Category Archives: Spring 2014

Tucker Cutoff Trail with Jim – 9 June 2014

Prominent in the skyline as you loop San Francisco Bay, Mt. Tamalpais is sentinel on our horizons. The perspectives change, at times the summit(s) are more prominent and sometimes the length of the mountain stretching toward the Pacific is more obvious. It rises into the winds and storms that come off the ocean. It provides a remarkable green presence in our lives refreshing the air we breathe and provides the watershed that is the basic of our lives. The moods change depending on the day, today ours is a clear profile to enjoy. At other times, the Pacific fogs will obscure part or all of the mountain bringing out its magical and spiritual qualities. It is our Fuji.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-six_Views_of_Mount_Fuji http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-six_Views_of_Mount_Fuji_(Hiroshige)

Tom Killian and Gary Snyder wrote and drew a splendid homage to the Mountain in their book, Tamalpais walking (Heyday Books, Berkeley, California, 2009.) Killian’s woodblock prints are remarkable for their insights, their bold, powerfully descriptive lines and superb combinations of color. His style honors and is organic to the great Japanese woodblock tradition – truly breathtaking. Killian’s written descriptions combined with Snyder’s essay and poetry make this book a holder and a keeper.

“Walked all day through live oak and manzanita,
Scrabbling through dust down Tamalpais—
Thought of high mountains;
Looked out on a sea of fog.
Two of us, carrying packs.
“Myths & Texts”, Gary Snyder

Hot day in the offing getting into the 90’s , we hat up and take in the view.

Just as we begin the trail some Bush Monkey flowers are along the way, these particular plants seemed to have a large number of twin blooms.
http://napavalleyregister.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/columnists/master-gardener/monkey-flowers/article_5a4a528c-93cf-11e0-b46d-001cc4c03286.html

Looking down toward Phoenix Lake with a Buckeye finishing its bloom but still plenty of fragrance to attract the bee chorus. Jim talked about the confluence of two ecosystems in Northern California, those plants and trees from the north up into Alaska and Canada mingled with those from the south – from southern California and as far away as Mexico.

http://www.pacifichorticulture.org/articles/california-buckeye-a-tree-for-all-seasons/

A hairpin turn begins the trail, checking out our cornering ability.

But we soon are greeted with lots of shade so very welcome on a hot day. It seems that whenever we walk by Redwoods even young Redwoods beginning to colonize a hill, they exude an area cool and quiet.
http://www.operationredwood.com/theredwoodforest.php

Here’s a review from our earlier hike at Devil’s Gulch this year, False Solomon’s Seal (Vagnera amplexicaulis) (Spikenard) with its bloom clusters at the end of the stem. Now we see the fruit in that location, a light-red berry very finely sprinkled with red dots. Margaret Armstrong in her 1915 “Fieldbook of Western Wild Flowers laments, “It is a pity that all flowers cannot have really individual names. ‘False’ is especially unattractive and ’Solomon’s Seal’ is confusing as the flowers are not alike, but this is the old name used all over the world., so it will have to stand, though unworthy of this pleasing plant. . . . The name is given in honor of Wagner.” Wikipedia gives its primary name now as
Maianthemum racemosum: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maianthemum_racemosum

One of the hike’s pleasures was walking along to the sounds of a sparkling stream, precious in Northern California when so many seasonal streams have dried up. Jim found this young Pacific giant salamander in one of the pools and borrowed him for a short time to show the group before returning him to his home. They can grow up to 12 inches in length and “is one of several salamanders that have vocal abilities. When startled these salamanders may respond with a croaky-sounding cry similar to that of a barking dog.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_giant_salamander

Wasn’t the salamander the symbol for the Fire Brigade in “Fahrenheit 451″?

Here’s a bridge built by Boy Scout Troop 101 in 1998 which we cross with thanks and with more thanks in the rainy season, may it come soon.
Was Jim pointing to leaves in the upper story, a passing wren – no, this much attention might be an Osprey which we saw earlier. Actually, what got my attention was a really massive Alder tree that Jim observed at the stream edge. Being used to the smaller Alder trees and bushes along the streams of Pt. Reyes, this one was a surprise and most amazing.

We were moving along so we didn’t get to observe the Red Alder/White Alder differences but apparently each can reach good heights. The white alder can grow up to 82 feet and occasionally 115 ft. The Red can reach ago 98 feet with the official tallest at 105 ft. in Clatsop County, Oregon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_rubra http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnus_rhombifolia

View from the bridge, a wonderful blue rainbow reflecting the sky

Hazelnut bush in mid-stream when it’s streaming http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_cococ.pdf

Enjoying more Redwood shade and listening to the stream sing below us. Some big leaf maples join the redwoods along the stream.
http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/acemac/all.html

Return to GO with Lisa moving smartly toward some shade as we gather ourselves together for the finale pot-luck for the Spring Footloose Series 2014.

We’ve arrived at Louise’s house, she made us feel so comfortable and cool on a hot day. Jim scans the view from the dining area.

But we must see her chickens which have been much in our thoughts.

Louise sharing some chicken info with Armand and later she shared some fresh eggs with some of us “tourists”. This is the chicken that likes to be held. Armando, one of our hike leaders, also raises chickens – I recall him and Louise sharing intense chicken stories at another pot-luck.

Jim said that they raise chickens at OAEC as well. Here Pogo renews his acquaintance.

Some enjoyed meeting the chickens and others loved hanging out in the shade at the pool. Some did both.

Another view of Mt. Tam but not by Hokusai or Hiroshige though I think they’d like this one.

The pot-luck with lots of luck and what is that grinding sound? . + . + . + . +

Ah, it was Scott and Jim hand cranking the ice cream and now’s the moment, I think the spatulas will help. We’ll help too.

Limantour with Michael – May 26, 2014

Hello Everyone,

Playing a little catch-up here. The photos are at the end in a Vimeo video. The music is Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1 done by Jacques Loussier. Happy Solstice! I see in the Wikipedia article on Summer solstice that “Solstice” is derived from Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

Best thoughts, Lew

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_solstice

Begin forwarded message:

From: Lewis and Pat Zuelow <lewiszuelow>

Subject: Limantour with Michael – May 26, 2014

Date: June 19, 2014 at 7:44:23 PM PDT

To: lewiszuelow

Limantour is a beautiful beach with a lovely French name and some tangled history. It was named for the Joseph (Jose) Yves Limantour, a naturalized Mexican citizen born in Lorient, France in 1812. Limantour engaged in the coastal sea trade from Valparaiso to California in the years before American occupation of California in 1846.
His name became attached to the Pt. Reyes coast when he wrecked, the Ayacucho, his schooner there in 1841. Filled with luxury goods he was able to save much of the cargo and make it available to local worthies but he was “stranded in California”. Since there was a lot of cargo and few local worthies, he thought beyond a simple sale to obtaining a new sea-going ship for his trade. Enter General Mariano Guadelupe Vallejo, Commander General of California and Joseph Gale who was a pioneer, entrepreneur and politician in the early settlement of the Oregon Country. Gale had sailed “The Star of Oregon” to California to trade for much needed cattle, it was actually the first ocean-going ship constructed in Oregon. General Vallejo was a highly successful rancher with ample stock who bought the ship for 350 cows and “transferred ownership to Limantour”. Presumably, Vallejo came home with the cargo. Perhaps when we visit Vallejo’s home in Sonoma, Lacryma Montis, we are seeing some of that exchange.

In his 1850’s incarnation, Limantour laid claim to vast acreage in California including half of San Francisco, the Tiburon Peninsula, an area around Cape Mendocino and many ranches which he said were awarded him by a former Mexican governor of California, Manuel Micheltorena (1841-1845). Limantour pocketed between $250,000 and $500,000 from unsuspecting land buyers until 1858 when the Federal government ruled his documents were forgeries. By this time he had escaped to Mexico never to return.
He was married to Adele Marquet and their son bearing his father’s name was Secretary of Finance of Mexico under Porfirio Diaz from 1893-1911. The son was leader of a modernizing group called the Cientificos and was a progressive politician promoting foreign investment, free trade, and balanced the budget for the first time creating a surplus in 1894. Yet, the lower classes continued to suffer with rising food costs and draught in the trickle- down area. After the collapse of the decades long Diaz government in 1911, both the younger Limantour and Diaz bid adieu to Mexico and made their exit to France. His father, our Limantour, had passed away in Mexico City in 1885.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Yves_Limantour http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/José_Yves_Limantour

http://www.maritimeheritage.org/vips/limantour.html

Michael pointed out on the hike that another series of land deals in the 1960’s threatened the possibility of the National Seashore including the exquisite Limantour Beach. Developers had ambitious eyes for West Marin that included a four lane highway from Mill Valley to the Marin-Sonoma County Line along the path of coastal Route 1. In 1959, the Army Corps of Engineers predicted Marin County growth would increase from 161,000 in 1960 to 780,00 in 2020. It was in 1965 that Marin County approved a plan for the huge development called Marincello all over the Marin Headlands. Caltrans proposed a freeway down the center of Sonoma Valley to Santa Rosa. PG & E was beginning to build a nuclear reactor on Bodega Head immediately over the San Andreas Fault.
Fortunately all these plans for suburban sprawl met a new, bold conservation movement that was not afraid to organize, protest, plan and promote public use of this unique and beautiful land. The yin and yang of Marin and Sonoma Counties was saved. Some houses were actually built at Limantour but most were torn down with the birth of Pt. Reyes National Seashore. A few back from the beach have remained for park personnel. On our hike we could see the remains of the macadam road in the dunes behind the beach and some non-native trees that had been planted at the time – artifacts of ideas come and fortunately, gone.

http://www.jackmasonmuseum.org/Under%20the%20Gables%205-13%20for%20web.pdf

Here’s an impression of our Footloose Foray hike on Memorial Day 2014.

https://vimeo.com/98571174

Deer Park Hike with Jim – 19 May 2014

When you hear Deer Park, you may start recalling scenes from Masterpiece Theater. Those vast country estates in Great Britain come to mind with acres of manicured lawns, carefully planted trees and copses, lakes, pools, classical statuary and herds of fallow & red deer. Our Deer Park in Fairfax, California is just a bit different but we do have a renegade royal, a remarkably opulent wedding gift and the last political duel in California as part of the tale. The royal was Charles S. Fairfax who sailed to California from Richmond, Virginia, crossed the Panamanian isthmus and appropriately took passage on the steamer “California” north arriving in San Francisco on June 23, 1850. The potential 10th Lord Fairfax, he never claimed the title preferring to live as an American citizen. This was giving up a significant history stretching back to the English Civil Wars and of his family who emigrated to a million acre plantation in Virginia. In America, his forbear Thomas Fairfax was the first person to employ George Washington as a surveyor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deer_park_(England) The Brits really do deer parks with panache.

Charles found the goldfields not the bonanza he’d imagined working in backbreaking jobs and losing whatever money he made as soon as he got it. In 1851 he left the diggings and decided on something more appropriate for a gentleman farmer. . . it was politics as a profession becoming a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He then became a member of the California State Assembly for Yuba and Sierra Counties and later Speaker of the Assembly and Clerk of the Supreme Court of California. He met his wife, Ada Benham, in San Francisco in 1854 and was married in Louisville, Kentucky on January 10, 1855 at the home of her stepsister. How they made their way there would be a tale in itself since the Transcontinental Railroad didn’t drive the golden spike until 1869. But they not only went there for their marriage but returned to San Francisco in 1855. They decided to visit Charles’ boyhood, Virginian friend, Dr. Alfred Taliaferro, at his country home in Marin County. “When they expressed their great admiration for his estate he (Dr. Taliaferro), gave them the property, all 32 acres as a wedding gift.” Thus, in 1855, the couple became residents of what would eventually become the town of Fairfax. Fairfax imported game birds to satisfy his zeal for hunting and improve his chances of success. Ada planted trees and flowers around the home and grounds and named the estate Bird’s Nest Glen.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_S._Fairfax

It was on Fairfax’s land that the final duel (dueling was illegal in California) occurred on May 25, 1861. State Assemblymen Daniel Showalter and Charles W. Piercy were entangled in a fierce political argument. Showalter had insulted Piercy and the latter had challenged him to a duel. Fairfax served them lunch, trying to calm the situation and get them to relent. Sadly the two men continued in their angry intransigence and met with rifles at 40 paces/yards on a grassy meadow near the Fairfax estate. Piercy was killed upon the second fire and the last political duel in California became history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Showalter

After his California State jobs, Fairfax became a Marin County Supervisor from 1865-67. When traveling to the east coast as chairman of the California delegation to the Democratic National Convention in New York City, he died suddenly at the age of 40 at Barnam’s City Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland (1869). Young widowed Ada moved to Fort Ross where Fairfax had property and she was known as Lady Fairfax delighting the American settlers with her sociable ways. Selling her holdings there she moved to Washington. D.C. where she passed away in 1888. They both are buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C. But did they have a deer park as well as a Bird’s Nest? The oldest restaurant in Marin County is in Fairfax and is called Deer Park Villa dating from 1922. Straws in the wind, but no deer showed up for our hike.

http://www.marindirect.com/fxhistory/history.html Some terrific references to early movie history in Fairfax as well as the Arequipa Sanitorium for tuberculosis and the source of renowned Arequipa Pottery, a part of the Arts and Crafts era. http://www.marindirect.com/fxhistory/ This is a wonderful slide show narrated by William Segar at the Fairfax Public Library in 2012. (39.06 minutes, so a commitment but if you enjoy history, you will be repaid) The Fairfax History pages are sponsored by the Fairfax Historical Society and have other fun videos including one about accordion festivals held in Fairfax in the 1930’s.

The hike first passes the Deer Park School now retired as a public school but recycled as the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children’s Center.
http://breadforthejourney.org/story/a-child-center-that-makes-a-difference-in-the-whole-family/

The Deer Park School Tree, a large California Bay that almost looks like it’s dancing, Umbellularia californica, is in the Laurel family. Reny Parker writes in her WILDFLOWERS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S WINE COUNTRY AND NORTH COAST RANGES, “A large, wonderfully fragrant broad leaved evergreen tree found in woods, valleys, and forests. In the open it has a natural dome shaped crown. The leaves are oblong, lustrous, and aromatic dark green and shiny above, paler and smooth below.” Native Americans used the leaves as an insect repellant, in treatment of headaches and rheumatism. It is also know as Oregon Myrtle and Bay Laurel.” P. 236.

Jim points out something resting on the first right side branch.

On one of the huge, soft, lichen-covered branches a Turkey Vulture rests. Jim said they usually lay their eggs on the ground in various protected places but thought perhaps that she might be sitting on some eggs.
http://www.arkive.org/turkey-vulture/cathartes-aura/

Sooty mold on some bay laurel leaves on a later tree. Result of an excretion of laurel aphids, soft-bodied pale-green insects that damage the leaves by blocking the light and reducing photosynthesis. The aphids produce a sweet substance called honeydew which ants love.

Jim holds up a sprig with many seedpods in a quick quiz. Two highly invasive plants along the trail were French and Scotch Broom.
http://www.ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74147.html

Soft focused view of Ithuriel’s Spear or Grass Nut blooms with distinctive blue stamens. Triteleia laxa with laxa meaning “wide or loose probably referring to the spreading cluster of flowers which grow on a leafless stalk, one to two and a half feet tall. The leaves are long and narrow. The flowerstalks grow at an angle from the stem with the numerous violet-purple flowers growing in an umbel. The tube of the flowers is very long.”
Lilian McHoul in WILDFLOWERS OF MARIN. It was named after the spear of Ithuriel, an Angel in Milton’s PARADISE LOST. Bees and butterflies love this plant. Monday was primetime for the Ithuriel Spear along the trail but we also found another, similar bloom that confused our identifications.
http://www.parksconservancy.org/conservation/plants-animals/native-plant-information/ithuriels-spear.html
http://www.ithuriel.com – site of an intriguing Small Press in San Francisco that has taken the fetching name

Harvest Brodiaea, Brodiaea elegans, with distinctive white or cream colored stamens grows with a similar bouquet pattern though this sample is just a dynamic duo. (Ithuriel Spear tends to have a longer stem and non-shiny petals.) The elegant Brodiaea “has six shiny deep lavender petals forming a funnel shaped flower. The flowers gather in an umbel cluster of up to ten flowers at the top. California Indians baked the bulbs in fire pits and ate them as a vegetable.” Parker, P. 166

Marin Municipal Water District worker monitoring the paths and the MMWD land with photos and GPS sightings.
http://www.marinwater.org/137/Watershed

Reconnoitering with a couple of mountain bikers at six trail crossings, Yolanda Trail north toward Worn Spring Road got the nod. The other four were paths not taken. Worn Spring or should it be worn springs, ouch?

The trail provided some breathtaking views of Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. I have a 90 year old friend who likes to walk along Corte Madera Creek. He enjoys taking a break on a bench where he can see the profile of Mt. Tam and there likes to talk to his wife who passed away a year ago. He related that while he was in this reverie moment another older lady walker passed by and said, “You call that exercise old man!”

Jim makes a point along the way amid Elegant Brodiaea, Farewell to Spring and the grasses that he knows so well.

He gathered a variety of flowers and grasses during lunch and spread them out before us for dessert.
http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/files/EBRPD_files/photoguides/EBRPD_Miller_Knox_Plants.pdf Here’s an EXCELLENT flower and grass guide put out by the East Bay Regional Park District. It blends both the flowers and grasses in one place, gives large enough photos for identification, points out native and introduced species – is a great tool for learning & review. It’s just across San Pablo Bay, so the flora is not that different from Marin. You’ll recall that we hiked Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline Park with Armando, remember the soap plants and the foggy lunch?

Some Red-stem Filaree (Erodium cicutarium) in harvest mode about to prepare its seed for planting. Jim selected the brown ones that were ready to plant themselves and showed us how the heat of a hand will hasten the process readying the seed to bore into the soil.

A little later on the seeds twist into corkscrew shapes preparing for their burrow in the earth, the hairs that you see torque the twisting process.

Lunch over and getting ready for the return walk, its all downhill from here.

Nancy asked about the red leaves at the tops of this Madrone start and a nearby California Bay. Jim said that in nature RED is used as a warning color and that perhaps this was the way plants avoided being browsed.

Ready for a tiny tea party, for little guests with a big imagination when they visit the “hollow”. We observed some toys in the cavity of the tree as well. Perhaps a motivator for going on a walk, perhaps just for fun and excitement.

Monardella villas ssp. villas, Coyote Mint, common to dry rocky or gravelly areas, often covered with butterflies during the summer bloom. “Multiple tiny petals form equally small two lipped floral tubes. From even a short distance the profusion of flowers look colorfully hairy. Leaves are oval and fragrantly minty. Spanish settlers used this perennial as a cure for sore throats.” Wildflowers, Parker, p.148

Margaret Armstrong in her 1915 classic, FIELDBOOK OF WESTERN WILDFLOWERS, calls it Western Pennyroyal or Mustang Mint but is perhaps describing a sister bloom, Monardella lanceolata: “ . . small bright pinkish-lilac flowers, crowded in terminal heads, about an inch across, with purplish bracts. The outer ring of flowers blooms first and surrounds a knob of small green buds, so that the effect of the whole flower-head slightly suggests a thistle. This has a strong, pleasant smell like Pennyroyal and is abundant in Yosemite, and elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada foothills.”

Canyon Dudleya, Dudleya cymosa, is in the Stonecrop Family, Crassulaceae. “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 hills. This species of succulent gets its name from Stanford University botany professor William R. Dudley (1849 – 1911). Another common name is Live Forever.” Wildflowers, Parker, P. 75.
You can see the greenish tones of the serpentine rock which provides a harsh environment for plant growth tending to dwarf those able to get a roothold. Dudleya have adapted to serpentine soils and actually require them to survive.

Armand amid some Artemisia. California Mugwort, Artemisia douglasiana, is in the Sunflower Family, Asteraceae. Parker writes, “The cute and cryptic common name Mugwort may conjure up strange images, the herb has been given dream inducing attributes through time. Growing to 2.5 m, 8 ft, under good conditions in open to shady locations such as foothill woodlands, chaparral, and valley grasslands. . . California Mugwort has fragrant foliage which was used by California Indians to relieve the effects of Poison Oak. Chumash used it to discourage insects in stored acorns. . . Good for stabilizing or restoring disturbed areas with moderate summer water.” P. 95

Downhill heading to a switchback, dark green Coyote bushes (Baccharis pilularis) punctuate and accentuate the fast drying grasses on the hill now with only suggestions of green. http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/coyote_brush.htm

The hike went through the cool and quiet of a couple of young Redwood groves as well as a number of other environments along the way.
http://aphotoaday.blogspot.com/2011/06/redwood-trees-in-marin-county.html Here’s a wonderful blog ongoing by a Marin County photographer, Donald Kinney, who has both spiritually uplifting, superb photographs and excellent, succinct descriptions done with a sense of humor. His newest book is “Photographing Marin County”.
.

A Soap Plant community shows here with leaves typically flaccid stretching along the ground and budding stalks rising. Should the Soap Plant want to attend a workshop and have to pick up a badge, it would need the large, economy size since it goes by Chloragalum pomeridianum. The leaves show its family pattern – Lily. McHoul writes, “The generic term refers to the greenish “milk” or juice of the plant, and the specific name informs you that the flower opens only in the afternoon; however, they are often open throughout the day.” p.35 Jim pointed out that the plant relies on the Sphingid moth for nighttime pollination as well as passing bumblebees during the day.
http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/chlorogalum_pomeridianum.shtml

Forgot this one, we passed its showy sprays a number of times.

Coast or Seaside Buckwheat, Eriogonum latifollium. “Look for this hardy perennial in cracks of smooth coastal rock faces. on dry beach sand dunes or in stony areas. Its pom pom shaped flower clusters are white in summer, turning to rust in the late fall.” (Parker, P 32) Native Americans prized this plant for its many medicinal uses: for stomach pains, menstrual disorders, and headaches. Various species of buckwheat were used as food the small seeds were ground and eaten raw, mixed with porridge and cakes and dried for future uses.
http://arboretum.ucsc.edu/pdfs/ethnobotany_webversion.pdf Here’s a wonderful pdf from the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum detailing the Native American Uses of California Plants – called Ethnobotany i.e. the study of the human uses of plants.

We’ve returned to the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children’s Center. There were lots of kids playing when we left on our hike. It’s a little quieter now except for the mural which is a terrific tribute to “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai/1829-32 and . . . a splashing review of colors.

MANY THANKS TO Jim Coleman for leading us on our last three hikes as well as a lovely tour of Angel Island over Mt. Livermore. He stood in well for our hike leader Michael Ellis and for Armando Quintero. Thanks for your savvy, stagecraft and sense of humor. We are much richer for our hikes with you. Looking forward to seeing you in situ at OAEC and on some hikes soon again.

Tomales Point Trail – Cinco de Mayo 2014

Fair winds and wildflowers marching over the hills continued to greet us as we hiked out the Tomales Point Trail last Monday with Jim. Hillsides of wild radishes and yellow bush lupines lined up along the trail saluting our parade up the peninsula. The crashing of the waves on the beaches provided the percussion and birdsongs, the sweet woodwinds. With the Pacific Ocean at our left and Tomales Bay on the right, water also framed our walk with the waves far below and in the ocean above us, clouds were gradually forming an armada for some hoped for rain. Occasional rocky boulder arrays covered with California poppies seemed artfully placed on either side of the trail with all the thought of a Japanese garden. At one place, Jim picked up some sand from the trail and we could see the sparkling of tiny crystals in his hand and then looking out at the Pacific saw similar sparkles as the sunlight reflected from the water, micro and macrocosm.

Cow Parsnips on the hill above the Pierce Point Ranch whose roots were in the mid-19th Century and continued operation until 1973. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and is an interpretive site of farming history on the Pt. Reyes Peninsula. Tomales Bay is top center and a huge sand dune marks the area above Dillon Beach. Starting in 1852 a San Francisco law firm of “Vermont-native lawyers” and businessmen seized “the opportunity to market large quantities of superior quality butter and some cheese under a Pt. Reyes brand to San Francisco”. They bought the land holding on to most of the peninsula for farm leases. It was they who named the ranches alphabetically which we see to this day. But they saved one piece of the property for an old friend of theirs from Vermont, Solomon Pierce – what would become the Pierce Ranch. They sold the land to him in December of 1858 for $7,000. Pierce and his son, Abram Jewell Pierce, made the most of this opportunity and became wealthy in the butter trade. http://www.nps.gov/pore/historyculture/upload/map_ranches.pdf
http://www.nps.gov/pore/historyculture/people_ranching.htm – rich background, well written
The application for historical recognition has many splendid, surprising details and is enlightening about the application process.
http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/85003324.pdf

Jim asks who has taken this trail before and gets a solid response as he and Armand seem to be touching with their high fives.
http://wikimapia.org/100600/Pierce-Point-Ranch

California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica) surrounded the fences of the parking lot, Jim said that the flower seems to like disturbed areas.
When Solomon Pierce first came to California, he tried the actual gold fields before returning to farming at Pt. Reyes, kind of a Levi Strauss of butter.
http://online.sfsu.edu/bholzman/courses/Spring%2005%20projects/california_goldfields.htm

Jim talks about some Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) in a review from last week. We didn’t observe any poison oak along the way but does the place where he’s sitting make you uncomfortable? Not to worry. Next along the trail Jim shared some information about Woolly Bear Caterpillars finding one along the way: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/03/090313-self-medicating-caterpillars.html
http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/woolly-bear-caterpillars

McClure’s Beach has the idyllic look of a far away island. The Pierce Ranch was sold to James and Margaret McClure on December 31, 1929
by an intermediate owner John Rapp, a San Francisco brewer, who had acquired the land in 1917. The McClures did not make butter anymore but did produce “market cream” which they now were able to truck to market. The Pierces had originally sent their butter to market on schooners that sailed around the Pt. Reyes peninsula and down along the coast and into San Francisco Bay. They also raised pigs with the surplus skim milk from the butter production. You can imagine both casks of butter and pigs making the voyage together to San Francisco.

Watching some Red-tailed Hawks not making lazy circles in the sky, in addition to their usual soaring patrols they use the prevailing winds of this area to hover in the air to find their prey. Kiting enables a remarkably detailed view of the turf they are surveying uninterrupted by the movement and motions of flight. The Wiki article on “Bird vision” is wonderfully detailed and a fun “dip into” with its amazing detail.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_vision http://www.aba.org/birding/v36n5p500.pdf

The coast is clear with far-across Bodega Head in definition before the final line of coastal mountains – the trail is opening up to spectacular views.

Coastal Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa) in the Sunflower Family entertaining a visitor at the moment. Many nurseries and seed sources like this flower and feature the seed for sale. http://www.calflora.net/bloomingplants/yellowtidytips.html

Jim commented that the BIG holes along the trail might have been made by either coyotes or badgers. The way to distinguish the architect
is to look for claw marks on the sides which indicate the sideways badger style of digging or the track marks in the front showing frontal dig patterns of the coyote in dog-like mode. They are often looking for gophers or voles. In addition to providing food for their predators “the gopher can move about a ton of soil to the surface each year. This is an enormous achievement reflecting the gopher’s important ecological function.” http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/gophers.html
http://earthfireinstitute.org/2009/11/badger-coyote-a-combination-that-works-together/

A yellow bush lupine about to burst into bloom greens up the scene contrasting with the blue of the Pacific and the sky.
http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?recnum=WF0285

A little later along the way we spot the low-growing Sky Lupine, Lupinus Nanus, Nanus means dwarf. Usually 4 to 20 inches high it is a smaller presentation compared the Yellow Bush Lupine which can reach from 2 to 9 feet. “The Sky Lupine’s leaves are somewhat hairy and are divided into five to seven leaflets. The blue flowers have a white or yellow spot on the standard.” Wildflowers of Marin, Lilian McHoul

Looking out to Lighthouse point of Pt. Reyes National Seashore in the distance near the place of our last week’s hike at Chimney Rock. One of the large clumps of Douglas Iris which we saw on this walk is in the foreground and a spray of Cow Parsnip plant further on. You can see the faint line of Pt. Reyes Beach or 12 Mile Beach picking up the sunlight and nearer by our earlier view of McClure’s Beach now at a distance.

Here a fenced, protected area is being evaluated for comparisons with the adjacent land nearby. Studies to understand the impact of the grazing Tule Elk herd which is mostly confined to this Tomales Pt. area of the park will help good management of the land. This coastal prairie land was carefully maintained by the native Miwok Indians for as least two thousand years as they used fire to burn the poison oak and coyote bush to maintain the lush landscape of native grasses and flowers which were central to their diet. It was this rich land that the farmers of Pt. Reyes “inherited” (earlier taken) from the original inhabitants. In a modest balance, some of the Miwok descendants worked on these Pt. Reyes Dairy Ranches along with a a veritable UN grouping of Chinese, Canadian, Filipino, Mexican, and German immigrants on farms rented by Irish, Swedish, and Azorian Portuguese.

He who was a once-beautiful rock. (Borrowed from Rodin’s sculpture, “She who was the Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife.”)

Young buck Tule Elk coming into their velvet. In what is a sadly familiar story, they were almost exterminated in much the same way as the Northern Elephant Seals we saw last week. A small group of two bulls and eight cows was brought to Pt. Reyes in the spring of 1978 from the San Luis Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos in the Central Valley. The large area of Tomales Point became their stomping ground and by the summer of 1988 there were 93 animals. By 2009 a population census counted over 440 in this area.
http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/wildlife_viewing_tuleelk.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tule_Elk

The Tule Elk females seem to maintain separate herds this time of year here. They are closer in to Pierce Point Ranch with the males further out on the point.

Mother and yearling with Tomales Bay background, what is that large white bloom on the right?

Packing up after lunch in the Pacific Reed Grass, Calamagrostis nutkaensis. The Cala part of the ID is firm (Cala Market memories) but I note that there are a number of grasses that have this prefix i.e. Calamagrostis ophitis, Calamagrostis foliosa, Calamagrostis rubescens but the C. nutkaensis looked the best, right? http://www.calfloranursery.com/california-plant-nursery/plant-type/plant-type/grasses
http://www.sonoma.edu/preserves/prairie/prairie_desc/veg_types.shtml How about an all grass hike with Jim sometime? Jim told us that this grass moves about with its own sister or fellow plant travelers – its own little ecosystem. Larry spotted a lot of low growing Yarrow (Achillea) and some broader iris (Douglasiana?) leaves along with those Cow Parsnips. There is Elk Clover, I wonder if there are Elk Parsnips?

A pair of ravens observes us while they enjoy protection from the wind in the warm sunshine. On an earlier hike on this trail a few years ago, I saw a raven flying upside down repeatedly while high over the coast in what seemed like a lyrical moment of “just having fun”.
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/raven/
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Raven/id?utm_source=Cornell+Lab+eNews&utm_campaign=5837762cca-Cornell_Lab_eNews_2012_08_07&utm_medium=email
http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/facts/crow_vs_raven.html

Some kind of delineation along the way, between upper and lower Pierce Point Ranch maybe, maybe not. Actually, this long line of stones on our Tomales Point Trail has been impressively studied by a high school student at Sir Francis Drake:
http://www.tamdistrict.org/drake/science/stones AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MYSTERY IN OUR BACKYARD done by Michael Wing

Was this the moment when we saw a spouting whale? A sighting per week is not too bad.

Comparing notes as our hike concluded . . . Here’s another archaeological mystery, no one could figure out what this might have been used for, what was this box about? We tried listening while holding the black handle and heard only the wind.

Watch out for crossing Tule Elk on the way back and the way in too!

Taking her time

Bravo, made it!

P.S. Recalling all of the ship wrecks along the Pt. Reyes Peninsula here is another airship crash. I found it in a new book about Pt. Reyes that looks quite fetching: REYES OF LIGHT, The Point Reyes Light House and the National Seashore by Richard P. Blair and Kathleen P. Goodwin, Color and Light Editions 2014, P.O. Box 934, Pt. Reyes Station, CA. 94956 (BLAIRGOODWIN.COM)
http://blairgoodwin.com/Blair_Goodwin/Reyes_of_Light_files/Reyes of Light BlairGoodwin.com.pdf

Yet another air crash added to Pt. Reyes History this time involving a young Clint Eastwood:
http://thescuttlefish.com/2012/01/clint-eastwood-actually-is-a-bad-ass-in-real-life/

Chimney Rocking with Michael – 28 April 2014

Tipping our hats to Maurice Sendak, we arrived at the Chimney Rock promontory of Pt. Reyes last Monday to find “Where the Wildflowers Are.” This area has always been challenging for our hikes because it can be frigid in the prevailing Pacific winds and fogs that blow across the point of Pt. Reyes. But last Monday was notable for its sunshine and light breezes, ideal for spotting the wildflowers which were spread out in their vivid, colorful arrays. It was also prime time for enjoying views of the beaches still filled with Northern Elephant Seals. The huge males had returned to their anonymous sojourns in the sea as have most of the females but still in raucous evidence remain the weaner/weiner “babies” now substantial since their spring births – are they already teenagers?

The prevailing winds and fogs around Pt. Reyes have made navigation a challenge for centuries . The shipwrecks around the peninsula from 1849 – 1940 are an amazing collection of tragedy and loss. http://www.nps.gov/pore/historyculture/upload/map_shipwrecks.pdf
The National Parks Service website linked some remarkable footage from British Pathe films of the 1931 wreck of the Munleon which could have been seen from the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse. “Another fine ship piles up on Point Reyes – America’s ship’s graveyard.”
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/again-the-sea-takes-toll The crew seems to have taken all in stride, stout fellows that they are. The captain coming off last with the ship’s cat was particularly endearing.

The Pt. Reyes Lifeboat Station was built in 1927 in response to these continuing coastal collisions replacing another station built in 1888. The first station was built on an overlook of the woolly waters of Pt. Reyes Great Beach, the new station was built on Chimney Rock in the protected waters of Drake’s Bay. http://www.nps.gov/pore/historyculture/people_maritime_lifeboatstation.htm On an earlier hike with Armando, we visited the Life Saving Service Cemetery at G Ranch located on a knoll overlooking Drake’s Estero. http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/events_memorialday.htm
Armando also shared with us that there had been an air crash off of Chimney Rock in November of 1938 when a United DC-3 lost its way to Oakland coming in from Portland and Medford, Oregon running out of gas and crashing in the rugged surf on the ocean side of Chimney Rock. Here’s some excellent coverage complete with pictures of perhaps the beaches where we enjoyed observing the elephant seals. http://www.douglasdc3.com/united/united.htm

Seep-spring Monkey Flowers, Mimulus guttatus, just below the parking area in a small spring bog. The Mimulus name may come from the Greek ‘mimo’, an ape, finding a resemblance on the markings to the face of a monkey, or from the Latin ‘mimus’, “an actor or mimic because the flower is like a mouthpiece of one of the grinning masks worn by classical actors”.
cf. http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/index2.html http://www.calflora.net/bloomingplants/creekmonkeyflower.html
McHoul points out that the guttatus part is a reference to the reddish spots on the lower lobes.

The path out to the Northern Elephant Seal overlook to the still crowded beach. Almost exterminated in the early twentieth century, they were hunted for their blubber which was then used for lamp oil (thank you Thomas Alva Edison) and lubricants. A small group was found on Guadalupe Island off of Baja California in late 1800’s. “In 1892, 9 seals were found there of which 7 were harvested for the collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Against all odds, the last remaining (and very small) colony on Guadalupe continued to grow, but was repeatedly exploited by hunters and museum collectors until 1922, when the Mexican Government finally put an end to elephant seal hunting by making Guadalupe Island a biological preserve and conferring protection on the seals.” The United States followed suit when they began reappearing in Southern California. The first breeding pair was discovered at Chimney Rock in 1981. http://www.sanctuarysimon.org/monterey/sections/other/sporadic_eseals.php
http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/education/marine-mammal-information/pinnipeds/northern-elephant-seal/ http://www.nps.gov/pore/naturescience/elephant_seals.htm

Mellow day in the sunshine, Michael is finishing a brief introduction to angiosperms and their pollinators. His visual aid flower has done yeoman service, you can see the a petal, pistils and stamens on the ground with the stalk bravely hoping for renewal – nature “tooth and claw”. Earth was a very different place before the angiosperms. You’ll recall Loren Eisley’s imaginative description of looking at earth from space seeing the first splashes of color on the “green hills of earth” as the angiosperms make their colorful entrance on the stage. http://illustrationart.blogspot.com/2007/11/art-flowers-and-dinosaurs.html
https://www.boundless.com/biology/seed-plants/angiosperms/the-life-cycle-of-an-angiosperm/ http://biology.clc.uc.edu/courses/bio106/pollinat.htm

Part of the group is at an overlook that provides a great view of Elephant Seals on another beach, perhaps the other group has been distracted by the wildflowers and Mari has been negotiating to bring the groups back together. Sir Francis Drake dropped anchor in the bay to the right while on his round the world tour of 1579 claiming the area for Queen Elizabeth I and calling it Nova Albion. After R & R for 36 days, he continued his voyage. It is said that the exposed hillsides you see reminded him of the White Cliffs of Dover. Drake’s Bay and Beach retain his name while Nova Albion has faded although was used as the name of a successful craft brewer in Sonoma, CA in the 1970’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Albion_Brewing_Company

The view down to the beach with a quick review from last week, what is the plant in the foreground? Beaches along this side of Chimney Rock are more exposed to the Pacific Ocean and so during winter storms they are no safe haven for the elephant seals. The seals tried to establish their colony on another ocean facing beach further south for about ten years, each time the weiners were swept out to sea. They finally moved around the point to the protected Drake’s Beach area and the colony thrived after that.

All together now, a successful negotiation! The Pacific Ocean is on the left and Drake’s Bay on the right. We looked for owls resting in the Monterey Cypresses in the middle of the photo as we walked by. Not this time but we’ve seen them on a number of hikes. Was Michael talking about Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) at this point? Plants on Chimney Rock tend to be low growing and ground hugging adapting to the challenging climate. http://livingafield.com/plants_sheepsorrel.htm Non-native Sheep Sorrel has naturalized across North America. While enjoyed for its nutritional and medicinal benefits, Sorrel contains high amounts of oxalic acid, the main component of kidney ston

Harriet observed this clover blooming on the hillside next to the overlook. I think it is called by various names – cows clover, coast clover, spring bank clover, Trifolium wormskioldii, perhaps. Calflora.org has 88 clovers to choose from and checking out their photos is amazing:
http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/specieslist.cgi?tmpfile=cf897614&num-matches=88&max=50&prevwhere=&button_flag=&prevselect=&table=nspecies&dump=&backlink=&row-to-start=0&page=next+50 While diminutive, it definitely is not bashful.

Moving up the hill toward Chimney Rock itself we stop before a familiar Yellow-flowered Bush Lupine so prolific on the Pt. Reyes peninsula.
Lupinus arboreus is in the pea family, yeah Lisa, and according to McHoul can grow up to nine feet tall but probably not out here. Michael is reading from a quotation by John Thomas Howell on the California Poppy. By researching this information and adding to his iPhone archive on Apple’s Evernote, Michael is able to share remarkable quotations on site and in the moment without a cell phone connection.

“No poet has yet sung the full beauty of our poppy, no painter has successfully portrayed the satiny sheen of its lustrous petals, no scientist has satisfactorily diagnosed the vagaries of its variations and adaptability. In its abundance, this colorful plant should not be slighted: cherish it and be ever thankful that so rare a plant is common.” John Thomas Howell (1937)
Quoted in the beginning of: “California’s Fading Wildflowers” by Richard A. Minnich, University of California Press, 2008.
The California Coastal Poppy is distinctive for it yellow petals and orange center, Eschscholzia california maritima. http://drystonegarden.com/index.php/2009/04/coastal-california-poppies/

A Pelagic Cormorant on her/his “turf” above the waves. David Lukas who has led some of our hikes in the past writes in his fine BAY AREA BIRDS, “They nest exclusively on sheer cliffs directly over and facing the ocean, where they take advantage of their (small) size to nest on narrow ledges that few other birds use. . . From these precarious colonies Pelagics undertake short foraging expeditions into nearby waters over rocky reefs where they dive up to 400 ft in search of various fish. . . Chicks grow so fast that they reach adult size in about eight weeks, and due to their perilous nest locations chicks do not gather into creches as other cormorants do. . . A significant percentage of the total California population nest on the Farallon Islands and along the coast immediately north of San Francisco Bay.” Pp. 52-53 http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/pelagic_cormorant/id

Narrow-leaved Mule Ears (Wyethia angustifolia) hugging the hillside accompanied by a blaze of Blue-eyed Grass, which as Michael pointed out isn’t either blue or a grass! Reny Parker writes in her “Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country . .” “The playful name evokes images of beasts of burden used in this area before mechanization. Captain Wyeth (1802-1856) who discovered this many petaled yellow perennial, was probably quite familiar with mules. The leaf is long, linear and tapering.” P. 80
Blue-Eyed Grass is a bulb in the Iris Family, Sisyrinchium bellum, the first relating to Iris and the second meaning beautiful.

For extra-credit Michael pointed out these linear wave patterns known as Langmuir Circulation. Winds blowing steadily and the waves that they make “can induce long sets of counter-rotating vortices (or cells) in the surface water . . . These slowly twisting vortices align in the direction of the wind. It usually takes an hour for a particle in a vortex to complete one revolution. Streaks of foam (or seaweed or debris) called windrows, collect in areas where adjacent vortices converge, while regions of divergence remain relatively clear. Langmuir circulation rarely disturbs the ocean below a depth of about 20 meters (66 feet).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_current
http://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/publications/EAS-10102008-009–LangmuirCirculation.pdf
I grew up in Schenectady where my father was an electrical engineer at the then large General Electric “plant” of the time in the 1930’s & 1940’s. He talked of Langmuir, an all around genius, on a number of occasions. http://www.edisontechcenter.org/IrvingLangmuir.html

The Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus) like the narrow leaved Mule Ears is in the Sunflower Family. “From the Greek eri, early, and heron, old man , the ancient name of an early flowering plant with a hoary appearance. Glaucus means whitish. . . The flowers bear numerous blue rays. The disk flowers in the center are yellow.” Found on coastal bluffs, sandy places, and beaches. P. 94 Lilian McHoul’s “Wildflowers of Marin”.

Closing in on the “Chimney” we look down on the fateful beach where the Northern Elephant Seals first tried to set up housekeeping.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja franciscana) popped up like beacons along the trail. Named for a Spanish botanist, D. Castillejo, it is in the Figwort Family. The foliage is gray-green and bracts are red. The hairy flower is yellow with reddish margins. “It’s easy to see how the Castilleja gets its common name Paintbrush. A cluster of straight stems with showy flower bracts at the top resemble a paintbrush just dipped in paint. Known for bright reds, the colors actually vary from orange to scarlet to purple, even yellow and white. . . Growing in varied habitats, this plant is a favorite food for the larvae of butterfly species.” P.113 Reny Martin “Wildflowers”

We have the coolest picnic spots.

Just above the chimney of Chimney Rock with an amazingly tall person in the middle of the group, never a problem for them being able to see but not someone you’d want to sit behind. We were really lucky with a veritable Parade of the Pinnipeds on the hike. The views of the Northern Elephant seals were amazing, Scott spotted a California or Stellar Sea Lion while we were finishing lunch. Confirmed by Barbara. Then just as we moved around the point we saw two Pacific harbor seals dervishing in the water, one finally “bottling” – a vertical position seeming to look up at us far up on the cliff. Though no longer Pinnipeding, the finale was spotting a female Gray Whale and her baby perhaps nursing in the quieter waters of Drakes Bay.

Wallflower, Erysimum continuum, in the Mustard Family. “The Greek eryomai, help or save, is a reference to supposed medicinal effects. The specific name mean elegant. White flowers grow in terminal clusters. Behind 10 Mile Beach and near Point Reyes Lighthouse.” McHoul

This is Flax with a gorgeous blue flower and cerulean blue Pistil. Linum angustfolium is a successful visitor to our shores used in the production of linen. http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/entry/view/flax_and_linen_industry_of_oregon/ Is that a Hairy Pussy Ears behind it?

Weiners with various birthdays gather on a warm beach by the old Lifeboat Station in a multicolored collage.

P.S. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scarlet_Pimpernel We were seeing this flower along the way and got wondering about the book and its author.

P.P.S. Looking down on the west end of Pt. Reyes Beach

P.P.P.S. Why you might want to check your gardening shoes before using them:

Oat Hill Mine Trail with Michael – 21 April 2014

Begin forwarded message:

From: Lewis and Pat Zuelow <lewiszuelow>

Subject: Oat Hill Mine Trail with Michael – 21 April 2014

Date: April 23, 2014 at 7:59:52 PM PDT

To: lewiszuelow

You might say that last Monday’s hike was 3.4 million years in the making and not just because of Michael’s long flight back from Bali to lead the hike! The rocks along the way were mostly from volcanic activity in the area from the late Miocene and early Pliocene epochs. The author of this vivid description, Dean A. Enderlin writes, “The initial eruptions were explosive in nature, and may have been similar to the Mt. St. Helen’s blast of 1980 in the state of Washington. The Napa Valley, which is today green and peaceful, would have been a hellish place. Thick clouds of volcanic ash filled the air, blocking out the sun in a gray, dismal gloom. Harmonic earthquake tremors constantly shook the land…indicators of upward-moving magma bodies and harbingers of imminent volcanic eruptions. Heavy toxic gases, like hydrogen sulfide (with its characteristic rotten egg smell), permeated the air, and concentrated in low-lying areas. Glowing red avalanches of incandescent gas and superheated ash would occasionally belch from a volcanic vent, searing all life in their paths.” This was not yet a viable destination for the Wine Train or maybe most of the bus tours.

Oat Hill Road geology
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobatin the upper Napa Valley. By far … This map is adapted from a portion of the U.S. GeologicalSurvey’s … The hike to the Palisades is approximately four miles.
www.napaoutdoors.org/…/Geology%20of%20the%20Oat%20Hill%20Road… /file

Development of the Calistoga area at the top of Napa Valley was the brain child of Sam Brannon who envisioned making this area the “Saratoga of California” after Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. According to legend he proclaimed this intention while in an inebriated state and came out with the “Calistoga of Sarafornia”. “The first geothermal well was drilled sometime prior to 1871. Over eighty other thermal water wells have been drilled since that time, some to the depths of over 2000 feet. . . . The thermal waters of this area are an artifact of the Sonoma Volcanic volcanism. Even though the volcanic activity has subsided here, the heat remains. The heating of the water takes place at great depths. The waters of Calistoga hot springshave risen from these depths along convenient pathways through rock…most likely fault zones and permeable rock formations beneath the valley floor.”
http://napavalleyregister.com/inv/lifestyles/sam-brannan-pioneer-dreamer-and-scoundrel/article_600ee514-3ae9-11e0-8969-001cc4c002e0.html

Thanks to Penny for finding this remarkable description of “Napa Valley then” and sharing it with Michael . . . and he with us along the way.

And so the Oat Hill Mine Trail begins, the way is rocky but we are among friends.

Gathering at the trailhead close to the intersection of the Silverado Trail and Highway 29. The gigantic truck is heading south from the Clear Lake area, how long is it? http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/engineering/trucks/truck-length-routes.htm On the left side of the picture is an old gas station overhang now part of a house on the corner.

A better view of the old gas station drive under, would you think fifty years ago? Maybe more. What kinds of cars filled up there on their way to Clear Lake?

Michael is talking about “the White Man’s Footsteps”, Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) found abundantly in this area. The second Latin identifier refers to its lance shaped leaves. But don’t look for any bananas.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantago_lanceolata
http://www.arkive.org/ribwort-plantain/plantago-lanceolata/video-00.html
The Plantains that I grew up with in upstate New York were more ground hugging and had oval leaves.
http://eattheinvaders.org/white-mans-foot/

One of a cast of thousands, millions . . . “The flowers are on a spike, crowded at the top of the stem — the lower ones blooming first, the stamens showing conspicuously.” McHoul, Lilian, FLOWERS OF MARIN, A. & C. Philpott, The Tamal Land Press, Fairfax, CA.

Just after the main group had passed those at the rear spotted a Gray Fox sitting on the trail.  Jeannie was concerned because it was having trouble moving and thought that it could be sick or might have been poisoned. She called to alert Michael and we trooped back down from the Plantain for this rare event. Ann Caple was quick to the opportunity and got this photo with her cell phone, thanks much! Male or female, not sure.  Might that gorgeous tail be a clue?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_fox http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Urocyon_cinereoargenteus/

Just fresh off our plantains, Michael spies some Turkey Vultures enjoying a tree with a view and they give us a chance to enjoy them close-up before taking off. http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/peterson/resources/identifications/tuvu/index.shtml

You’ll recall Mrs. Elizabeth Terwilliger getting President Reagan to a “V is for Vulture” moment. The new world and old world vultures look similar because of convergent evolution i.e.”… natural selection similarly shapes unrelated animals adapting to the same conditions.” They developed on separate evolutionary paths not tracing back to a single individual. The Turkey Vulture often arrives first at the carcass because of its remarkable sense of smell. It provides both a cleansing and a recycling moment. You can just make out the large orifice in its beak that facilitates its exquisite nasal prowess.
http://peregrinefund.org/explore-raptors-species/Turkey_Vulture#sthash.qXFirNjn.dpbs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey_Vulture
http://kern.audubon.org/tvfacts.htm
http://birding.about.com/od/Bird-Trivia/a/20-Fun-Facts-About-Vultures.htm
http://cacondorconservation.org/did-you-see-a-california-condor-let-us-know/

Framed by Lace Lichen (Ramalina menziesii)hanging from a Live Oak tree
http://baynature.org/articles/signs-season-old-mans-beard-lichens-live-air/

Take a moment to adjust your eyes, here’s some Phacelia imbricata native to much of California. Phacelia Californica presents a similar picture with a purple bloom. commonly found in dry, rocky places. “In bud the flowers appear in dense hairy coils, like curled up green caterpillars. The small white to lavender flowers are cylinders or bells with long stamens sticking out well beyond the petals. Each flower looks like a little round head with antennae waving above. Insects are attracted to the fuzzy white flowers of this plant.” Parker, Reny, Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country & North Coast Ranges, Northcreek Ranch Press, Cloverdale, CA, 2007.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phacelia_imbricata http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phacelia_californica

Blue Oaks dot these hillsides, these are rare on our hikes. They have adapted to drought and dry climates with tough waxy leaves which help conserve water. http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/blue_oak.htm And this being Napa Valley there is a Blue Oak Vineyard. http://www.blueoakvineyard.com

Penny is sharing the work of the Land Trust of Napa County. She is a docent, leader on their hikes and a member of our group. They have been instrumental in saving land from development, preserving natural habitat and developing access trails for hiking throughout the Napa Valley
http://www.napalandtrust.org https://www.facebook.com/NapaLandTrust

Michael spies an Andesite boulder along the trail, a gigantic visual aid in our quest to get some geology under our belts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andesite

Close-up of our specimen. http://www.geology.sdsu.edu/how_volcanoes_work/andesiterhyolite_lava.html
And in keeping with the area there is an Andesite Vineyard. http://www.andesitevineyard.com

Looking for an honest man, we pass a Diogenes’ lantern to light our way. Calochortus amabilis has appeared later on up the trail like lovely butterflies against the the gray-brown hillside. The name according to McHoul comes from the Greek kalos, beautiful, and chortus, grass referring to the flowers and the grassy leaves. It is also called the Golden Fairy Lantern and is a member of the Lily Family, Liliaceae. They are “found in chaparral, foothill woodlands and mixed evergreen forests. Preferring shade they are often found peeking out from under a shrub.” Parker, Wildflowers of N. California, P. 63.

Another flash of YELLOW along the way comes from a Mule Ears plant, Wyethia glabra in the Sunflower family. McHoule writes that it was names for Capt. Nathaniel Wyeth who discovered the genus in 1833. The specific name refers to the fact that the plant is smooth, not hairy. There is also a Narrow-Leaved Mule Ears, Wyethia angustifolia, with leaves on the stem that are smaller and stalkless with conspicuous hairs on the edges. http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-taxon=Wyethia+glabra

Usually we see this earlier in the spring with the tall, central red bloom (the flowers are in terminal dense clusters) of the Indian Warrior, Pedicularis densiflora. But now we can call it by its other name of Lousewort in its more fern-like presentation. McHoul fills us in with the Latin, pediculus, a louse.

The Oat Hill Trail was a road that took over 20 years to build from the 1870’s to the 1890’s. Here we see the wagon track marks in the stone marking all the jounces and bounces endured by all those traveling this way. Many of the wagons would have been carrying Cinnabar ore from the mines up the trail. Cinnabar is converted to mercury in a distillation sequence that is highly toxic all along the production chain from the dust of the mining to the steam of the final process. Cinnebar has been mined from paleolithic times used for the orange coloration and later was discovered to be a mercury source used in the gold mining process to separate the gold from its ore. Mercury is also used in gilding of gold and silver from jewelry to church roofs and is the cause of countless worker deaths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnabar http://www.1849.org/ggg/mercury.html

The Oat Mine Trail can be quite unrelentingly sunny so this somewhat overcast day made the hike a pleasure. We were discussing the high spot and thinking it must be Sonoma Mountain but will be happy to be corrected. Faintly visible in the lower right is a winery that is a reconstruction a castle from the 12th & 13th Centuries, Castello di Amorosa. Here’s a closer view from our lunch spot:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castello_di_Amorosa

Don McLaurin and Inge Fraser happily joined us on this hike. Don (in the blue trousers and black T shirt) has led us on a number of San Francisco hikes and is a great San Francisco City Guide. We’ve enjoyed exploring with him: Golden Gate Park and Japanese Tea Garden, the Haight-Asbury, and Fisherman’s Wharf Areas making many fresh and fascinating discoveries along the way. He asked Michael about the “Cali” of California and the Amazons that were reputed to live here. We decided we needed to look this one up.

First of all the Cali isn’t the Kali of Indian legend who is misunderstood according to this site, she is not a vengeful goddess of violence. She rather is the goddess that brings death to the ego and a self centered view of reality. She is the goddess who liberates souls and is the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer.
Here’s the source: http://www.goddess.ws/kali.html

The Wikipedia entry on California’s Etymology refers to an exhaustive work by Ruth Putnam in 1917. She wrote, “that both Calafia and California most likely came from the Arabic word khalifa which means steward or leader. The same word in Spanish was CALIFA, easily made into California to stand for “land of the Caliph”, or Calafia to stand for the “female caliph”. Putnam also wrote that THE SONG OF ROLAND held a passing mention to a place called Califerne, perhaps named because it was the caliph’s domain, a place of infidel rebellion.” Which sounds apt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_California

UC SANTA BARBARA GEOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT has a succulent entry on the subject which adds an indigenous term, kali forno, meaning “high mountains.” Then references the 1510 novel by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, The Adventures of the Esplandian, which described California as a mythical island ruled over by the legendary and gorgeous Queen Califa, queen of the Amazons. Reading their edition, addition and erudition will be great fun for you:
http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/events/department-news/559/california-what-s-in-a-name/

Finally, enjoy the scholarship and the sense of humor from something called Wandering Lizard History:
http://www.inn-california.com/articles/history/montalvocalafia.html

Some of Michael’s “Azure Richards” which he uses for Blue Dicks when he’s leading those under 18. Here’s a lovely description done by the Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA. http://www.goldenwestcollege.edu/garden/plantofmonth/0211.html
And we can enjoy them in Yosemite as well. http://www.yosemitehikes.com/wildflowers/blue-dicks/blue-dicks.ht

Time for a picnic lunch overlooking the Napa Valley, first to find some flat spot so sliding down the hill is obviated. Next, locate lunch and keep it from rolling down the hill. Then, enjoy the hill, the view and the conversation. Finally, realize that getting down is more challenging than climbing up.

Michael shared some memories of his trip to Bali with us. He asked how many of the group had been and about a quarter raised their hands and some, had visited more than once. He talked about the warmth, hospitality of the people and the joy of their dances. Each village has its own musical culture and everyone can sing and play and instrument so that the concept of being a musician is foreign, everyone is a musician. He relayed that the gamelans of one village could not be played at another because each is tuned to one village alone. He was saddened by the lack of connection with nature and felt it had some similarities with the old concept of man being the “lord of creation”. There is a ceremony of cleansing for nature once or twice a year. There are also cock fights to the death with razor blades. There’s lots of trash left about. There’s the roar of the motor scooters. And at the same time there’s the beauty of the people and the marvelous imagination of their customs, beliefs and celebrations.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balinese_people

“Balinese reality is vastly more inclusive that Western consciousness allows. The Balinese have a word, “sekala.” for the things which you can perceive with your sense of vision, hearing, smell air touch. There is another word, “niskala,” for “that which cannot be sensed directly, but which can only be felt within.” In the West, we only recognize sekala phenomena as real”, but in Bali they make no distinction between the two.” From Bali History and Culture, http://www.baliclick.com/about-bali-history-culture.asp

We got into a discussion of the genocide of from 500,000 to 1,000,000 people in Indonesia including Bali under the Suharto regime in a few short months in 1965.
http://anthronow.com/online-articles/refusing-to-look-away-the-act-of-killing-and-the-indonesian-genocide-of-1965

Now the downhill

Enjoyed the sweet perfume of the California Buckeye trees on the way. CNPS writes “The flowering spikes of the California buckeye
(Aesculuis californica) are beautiful and fragrant, and a magnet for butterflies and native bees. It’s fragrant foliage has earned the moniker cowboy cologne.”

Return to go and enjoying some final fellowship in the shade before heading out into that white light.

Island of the Angels with Jim – 7 April 2014

Last Monday was one of those days that you want to stretch into – sniffing the air, enjoying the sunshine on your face and taking a leisurely walk to the Tiburon-Angel Island Ferry. It felt like a Stephen Sondheim moment, maybe a “a weekend in the country” but without the complications. Islands have their own sense of time and place leaving behind the stress & schedule of the mainland for something of a pause or parentheses. We might be sailing out into the Aegean – faces set for Mykonos, Santorini, or Rhodes. Vacation was not to be confused with vocation. Still, we had that pesky ferry schedule to remember, push away from the dock in Tiburon at 10 and then the return at 1:20 to Ayala Cove. There is a certain persistence of memory, 10 AM and 1:20 PM. But for now we’d suspend our disbelief. We were on island time.

You’ll recall that Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino sailing under cross and crown of Spain arrived at Point Reyes Headlands on January 6, 1603. La Punta de los Reyes provided his harbor on the day that the visit of the Three Kings is celebrated in Spain and Latin America. Perhaps even then it was a day of celebration and gift giving adored by all children in the Spanish world. He anchored in Drake’s Bay no doubt enjoying a respite from the waves and perhaps memories of his own childhood – the excitement of gifts at the end of the 12 Days of Christmas with the celebration of Epiphany.

San Francisco Bay fogs kept her secrets from the European explorers for another 172 years until Juan de Ayala passed through the Golden Gate in his ship the San Carlos on August 5, 1775. The Portola expedition had made the first European sighting of the Bay by land from the top of the western ridge of Montara Mountain west of San Bruno on October 31, 1769. You’ll recall that our Footloose group hiked up to this memorable point with Armando. No doubt this sighting and concerns about Russian expansion (“The Russians are Coming”) fostered expeditions by land to the area by Juan Bautista de Anza and that of Juan de Ayala by sea. Ayala was unable to make contact with de Anza but explored the great San Francisco Bay from August 5th until his return south on September 18, 1775.

He named Yerba Buena Island Isla de Alcatraces or Island of the Pelicans, a name later transferred in 1826 to Alcatraz Island. He tried a number of anchorages in the bay but most weren’t stable because of the tides. He found a site off Angel Island (Ayala Cove) the most satisfactory. He is credited with naming the island whose full name was Isla de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles (Island of Our Lady of the Angels) and it seems probable that he was there on or near August 15 when the Feast of the Assumption is celebrated. This celebration commemorates the belief that the Virgin Mary’s body was carried to heaven by angels.

Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_de_Ayala http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=The_Discovery_of_San_Francisco_Bay_(1542-1769)

A quiet morning in Tiburon

Angel Island is beyond the breakwater with the profile of Alcatraz before the skyline of San Francisco looking a bit like a bar graph

Our vessel awaits along with a mysterious destination.

Not yet having “cast off” with all that means. It looks like some splicing to our rope which we are at the end of. I got to thinking of those enormous hawsers on the great ships and how they are made and used. No doubt our fellow hiker Armand with his marine experience could add to our knowledge along with the SF Bay Pilot in Carol and Tom’s family. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawser Welcome to the world of rope: http://www.wescovan.com/catalogs/cordage.pdf
Here’s a great beginning article for the rope enthusiast. http://www.neropes.com/resources/history_of_rope.pdf

Never fear, we have help available when we are “out” on the water.

We are perhaps seeing the line between the down flow of the Sacramento River and the inflow from the Bay tides, with some kayakers enjoying a calm day on the Bay and the Bridge over the Golden Gate into which long ago sailed Juan Manuel de Ayala y Aranza.

Some relaxed camaraderie on the fantail, is there a word for women’s camaraderie?

The natives are not restless, they’re sleeping. The pillow appears to be designed by ancient Egyptians: http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/glossary.aspx?id=174
http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/education/marine-mammal-information/pinnipeds/pacific-harbor-seal/

Jim leads a discussion under a Coastal Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia: http://www.stevenkharper.com/coastliveoak.html
http://polyland.calpoly.edu/overview/archives/derome/woodlands.htm

From the Wikipedia entry for Coast Live Oak leaves: “The leaves are dark green, often convex . . . the leaf margin is spiny-toothed, with sharp thistly fibers that extend from the lateral leaf veins, The outer layers are designed for maximum solar absorption, containing two to three layers of photosynthetic cells. These outer leaves are deemed to be small in size to more efficiently re-radiate the heat gained from solar capture. Shaded leaves are generally broader and thinner, having only a single layer of photosynthetic cells. The convex leaf shape may be useful for interior leaves which depend on capturing reflected light scattered in random directions from the outer canopy.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_agrifolia

Looking down on our point of disembarkation from the Sunset Trail on our climb to the top of Mt. Caroline Livermore. More water patterns perhaps showing the currents in flux (what currents do) and in the distance is the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, Red Rock Island at its east end, and the Chevron tanker docks in Richmond.
http://www.boatingsf.com/article/red-rock-island

Brief rest overlooking (l to r) Belvedere Island, Mill Valley at the base of Mt. Tamalpais and the Tiburon hills. Our views of Mt. Tamalpais are usually more of the prominent East Peak as we drive along Rt. 101and from around the Bay. Here the long spine of the mountain is more clearly visible.

The trail had battalions of Hound’s Tongue plants along the way. They seemed fresh and prolific on the island, the ones we’ve been observing on the other hikes are more at the end of their bloom. Our favorite Lilian McHoul writes in FLOWERS OF MARIN that they are from the borage family, Cynoglossum grande is based on the Greek kuno for dog and gloss meaning tongue. Remember that great word glossolalia, speaking in tongues. “The plant has erect stems one to three feet tall; the leaves mostly basal are long and ovate, slightly hairy on the lower surface. The flowers are dark or light blue resembling our common Forget-Me-Not shape; the tube is usually purple.”
http://xasauantoday.com/2012/02/25/pacific-hounds-tongue/ http://baynature.org/articles/turning-blue-aint-nothing-but-a-hounds-tongue/

Jim found a no longer with us California pipevine swallowtail along the trail (Battus philenor hirsute), we had seen a number on the trail chugging along, that is we were doing the chugging. This is a female, from the distinctive spots. The wonderful iridescence is a little muted in death. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battus_philenor_hirsuta

Here’s a splay of leaves along the way. Mostly Wild Cucumber vine in evidence, Manroot i.e. with the corkscrew tendril but the leaf front and center is part of a California Pipevine which is the destination for those wild winging Swallowtails we watched fly by us. http://www.marin.edu/cnps/pipevine.html The serrated leaf is what?
http://www.baynatives.com/plants/Aristolochia-californica/ http://www.redding.com/news/2012/mar/02/Native_Plants/

Gooseberry http://www.pacifichorticulture.org/articles/a-gooseberry-affair/

Getting closer to the top of Mt. Livermore the group stretches out into infinity with the slight shape of Treasure Island on the right.

Angel Island provides views you don’t see from any other part of the Bay Area. The City with the Western Span of the Bay Bridge and Alcatraz looking like a container ship cruising into the bay.

The entire bay is opening up as we get closer to the top. You can just make out the tower of the new Willie Brown section of the Bay Bridge. You can see the Yerba Buena Island anchorage and Treasure Island extending toward us from there in the middle.

Moving to our left we’re now looking toward the East Bay Hills over the East Garrison/Fort McDowell. Is that Brooks Island Regional Preserve on the left, what do you think? http://www.ebparks.org/parks/brooks_island#trailmap

A field of Cow Parsnips as we approach lunch but maybe we’ll leave them to the cows or rather the black tailed deer (http://angelisland.com/blog/index.php/2012/11/09/how-did-the-deer-get-to-the-island/). First Hound’s Tongue and then Cow Parsnips. Still looking for Hairy Cat’s Ears, Tomcat Clover, Cranesbill, Dogwood, Goat’s Beard, Harebell, CaliforniaTiger Lilies, Lizard Tail, Monkey Flowers, Mule Ears, Skunkweed, Western Dog Violet and the Wake Robin.

We’ve made the summit of Mt. Livermore and are tucking into lunch but have the return half of the hike ahead. Jim contemplates how to remind us that the ferry leaves at 1:20.
Caroline Sealy Livermore was a Warrior Queen of Marin County Conservation working tirelessly from the 1930’s until her death in 1968. Concerned about ruthless development in Marin County after the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge she and others in the Marin Conservation League along with other groups have left us the county we enjoy today. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for saving the land from urban sprawl, providing a framework for sustained conservation, development of an infrastructure that maintains the unspoiled natural world around us and . . . no billboards. http://www.150.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27577
http://www.conservationleague.org/about-us/history.html

Made it with time to spare!

The Golden Gate Bridge still in place with a sailboat catching the afternoon breeze.

Cruising back and just about to the Tiburon dock. “Home is the sailor, home from the sea” is maybe a little over the top coming from someone who got really seasick just going out to the Farallons on a whale watch!