Tennessee Valley with Michael – 14 September 2015

Thanks very much for your past appreciations for these occasional hike-logs. If you’d rather not receive them, do let me know.
Best thoughts, Lew


What a pleasure to have some blustery winds and rain in our faces on Monday’s hike. We welcomed the unexpected weather for its excitement and maybe even didn’t mind getting a bit soggy along the way. After a summer of hot and dry, the contrast was refreshing to say the least. It came at a time when we were keenly aware of the devastating fires north of us in Lake County and so we wished for some of this wet to be sent in that direction. Michael collected clothing, blankets and other material from the group to help the many who’ve lost their homes and are displaced by the raging flames. Lisa suggested we also could contribute to the Red Cross support effort for the Valley fire which is at the site and organized there. GIVE WHERE YOU LIVE: How to help Valley Fire victims in Lake County, Napa County | abc7news.com and Matt & his wife have taken in a friend who was completely burned out at Harbin Hot Springs.

Michael just back from Burning Man (just a bit of irony) and Nancy share the same stylist?

Time for our adventures over the summer since our spring hikes. You can see the tasty loaf of Challah Bread that Hillary passed around the circle, a perfect sharing for Rosh Hashanah, and wished us all a Happy New Year. This felt especially good in the midst of our interminable drought and the Sierra snow pack lowest in 500 years – the taste of rain seemed a fine harbinger.

A pair of ravens shelter on a serpentine boulder just above the parking lot. David Lukas writes in his excellent book, BAY AREA BIRDS, that “they are one of the world’s most intriguing birds, and if you watch closely you will perceive their intelligence, creativity and personality.” David recommends reading about ravens in more detail in Bernd Heinrich’s ‘Mind of a Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds”. P. 194 http://www.lukasguides.com/Bay_Area_Birds..html http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/254704.Mind_of_the_Raven

Miwok Livery Stables is at the other side of the parking lot. Imagine houses and streets all up and around these hills. That was the plan for this entire area including the magnificent overlooks of San Francisco Bay on the far side. The name of the development was Marincello perhaps reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.
The elaborate gate to this complex for “30,000 residents in 50 apartment towers along with hundreds of homes and townhouses” was just to the left of this picture. The project was narrowly approved by the Marin Board of Supervisors in 1965 everyone believing that this private property’s development was sealed in stone.
Fortunately, brave people stood up and stood in the way. Three lawyers representing the City of Sausalito, Douglas Ferguson, Bob Praetzel and Marty Rosen filed a lawsuit against the developer, Thomas Frough and financer Gulf Oil saying Marincello was improperly zoned back in 1964. The public had been allowed only six days to review the zoning instead of the legal ten days. This minor technicality opened the door to many other zoning inaccuracies that Marin County had approved in 1965.
By 1970 Frouge and Gulf “made amends and were finally about to get their overdue project back on track. However, that same year they were dealt a crushing blow. The court ruled that the entire project was improperly zoned and they would have to throw out their plans and submit a brand new plan from scratch. Finally, after the court’s ruling, the Board of Supervisors announced they would no longer support the project.”
Enter Huey Johnson, a conservation pathfinder who was the western director of The Nature Conservancy. He met with Gulf Oil Corporation about selling the valuable land to the park service in early 1970. ” After Gulf lost their lawsuit, this finally became an attractive option. In 1972, the land was sold to the Nature Conservancy for $6.5 million and then transferred to the newly formed Golden Gate National Recreation Area.”
The Tennessee Valley Gate to Marincello was finally torn down in 1976. “Huey Johnson, Douglas Ferguson and Martin Rosen founded The Trust for Public Land in 1972, an organization dedicated to conserving land for people across the United States.”
Cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marincello https://baynature.org/articles/saved-by-grit-and-grace/

Starting out on the Tennessee Valley Trail heading for the beach. The trail is a very popular for walking, hiking, biking, running and equestrians – lots of activity. http://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/tennessee_valley.htm

Michael talks about wild turkeys being a vastly different creature from the domestic turkey. They are totally savvy in their surroundings, the adults can pose a danger to hikers and they can quite dramatically fly. The sign urges staying clear of them and suggests stomping your feet to scare them off. Michael highly recommended a BBC film that has been shown on PBS called MY LIFE AS A TURKEY, filmed in Florida. http://documentarystorm.com/my-life-as-a-turkey/ Running almost an hour, it is well worth setting aside this time for a remarkable experience.
From the film talking about the turkey’s singular ability to live in the n-o-w:

“Don’t betray the moment
for some abstraction
up ahead.”

The sky misting in and on my camera lens.

Mystery ampulesque, plastic container seen a couple of times along the trail. This one is near where we spotted a yellow jacket nest on a previous hike. Some kind of repellent? Any ideas?

Moving back the group stands near a Monterey Cypress on the right and a Monterey Pine complements things on the left. A raindrop necklace joins them both. Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) description http://eol.org/pages/1061749/details

Nearby, Michael pointed out deer antler rub marks on this willow tree. He mused for a moment about the healing and pain controlling properties of willow bark extract, salicylic acid, from which we derive aspirin. But then again he concluded that maybe it is just another tree to help the removal of velvet or an announcement of a dominant buck in the area leaving both markings and scent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_aspirin https://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/f2013/hopp_carl/adaptation.htm

Approaching a Tennessee Beach Overlook

Heading down to a misty Tennessee Beach its “V” shaped hills framing the scene as the surrounding flora turns a richer green evidencing fresh water.

Maybe it’s a “Scottish Loch” or better their smaller version, a “lochan”? This is just a free association because of the verdance in and around this pond, unusual in our dry California summer – especially this one.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lochs_of_Scotland Take a break and enjoy this terrific Wikipedia entry, they’ve all got a name and a history. It’s called water lust.

Tennessee Beach as we gather by a riveted and torn iron (steel?) section of a ship’s hull with thoughts about that morning of March 6th, 1853 when the SS Tennessee came aground in what was then called Indian Cove.

Was this from the SS Tennessee? It was a wooden ship but along with 3 masts it did have steam engines to drive the paddle wheels with the necessary metal construction – water/steam tanks/stacks and was called the Steamer Tennessee. This combined marine technology had been in place a lot earlier in the 19th Century, “the first purpose-built transatlantic steamship, SS Great Western (a side wheel paddle steamer with four masts) made its maiden voyage in 1838.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steamship There were many of these paddlewheel steamers with sail masts plying the Panama Route either from New York – Panama or Panama – San Francisco. The California Gold Rush provided many passengers for a number of years. You can find the SS Tennessee down in the following link. It gives an idea of the number and various sizes of these vessels in service at this time in history.

Not to mention Tsunamis

Finding some shelter out of the wind on the stairs to the Tennessee Beach Overlook, it’s lunchtime and time not to overlook the beach.

Built by “a notable shipbuilder and naval architect, William H. Webb”, the SS Tennessee was one of a long production line of ships which was launched from their New York shipyards this one on 25th October 1848. You can find it at # 40 on this list of 135 vessels. http://www.shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/719thcentury/webb.htm
It was originally built for the New York – Savannah trade and made its first voyage there on 22nd March 1849. Then it was purchased by Pacific Mail SS Co. and left New York on 6th December 1849 and arrived in Panama (after going round Cape Horn) on 12th March 1850. She found 3000 people eagerly awaiting passage to San Francisco. Originally constructed to accommodate 200 passengers, she had been enlarged in 1849 to carry 200 Cabin and 350 steerage class passengers.

How many voyages had the SS Tennessee made in those years from March of 1850 until the March of her demise, 1853. One time pattern noted: down to Panama in 14 days, 8 hours with a return of 14 days, 4 hours. If she actually took two trips each month there may have been a possibility of 2 trips X 36 months so perhaps around 72 successful voyages? The Daily Alta wrote at the time that it was “one of the finest and certainly the most profitable vessel in the employ of the Company”. It must have seemed especially strange to have missed the opening of the Golden Gate, the Heads as they were called, due to heavy fog. For Captain E. Mellus to find himself staring at an unfamiliar shore line with menacing rocks and in heavy surf after all these successful trips was odd indeed. He attempted to back up the ship three times but without success. The Sacramento Union writes, “During this critical time, the captain’s presence of mind never forsook him.” Some accounts have him running the ship aground on the sandy beach as a kind of 19th Century Sully Sullenberger. Others speak of the ship being brought unto the beach by the waves.
But to the great fortune of all of the passengers, some 550 by some records including 100 women and children, they’d been saved and were safely disembarking onto the beach from the ship’s stern. The cargo and a sizable & important mail dispatch were also saved. There was an investigating committee formed to evaluate the captain and crew. They found them not only blameless but commended their professionalism and valor in the face of such a possible disaster. The passengers as well applauded their actions writing a letter of profound thanks and appreciation. Initially it was thought that the Tennessee could be saved but the hull was a total loss, “as she appears to have a broken back.” They also hoped to save the machinery but that too was unsuccessful. Some pieces can still be seen at low tide and perhaps we saw some ourselves on the beach.

The return to the parking lot with just a small portion of challah bread still left for the trail ahead.

Post Script and “post” is appropriate: The Tennessee like the other ships plying the Panama circuit carried letters for the Post Office.

“Pacific Mail Steamer Tennessee Ashore Passengers and Mails Safe” Sacramento Union, March 9. 1853

“The passengers, mails, baggage and provisions were all safely landed from the ship . . .”

“The mail by the Tennessee was received at the Post Office at half-past 3-o’clock yesterday afternoon, and although the largest yet made up for this State, was opened, sorted from the confused mass it presented, and a delivery made by 9 o’clock in the evening. It should be borne in mind by those who are inclined to complain at not getting their letters immediately on the arrival of the mail, that upwards of 200 large bags, containing some 70,000 letters and nearly as many papers, cannot be sorted and boxed before they are fairly in the office.
Nor can the Postmaster perform miracles, however willing he may be to accommodate the public. Thirty persons were hard at work in the distribution of this mail, in order to facilitate a portion of its delivery last evening ‘an accommodation all must admit, and entirely gratuitous on the part of Mr. Moore. The Postmaster is not required to keep his office open after 5 o’clock in the afternoon, either for delivery or reception of letters; and if we are not mistaken, he violates a regulation of the Department on the sailing and arrival of every mail.”

“Neither snow not rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

http://www.uspcs.org/the-foreign-mails/updated-california-gold-rush-mail-agents-trip-tables/ Two if by sea
Western Cover Society | Exhibits | Western Expresses | Mail Routes One if by land

P.P.S. This is a little shaky: http://www.hauntedbay.com/features/goldengate.shtml

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