Lynch Canyon with Michael – 6 November 2017

Driving the water level route on Highway 37 often means a traffic jam but at 9 AM on a Monday morning it was “anything but”. There was a surrounding sense of the greater San Francisco Bay heightened by old farming levees coming down in the process of reclaiming the bay.
Returning the tidal baylands to their original buffer role between water and land is preparation for rising sea levels in the not so far future.
Added to this there is the remarkable beauty of this scene as you drive by with shorebirds and migrants just outside your window. This view was
only heightened by a hovering white-tailed kite, the slow circling of a flock of white pelicans riding a thermal high into the sky and a beautiful array
of surrounding clouds highlighted by the sunshine.

I recalled Cunard Line’s 1952 advertising slogan, “Getting there is half the fun”. This was a bold but late attempt to appeal to traveler’s by promoting relaxed travel of ship. The airlines were about to take market share but these last years of going to sea to get somewhere was still a shining moment in travel history filled with many comforts, luxuries and maybe even a ship board romance. First out of the gate British Overseas Airways (BOAC) began its DeHavilland Comet 1 jet service between London and Johannesburg in May of 1952. Determined to maintain their lead in spite of accidents grounding the Comet 1, BOAC “inaugurated its .. weekly transatlantic service on 4 October 1958 with the new Comet 4. Pan Am Clippers were soon to begin their new era of jet travel with the Boeing 707. On 26 October1958, Pan Am inaugurated its first 707 daily transatlantic service from New York to Paris shrinking travel time and offering “Only seven hours to brush up on your French.” This unique and rich website is a trove for all things Berkeley. The particular link has assembled a splendid series of Cunard travel posters about “getting there is half the fun.”

You may recall our last visit to Solano County Parks on our hike at Rush Ranch in December of 2016 or at least recall our star Dalmatian actor, a
Stonewall Sport Horse.

We talked at the time of other Solano County Parks and got our chance to explore a new one on this hike at Lynch Canyon. Solano County was named after a famous Native American Chief of the Patwin, a word meaning people. He was a friend of Mariano Vallejo and an ally of his in conflicts with other tribal groups in the area. His native name was Set-Yeto meaning “brave or fierce hand” and his baptized Christian name was, Francisco Solano. In addition to being a charismatic leader “one of his most striking and imposing characteristics was his height, topping off at 6 feet and 7 inches.”

Gathering at the parking area a dramatic hill sets the scene as does the welcome rest room after out travels. You can spot a few black dots on the hill – Black Angus cattle keeping down the grass. They seem content with more solitary work.

Gathering at an information sign we read that Lynch is home to golden eagles and hawks as well as being a magnet for migrating and over-wintering birds of prey providing “over 1,000 undeveloped acres where they can hunt and rest.”

Michael noticed some Northern California black walnut trees. In agriculture they are used as root stock for the tastier English walnuts which are grafted on top of the black walnut root ball. this description of the Southern California Black Walnut relates that the Chumash Indians of the Channel Islands eat the nuts. – If you can stand the advertising, this is an interesting article about some special black walnut trees in the Napa Valley area from an article in the Napa Valley Register by Bill Pramuk in 2009. They were found just across the Napa County Line in Lake County on a UC research station at the Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Preserve in Pope Valley.

Michael points out a bluebird house or better “nesting boxes” which have been constructed by local cub scout troops and the Napa-Solano Audubon Society. The location and design of the box are as crucial as its location. The hole needs to accommodate the particular bird size. If it is too large it would allow starlings to take it over destroying the fledge of the desired birds: western bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens and a few others.
In placing a box, crews face it to the east or south away from prevailing winds, the round entry holes measure 1 & 9/16ths of an inch, six inches from the bottom of the hole to the box floor. “If the box is too shallow, predators can reach the chicks. If it’s too deep, the chicks can’t crawl out. To make the box just right, the box builders carve little grooves on the inside for the chicks to stepladder their way out.”

Spotting a ……?

The sign urges us to resist the urge to pet a cow, hadn’t seen this one before. Getting between a cow and her calf could be problematic and dangerous.

Solitary and substantial black cottonwood tree, Populus trichocarpa. Or it might also be a Fremont’s cottonwood, Populus fremontii,

High wires keeping up the clouds

Michael spots two Golden Eagles, one mature and one immature, on the horizon with a white cloud helping as background.

Topping another rise we looked way up a hill to an object of interest, that dark spot on the crest. The cattle perform a valuable service keeping down the grass as well as enjoying the forage. She’s enjoying a view from close to 900 feet with “panoramic views extending from the Coast Range to San Francisco Bay and across the Delta to the Sierra Nevada”.

Lynch Canyon Reservoir provides habitat for many waterbirds both locals and those migrating through, a great white egret can be spotted in the center. In the foreground is a border of tule grass which was used by the California Indians to make “shelters, boats and sleeping & sitting mats”. from 2014 Tule fog can transform the Central Valley of California and make the roadways a gamble with markers at the side of the road your only guide.

Michael makes an explanation with hands added for emphasis, what does his body language tell us?

Heading uphill to take the high path so we can “get to Scotland afore ye” or at least to our lunch spot with everyone else. Harriet leads the way.

Michael mentioned that some animals like to leave their scat atop cow paddies, all sorts of signatures out there.

And a purple star thistle in bloom as well as we continue up the hill, there is also one with a yellow flower called a golden star thistle.  The lancing thorns and the delicate bloom provide a vivid contrast.

Lunch atop the rise: Michael loves Halloween and he shared some of this year’s celebration on McDonald Avenue in Santa Rosa at lunch.
The owners of the McDonald Mansion, the John Webleys, decided that a celebration this year after the recent devastating fires would be a nice respite, a healing time and a welcome back to normalcy for everyone and especially the kids. This year there was a crashed spaceship in their front yard, a cafe in Roswell, N.M and live music. Michael went as the Disco King and rode his bike over hanging a disco ball from the handlebars with a boom box accompaniment.
He’d met a lady from Israel, Ellen, giving her a ride on the way back from Burning Man. They hit it off, she’s a spinner – you’ll recall Michael’s love of hula hooping. Ellen and her friend Issac came by on this scene and Michael gave them a grand tour of an American Halloween. They joined him trick or treating and got a royal welcome at all the houses since Michael is a well known participant in this celebration. The next day they were off home to Israel. Some shots of the McDonald Mansion through the years with a few photos of Halloween through the years toward the end of the series.

We find a fascinating and beautiful thistle as we head down the hill after lunch.

There were remarkably few rocky outcroppings on these hills. Here Michael finds some weathered sandstone. In “Roadside Geology of Northern and Central California”, the authors describe this area’s geology: “The highway (I 80) passes through a spectacular road cut in Franciscan rocks at the top of Sulphur Springs Mountain, just east of Vallejo. Basically similar Franciscan rocks form the hills north of the highway between San Francisco and Vacaville, where the highway passes the southern ends of several long ridges and wide valleys that extend to the northern horizon. These are slices of the Coast Range that moved horizontally along faults parallel to the San Andreas Fault.” P.271

Armand talks to a Solano Land Trust Volunteer at Lynch Canyon, Jeff Bonneville, who has the Disneyesque title of “Bluebird Monitor”. Michael greeted him warmly and Jeff shared an array of interesting information about the nesting box program.



Heading back, following the clouds home.

P.S. Last week I misidentified a Bald Cypress for a Dawn Redwood on our Golden Gate Park hike. Here’s are three youtube videos which give some helpful, basic information about both:

P.P.S. I discovered this helpful link on the WordPress site which organizes some of my more recent hike-logs (as well as many other blogs) with select photos and introductory sentences as well – a nice diving board.

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