Author Archives: zorrozappato

Mt. Vision with Michael – 2 October 2017

Mt. Vision was a new hike for us. We’d not done this as a group before and proved a happy proof of the theme for “Star Trek”. As William Shatner’s Captain James Kirk used to say, “Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of the Star Ship Enterprise … our mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Our hike was purposely planned to be a recollection and remembrance of the Mt. Vision Fire which started 22 years ago on 3 October 1995 . As Dave Mitchell editor of the POINT REYES LIGHT wrote on the 20 year anniversary, “The Inverness Ridge Fire of October 1995 (a.k.a. the Mount Vision Fire was big — even for a state that has become accustomed to large wildfires. The amount of damage was staggering. The fire …. destroyed 45 homes in Inverness Park. The blaze charred 12,000 acres, including 15 percent of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It took firefighters five days to contain the fire and 13 days to fully stop its spread. Even so hotspots remained for a month. The fire was accidentally started by four teenagers camping on Mount Vision in the Pt. Reyes National Seasohore. Their campsite was illegal, although others had camped there before. The teens tried to be fire safe, carefully burying the ashes of their campfire under dirt and rocks before leaving. Over the next two days, however, the smoldering fire burned its way up through the forest duff, arriving on the forest floor during a high wind.”

An assemblage of gathering hikers, their car pool steeds and a line of Bishop Pines all in a row. We’re all making long shadows again.

Michael introduces a friend of his with whom he graduated Oakridge High School, Oakridge, Tennessee in 1969 (?). Is my math right? I’m not questioning that they graduated! His friend Greg was in the Coast Guard and then wore a Captain’s hat on the Golden Gate Ferries followed by other headgear or none at all!

On the road to the crest of Mount Vision . . .

I’ve run into a lovely blog for our area called THE WILDFLOWER SCOUT by Sara Silver with superb and breathtaking wildflower and nature photos
along with lovely, eclectic writing all done with a neat touch of whimsey. Here’s a brief entry in her blog on Mt/ Vision:

Mt. Vision is also the name of a mountain bike series:

And looking down the list for “Mt. Vision” you’ll eventually find advertisements for optometrists.

Elephant or Black Mountain from the crest looking east with some Bishop Pine and happily blooming Coyote Bushes (the showy white ones are the females and the muted yellow ones the males) in the foreground. Black or Elephant Mountain is a touchstone of western Marin County.
The curiously deep series of stream bed erosions distinguish this mountain from many others in the area. In a USGS evaluation of the Nicasio Reservoir terrane they suggest the area perhaps including Black Mountain “represents a fragment of a Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous ocean island (similar to Hawaii)”. In more recent history, this area was part of a much larger Mexican land grant. Normally these were manipulated away or brazenly stolen from Native Americans. An exception to this pattern was granting the area in 1843 to a Miwok Indian chief, Camilo Ynitia (one of two native American to receive such a land grant). “In 1852 Anita sold most of his land to James Black, who was on his way to becoming one of the largest landowners in Marin County.” The mountain acquired its Black Mountain name from him but as to the Elephant name, that may need more inquiry or even some speculation. There are many Elephant Mountains but this link is about an album by the American rock band, “The Youngbloods, released in 1969.

Odd to find an FAA air traffic control unit out here but we’ve already seen that big dome still working on Mt. Tamalpais, they’re out there. There are many considerations for over-flying airplanes from noise abatement for ground dwellers to safety and sequencing for those in the air. The first map in this linked document shows this FAA arch over our heads. Fascinating later maps are quite revealing for the flight patterns over our heads and seem quite surreal but then we could take it to another level sometime mapping the satellite overflights as well adding to this picture.

Taking a short turn down the Bucklin Trail, we head to the view of the Pt. Reyes Peninsula and Pacific Ocean beyond.

Michael talks about the 1995 Fire:

The ocean view with more coyote bush or brush in the foreground, first Limantour Estero with the water on the left, then Drake’s Bay with its distinctive exposed cliffs and to the right the blue of the large Drake’s Estero. That land mass before you get into a serious Pacific has Chimney Rock fingering out to the left and the hills of the point of Point Reyes to the right, just above the lighthouse. Probably you can’t spot a passing whale since it is a little early for that and they are still “krilling up” off Alaska. Michael is often able to spot the Farallon Islands out in the mist but you need a seasoned eye.

Often it’s said that the Spanish mariners missed San Francisco Bay because of the fog covering its mouth. In concert with that Michael mentioned that the main reason the passing Spanish galleons did not discover San Francisco Bay was actually more a matter of their routing miles out in the Pacific to avoid the dangerous coastal rocks in this area. Now interestingly, some of the air travel considerations involve routing airships out over the Pacific when that is needed. This seems almost a 500 year tradition!

We’ve just passed a mature Bishop Pine (perhaps just a tad senescent) that reminds me of a west coast tryout for Respigi’s “Pines of Rome.”
The wiki account records “The common name ‘Bishop Pine’ resulted from the tree having been first identified near the Mission of San Luis Obispo, California. . . . Other English names that have been occasionally used are prickle cone pine, Obispo pine, Santa Cruz pine and dwarf marine pine.”

I like the Cell biology definition of “senescent” i.e. “(of a cell) no longer capable of dividing but still alive and metabolically active.” from

Some understory plants along the way, first the coyote bush we’ve mentioned. Atop is the female coyote bush in full bloom (a quite lyric moment) and below are male coyote bush to the left and the female to the right.

California Coffeeberry or Rhamnus californica

California Wax Myrtle (Morella california)

Pacific Aster or Aster chilensis in a coffeebery surround. It’s now flying with a new name, Symphyotrichum chilense.

Salal, Gaultheria shallon

We enjoyed another view looking north and east. Below is Tomales Bay under which runs the San Andreas Fault separating the North American Plate from the plate which we are on, the Pacific Plate.
On the horizon to the northeast and a bit right is the familiar profile of Mt. St. Helena and nearby to the left Geyser Peak.

Having broken for lunch, we get it together to head back up the road to our parking area.

Looking west again we can see more of the expanse of Drake’s Estero which cuts deep into the peninsula. Below you can see the Christmas tree farm of yore (planted 55 years ago) that has grown into a mature forest happily enjoyed by owls and many other creatures. You can spot the bridge across the finger of the lagoon. We’ll be taking the Estero hike on October 23rd. You’ll recognize the bushes or brush in the foreground.

Ponds along the road I’d originally thought to be “stock ponds” but now I’m wondering if they have a more “geological” origin?

We all enjoy meeting at the Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station for both breakfast and luncheon snacks, it’s kind of a before and after hike place.
That’s where Jill is headed and that’s Rod looking on through the sunflowers.

Tocaloma and Lagunitas Creek with Jim – 25 September 2017

The old bridge at Tocaloma, PLATFORM BRIDGE, was our rendezvous point last Monday morning. Michael who was away in Tennessee had arranged to have Jim Coleman come on board the good ship “Footloose Forays” for this hike. We’ve enjoyed Jim a number of times when he has substituted for Michael and this time continued the tradition. We all recall Jim’s daughter, Lucy, who joined us on the “Five Brooks Hike” some years ago. She is now amazingly in 6th Grade and one project her class is working on is a production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. Jim suggested that she and her classmates might need to have some chocolate – just for research. She is also thrilled to have a new pet at home, we remember her sheep from our visit to OAEC, where Jim works, this time it’s a dog!

Gathering at a prolifically producing BUCKEYE tree (Aesculus californica) at the start of the trail. We’ve seen some remarkable buckeyes on a number of our hikes. They always seem to be in celebration either with their early leaf appearance in winter, the fragrantly smelling blossom bouquets in the springtime or the beautiful orbs of the buckeye nuts in the autumn. Some stalwart ones even remain decorated for Thanksgiving and Christmas.–aesculus-californica

The blooming buckeye is paradise for native bees and other insects. The springtime perfume of the buckeye is remarkably alluring to us hikers. Art Shapiro, UC Davis professor, who has monitored butterfly populations across central California for 45 years writes, “California Buckeye: Blooms from April to June. This tree is attractive to nearly everything flying at the time.”

Yet, it is toxic to European honeybees and “All parts of the California buckeye are toxic to humans and livestock. . . . native pollinators relish the collection of nectar without side effects. The adult pale swallowtail butterfly (Papillio eurymedon) appears particularly fond of this plant. . . . Never (though) seen a buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) nectaring on a California buckeye, though!” writes Kathy Keatly Garvey a UC Davis Communications Specialist on her Bug Squad Blog.

After careful observation, Jim levitates as he tries to dislodge an unoccupied paper wasp (yellow jacket) nest from a nearby tree overhang.

Looking closer at another nest ensconced in this California Coast Live Oak we’re amazed by the beauty and delicacy of its construction. We mostly remember yellow jackets for barbecues gone bad or being stung along the trail or in the garden!

The trail beckons to bicyclers, dog walkers having as one said a “sniff hike”, hikers and other creatures as well. This is a classic example of rail to trail following as it does on the narrow-gauge North Pacific Coast Railroad. It ran from Sausalito to Sonoma redwoods in the Cazadero/Duncan’s Mills areas from 1874-1902, after which it continued under various names until it was abandoned in the 1930’s.

Here’s an idea of some of the rolling stock that used to follow our trail today.

While some of the trail opens up to sunshine, large parts of it have the beautiful shade of redwoods and other trees making the hike ideal for hot days.

Jim discussed the habitat restoration that has been in process at Lagunitas Creek which we are paralleling on our hike. Going on for a number of years and supported by various federal and local government agencies as well as volunteer support groups it is proceeding impressively. (And, your’re right
the photo is from the parking area, just wanted to see if you were paying attention.) – A mostly clear video with Jim sharing his background in creek recovery and restoration but there’s a diesel finale by a passing truck – not a train on the old North Pacific Coast tracks.

Some of the substantially heavy logs and rocks being added to Lagunitas Creek to provide pools in which salmon can make their beds or spawning nests (redds) in which to place their eggs (roe) . . . in “a riffle with gravel as its stream bed” as the Wiki account shares.

Serendipitously, Gregory Andrew who is the fisheries biologist for the Marin Municipal Water District, was passing by and he generously shared information about the Lagunitas Creek restoration and the salmon & steelhead runs. He’d actually give a tour to our friend Armando Quintero and some of the other MMWD directors the previous Friday. Jim welcomed him to our group. I kept thinking that his talk was over and so stopped the video a couple of times so that you have not one but three short vimeo videos to enjoy. KQED Newsroom done during the drought in 2014 that includes Gregory Andrew in the report. video from the the Bay Nature Institute

Some of the creek restoration constructions with the goal of recreating a water flow like it was before the dams, rail tracks, homes and highways adjacent to Lagunitas Creek. Erosion from all these manmade projects has been followed by significant erosion into the creek. The sediment made up of clay and fine sand can suffocate the salmon eggs in the stream bed. It is the gravels that the salmon rely on in their reproduction. Logging likewise would have been a source of erosion though log remnants could have helped the salmon along. Shade is vital to the process so the planting of willow walls can be a significant help.

Detail of some of the project’s tools in the process of the rehabbing of the creek.

Stringing out along the creek

We went up the Jewell Trail to gain some perspective. Jewell was a small town along the Lagunitas Creek from the 1860s that continued to be inhabited with just a house or two into the end of 20th Century. The remnant houses will be torn down and the debris moved to landfill as the creek restoration proceeds.,_California one of the smaller wiki entries. The Jewell trail commemorates this area.

A few switch backs await us going up the hill

Black Angus on the hill above in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. Would the scene have been different in 1860s when Oscar Jewell started ranching here?

A line of large eucalyptus trees provides some welcome shade for lunch. The eucalyptus were planted by ranchers like Oscar Jewell as fast growing windbreaks in the 19th Century for farms, ranches and orchards.

Jim in his “praying mantis mode”, he’d had one in hand that flew away and was hoping to find it again with this unique hunting style. long article just for dipping into

Jim collected a bouquet of grasses in the area which he shared with us after lunch. He’s often intrigued us with his enthusiasm for the grasses expanding our knowledge into terra incognita. The video begins clearly but later on the winds and breezes came up to challenge you a bit.
In what seemed a small bouquet he had bromes, English plantain, Italian thistle, rough cassia. wild lettuce, European barley, velvet grass, tall fescue, California mellic grass, ripgut brome, wild oat, European rye grass (Lolium multiflorum), vicia or vetch, another brome and barley. A splendid link for much of this can be found at a Sonoma State College website which we’ve enjoyed before:

Back on the Cross Marin Trail (which doesn’t exactly cross Marin but we hope someday . . . ) we are passed by a bicyclist creating his own breeze.

In addition to the blazing crimson poison oak, we’d been noticing red berries glistening in the trees and bushes. Jim shared that they are California Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula). California Flora Nursery shared on their site that small flowers decorate the tips of the vining branches in spring and are attractive to bees and hummingbirds. “The high point is the drooping clusters of red luminous berries in late summer which are beautiful to behold and provide a feast for birds.” Las Pilatas Nursery in Sant Margarita, California has some photos of other honeysuckle stages of growth.–lonicera-hispidula

Another denizen on the trail was this moth which showed some colorful markings before I put it in the leaves next to the trail so he could fly another day. There’s an interesting play of display and camouflage going on it seems.

A walk by a Redwood forest would not be complete without a Banana slug, famed mascot of University of Santa Cruz. Be sure to click on the fabulous video from KQED Science called the “Secret of Slime”.

Tomorrow’s hike is on Mt. Vision where a huge fire began on Tuesday, October 3, 1995. written by Dave Mitchell in 2015 Article on the 10 year anniversary

Modini Mayacamas Preserves with Michael – 18 September 2017

We knew it would be a great day for a hike because there was hardly any traffic on northbound 101. Fog lifting on the hills gave our destination a whisp of mystery and a great cup of Flying Goat Coffee at the Jimtown Store sealed the deal. The omens were all good. Michael was able to snag an opening for us at Modini Myacamas Preserves in a call with its unique resident naturalist, David Self. This preserve is a part of the Audubon Canyon Ranch group of properties in the North San Francisco Bay which we’ve enjoyed visiting on a number of occasions. But this latest addition to ACR was a first visit for most of us. A number of our hikers have volunteered as docents for a number of years at Martin Griffen and Bouverie Preserves “sharing their time and love of nature with generations of schoolchildren.” A moment for some applause.

Jim and Shirley Modini as long time ranchers on the site of part of the reserve transferred their property to ACR in a bequest. The Modinis as “avid land conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts” were eager to pass on their land for preservation first as the Modini-Ingalis Preserve and then to Audubon which owned the adjoining Maycamas Mountains Sanctuary. In an interview Jim would relate how he’d go to Santa Rosa and Windsor and seeing all those subdivisions would drive him crazy. In the Press Democrat appreciation he said, “My place is going to be set aside, no development, (it’s) for the creatures and critters that crawl upon it.” The two land parcels were joined together as the Modini Mayacamas Preserves. “The Modini-Ingalis family had owned the property – primarily used for cattle grazing – since 1867. Jim Modini died on his ranch in November of 2011and Shirley followed in July of 2012 living on and loving their beloved property to the last.


A convenient stop close to our rendezvous point, the historic JImtown Store, a “landmark since 1895”.
Inge and Barb enjoy the flower garden in the distance with the largest group of monarch butterflies that we’ve seen in years.

The populations of monarchs and many other butterflies have been crashing dramatically in recent years all across the United States. Sightings have been rare in the last years often only seeing a single Monarch wafting its lonely way as it passes by – my flights into anthropomorphism. But today was a dramatic departure with numbers of monarchs cavorting in this flower garden sipping its nectars and seemingly carefree in the morning sunshine. California and the west coast Likewise lovely writing that focuses on the Mid-West and North East.

Michael introduced David Self to the group unable to resist telling us that David was well know for taking “selfies”. David was most articulate and passionate about sharing the Modini Mayacamas area with us. We appreciated and enjoyed his rich botanical background, whimsical humor and endearing style.

While we were caravanning up the hill, David stopped to show us this remarkable wild buckwheat bush, Eriogonum Fasciculatum. You too can help the butterflies and bees by planting it.

Stopping on the way up for the panorama, David recommended an app for the smart phones called Peak Finder which will give you specific identifications as you point your iPhone for 360 degrees and gives worldwide coverage. Lisa appears to be pointing out Mt. St. Helena (4,342 ft, 1,323 m) near Calistoga which has a very different profile from this perspective.

David indicated that Marin’s Mt. Tamalpais (2,576 ft., 785 m) is the peak visible furthest south . . . way on the horizon to the right.

In another direction we saw these enormous transmission towers bringing electricity from the Geysers, the largest geothermal production facility in the the United States and the world. a chart as you scroll down the page shows capacity for the USA a large portion of which is the Geysers at 3450 Megawatts (MW) in 2015 but that is just 0.4% of USA national generation, whereas the Philippines capacity is 1870 MW in 2015 and this is 27% of their national generation, Iceland’s capacity was 665 MW used for 30.0% of national generation and Kenya’s capacity is 594 in 2015 which is used for 51% if its national generation. Here’s a link to show the breakdown for USA energy sourcing, some surprising percentages, can they be right?

David told us about the ghost town of Pine Flat on the Modini Property that was a colorful flash in the pan destination in the 19th Century. “The Modini family first homesteaded in the area in 1867. His grandfather owned the Garibaldi Hotel in Pine Flat and his father ran the ranch, not far from the flourishing Pine Flat quicksilver mine”. “In a brief period in the early 1870’s, Pine Flat was said to be the fastest growing town in Northern California with a population of between 1,000 and 4,000 inhabitants, according to newspaper accounts of the day.”

Joe Pelaconi who has specialized in this history has written a book about the area, QUICKSILVER MINING IN SONOMA COUNTY, PINE FLAT PROSPECT FEVER. On a visit to the area overlooking the overgrown site, “Pelaconi observed that there were once 60 houses , at least 8 saloons, three good-sized hotels, four dry goods and grocery stores, a post office, two meat markets and a couple of livery stables. There also were references to “hurdy curdy” and “bawdy” houses, or bordellos. . . . There were no churches or schools …. you can only speculate it must have been a wild place,” Pelaconi said.—pine-flat.html

David led us on a brief hike into an area that had been burned during the Geysers Fire of 2004.
You can look down the road to see the longest controlled tire burn (Yaw Marks?) that I’ve seen, artistry on the macadam? This isn’t doughnuts, maybe drifting?

David stands by a large Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) that had fallen over the road in the fire and needed to be cut up and moved. The ponderosa is the most widely distributed pine species in North America according to the Wikipedia introduction. The NPR link describes Ponderosas in Arizona’s Coconino National Forest during a hike there in 2009.

Yampa in harvest mode (Perideridia californica?) (Perideridia kelloggii?) et. al, Rod holding it steady, thanks. Peri – deri – dia what a neat rhythm, you could even chant or sing it as you walked along. As to which one this is, that needs more work. Yampa is in the carrot family “valued for its edible plants: carrots, celery, fennel, chervil, parsley, parsnip and herbs including coriander, cumin, caraway, dill, and angelica. However, it is unwise to eat wild members of this family unless their identification is certain as some are extremely poisonous. … The common name “yampah” comes from the Yampeh Ute Indians of Colorado. The word yampeh means “big medicine”, and Kellogg’s yampeh was a staple of this and many other native-american tribes” Cf.

David comments here about Yampa and Camas lilies. – just a few of the possibilities David said there is no “correct” pronunciation.

Since the name of the preserve includes Maya – camas, I’m wondering if the camas lilies whom the Native Americans relied on as an extremely valuable food source may have found its way into the name, perhaps via some tribal designations?

David pointed out this Gumplant (Grindelia stricta) in the Sunflower family. It was a surprise to find it here since we’ve seen it mostly at the ocean at Point Reyes National Seashore, sometimes in the dunes and sometimes on the Chimney Rock Trail. But it seems to like scrub too as this plant attests.
The plant is named for a Russian botanist, a professor David Grindel notes Lilian McHoul (who calls it Gumweed and sites another variety – Grindelia hirsutula meaning hairy). There were so many references to Grindel just calling him Prof. that I began thinking that was his first name! The buds and flowers exude a milky substance somewhat the consistency of Elmer’s Glue. This stickiness discourages them from being eaten. Hilary Stewart in her book DRINK IN THE WILD … observes “Several gum weeds bear their bright yellow flowers, like miniature sunflowers atop gummy burrs, on bushy plants that vary their location. One species prefers open, dry places, often growing on freshly disturbed ground; another seeks the windswept surf spray of the coast; a third enjoys the warmth of the interior lands.” She describes how to make Gumweed tea and she also was the one who knew Grindel’s first name and dates which were 1776-1836. Was he born on the 4th of July? Is Grindel an americanization? I found a Reinhard Grindel who is the current president of the German football association, so maybe, a German background?

There was much talk of milkweed in conjunction with maintaining and planting this valuable plant in order to help return the butterfly populations to their former numbers. From the Xerces Society site: “Milkweeds (Asclepias app.) are the required host plants for caterpillars of the monarch butterfly
(Danaus plexippus) and thus play a critical role in the monarch’s life cycle. The loss of milkweed plants in the monarch’s spring and summer breeding areas across the United States is believed to be a significant factor contributing to the reduced number of monarchs recorded in overwintering sites in California and Mexico.” David identified this as a Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) in the Dogbane Family, Apocynaceae (Milkweed)

Here David talks about the “Monarchs of the Glen” er, rather monarch butterflies –

The milkweed was in a seasonal stream bed which became our go to lunch spot. Looking up, were we having a power lunch? Did Sheri mention the power lines overhead happily transporting electricity from the Geysers but not so happily, maybe, that the EMFS from power lines were perhaps threatening our health?

Some smooth stones in the stream bed

We came upon a recently dead mole lying in state on the dry grasses of the stream bed. Michael relayed that a mole is not a rodent but rather an insectivore. Sadly most of the internet references to moles seem to relate to trapping or extermination rather than the valuable service they provide to the gardener and the land. This one was beautifully marked with pinkish-white appendages and even with a small white tail. – Michael talked at length to us about what a moles’s life is like.

Kit discovering that mole skin is remarkably soft. Moleskin from its original usage of actual animal’s skins has fortunately morphed into a descriptive word for cotton textiles; You can also add an “e” and it morphs again into a description of paper and notebooks:

David pointed out a hole in a dead tree trunk perhaps from the 2004 fire that was home for a Pileated Woodpecker . Below the trunk was a robust growth of grapes whether California Wild Grape (Vitus californica) or something more exotic I’m not sure. Perhaps this bird is a connoisseur of the many exotic varieties in the Healdsburg area.–California_Wild_Grape/ Mr. Miranda’s remarkable pictures show he’s a big fan of Dryocopus pileatus.

Many thanks to David for his outstanding introduction to Modini Mayacamas Preserves.

Rock Springs with Michael – 11 September 2017

Mount Tamalpais is a popular destination and touchstone in Marin County. High on its flanks was our destination for the first of our Footloose Hikes Fall 2017. Rock Springs is a large parking area on the western side of the mountain with nearby spectacular views of the entry to the Golden Gate and the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon. On a clear day you can spot the Farallon Islands 30 miles off the coast or is that Japan in the distance?

We’ve taken a number of hikes recently on the eastern side of Mount Tam passing by the Cushing Memorial Amphitheater and hiking up to the peaks: the East Peak (2571’) with its fire lookout, the saddle of the middle peak (2470’) and the formerly highest West Peak (2560’). There seems to be a sliding scale for these altitudes depending on the source. The top of the West Peak was leased from the Marin Municipal Water District, the State of California and private landholders (1942 – 1950). Then it was flattened unceremoniously to make a US Air Force Radar Station. Its passionate restoration is the shared goal of many groups Cf. The views of the San Francisco Bay Area from these eastern aeries never fail to thrill and impress. We can share the excitement and awe with the previous generations of this “room with a view” which they enjoyed by riding the “Crookedest Railway in the World” up Mt. Tam from the Mill Valley Depot from 1896-1929. Tourists and travelers during these years would come not only for San Francisco but also for the epic rail ride to the top of the mountain. A fire destroyed a lot of the rail bed in 1929 and this combined with the blazing success of the automobile spelled the end of this colorful page in history. This video is called “Sound Summit 2017 Teaser” by the great Gary Yost celebrating both this year’s Sound Summit and also the varied beauties and perspectives of Mount Tamalpais. This is an excellent summary, note the broad expanse of the mountain to the west beyond the various peaks on the right in the first photo. It’s a much bigger mountain than just its eastern promontories and has an enormous footprint. I recall looking down on Marin from a mile up while coming into SFO and seeing a sea of green with no visible human “improvements”. It was looked like the mental image I have of what it was like 10,000 or more years ago when this was the home of the Coast Miwoks.


We gather round to share some of our summer experiences. In the midst of hurricanes and earthquakes of all kinds it was a joy to renew our face to face time together. At times we might feel like the man in Winslow Homer’s painting GULF STREAM – sprawled on the deck of his sailboat
in a stormy sea, a broken mast, sharks circling and an imminent tornado. But there is help on the horizon and strength, comfort and courage from being a part a caring group like ours, our camaraderie of the trails.

Many in the group went up to Oregon and other vantage points to watch our star transfixed for those brief full-of-awe, un-shining moments. There was a feeling of amazement, wonder and excitement by our Solar Eclipse ambassadors. Others of us tried to find a partial view of the eclipse in this area only to be bolloxed by the Bay Area fog. Scott volunteered to collect any slightly used eclipse glasses for his “Astronomers Without Borders” group.

Sharing the summer, Judy discovered Oxford summer courses for adults previously and has shared it with Sue M. who loved the opportunity as well.

Heading out on the Cataract Trail into the stately Douglas Firs, into the forest.

Michael pointed out the expansive and distinctive holes made by the Pileated Woodpecker on a Douglas Fir Stump. In the Sibley Guide to Birds, David Sibley writes that this is our largest woodpecker, “this spectacular crow-size species is found in mature forests, where it searches for its favorite food — carpenter ants — by excavating large rectangular holes.” P.319

The Cataract Trail follows Cataract Creek nearby the Rock Spring parking area. It was “in existence in 1898 but rerouted in 1926 and 1991. Trail and the entire north side were closed during WWII.” The Mickey O’Brien Trail was originally called “The Barth’s Creek Trail”. “it was renamed in 1948 improved by Boy Scout Troop 15. Michael O’Brien was president of the TCC (Tamalpais Conservation Club) in 1925-26”. And the Simmon’s Trail was
“Almost certainly named for Col. Charles Alonzo Simmons who arrived in San Francisco in 1921 to assume his duties as executive secretary of the city’s Chamber of Commerce.” With other enthusiasts, he organized a number of Hospitality Hikes on Mount Tam. Finally, Poison Oak can turn some amazing colors in the fall giving giving some of us immigrant easterners a feeling of autumns in the Adirondacks and us hikers a fair warning.
The rare information comes from A RAMBLER’S GUIDE TO THE TRAILS OF MT. TAMALPAIS, MUIR WOODS AND THE MARIN HEADLANDS, The Olmstead & Bros. Map Co. P.O. Box 5351, Berkeley, CA. 94705 10th Edition I think the annotated map is available at REI. The book seems to be OP and valuable.

There were a number of crossings of Cataract Creek on the trail. The creek seems very benign and backwater in these autumn days but with the winter rains we’d be more than thankful for these bridges. The lower reaches of the Cataract Creek (and Trail) in the winter and spring are spectacular with perhaps the best water falls in Marin County. The “Weekend Sherpa” website calls them a veritable “bobsled course of waterfalls; over a mile of twisting, turning, tumbling water . . . ”

Water ripples blue
pooling beneath
long green grasses –
sky above.

Michael shares with us in a shady grove.

Jill and Barb respecting the roots on the Mickey O’Brien Trail on the way to Barth’s Retreat. According to our “Rambler’s Guide” source: “Prof. Emil Barth, pedagogue (a word not much used these days), pianist, organist, flutist and composer arrived in San Francisco from Germany in 1886 and was a constant hiker and trail builder until his death in 1926. He build his camp at an early date.”

This is just an aside. Somehow I heard Michael say Bart’s Retreat and of course flashed on one of our local 19th century notables. Black Bart plied his trade not only in the Gold Rush Country but also in nearby Sonoma County. But it was Barth not Bart (just like kith and kin). Still, asides are fun and i’m easily distracted.

Lunch at Barth’s with a table by the window and a deliciously varied menu, reservations suggested.

Taking a break while the others catch up

As we head down Simmons Trail, Barb minds the rocks – roots and rocks. Mt. Tam is “home to several rock types; sandstone (graywacke), shale, greenstone, chert, quartz, tourmaline, and the green serpentine , which is the state rock of California.”

Michael who recently returned from his 14th Burning Man experience is sharing a remarkable tree construct, a tribute to the TREE OF TENERE.
He sent us this video of that moment. The following gives some more detail.

He also gave us some background on the original.énéré

We complete our circle hike at the end of the Simmons Trail surrounded by some “golden” grasses and a dry stream bed with just a splash of crimson – poison oak. The map tells me that the dry stream course is called Ziesche Creek so being a “Z” we must make note of it. Letting the Rambler speak:
“Edward Ziesche (also Zachiesche) who died in 1904, had a cabin in this area, which was used as a ranger patrol headquarters until 1917. He was secretary of the Tamalpais Club, perhaps the first hiking organization on the mountain, established circa 1880 as ‘a group of jolly pious Germans’.”

Autumn 9/11/2017 beginnings – the great circle route . . . completing this circle.

Italian Street Painting in San Rafael, CA – 24 & 25 June 2017

What could be better than music in the air and art at your feet both sharing the sunlight of a summer’s day? Begun by Youth in Arts in 1994, the Italian Street Painting Festival has been an event in San Rafael, California for 23 years. Youth in Arts provides a remarkable spectrum of art classes & workshops in painting, dance, storytelling and music among other arts. The street painting is amazing both for the beauty, power & sophistication of professional artists and the remarkable art of children – full of insight, whimsey and wonderful naiveté. This is a link to the website for the Kerrville (Texas) Chalk Festival. It has one of the best brief descriptions of street painting – chalk art festivals.
I was also amazed to realize how many street painting celebrations occur in California.

Here’s a Vimeo video of the two days showing the beginnings and some of the completions of these splendid, ephemeral artistic salutes. The music is J. S. Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578 maybe sounding just a bit different in a jazz version by the Jacques Loussier Trio.

Italian Street Painting, San Rafael, Califorrnia – June 24 & 25, 2017

Street painting has “a long tradition in Europe and is thought to have originated in Italy during the 16th century. Italian mandonnari were vagabond artists noted for a life of travel between festivals, and were the visual arts counterpart of minstrels. They often lived solely from coins tossed onto or next to their drawing as homage to the Madonna and possibly their skill.” “Parallel to this tradition in Italy, street painters began appearing in London in the mid-19th century. These artists were called “screevers, a term that refers to the written message that generally accompanied their works.” You’ll perhaps recall Dick Van Dyke as the chimney sweep, singer and street artist, Bert, in “Mary Poppins”. Kurt Wenner is the dean of street painting and the “ambassador” that brought it to the United States when he introduced it at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1982. It was established at the Santa Barbara Mission in 1985. He is known as the “Da Vinci” of street art. From the twistedsifter website: He was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and produced his first commissioned mural at 16 and by 17 was earning his living as a graphic artist. He attended both the Rhode Island School of Design and Art Center College of Design. Later, he was employed by NASA as an illustrator to create conceptual paintings of future space projects. In 1982 he pulled-up stakes leaving NASA, sold all of his belongings and moved to Italy to study classic Renaissance art. He has become famous as the master of 3D Sidewalk Chalk Art. Along with this huge trove his website and blog stretch the imagination.

The theme of this year’s festival was as you might surmise, 50 years since 1967, “The Summer of Love”. Toward the end of day, I shot a short video of the scene with “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius” as background. The bell of the San Rafael Mission chimes as the sun begins to set and everyone takes a last walk-around starting to realize that all this effort, all this beauty will be washed away tonight like some Buddhist Monks destroying their mandala – maybe not so permanent as we’d thought.


Gary Yost, Marin’s and Mt. Tam’s amazing filmmaker comes through once again with this insightful journey collaborating with artist Genna Panzarella, “a healing tribute to Marin’s mystical Mount Tamalpais.” MOUNTAINS MADE OF CHALK, FALL INTO THE SEA, EVENTUALLY Subtitled – “A Meditation on Impermanence”

And from Gary Yost, FUN ON THE MIDWAY @ MARIN COUNTY FAIR from 2016

Dogs and Cats while Potlucking with Michael – 12 June 2017

All good things come to an end so we’ll have some other good things to look forward to. Our hikes started in a rainy Roy’s Redwoods on March 6th which had been buffeted by winter storms closing the trails, needing to opt for plan “B”. This ultimate hike in the hills above Marin City was a very different scene with dried grasses all around and many spring plants now gone to root. The meeting spot was high on the hill with an immediate overlook of the Sausalito waterfront, Strawberry Point, Tiburon, Belvedere, and Angel Island. Since we’d driven most of the way to the top, it didn’t feel like we’d quite earned the view but we decided to enjoy it nonetheless and for the purists, why not enjoy a little guilt along the way as well?

Adding to the scene along the trail were a number of dog owners and dog walkers, we’d found the Bay area mecca for dog walking! Many “four legs good” companions joined us on our walk. They were friendly and inquisitive as we passed by sniffing out the intelligence and sometimes happily mingling with this new
passing pack of “two legs hoping to be good enough.”

Dramatis personae in the parking area

A bit up the trail Michael leads a discussion about the origin of Marin City during WW 2 as a shipbuilding center in the war effort. This enormous internal immigration of workers west mostly from the south began this housing community for shipyard workers. “During a 6 month period in 1942, Marin City went from literally non-existent to a city with more residents than Sausalito itself.” Jeannie also recalled hikes the group has taken in the area, all memorable and some almost immortal. VIMEO video of our free ranging discussion:



Lisa mentioned a book that gave rich detail about the Great Migration. Here is a link about Isabel Wilkerson, author of the award winning book, “The Warmth of Other Suns” which I think is the one she was remembering.
Here’s the Smithsonian article by Ms. Wilkerson summing up the message of the book with particular clarity, eloquence and passion. This is the best account of the Great Migration that I’ve read


Dog walker with a mixed affinity group as we head up a hill.

A tree becomes a chair awaiting the weary hiker

Great Bay views from a shady stand of Monterey Pines and Cypress trees.

We’re looking down on the area where Marinship Corporation was located on the left side of the photo and across the boat filled Richardson Bay are the Tiburon hills and at the point Belvedere “Island”. Across Coyote Straits is Angel Island with Mount Caroline Livermore topping the scene at 788’. You’ll recall that Ms. Livermore is one of the heroines of Marin conservation mentioned in the last hike-log, “Exploring Shoreline Park with Michael”. U.S. Route 101 can be seen in the lower part of the photo making its way up the Waldo Grade toward San Francisco.

This link in the excellent FoundSF details the amazing changes in Sausalito beginning in 1942 with the construction of Marinships. There is a well written summary and the Industrial film “Tanker” is put together professionally well. It’s reminiscent of many films of early 40s with its music & voice over including many photos and films of the time. It’s 47:25 minutes long, so a bit of a commitment but if you want to just dip in for the flavor that’s just fine, they’ll be no exam at the end.

We decided that just sight-seeing was not enough and since we were beginning to feel peckish – where were we heading for the potluck? Look for the sloping roof on the very right of the floating-home series. It has a distinctive triangular shaped and framed front deck. Louise and Eamon volunteered to be our hosts for this potluck most generously since we’re quite a rowdy bunch. References to this area of Sausalito is usually the “houseboat community” rather than floating homes.

At the overlook we tried not to overlook the yellow blooms at our feet. Canyon Dudleya, Dudleya cymosa, is in the Stonecrop Family, Crassulaceae, Reny Parker writes in her “Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country …” “A loose oval cluster of succulent leaves form the base for a fleshy stalk with smaller, intermittent, thick alternate leaves. The bloom, a yellow to red little urn formed by the five narrow, lance like petals, is apparent atop this native found on hot rocky cliffs.” Our location fits. “The species gets its name from Stanford University botany professor William R. Dudley (1849-1911). Another common name is Live Forever.” p. 75.

Lots of yellow along the trail as we’re in the presence of Hairy Cat’s Ears (on the left), Hypochaeris radicata, in the Sunflower Family. Lilian McHoul who loves to reference the meaning of the Latin writes that the generic name means “little Pig”. “Pigs are said to like the roots. The specific name refers to the basal rosette of leaves.” Michael pointed out that the leaves look like bites have been taken out of them or very toothy. “The plant is 18 inches tall; the leaves are basal and hairy. There are several branched stems. The flowers are borne singly at the top of the stems and are twice as large as a similar plant, Smooth Cat’s Ear, Hypocaris glabra.” P.32 in “Wild Flowers of Marin”, 1979.
The Dandelion (on the right), Taraxacum, perhaps needs no introduction but its history and symbolism are intriguing. “The common name dandelion is given to the members of the genus. (from French dent-de-lion, meaning lion’s tooth) Like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected into a composite flower head.”
We can appreciate that both blooms are in the cat family, both felines at heart.

Las Pilatus Nursery writes that “Blue Flax is a 2-3 foot perennial with delicate leaves and true blue sky flowers from Mar. to Sept. Native to middle to high elevations, Alaska to southern California. (Linum lewisii)–linum-lewisii Barb found this little bloom with some wonderfu colors with itsl delicately etched markings.

Michael is going to be a speaker at a coming “Bay Nature” magazine event. His friend who founded the magazine, David Loeb, mentioned that the last time Michael spoke he seemed a little GLIB. This is how Michael is preparing.




Rod takes a moment to give, Pogo, one of Louise’s dogs a good neck rub.

When the hill is too hard to climb, there are options with this dog walker.

This walker has quite a spread of breeds. With Mt. Tamalpais in the background having the big white Pyranees seems apropos, The Australian Shepard in the middle (I’m sincerely hoping) is calm and attentive in the morning sunshine, The Brindle Greyhound completes the trio

The last remnants of the morning fog have lifted as we return to the parking area and look out to the horizon and heading down to Issaquah Dock . . . and the potluck.

Jeannie always gives us such clear and well-organized descriptions & directions in her Footloose Hikes information write-ups, many thanks for her dedication (read dogged) and excellence!

Issaquah Dock sounds just right. Many thanks to Don McLaurin, who does tours of this area for Road Scholar, for sharing some great information with me about the “pretty little 114’ ferry with twin smokestacks and pilot houses said to be revolutionary for its times.” It was launched in March 1914 with “great fanfare” on Lake Washington only to get stuck in the mud – her 9’ draft was too deep for the launching site. But after that slightly ignominious beginning she served ports on Lake Washington for 4 years and was used in-between schedules as a cruising dance hall and party boat, she had a beautiful maple dance floor. The Washington State Ferry System put this privately owned ferry out of a job. She was then purchased by the Rodeo/Vallejo Line of San Francisco Bay in 1918 at the end of WW 1. Thirty years later in 1948 she was retired from SF Bay service and “mothballed” in Vallejo. How she got to Sausalito is a variegated story: was it a scrap collector or artist Jean Varda but for sure it was Donion Arques who ended up with the ferry and found a slot for her along Gate 6 Road. She gradually sank into dereliction while sinking into the bay but providied a homestead for some of the passing hippies and artists in the meantime. She was eventually dismantled and in 1977 the dock that would bear her name began to be built.

Issaquah is a city located in an area of Washington State southeast of Seattle called the Squak Valley. The name comes from a Native American word for the area “osquowh” meaning “the sound of water birds”. The town was called Gilman from 1892-1899 when the name was changed to Issaquah. Early a coal mining area and later a lumber town in more recent times its proximity to Seattle made it a good address for Boeing and Microsoft who both have been active in its cultural development and diversity. Costco moved its global headquarters from nearby Kirkland to Issaquah in 1996.,_Washington#History

“In approximately 1948 Jean Varda and British-born artist Gordon Onslow Ford acquired an old ferryboat, called the Vallejo. They permanently moored the Vallejo in Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and remodeled it into a studio for Onslow-Ford with a studio & living quarters for Varda, using materials scavenged from the closed-down wartime shipbuilding operation. The writer and Zen Buddhist popularizer Alan Watts took over Onslow-Ford’s space on the ferryboat in 1961.” Film by Agnes Varda, the 1967 “Oncle Yanko”, describes Jean Varda’s artistic life there and captures beautifully the Sausalito houseboat community of the time. Agnes Varda was his cousin. By dipping into this documentary you’ll get a rare view of that time 50 years ago. (18:56)

We enter the gateway to Issaquah Dock – most impressive architecture and a fun nod to the original ferry’ wheel houses.

Keeping in touch with the earth on the water. We were amazed and delighted to see the gardens along the dock with plantings and colors in great variety.

We were all quite taken with the creativity and amazing array of floating homes on the Issaquah Dock. The gorgeous day made it all the better.

Cats rule.

Quirky and eclectic

Perhaps a tribute to Jean Varda’s mosaics.

Our destination at last, you’ll recall the “in the distance” view that we enjoyed from the hills above Marin City as an “appetizer”.

A delicious spread of many dishes awaits us inside including Inge’s Pickleweed Poke, doffing her hat to our previous hike at Pickelweed Park in San Rafael.

Scott readies his ice cream maker on the back deck for his peach/nectarine extravaganza.

In-between we get to tour this lovely floating home. Kit took this great shot of Louise and Eamon, our generous and lively hosts, on their front deck. Many thanks to them for all their generosity of time and place. We all felt so welcome and relaxed in your home – what a great visit and swell potluck!
They also were most generous hosting our spring potluck 2014 in their previous San Rafael home. You’ll remember the chickens. Should you want to take that tour you can go to , then at the top highlight “Browse by Season” for Spring 2014 and 9 June 2014
entitled “Tucker Cutoff Trail with Jim” should be the first to come up. Was Scott’s fabled ice cream first enjoyed by our group on this hike?

On the other end of the deck, Kit also took this great photo of our two Annes.

Cats rule here as well on the deck in the sunshine, thanks Kit!

We see the skyline of San Francisco through the sailboat masts of Sausalito

Sunflowers, Moonflowers and Sea Stars

Here’s a VIMEO video of our Issaquah visit with music done by the Monterey Jazz Quartet in 1963, called “In a Crowd.”


Issaquah Dock Potluck

Thanks very much indeed to Michael, our leader so knowledgeable, creative and full of whimsey for a great Spring Footloose 2017. You stretch our minds and we scratch our heads, “Where is Michael now?” Oh yes, the Brazilian Pantanal, got that email “Greetings from Matto Grosso Brazil” where he was exploring the twin cities of Varzea Grande and Cuiaba and went out on a mountain bike ride at 6 AM. Thanks to Armando Quintero, Jim Coleman and Don McLaurin for seamlessly leading us on four of our hikes in this series while Michael was away, you each brought such special insights and enthusiasm – a bravo grande to you!

P.S. Michael invited a guest, Kyra, who was able to come to the first part of our hike in the Marin City hills. She kindly offered to take my picture on that hewn seat in the hills – thank you very much! Kyra works as Development Specialist for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in San Francisco.

Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm and thanks for “listening”. Hugs, Lew (alias “Z”)

Exploring Shoreline Park, San Rafael with Michael – 5 June 2017

Traffic was light on 101lending a welcoming feeling to our penultimate hike for the 2017 spring season. We were here previously in March of 2013 when we explored Pickleweed Park as well as hiking on the Jean and John Starkweather Trail. Our hike today is along San Rafael Bay. San Rafael Bay is described in the Wikipedia entry with the lovely word “embayment” of San Pablo Bay. San Pablo Bay is in turn the northern part of the greater San Francisco Bay – all of it a bit like a Russian nesting (matryoshka) doll.

The Starkweathers moved from San Francisco to Marin in 1956 to raise their family and fell in love with this area. John was a professor of Medical Psychology at the University of California in San Francisco and a community leader. Jean supported John through graduate school at Northwestern in Illinois and then raised their three boys with him in the city followed by their move to a new home in Marin’s Terra Linda. It was those three boys that got her into community and conservation activism when a nearby hillside and haunt of the boys was about to be developed for housing. “One of her sons asked her what would happen to the burrowing owls living there. Jean decided to find out” – video interview with Jean Starkweather

Jean Starkweather is part of a memorable tradition of women’s conservation activism in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area – she’s in great company. Here are just a few examples.

On our hike at Ring Mountain we read of Phyllis Ellman known as the ‘Mother of Botany” who led local conservationist groups to save the area from massive development. This location, the only place on earth where the Tiburon Mariposa Lily is found, was purchased by the Nature Conservancy and deeded over to the Marin County Open Space district in 1995. She was described was as “very knowledgeable and very dogged”. Her work continued in Sonoma County when they moved to Glen Ellen where she became a “founding mother” of the Bouverie Preserve Environmental Education Program . Two of our hikers, Inge and Kit working with 4th graders, are volunteers in this program.

Elizabeth Terwilliger “pioneered environmental education in Marin County. A legend in her time, she led school trips for children until she was 87.” She would come each year to Stinson Beach School where Pat was teaching Kindergarten to share her love of and enthusiasm for nature bringing along many examples of Marin fauna. Two others in our group, Rowena and Jeannie, volunteered in her program and hiked with her. While she accomplished so much more, she is often remembered for getting then President Regan to raise his arms in her “patented” V is for Vulture stance.

In 1961, three University of California wives from the East Bay, Mrs.Kay Kerr, Mrs. Sylvia McLaughlin and Mrs. Esther Gulick “saw an Oakland Tribune illustration depicting San Francisco Bay mostly filled in and turned into a narrow shipping channel by 2020. Making phone calls, writing letters, holding meetings and collecting $1 from each of thousands of Bay Area residents they created the ‘Save San Francisco Bay Association’ beginning a successful movement to save the Bay from destruction.” They achieved a legislative moratorium against filling the Bay, closure of more than 30 city garbage dumps along the shoreline. (The area of our hike included many dumping areas for San Rafael. ) A halt to the practice of dumping raw sewage into the Bay and establishing a permanent state agency to regulate shoreline development and public access both became a reality. This Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) was the first-ever coastal zone management agency and a model for many others around the world.” videos – We’ve hiked in both of these areas.

In the 1930s, Sepha Evers, Caroline Livermore, Portia Forbes and Helen Van Pelt saved many of Marin’s open space treasures and founded Marin Conservation League which continues their activist tradition today. They worked with others to expand Mt. Tamalpais State Park from its 200 acre nucleus, created Tomales Bay State Park, and assisted in the creation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore. The MCL website highlights “one of the most dramatic chapters in MCL history was the battle to stop 8790 acres of Richardson Bay from being filled – by bull dozing the Tiburon hills and depositing the fill into the bay – turning it into a town for 10,000 people. Today it is the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary.
Another of their signal victories was stopping the commercialization of Angel Island when developers had plans that neither respected the nature of the island nor its important history. Caroline Livermore said of their 14 year campaign to preserve the island, “We really saved it from becoming a cheap Coney Island, which a Nevada firm hoped to develop.” Or can you imagine a resort hotel and yacht harbor in Bolinas Lagoon? It was another developer’s dream derailed.


We circle up before the hike and share the moment. Yes, some dogs are aboard today and you can spot Matt’s poodle, Izzy, peaking out at us.

In the parking area where we gathered and spotted the FLAGship. The Marin County Library sponsors this bus which provides “Storytimes, kid’s songs and games, puppets, crafts another fun kindergarten-readiness activities . . . offers education and health workshops to adults and their children 0 to 5 years old.” All this is at various scheduled times across the county.
Another aspect of the Flagship program is “Trips for Kids” –

The final photo show us talking with the parking attendant who has her chalker in hand, always good to get to know your neighbors.

Getting out on the trail we begin to add the darker blue in the sign to that of the Bay to the not quite cerulean sky, ok not even close but I like the sound of cerulean.
What colors do you think?

Michael identified this brilliant, glowing native plant array as Salt marsh dodder, Dodder Family (Cuscutaceae). Cuscuta salina Engelmann var. major
Peter R. Baye has written a remarkable guide to “Tidal Marsh Plant Species of the San Francisco Estuary” which describes the dodder among many others.
First, a brief introduction to him from our favorite magazine, BAY NATURE, giving you an idea of his remarkable grasp of the subject and his out-of-the-box thinking.
His guide is an amazing compilation, a large number of plants – all with fine photos, clear identifications and other markers. He notes whether the plants are Native, Rare or Invasive. Our salt marsh dodder is found on page 33. Pickleweed is on 9,10 & 11. Spartina is commonly known as “cordgrass” frequently found in coastal marshes. The name comes from the Greek as spartine meaning rope or cord. It also refers to a restaurant in Los Angeles and in Spartina 449, an upscale women’s handbag and accessory company. I think that the first meaning was the intended.

We pass an unusual sign requesting consideration especially from 8 PM to 8 AM, quiet zone/zona de silencio.
Making one small change at Muir Woods brought an enormous difference. . . . Suggestions to enhance your soundscape – thoughtful and helpful. I recall on some walks we’ve had quiet zones (QZs) which has helped us a lot to get into the natural world we’re walking through. There’s a 1:32 sample. Just came across this site, lots to listen to. I think it brings me back to my early days feasting on radio programs not all natural sounds, of course, but listening brought a special attention that I sometimes don’t hone when I’m watching something.

The dog contingent and their leash holders.

Looking out on San Rafael Bay we see the Marin Islands and spot a passing paddleboarder. Long history, try 1781. Crossing the Atlantic on a paddleboard.

Back to these small islands which are conveniently named East Marin and West Marin. “The Marin name comes from a Coast Miwok man known as Chief Marin after whom Marin County was named. (and continuing in the wiki account) He is thought to have hidden out there in the 1820s after escaping from Mission San Rafael, before being recaptured and incarcerated at the Mexican San Francisco Presidio.”

In the 20th Century, Thomas Crowley, bought the islands at auction in 1926 for $25,461 in hopes that they would become the western terminus of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Instead they became a family vacation spot for more than 60 years. The Crowley family of San Francisco attempted unsuccessfully to sell them in 1984 asking 4.25 million. They later donated them to the federal government.” – Well written recollection of a Marin realtor who grew up in the area and go out the islands frequently the 80s including a helicopter video fly over of the islands when they were for sale. Michael suggested there might be a mystery about this but I couldn’t find it as yet.

The West Marin Island became the largest egret and heron rookery in the San Francisco Bay administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kit to got to go out
to the West Island area recently and the rookery has sadly disappeared. This is similar to the loss of the long-standing egret nest area in the Redwoods above Audubon Canyon Ranch in Bolinas that had been active since the 1940s. The arrival of bald eagles in the area is one explanation but John Kelly, director of conservation science at Audubon Canyon Ranch said, “That is one theory, but we do not have an exact answer yet.” This also could be an explanation for the loss
of the West Marin Island rookery.

Statuesque Great Egret in the the lagoon next to our trail. It’s the symbol of the Audubon society.

Clearly waiting for some kind of a gotcha, or perhaps just a bit of skepticism – ah, you’re a hard audience.

Last school days at Redwood High School for this school year, a bravo way to handle a restless class.

Michael asks us, “What is the northern most part of San Francisco?” Izzy has other interests.

The boundaries of three counties converge on Red Rock Island – San Francisco, Marin and Contra Costa. The San Francisco County portion is an incorporated part of the City-county of San Francisco. Leaving your heart in this part of San Francisco would be kind of lonely and probably not what Tony Bennett was envisioning.

We walked along reinforced levees constructed of riprap on both sides of the trail.
Maybe the sound of the waves hitting the levee is yet another kind of Rap music. This looks like it was some solid, Ozymandian installation now doing second duty as riprap. Recycling where once was a dump.

The path has some helpful signs with descriptions and explanations

I waited quite awhile for a good angle to photograph some snowy egrets when this beauty swooped in and perched in the Toyon “hedge” directly in front of me. Pays to be patient and let nature come to you as Armando told us one time.

Here’s a Snowy having a fine feather fluff. From a BAY NAURE article by Rob Lee: (Egrets are also herons; their name derives from “aigrette,” the gorgeous nuptial plumes for which they were hunted almost to extinction in the early 20th century.) Actually, I think this may be more a cleaning moment rather than part of a courtship pattern but that will have to be determined.

Here’s a VIMEO VIDEO that I made of some snowy egrets in the lagoon set to a bit of J.S. Bach, Partita No. 6 in E Minor, played by Igor Levit.

Toyon “berries” or are these buds about bloom? They’ll become red in the autumn – the signature plant of Hollywood. A large number of Toyons had been planted on the lagoon side of our path. Returning in the fall to see them blazing with red berries will be memorable.

Returning to Pickleweed Park, we picnicked on two joined picnic tables that just fit the group. It felt like medieval moment feasting at a long refectory table at some castle or monastery with good friends pledged to the trail. Plenty of good spirits as well, all that was missing was the mead.

From the other end of the table we added yet another view of Mt. Tamalpais, the distinctive profile of Marin on the horizon.

P.S. Should want to remember our previous Pickleweed Park hike, here it is for your perusal. Best thoughts and hugs from here, Lew (alias Z)