Bay Laurel background. We spotted a couple of swarms after Jim pointed out the tiny, tiny swirls. Food source for birds and bats as well as tormentors for cattle and other mammals. Black flies in the Adirondacks were a good example for this mammal. Swarms have many dimensions as this challenging article develops: http://robertmarks.org/REPRINTS/2013_UnexpectedEmergentBehaviorsFromElementarySwarms.pdf
I’m reminded of one of the creative and intriguing books of Michael Crichton, “Prey.” http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/24/books/it-s-the-little-things.html
Looking through a forest frame, the morning mist is beginning to clear
A view of the top of Mr. Burdell and the old Andesite quarry where many San Francisco cobbles were mined. http://quarriesandbeyond.org/states/ca/stone_industry/ca-stone_indust_upto1950_2.html
The day begins to clear with California Poppies at the fore and a lonely Buckeye staking out the territory at the bottom of the hill. The California Poppy was voted the official state flower in 1903, you wonder if there was a Blue Dick contingent?
These are two of the typical colors but there are some variations in pale yellow, bronze, rose and ivory. http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/eschscholzia_californica.shtml
The Buckeye is adapted to the dry Mediterranean California climate and is the first tree to lose its leaves usually in the summer and the first to leaf out around January or February.
Jim spotted a passing visual aid, the larval form of the Lady Bug. http://www.ladybug-life-cycle.com/
Hidden Lake or Hidden Pond was at the top of our hike loop and is considered the only vernal pool in Marin County. Here a pair of Mallards enjoy the greenery.
We pause under a great oak at he edge of Hidden Lake, Pond, or Pool.
A California Buttercup with some drops of the remaining dew of the day. Ranunculus californicus likes wet meadows and moist environments, its first name means “little frog”. Its petals are shiny and almost lacquered though that’s not so clear here.
The group and the view spread out for lunch.
Heading down the Middle Burdell Fire Road and at least one dog in the hike-log (and equestrian!).
A grand Black Oak toward the bottom of our hike. The Miwok preferred the Black Oak acorns found in areas of Mt. Burdell.
Heading back to our beginnings, a long concrete retaining wall marks some of the preparations for the housing development that was to fill these hills and valleys. Thanks to the crusaders for open space and the supportive community of San Marin, it didn’t happen and today’s hike did. http://baynature.org/trail/mount-burdell-loop/
Here’s a Vimeo walkabout with some added shots Pat and I took when we reprised the hike on Wednesday, 11 March 2015. The music is by Ottorino Respighi – “La Primavera” from Trittico Botticelliano.
Mt. Burdell Hike with Jim – 9 March 2015.m4v
P.S. If you’d prefer not to receive these occasional hike-logs, please let me know at either of the first addresses. Best thoughts, Lew