Randall Trail to Bolinas Ridge with Michael 5.13.19

Route # 1 in west Marin was placid and pastoral last Monday morning, sweet time for quiet reflection, but maybe not always. With winter storms coming in from the nearby Pacific each year along with the falling tree limbs and low sections of highway under water the road can be transformed into a very different scene.

Or on other days, it has “hosted” the Sunday Morning Ride with maybe 100 motorcycles rumbling and roaring by this spot in a wonderfully strident, blurry cacophony. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKRHHZUI26w https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rikDXmoMOWo

But maybe the best moment was at 5:12 AM on April 18, 1906 when a great earthquake swept right up this roadway. It wasn’t the road we see today but probably more of dirt than other materials and used by farmers to deliver their butter and produce to Bolinas for San Francisco tables. The route 1 we see today took shape and became the official coastal highway in 1934. The fascinating part, the road is almost an exact borderline between two vast land masses – the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate. I could be on the North American Plate taking this picture and waving to my friends on the Pacific Plate as it’s quietly making its way up the coast north to Alaska. Back on that day in 1906: “Within 30 seconds of the start of the main rupture, very strong shaking had swept throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area and lasted some 45 to 60 seconds. . . . picture standing face to face with a person on the opposite side of the fault and watching them slide horizontally 32 feet to your right! . . . Earthquake ruptures travel at phenomenal speeds. Seismologists have estimated the average speed of the 1906 rupture along the San Andreas Fault to the north of the epicenter to be 8,300 mi/hour (3.7 km/sec).”!


The Randall Trailhead became our jumping off spot, initially we were going to take the McCurdy trail up to Bolinas Ridge and then return down the Randall Trail. But with minimal parking along the highway this proved to be the best beginning for our hike.
Like the other “alphabet” ranches on the Pt. Reyes Peninsula in the mid-19th Century the Shafter Law firm also owned the land that was purchased in this Olema Valley area. The 200 + acres of the what became the Hagmaier Ranch, now the Pt. Reyes Field Station area, was purchased by Benjamin Miller in 1861 “for a total price if $3,264.05, or about $15.00 and acre. . . . Miller was infamous for the murder of his neighbor, William Randall, whose ranch is east and north of the field station along Highway 1. Apparently the two ranchers had a long-standing dispute about property boundaries. The Randall homestead is easily identified by the boarded up white clapboard and shingle house a little ways north of the field station on State Highway 1 and now home to a number of bat species. Mr. Miller remained at his ranch during his murder trial and was never jailed for the crime, eventually moving to Watsonville in 1869 where he died in 1879.”

Cf. https://pointreyes.berkeley.edu/history/

The trail was named for the widow of William Randall, Sarah, an early pioneer of the Olema Valley.


Originally, our hike was titled Hagemier Pond Loop from the Hagemier Ranch name. The pond is near the bottom of the hill and we visited it on one of our previous incarnations on June 7, 2010. There is a north Hagemier Pond but I think this is South Hagemier Pond. The pond has a colorful recent history of skinny dipping, I’d always wondered driving by on a weekend what all the cars were about, what kind of event was going on there?

https://www.mercurynews.com/2009/06/19/marin-residents-upset-about-lewd-behavior-at-nude-beach/ Here’s an article in the San Jose Mercury News picked up from the Marin Independent Journal that explains my confusion or was it curiosity? It is quite descriptive of the downside that alarmed many who came to the Muir Beach discussion about a nearby clothing optional beach so you might want to avert your gaze. We hope Hagemier Pond kept it all clean and bright. On the other hand, this is what many regard as a natural expression which naturists and others have embraced for a very long time. I recall another angle in the 1938 painting by Thomas Hart Benton, “Susanna and the Elders” that is in the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. I think the description of prurient interest might be accurate. Or on a lighter note you may remember the delightful Blake Edwards Inspector Clouseau film, “A Shot in the Dark” (1964), which had a hilarious scene of Peter Sellers and Elke Sommer visiting a nudist camp. The IJ article along with detailing concerning behavior said that nudity had never been prosecuted in the past 10 years. But I particularly liked Supervisor Kinsey’s summation of the article, “But there is a difference between naked and nooky.”

But the main question remains. Is this a sag pond or a fresh water pond, I’m still wondering?

Hagemier Pond hasn’t been in the news lately but then again, it’s been raining and chilly for the last six months. Still, you can appreciate the enthusiasm of this message on the gate as we enter.

Our merry band at base camp.

Michael discovers some Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus. The California Native Plant Society comments that it is in the genus of raspberries and blackberries but unlike most members of the species, it has no thorns. After you nibble the fruit the remainder looks like a thimble. This may indicate an identification when everyone knew what a thimble was. Western Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus | Native Plants PNW

Michael mentioned that at one time he was introducing a speaker at the College of Marin by beginning with a short list of some berries native to northern California. This is approximate, “In northern California we have all kinds of berries, there are the elderberry, black berry , goose berry, coffee berry and tonight be have Wendell Berry!” Marie Kondo would like this one from Berry’s “Farming: a handbook”: “Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” And just in time for summer we have, The Vacation by Wendell Berry | Poetry Foundation. Hmm.

Everyone seemed to be keeping up well even though it was a steady climb . . . and the breathers for various identifications were most welcome.

Michael stopped once to show us some SMUT – some leaves that had turned a bright orange-yellow on one plant and another expression in the dark tangled markings on a California Bay leaf. Smut is a category of plant disease caused by fungi. This kind of smut is new to many of us and full of challenging detail. Just stretching here but large concentrations of aphids can cause (?) or spread a fungus in various plants, ants farm the aphids and store their honeydew (poop) for a favored food supply. https://www.britannica.com/science/smut
IMG_0697 on Vimeo – Michael describes the relationship of ants farming the aphids and exotic storage arrangements for the favored honeydew.

We began to see the lovely Pacific Star Flower which “tends to grow in wet places”. Formerly called Trentalis latifolia but now with a new name, Lysimachia latifolia. Michael commented that it seems to float above its narrow stem. https://calscape.org/Lysimachia-latifolia-()

Just before getting into the Redwoods on Bolinas Ridge we were greeted with this thorough and informative sign. I imagine the part about no drones is in the works. MMWD does a fine job and we have hiked many areas on their beautiful and well-managed lands. Our friend, Armando Quintero, who is one of our former hike leaders has been on their board of directors since 2009, his term continuing until 2020. https://www.marinwater.org/directory.aspx?EID=5

We felt that moment of calming quiet as we entered this Redwood grove and it remained with us. These are second or third growth trees. These hills were covered with enormous virgin Redwoods that were ferociously felled in the 1850s. “It was from Bolinas that the greater portion of the early lumber supply for San Francisco came.” “There was a shingle mill on Randall’s place in 1858 . . . “ http://history.rays-place.com/ca/marin-bolinas-1.htm Cf. Timber and Saw Mills

While we mourn the loss of these magnificent Methuselahs and wonder what the landscape might have been like had that been saved, we can still celebrate areas like this one as well as the older/ancient parks that still contain these gigantic creations of nature. Organizations like “Save the Redwoods League” and Sempervirens Fund continue to buy properties where surprising Redwood groves have gone unseen for decades or known forests that have needed protection.

https://www.savetheredwoods.org/project/harold-richardson-redwoods-reserve/ https://www.savetheredwoods.org/about-us/mission-history/

https://sempervirens.org/about-us/our-history/ https://sempervirens.org/about-us/news-events/

A Yellow Spotted Millipede moving smartly along in the fallen Redwood leaf litter like a Greyhound bus at night moving across the prairie. This may be the orange Marin version but I have a feeling the cyanide is the same.

To the right a motion activated camera provides a 24 hour history of animal life along the trail along with odd iPhone users who might be taking a picture of it.

Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum), Reny Parker writes in her book “Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country . . .” that this native perennial is sometimes called Wake Robin because it appears when the robins return from winter migration. Like all Trillium, parts of the plant come in groups of threes.
The white flower petals change to pink as they age.” p. 120
The second to the right is Andrew’s Clintonia (Clintonia andrewsiana) described by Parker as “a showy pink to rose flower of the coastal redwood forest . . .
Later in the season the fruit berries add another splash of color. They are bright blue and bead-like containing small black seeds, hence, another common name of Blue Bead.” P. 119
How about the other two at the bottom, familiar to any of you?

Our picnic lunch in the redwoods or a “duff on duff” moment.

About to head back down the Randall Trail June 7, 2010

As we started down Michael spotted some red-brown butt rot along the trail and sent us an email identifying it for us, first smut and now this. He said that when you spotted this on a Douglas Fir, the tree was already dead from this attacker, that it takes no prisoners.

View from 2010 on the way down that had grown over for this 2019 hike.  Scott mentioned to me that it seemed like a long way down, even further than the trip up. In order to move us along, I found a video of a mountain biker starting his blog with a first video down the Randall at a smart pace.


Coming back to go and no sherpas needed!

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