Sweet Hike with Michael at Sugarloaf – 5 October 2015

Hello, You can access this hike as well as many previous ones at the WordPress site: https://zulupeacekeeper.wordpress.com

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Michael was back from Hula Hoop Camp to lead us up the mountain. He took hooping up a number of years ago and has developed impressive skills and aplomb. Sometimes he will be hooping before one of our hikes lending to a meditation before the day begins. He takes the hoops on his more distant Footloose Forays, to many destinations around the world. It provides an incredible opening with the people he meets and an opportunity to communicate in a playful, joyful way between cultures. Once you see grade school children in Africa or Bhutan monks in the shadows of the Himalayas hooping with Michael, you know he is our roving Ambassador of Hooping. http://hoopcampretreats.com/about

Sugarloaf was closed in December of 2011”for the first time in its 48-year history due to state of California budget problems. Eager to reopen the precious 3,900-acre gem, Team Sugarloaf worked with the State Parks to develop an operating plan that would enable it to become fully functional to the public. Under the agreement, the state maintains ownership of the park while Team Sugarloaf manages operations.” A group of five organizations headed by the Sonoma Ecology Center now maintains and operates the park. http://www.sugarloafpark.org/about/reopening/
http://www.kcet.org/living/travel/socal_wanderer/state-park/california-state-park-closures-may-be-avoided-with-budget-proposal.html from January 10, 2014 http://www.sonomaecologycenter.org BAY NATURE MAGAZINE had chronicled and continues write about the California State Park closure saga with great care. Dipping into any of their articles would be edifying. https://baynature.org/articles/the-parks-and-the-people/

The park looked terrific on last Monday’s hike and their website is far and away one of the best I’ve seen for history of a state park. The park history docent, Larry Maniscalco, has done a splendid job describing Sugarloaf history from times of the Wappo Indians who lived along the “headwaters of Sonoma Creek before the first Spanish settlers came to California”, the charring of Sugarloaf with the rampant production of charcoal in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the state’s purchase of the property in 1920 becoming a part of the State Park System in 1964, the “colorful characters” of the Hippie history in the 1960’s and in time for Halloween – a section on the “Ghosts of Sugarloaf”. All of these links are found in the following web address: http://www.sugarloafpark.org/about/history/

Larry Maniscalco writes of the Sugarloaf name at the beginning of the history section of the website: “Sugar wasn’t always sold in the neat paper packages that we buy in the supermarket these days. Before the turn of the century, in came in loaves that looked something like oversized, upside-down ice cream cones; the grocer just broke off pieces for his customers. So, many western mountains and hills including the ridge at the southern edge of the park were named after the familiar ‘Sugarloaf’.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugarloaf The sugarloaf required a special category of hardware to break off a portion of the loaf for use, woe be to the sweet tooth who forgot his nippers.
http://www.oldandinteresting.com/sugar-nippers.aspx
In a splendid and fascinating 2005 history of sugar refining, “How Sweet it Is” by Virginia Mescher she beautifully describes sugar’s sometimes ugly pathway to the present. She writes about the use of slaves in sugar cane production. The Spanish used native peoples as slaves in the sugar processing and began to import slaves from Africa in 1512. The Portuguese did the same in Brazil in 1583. She writes, “In two hundred years, millions of slaves had been imported from Africa into the New World just to work on the sugar plantations.”
She continues, “By the nineteenth century, few changes had been made in the refining process since the Venetians began processing sugar in the fourteenth century. . . (then) The Boston Sugar Refinery introduced granulated sugar in 1853.” This sugar was packed in barrels but that too required a sugar auger or “sugar devil” to bore into the barrel and crack the hardened sugar. “Sugar was not sold in individual containers until the late 1890’s.” Probably even then it would have been wise to keep your nippers and augers at the ready. http://www.raggedsoldier.com/sugar_history.pdf

Heading up the Bald Mountain Trail, after our hike with Jennie last week and this one with Michael, there are only 48 other Bald Mountains for us to climb in California.

Tarweed, Holozonia (Green’s white crown) highlights the edge of the trail. I hadn’t appreciated the numbers of Tarplants in our area mostly coming upon Deinandra (fragrant tarplant) on our trails. The current issue of the Marin Native Plant Society Newsletter has a fine page of Tarplants if you scroll down to page 6. Don’t miss along the way on page 5 that Lace Lichen (Ramalina menziesii) becomes at the official California state lichen going into effect on January 1st, 2016. We are the first state to “recognize a lichen as a state symbol”. You’ll recall stopping under some Monterey Pines on our Marshall Beach Hike and enjoying the lace lichen there.
‎www.cnpsmarin.org/images/newsletters/MarinCnps2015OctDec.pdf http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/tarweeds.html
http://californialichens.org/state-lichen/lace-lichen/

Michael with a bemused smile has some Coyote brush for our attention. He pointed out that it is dioecious, meaning “that it produces male and female flowers on DIFFERENT plants. Here in this specimen it seems like the same plant has both but he showed us that, no, there were two distinct plants growing together. http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/coyote_brush.htm gives a lovely, clear description.
http://sanhedrin.cnps.org/attachments/article/9/23_fall__2014.pdf The Ukiah chapter of the Native Plant Society describes the Coyote brush succinctly as well a piece on Tarweed.

We saw a flock of Bushtits in the Coyote bushes which took off in a puff of feathers, Michael said that they can live their entire lives most happily in the Coyote brush. They are wonderfully energetic – always in motion right side up, upside down – true acrobats and always “all together now”. I’m borrowing a photo of them enjoying our birdbath from earlier in the year. https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/bushtit
http://www.colintalcroft.com/Sonoma_County_Bird_Watching_Spots/Sugarloaf_Ridge_State_Park,_Kenwood.html

Michael is illustrating the angling of Manzanita leaves (and his book) to the sun, one for sun exposure, the other for shade.
http://www.plantsofcalifornia.com/manzanita-arctostaphylos/ http://www.arthurleej.com/p-o-m-Mar08.html Even though Seattle would be an atypical area for most Manzanitas and a landscaping tree, Arthur Lee Jacobson gives a wonderful description with many succulent details.
http://www.pacifichorticulture.org/articles/manzanita/

Here some Manzanitas have been shaded out by trees and having lost their light for photosynthesis are dead or dying. Michael talked about the fuel this provides in a California fire cycle. http://www.coastal.ca.gov/fire/ucsbfire.html While focusing on Southern California in this link, the basic message is ours as well. http://www.wildcalifornia.org/action-issues/fire/ The 10% high severity fires that this link speaks of may well be increasing with giant steps due to the continuing drought as suggested in the feedback of fire crews in the recent Valley Fire.
BAY NATURE has an excellent, current article on the destructive Morgan Fire on Mt. Diablo in September of 2013 and the recovery that is in progress.
https://baynature.org/articles/harvest-of-fire/

Chamise along our trail, we saw it in great profusion on our Mitchell Canyon hike on Mt. Diablo. Here’s an insightful article about it from Bay Nature: https://baynature.org/articles/like-chamise-like-hot/

Having passed through the chaparral and Manzanita dominated areas we pause in the shade as our trail becomes a paved road that leads through an oak forest to the top of Bald Mountain. The road is for maintenance of a cellular tower atop the mountain. Recall that odd fake tree atop Mt. Barnaby?

A closer view with hats, that’s Sonoma Mountain dominating on the other side of Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon.
http://sonomamountain.org/the-mountain/history/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Valley_of_the_Moon_(novel)

Closing in on the summit and lunch, Michael points out the the blue sign for the Bay Area Ridge Trail, well, he mentioned it earlier. He mused it would be fun to see how many links of the developing trail we have hiked. http://www.ridgetrail.org/the-trail
http://www.presidio.gov/explore/trails/Pages/bay-area-ridge-trail.aspx https://www.facebook.com/ridgetrail

Moving down smartly toward the parking area past the high grass, you think any Festuca Californica?

Back with our memories.

P.S. Hopefully not too revolutionary. . . .

Dear Footloose Amigas and Amigos, I had a CT scan on Sept. 25 which discovered a 4.8 cm growth outside my pelvis, on the 30th of September a biopsy with an intervention radiologist (using the CT to take the biopsy) found the growth to be possibly related to my urinary tract. Good news is that it is not a return of my colon cancer from 2008. Also my blood tests seem in all the normal parameters. A CT scan of my chest (the earlier one was specific to the pelvis) to see if there was any spreading was also negative, phew. I have doctors’ appointments this coming Monday with a urologist and my oncologist (who was so terrific at the time of my colon surgery) so will have to sadly miss the hike up Mt. Wittenberg with all of you. I’ll keep you all up to date.

Hugs, Lew

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