Indian Valley Open Space with Michael – 29 May 2017

As we gathered at the Indian Valley parking area, we realized that we were one of three hikes heading out into the open space. It was Memorial Day and a number of groups had the same idea. This being Indian Valley how about extending the meaning of the day to native Americans as well? Normally, Monday is a quiet zone in the week and we Footloose Folk can have the trails to ourselves. At the same time wishing for our usual private pocket of nature, it was a happy discovery to see so many people enjoying nature – “out and about” as our Canadian friends like to say. Realizing this, Michael got us to the church, er, the restroom on time and then introduced the hike. This was followed by heading out on a road less traveled as we hung a right to the Ad & Gloria Schwindt Trail – a wise choice.

In fine form, Michael starts the day –

We heard the sounds of yelping just as we were starting the trail and thought that they were probably made by a group of teenagers pretending to be coyotes. But on more listening we realized that they were coyotes pretending to be teenagers.
Scott spotted one of the parents walking across the field in the first photo below about to head into the coyote brush. Michael speaking to the group as a pair of equestrians ride by. Finally, Michael points to the cirrus clouds moving in the sky cover and asking what they mean?

Inge spotted her favorite flower along the way, the Yellow Mariposa Lily, Calochortus luteus, with many blooms near the trail. “This species is found on the coastal prairie, grasslands and some open forest floors. It is native to California and is endemic (limited to California). “Like other Mariposa Lilies it grows from a bulb, with most of the growth occurring in winter, followed by spring flowering and summer dormancy.”
Another very rare member of this family is the Tiburon Mariposa Lily, Calochortus tiburonensis, found only on Ring Mountain endemic to a single serpentine outcrop in California’s Marin County.

We met many dog walkers along the paths on the hike who had taken their owners out for some sunshine, shade and the delectable perfumes along the way.

Some medics arriving on the trail to take out a hiker who collapsed along the way. Michael brought one of our three nurses, Rowena, to the scene and she ascertained that the person was stable and that help was on the way. This particular medical help was in an easily accessed location but there are many rescues in Marin County that are much more challenging and complex. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue performs many life saving missions each year.

Inge commented that we were walking in the shade of a California Bay forest. Many younger trees along with some of the older veterans some showing fire scars and some along the creek undermined and fallen with the raging water of the winter rains.

Pointing out a bracket fungi or “artist’s conk” on a California Bay tree with a soft white underside, he said was definitive for a dying tree.

Now we’ve joined the Indian Valley Fire Road and are stopping to smell not the roses but a blooming California Buckeye’s sweet perfume.
Flowers of Marin is back after a hiatus, a very useful site.

Elderberry bush in robust bloom. These flat-topped are Blue Elderberry flowers clusters whereas the more pyramidal or cone-shaped flower bloom is the Red Elderberry flower cluster – Michael’s nemonic device for this is red pyramids. Notice the distinctly serrated leaves. Ah, four types with the additional Black and “Sutherland Gold” which I’ll have to sort out. Red Blue poisoning from elderberry juice.

Some late blooming wildflowers along the road, Michael points to a hillside of Linanthus androsaceus or Lepitosiphon androsaceus (False Baby Stars in Reny Parker’s book “Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country” on p.117.)
Curiously, it is a native plant in California and Pennsylvania.

Lillian McHoul writes of Linanthus androsaceus (syn. that it is from the Greek linon for flax and anthos meaning flower. And Reny Parker writes, “In mid to late spring a profusion of perky pink flowers in open or shaded areas in woodlands and chaparral are most likely the pretty annual. . . .Each flower is a small upright trumpet of five colorful petals with the throat of the trumpet generally violet at the base and yellow above.” P. 117

Another flower on the same hillside was Red Ribbons (Clarkia concinna) in the Evening Primrose Family. Reny Parker writes, “Another common name is Lovely Clarkia but I was told that it’s not fair to use that name as all Clarkia are lovely.” P. 126 Mary Elizabeth Parsons writes in her “The Wild Flowers California” (1897), “in June these charming blossoms may be found in the company of maidenhair fern fringing the banks of shady roads or standing in glowing masses under the buckeye-trees.
In them Nature has ventured upon one of those rather daring color combinations of which we would have hardly dreamed, and the result is delightful. The petals are bright rose-pink, while the sepals are of a red pink.” P.242

Sonoma Sunshine, Blennosperma bakeri, in the Sunflower Family, Asteraceae. Reny Parker writes, “Closely related and very similar in appearance to Common Blennosperma, Sonoma sunshine is a much more pleasant descriptor than its generic cousin’s moniker. An endangered species, its bracts are yellow and the lower leaf lobes are entire or three lobed. The lobes are longer than those of the Common Blennosperma. You may find this annual herb in vernal pools and wet grasslands.
P. 89

Still another lovely was in this patch, Ithuriel’s Spear or Grass Nut (Triteleia laxa) in the Lily Family, Liliaceae. Parker writes, “Named after the spear of Ithuriel, an angel in Milton’s Paradise Lost, it is also known as Wally Basket. . . . Bees and butterflies love this blossom. . . . In the mid to late spring as the grasses begin to golden, this bright blue purple flower provides the only contrast color over vast stretches of gold. Spear head like flower buds open to reveal six petals forming each vivid flower. Clusters of flowers sit atop leafless stems.” P. 167

A former quarry, a long time healing. The exposed greenish rock at the base is serpentine, California’s state rock.

The area along the fire road and the adjacent seasonal creek provided a welcoming environment for this California pipevine or California Dutchman’s-pipe. Michael pointed out that the pipe shape would be that of a Meerschaum pipe. “The larva of the endemic California pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor hirsuta) relies on the California pipevine as its only food source. The red-spotted black caterpillars consume the leaves of the plants, and then use the flowers as a secure, enclosed place to undergo metamorphosis. The plant contains a toxin which when ingested by the caterpillars makes them unpalatable to predators.” Note – one of these main characters is coming onto the stage at the top of the photo.

Michael shows us close-up a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar:

We turn off on the Waterfall Trail looking for a lunch spot, that waterfall was about two months earlier this year. We stop to admire some dandelion flowers
gone to beautiful white seed orbs about to be blown away by the wind.

Further on as we walk up the little stream, Michael spots some water striders in the pools and is able to bring up a talk he made on them on KQED, NPR pulling it up on his iPhone. 10 June 2010 They’re called the Jesus bug in Texas which hatched the discussion of which disciple walked on water.

Just over a small bridge that has a horse forbidden sign, Michael spotted and identified an unusual wildflower called Gay Wings, Polygala californica in the Milkwort Family.

And just over the trickling stream our picnic spot appeared. Looks very comfortable as long as there’s no poison oak.
Michael’s latest on his KQED Perspective series:

Easy conversation over lunch. We started remembering Drive-in movies for some reason and Sue Morris was recalling their family going to the San Rafael Drive In on one occasion with their four year old son. Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog” (1959) She remembers that her son found it very frightening and started screaming prompting a walk back to the refreshment stand for some distracting, quieting popcorn. Then Kit was remembering going to see Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” with three girl friends and feeling positively gushy about the film. Michael mentioned that he heard about a woman who went to see a Shakespeare film but didn’t know about the author. When asked how she liked it she said, “It was ok but it was really full of cliches.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s