Category Archives: Spring 2012

Barnacles & Troglodytes, China Camp with Michael – 11 June 2012

It was great to have Michael back from Bhutan & Tennessee for the finale hike of Spring Footloose Forays 2012. The beach was not perhaps the most beautiful we’ve enjoyed and I wondered what Michael could say about a small, rocky and a bit forlorn view of San Pablo Bay. Not to worry, he was off and running for over half an hour with amazing information and insights at break neck speed. He gave us some historic context mentioning that Frank Quan, grandson of one of the earlier inhabitants Quan Hock Quock, still lives at China Camp. It was a successful fishing village from the 1880’s known especially for grass-shrimp. Tragically, this all went into decline with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

http://www.marinij.com/ci_13212110?IADID=Search-www.marinij.com-www.marinij.com

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=419

Reconnoitering in the parking lot. We all feel safer because Chris has brought his Cougar Stick.

The beach in question. Note a new “stick by Chris” with Karen who used it on a recent quest.

Michael is talking about pretzels and their exotic history. The crossed arms reminiscent of the pretzel shape may variously represent children learning their prayers, or the trinity or perhaps some reference to sacrificial victims. Inge and her friend Pen look on listening to his explanation. http://www.foodforthoughtonline.net/Pretzels.html They joined us on their way to a Russian River Canoe trip.

Green Algae enrobes the rocks in a bold, Christo-like gesture.

Michael points out hundreds of small barnacles (Was it Oatmeal?) in this intertidal zone. He mentioned that the barnacles like living together in communities like this whether on rocks or whales. They attach to the rock with a special adhesive that is a subject of interest to dental science. Two other feathery appendages beat rhythmically drawing in food. Most barnacles are hermaphrodites. They cannot leave their shells to mate. To facilitate reproduction between isolated individuals they have developed extraordinarily long penises. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnacle

I kept remembering Capt. Haddock in Tin Tin who would say, “Billions of bilious blue barnacles.”

Michael found some hermit crabs in a couple of deft dives, one male and then one female here with her eggs in view.

What was this idea? It seems quite profound.

Up on the Shoreline Trail Michael is talking about the unique qualities of the Sticky Monkey Flower.

Monkey Flowers exhibit rapid movement which is a rarity in the plant world. If you lightly touch the two-parted stigma, it quickly closes up assuming that a bee or humming bird has deposited pollen from another flower while gathering nectar. When the plant senses an absence of pollen, the stigma will reopen until pollen is finally deposited.

View across San Pablo Bay and Rat Rock Island (?) from the Shoreline Trail. Giant tanker on the horizon. Imagine the sturgeon out there in the water.

Michael spied a pair of Winter Wrens (Troglodytes hiemalis) in feeding formation for their young in this neat burrow beneath an oak branch. One seems to be either peeking out or about to fly. Capt. Haddock was always talking troglodytes too but of a different kind. The hike was so tintinesque.

Janet gives directions to her home at Chapel Cove. It was wonderful to see Maureen at the pot-luck looking so spirited and with her sense of humor flying. We are proud of her, she is indeed a fighter. A big bon voyage for her trip to Africa. Great also to have Lisa back, we have missed her too. Glad that Armando could join us as he did last year. I missed hearing him talk chickens with Louise. Many thanks to Janet and Navi for their wonderful hospitality. Great spread of food, even home made ice cream on the patio a la Scott. We always seem to be so pot-lucky. Have some swell summers, Lew

Carson Ridge Hike transmogrifies into the Cataract Trail with David Lukas – 4 June 2012

What to our wondering eyes did appear but rain at the trailhead and wind on the heath.

Michael back in Tennessee with his Mom had arranged to have David be our hike leader and it was great to be with him again. Our last contact had been when some of us went to UC Merced with Armando and David was able to join us there.

It seemed like the stormy start coincided perfectly with 10 AM and David suggested a more protected hike along the Cataract Trail. The committee made a quick approving decision and down we went past Lily Lake and over the Alpine Lake Dam to the new trailhead. Great choice, matching the perfect hike to the day. We’d landed on our feet. Walking along Alpine Lake with the sprinkles sounding on the leaves overhead and raindrops hitting the surface of the water surrounded us with a moment of pure Zen (thank you Jon Stewart).
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David talked about the mosses which were enjoying the rain along the trail and showed us some spore-bearing capsules, beak-like at the top of thin stalks. He and Janet had hand magnifiers that gave nice close-in views. He relayed that mosses are non-vascular plants absorbing water and nutrients directly through their leaves as they hunker down on the forest floor. The rain of debris in the forest constantly covers them so that creating their food with photosynthesis can be compromised. Their strategy is to gain some altitude finding a home on fallen or living tree or rock nearby. One way they are able to move about is by becoming attached to the feet of chipmunks as they scamper over them.
The trail was pure Santa Cruz with many banana slugs making their way about along with a couple of wonderful brown snails and a passing Rough-skinned Newt.
David talked about the incredible poison in this newt, that one animal has enough to kill 25,000 mice. The toxin binds to sodium channels in nerve cells and stops normal sodium ion transfer in and out of the cell with the result of paralysis and death. This is why it isn’t a good idea to swallow a newt in a fraternity initiation. He said that this poison (tetrodotoxin) is the same as found in the Japanese pufferfish. The common garter snake has developed an immunity so that it can successfully prey on the newt. The newt responds by developing even more toxic poison in what an article on this calls an evolutionary arms race.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rough-Skinned_Newt

http://baynature.org/articles/jan-mar-2008/what-native-land-snails-live-in-the-bay-area

The storm moves in and David is about to call the committee together. We hiked up this hill with Armando on a shuttle hike to Lake Lagunitas.

Raindrops on Alpine Lake, ephemeral beauty

Checking out some mosses at the trailhead

“Remembrance of things past” – the Redwood circle of life.

Spore capsules aloft over moss

Meditative moment along the trail

California Nutmeg http://trees.stanford.edu/ENCYC/TORca.htm

Rather like a honey dew

We heard what are becoming familiar wild calls from this snag

Looking a little closer, we spotted the profile of a young Osprey

Who finally came out for full inspection.

About to head back down the trail after lunch by a pool quite placid

The Committee does a victory lap

Explication by some Elk Clover, you can just spot its tiny blooms

David spotted this Redwood tree growing out of a fallen trunk with no connection to the ground beneath, another vertical is seen on this side of the stream.

Banana slug celebrating the rain moving smartly across some moss

One of the special brown snails having a quiet moment on a fallen log

Many thanks to David for a lovely hike! Lew

Five Brooks Hike with Jim Coleman – 21 May 2012

Our second hike with Jim took us very close to the epicenter of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. With some of those images we began walking along the Stewart Trail recalling that the San Andreas Fault slipped more than fifteen feet here with trees swaying wildly, people knocked off their feet, equestrians thrown to the ground and that steam engine on its side at Pt. Reyes Station. It was a relaxing contrast when we could refocus on Jim’s excellent ids & descriptions of various grasses along our way, to be able to enjoy a more micro world with those macro edges of the Pacific & North American Plates sleeping below.

The hike along the fire trail moved up into lush undergrowth and impressive overgrowth highlighted with majestic Douglas Fir trees. It was a steady climb but a fairly gentle slope toward the top where we had lunch by an expansive Huckleberry patch serenaded by wrentits. We were able to hear streams running at various places at the bottom of steep slopes but the undergrowth completely covered them. Jim identified a number of bird songs along but again the trees obscured sightings so that it was mainly listening to and appreciating some beautiful music. Perhaps the highlight was the wild yet melodious calls of the Ospreys echoing down the canyons. Chris spotted an Osprey nest for sighting in a special moment and we were able to see them cruising just above the Douglas firs and circling higher in the blue sky. I wondered if some of these were Ospreys that we’d seen on our Muddy Hollow Hike chugging along with fish in their talons – face forward, of course.

Jim identified a Tanoak with Sudden Oak Death by the path mentioning that these trees do provide food and habitat for other creatures like woodpeckers and bark beetles. He also described how aphids on some flowers produced a sugary mixture from two tubes (dual exhausts?) that is relished by ants. The ants are diligent and appreciative farmers even going to the extent of bringing in their aphids at night to which Charlotte commented, “They must be sugar daddies.”

We enjoyed some equestrians as they came up from the horse corral at Five Brooks exploring the many trail possibilities. In fact, there were more trail signs than we’d seen on any of our other hikes which occasioned the odd reconnoiter as we made our way up the hill on the Stewart Trail to the Ridge Trail. Decisions, decisions.

We took this side trail early on (Roz’s Loop) and got into a meadow where Jim identified a number of grasses. Lots of Blue-eyed grass but I’ll leave the other ids alone.

Jim is explaining here how animals will forage the top showy section of a native grass but then the grass flowers and reproduces successfully from the bottom, more hidden part of the plant. Grasses do not need birds and insects for pollination disbursing their seeds in the wind.

A quiet pond early on

Checking out the possibilities

Western columbine, Aquilegia formosa, with poison oak and others in a surround

One of the majestic Douglas firs with poison oak vine entangles

Elk Clover, Aralia californica, about to bloom. A sign at the start of the trail noted that the Tule Elk are calving and nursing now.

Carol and Jeannie framing some passing equestrians

Exotic Foxgloves, Digitalis, both here and as we discovered, also along the Palomarin Trail.

A millipede joins us at lunch. Jim explained that the millipede eats decaying plant material while the centipede feasts on insects. Nice orange portholes on the sides.

The corral was full of horses in the morning when we started out. These may not have been needed today or perhaps have just returned. Thanks much Jim. L

Palomarin Hike with Jim Coleman – 14th May 2102

We met Jim on a fog kissed morning in Bolinas at the end of a dusty washboard road that brought back memories of hikes and camping trips once taken. He told us a bitabout his work at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) and mentioned that they have fabulous plant sales! OAEC has a mission to bring ecological understanding and awareness to school students and adults. They are working to bring creative and healing approaches about in our culture – bringing back balance and sustainability to our threatened world. http://www.oaec.org/ & http://www.oaec.org/values Jim spoke about our coastal grass land prairies that sustained life for millennia which are now in decline with only islands of native plant communities. He talked of the prehistoric animals in California that lived harmoniously with the grass land: the mastodons, camels, ancient bison – the animals of the Pleistocene that we’ve found at La Brea. How to restore that balance with the land once again? It isn’t only dealing with invasives but understanding what kept the land in balance throughout history before man. We began thinking that perhaps we were on the Paleomarin Trail.

One of those cool waterproof maps by www.mapadventures.com

Heading out on the Coast Trail, not sure how that relates to the Coastal Trail we saw last week.

A very atmospheric Eucalyptus grove with some remarkably large trees. Could some date back to the Gold Rush? http://biomass.forestguild.org/casestudies/1001/Eucalyptus.pdf

Great promontory views of the Pacific, sheer drops and inaccessible beaches

Intriguing scalloping sand patterns on the beach below, Jim speculated that perhaps the shelves jutting out into the ocean may set up special currents.

Manroot (Marah fabaceus), our wild cucumber which we’ve seen a number of times but usually not with the cucumber. The stem can grow as long as 25 feet.

Indian paintbrush (Castilleja Wightii) named in honor of a Spanish botanist Juan Castilleja. The red version is Castilleja franciscana. The Figwort family (Courtesy of Lilian Mc Houl in Wild Flowers of Marin)

Some Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla) with a Spittlebug nymph in its frothy jacket. The camera was contemplating a bungee jump.

Meiica grass which Jim said likes cuts and hillsides where it can overhang. I think this one was Melica torreyana. He identified a Melica californica later on. He talked about the remarkable ability of native grasses to sequester carbon with their deep root systems. http://nature.berkeley.edu/silverlab/?page_id=206 & and a more extensive study that was done in Bolinas & Tennessee Valley: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044001/fulltext/

Velvet grass which lived up to its name: http://www.sonomalandtrust.org/publications/articles.html

Like many sections of the trail there was the green signature of water here with the Alders creating a beautiful screen to the sunlight. They love the streams on the Pt. Reyes Peninsula.

Just turning 180 degrees on the trail Jim identified this Elderberry bush, Alder and Elder going hand in hand.

Tiptoeing through the Cow Parsnips

I thought we’d landed in the Adirondacks. Bass Lake where we had a picnic lunch and perhaps where our esteemed leader enjoyed a dip.

Morning-Glories entertaining, ids of the visitors will be cheerfully received.

Twinberry blooms, Lonicera involucrata: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/lonicera_involucrate.shtml

Twinberries

The land beneath reorganizing. Thanks Jim.

Miwok Trial to Tennessee Valley with Armando – 7 May 2012

Great to see Armando again after “the road to nowhere”. He wanted to give us the perspective of the next ridge over closer to Mt. Tam and further than our previous “picnic” view of the City. We carpooled from the Tennessee Valley Parking Lot to the Miwok Trailhead on Rt. 1 just beyond the Panoramic turnoff. Thanks to Jeannie for all of those precise instructions and getting us their on time.
We started in the shade of a Eucalyptus grove that gave us a reprieve from the sun that we’d enjoy on the rest of the hike. Along the trail there were outcroppings of sandstone that were decaying into the most lovely, soft sand making up the trail. It was like walking on the beach but higher up. Along the way we passed a happy juxtaposition of Fringe Cups and Bee-Plant on the shady side of the trail. Flax, Cow Parsnips and burgeoning Poison Hemlock followed us up the grade.

As C.S. Lewis wrote in his Narnia series, we were going “further up and further in”. You might compare this view of Mt. Tam from the one at the Rodeo south exit.

Armando pointed out the beauty of the blooming Thimbleberry and mentioned that the berry blooms are memorable – even the invasive Himalaya. Trying to get the latter out of your yard may detract.

Looking over toward the Strawberry peninsula toward Tiburon with suggestions of Belvedere and the Eastbay hills. Everyone seems to be casting a shadow which is a good thing.

Armando pointed out the suburban footprint extending into the hills and commented that the next fire on the mountain might well be caused by a house fire.

He also told us that he had been at a book presentation at Book Passage on Sunday evening. The book is called, In the Sierra, Mountain Writings, by Kenneth Rexroth and edited by Kim Stanley Robinson. The cover is a neat woodblock print by Tom Killion. Armando mentioned that the idea for the book began on a hike he was leading in a Sierra. They gave him a happy recognition at the event. His daughter Bella’s comment to him when she heard about it was, “So now you’re a muse!”

We stopped at a scenic Pacific overlook and had this precise location information, an earlier GPS.

Sharing the trail

Bolinas Mesa and Duxbury Reef and just a suggestion of Pt. Reyes and just maybe, Chimney Rock.

Taking an animation break

The Coastal Trail leading to Muir Beach with an animated rock. (Maybe a Bliss dog profile?)

So we went on the Miwok, Fox (?), Coastal Fire Road, Coastal Trail and Lower Tennessee Valley Trail? As usual any corrections or comments happily received.

Longer and larger view looking toward Muir Beach, Bolinas and beyond, like Bed, Bath, and Beyond except more scenic.

Huge lichen attack, how soft things can handle hard things. The building up and the tearing down. Would that be a feathery moss on top of the gray lichen? Is that “V is for Vulture”, memories of Elizabeth Terwilliger. http://www.marinij.com/ci_4738210

The drama of Tennessee Beach. http://www.noehill.com/marin/nat1981000102.asp

Destinations available for various energy levels.

Just before lunch there was some water along the trail going back toward the parking lot and these soft, non-woody Seep Monkey Flowers (Mimulus guttatus) joined us on our way. After a shady lunch near some dramatic chert http://www.nps.gov/goga/forteachers/chert-faq.htm as we hiked back to the lot, we were greeted with the songs of a Black-headed Grosbeak holding forth from some high branches.
a fitting finale to a fun hike. Thanks Mando. L

Hiking the Matt Davis & Coastal Trails with Michael – 30 April 2012

I’m sure that we all send our love to Lisa with high hopes that she may know the comfort of family & friends through this difficult time of loss. Lew & Pat

It was a beautiful day on top of the Mountain Monday with lush bird calls, each one taking up where another had left off and sometimes layering their songs in sweet symmetry. Michael told us about the 3 different songs of the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) depending on his location. He asked us what the maculatus meant and relayed “spotted or stained”, that we usually know the word in “immaculate”. Crossing my fingers that this is a western towhee here is one of the songs:

Michael added that bird songs are designed to rise above or to zing through the competition with the example of the Black Oyster Catcher’s song vividly clear amidst the sound of waves and surf along the shore. Here’s a short video with nice beach context: and one where they are dealing with urban sounds at the Seattle Zoo:

Stopping under the lovely arch of a Madrone Michael shares with the group. Near here we saw the classic rectangular hole in a Douglas fir made by a Pileated woodpecker. Michael also pointed out some dreaded red-brown butt rot in review as we were passing. On the hillside perhaps some Hound’s Tongue and a Trillium at his knee.

The new kid on the block this hike was Corallorhiza maculata, now we know what that means at least the maculate part. The shaded first part of the hike had many hillsides with these coral root orchid rising to the sunlight. Here’s a fun site about mycotrophic wildflowers: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/pljune97.htm

Sue B. noticed a neat ladder effect on a pine tree near the trail, this was a happy inadvertence.

A small waterfall bejewels a rocky outcrop in the sunlight

The Italians call this a Portuguese thistle. The Portuguese refer to it as an Italian thistle. Perhaps an Italo-Portuguese thistle? Non-Native and part of a hillside of them indicating that cows had grazed here at one time.

A promontory just off the Matt Davis Trail with our colorful crew looking down on Bolinas and Stinson etched in fog.

From Bay Nature Jan-Mar 2008, “. . . Matt Davis who worked on this segment of trail through the 1920’s, lived in a small cabin on the mountain and was paid to cut trails by the Tamalpais Conservation Club.”

Leaving the Matt Davis Trail as it descends to Stinson Beach, we head up on the Coastal Trail.

Blue Eyed Grass sometimes found with white flowers

Variations on a contrail, the sky, a the pilot’s palette, do you think her/his name begins with W?

Looking down on Bolinas and Duxbury Reef : http://wikimapia.org/1747303/Duxbury-Reef Michael told of one ship that ran aground on the Reef but kind of bounced and was able to continue to San Francisco but most were not so lucky: http://www.charleshobson.com/ships/western.html & William Tecumseh Sherman was wrecked there on the SS Lewis in 1853:
http://channelislands.noaa.gov/shipwreck/dbase/gfmns/sslewis.html

Michael was sharing what appeared to be a single flower but was actually a bloom with many combined flowers each blade being a single bloom. He gave other examples of this – a sunflower and lettuce.

The fog lifting on a view of Stinson Beach and Bolinas with a good view of Bolinas Mesa.

Winding along the Coastal Trail

The only native California thistle, not sure of its name or nomenclature. Thanks for the help.

Heading back for lunch on the Coastal Trail with an artifact from yesteryear. Great shaded lunch spot with fallen tree trunks covered with nice, soft lichen.

Ants gathering “honeydew” from aphids on a California thistle. They carry their collection to an ant “cave” where some female ants hanging from the ceiling are fed the gathered treasures. I didn’t make this up, straight from our leader. The science fiction possibilities are endless.

The fog has almost cleared as we make our way back to Pantoll. Stinson Beach presents itself below. L

Hiking Annie’s Dell with Michael – 16 April 2012

The road in on Channel Drive was a great beginning to our walk in the park with walls of green as we left improved Santa Rosa behind. Historically it was a narrow gage railroad used to bring out the cobblestones quarried from Annadel to San Francisco and Sacramento. At the end of the road we met Michael. There was a spacious parking area for humans & horses, potties, and this wonderful affinity group below. Michael explained that this area was named after the daughter of some of the area’s principal landowners, Annie Coney. Joseph Coney had bought the property in 1930 and called it Annadel Farm. He created Lake Ilsanjo which combines his wife’s name Ilse with his own. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annadel_State_Park

P1050303 – A dog walker’s addition to our morning.

P1050305 – Catch a passing hiker who asked, “What is this group?” He asked Michael if he could talk to us and shared his concerns about the closure of Annadel and the state parks. He mentioned that Henry Trione, a Santa Rosa banker, had been instrumental in the establishment of Annadel as a state park buying up the surrounding land so it couldn’t be developed. It had been slated earlier for a 5000 acre subdivision by the former owner of the Oakland Raiders, Wayne Valley, but was dropped when environmental opposition developed. Henry Trione bought the land for the Wild Oak Saddle Club and donated the rest to the state. Annadel became the 1st project of the California State Park’s Foundation in 1971. Our hiking friend emphasized what a difference a single person can make. http://www.cspra.com/pages/heritage/honorary/trione.html

P1050306 – Some altocumulus overhead with a cirrus spritz.

P1050308 – Michael receives various salutes from the group, we need to work on getting them together.

P1050309 – A California Slender Salamander warms up on Michael’s hand. He said this group has developed the ability to breathe through their skin, no lungs needed.

P1050311 – Michael mentioned that the group on the Death Valley trip had wondered if the title Footloose Forays would still be apt some years from now. The image was of a care facility with wheel chairs and walkers rampant. How might that impact our group and what might it be called? Laura aced a possible title with, Toothless Forays. What will the 50th anniversary look like?

P1050314 – a Calypso orchid amid ferns and leaf litter. Odysseus spent 7 of his 10 lost years with the beautiful nymph, Calypso. The term means hidden or concealed as it is on forest floors and as was Odysseus with Calypso. It formed a nice foil with the testosterone symphony of bird calls that we enjoyed along the way along with the hollow thrumming of a pileated woodpecker in the percussion section offstage in the distance.

P1050316 – Mind the poison oak

P1050317 – The memorable Red-brown butt rot which is a deadly fungus to various conifers, here the Douglas fir trees. Looks almost like some Dutch chocolate but not so benign.

P1050319 Johnny-Jump-Up, a golden yellow wild pansy

P1050320 – the underside of the Johnny-Jump-Up was fetching

P1050326 – Gazebo picnic with oaks greening out in the background

P1050329 – The gazebo from a distance with Lake Ilsanjo on the left as we headed back.

P1050330 – a grinding stone with two indentations, someone suggested the smaller cup was for herbs and spices. The Southern Wappo and Pomo lived here in prehistoric times. You can imagine them gathered around this stone grinding acorns, talking and sharing the sunshine. The Annadel site was also used by them as a valuable source of obsidian which we found still abundant along the trail in some places. They used it for scrapers, knives, arrow and spearheads for their hunting and gathering. Michael explained that this area is called the Sonoma Volcanic Region. He also shared that heart surgeons used obsidian blades in modern times because an edge could be thinned almost down to molecularity. He wondered if lasers had replaced this in surgery.

Back from Death Valley, Michael shares the fine perfume of a Creosote bush with the group as the hike wraps up.

Tune in next week, same time, different Bat station.