Climbing Mt. Burdell with Michael – 12 September 2016

Come with us for tales of yesteryear or perhaps better, yesterweek and welcome – it’s fun to share. This time the descriptions and links are above the photos, in other editions they have been below. Do you have a preference – what works best for you? Let me know if you’d rather not receive these.
Best thoughts, Lew

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It is the time of Turkey Mullein and Tar Weed. We know for sure that Autumn is on its way and
even a bit early with these cool evenings
and a Harvest Moon.
Wakened by the clarion calls of Canada geese
v’d overhead in ever larger formations,
we sense they too have the restlessness of
a changing season.

The first hike of the fall is a time of renewal after a summer of exploring. Perhaps it was in the nearby with hikes in the San Francisco area and maybe beyond to Washington’s Lake Chelan, Vancouver or Newfoundland. Further afield Michael was leading a trip to Brazil’s Pantanal near the equator. Others in the group were far above the equator heading into arctic waters. We are definitely a group of travelers and that adventurous spirit continues as we head into the discoveries of Footloose Fall Hikes 2016.

Gathering at the San Andreas gate in good spirits, it’s a sol n sombra crowd.

Just up the hill we circle the wagons to share our summer adventures, just a “group of friends”. We also get to relate to some four footed hikers

Stopping at the top of the first rise to group-up at two path choices – a V in the trail, remembering Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” or perhaps the trail not taken. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost – Poetry Foundation

Every autumn we walk along different dry trails and are amazed by the robust qualities of these two plants coming into their own. Inge also added that turkey mullein is called doveweed and we speculated on that description. Why do you think? – This one done with a swell sense of humor, who would have thought a botanist could break out!

I recall talking with Judith Lowry one time and hearing her enthusiasm for tarweed (as well as the rest in the array of California natives). After this, I began to look & sniff again appreciating them spread out along the way, out in the fields and into the hills. Their distinctive tarry odor – she describes its “clean pungent aroma” is a definitive. She points out that they are not limited to autumn which is when we usually notice them.

The explication of turkey mullein is somehow clearer with the hands.
The Fascinating Science Behind ‘Talking’ With Your Hands | Huffington Post

Inge spotted this hawk in a California buckeye tree. She thought that it was perhaps a Northern Harrier but we wished for a scope to clarify the siting.
David Lukas writes in his BAY AREA BIRDS, “Flying mere feet above the ground, harriers patrol grasslands and marshes searching for voles, birds, reptiles and other small animals hidden in tall grasses, mostly relying on sounds to capture their prey with pinpoint accuracy. These hunting flights can be quite dramatic to watch as harriers systematically crisis-cross fields in grid-like patterns and zero in on their prey with acrobatic pull-ups, cart wheels, drop- pounces, and other fancy wingwork.” p. 70, Bay Area Birds.

The tree we know, some its distinctive fruit is still hanging on after its typical early leaf drop.

A juvenile Pacific gopher snake that we spied crossing the trail. Some thought about a young yellow bellied racer but that tale is much longer as Michael wrote in his email. This one seemed comfortable after it warmed up in Michael’s hand.

Into the horizon

Dry pond on Mt. Burdell, it’s summer time and the living is grassy. Michael talks about the female frogs sleeping below the grasses (the life below) and asks us to listen to their songs.

A fog bank hangs in on the coastal hills:

Framed with some Buckeye fruit we’re settling down for lunch in the high grass. We were treated to a wonderful flock of ravens soaring on the breezes. All at once a red tailed hawk dove down almost snagging one of them – high drama in the meantime.
Perhaps the hawk regretted his boldness.

Heading back down we’re able to pick up on some of the views we missed. Here is one of the rock quarry atop Mt. Burdell. From the California Journal of Mines and Geology you can scroll down to, “Mt. Burdell was the source of hundreds of thousands of hand shaped andesite paving blocks. Since paving blocks were often used for ballast on sailing ships, when next you admire a cobblestone street in Europe, check to see if there is a country origin stamp crediting Novato as the source of the materials.” Cf. this article ‎

And a view of the former Fireman’s Fund Insurance complex and our transportation backbone, Highway 101 at the Atherton/San Marin overcrossing, with surprisingly few cars at this time of day.

On the downslope making our way through some scree and gaining momentum

Back at the San Andreas Gate, “The beginning is the end is the beginning” (Thanks to Smashing Pumpkins.)

Billy Collins has a great poem, “Aristotle”, about beginnings, middles and ends from his collection PICNIC, LIGHTNING, 1998 University of Pittsburg Press.

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