Indian Valley Open Space with Michael – 29 May 2017

As we gathered at the Indian Valley parking area, we realized that we were one of three hikes heading out into the open space. It was Memorial Day and a number of groups had the same idea. This being Indian Valley how about extending the meaning of the day to native Americans as well? Normally, Monday is a quiet zone in the week and we Footloose Folk can have the trails to ourselves. At the same time wishing for our usual private pocket of nature, it was a happy discovery to see so many people enjoying nature – “out and about” as our Canadian friends like to say. Realizing this, Michael got us to the church, er, the restroom on time and then introduced the hike. This was followed by heading out on a road less traveled as we hung a right to the Ad & Gloria Schwindt Trail – a wise choice.

In fine form, Michael starts the day –

We heard the sounds of yelping just as we were starting the trail and thought that they were probably made by a group of teenagers pretending to be coyotes. But on more listening we realized that they were coyotes pretending to be teenagers.
Scott spotted one of the parents walking across the field in the first photo below about to head into the coyote brush. Michael speaking to the group as a pair of equestrians ride by. Finally, Michael points to the cirrus clouds moving in the sky cover and asking what they mean?

Inge spotted her favorite flower along the way, the Yellow Mariposa Lily, Calochortus luteus, with many blooms near the trail. “This species is found on the coastal prairie, grasslands and some open forest floors. It is native to California and is endemic (limited to California). “Like other Mariposa Lilies it grows from a bulb, with most of the growth occurring in winter, followed by spring flowering and summer dormancy.”
Another very rare member of this family is the Tiburon Mariposa Lily, Calochortus tiburonensis, found only on Ring Mountain endemic to a single serpentine outcrop in California’s Marin County.

We met many dog walkers along the paths on the hike who had taken their owners out for some sunshine, shade and the delectable perfumes along the way.

Some medics arriving on the trail to take out a hiker who collapsed along the way. Michael brought one of our three nurses, Rowena, to the scene and she ascertained that the person was stable and that help was on the way. This particular medical help was in an easily accessed location but there are many rescues in Marin County that are much more challenging and complex. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue performs many life saving missions each year.

Inge commented that we were walking in the shade of a California Bay forest. Many younger trees along with some of the older veterans some showing fire scars and some along the creek undermined and fallen with the raging water of the winter rains.

Pointing out a bracket fungi or “artist’s conk” on a California Bay tree with a soft white underside, he said was definitive for a dying tree.

Now we’ve joined the Indian Valley Fire Road and are stopping to smell not the roses but a blooming California Buckeye’s sweet perfume.
Flowers of Marin is back after a hiatus, a very useful site.

Elderberry bush in robust bloom. These flat-topped are Blue Elderberry flowers clusters whereas the more pyramidal or cone-shaped flower bloom is the Red Elderberry flower cluster – Michael’s nemonic device for this is red pyramids. Notice the distinctly serrated leaves. Ah, four types with the additional Black and “Sutherland Gold” which I’ll have to sort out. Red Blue poisoning from elderberry juice.

Some late blooming wildflowers along the road, Michael points to a hillside of Linanthus androsaceus or Lepitosiphon androsaceus (False Baby Stars in Reny Parker’s book “Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country” on p.117.)
Curiously, it is a native plant in California and Pennsylvania.

Lillian McHoul writes of Linanthus androsaceus (syn. that it is from the Greek linon for flax and anthos meaning flower. And Reny Parker writes, “In mid to late spring a profusion of perky pink flowers in open or shaded areas in woodlands and chaparral are most likely the pretty annual. . . .Each flower is a small upright trumpet of five colorful petals with the throat of the trumpet generally violet at the base and yellow above.” P. 117

Another flower on the same hillside was Red Ribbons (Clarkia concinna) in the Evening Primrose Family. Reny Parker writes, “Another common name is Lovely Clarkia but I was told that it’s not fair to use that name as all Clarkia are lovely.” P. 126 Mary Elizabeth Parsons writes in her “The Wild Flowers California” (1897), “in June these charming blossoms may be found in the company of maidenhair fern fringing the banks of shady roads or standing in glowing masses under the buckeye-trees.
In them Nature has ventured upon one of those rather daring color combinations of which we would have hardly dreamed, and the result is delightful. The petals are bright rose-pink, while the sepals are of a red pink.” P.242

Sonoma Sunshine, Blennosperma bakeri, in the Sunflower Family, Asteraceae. Reny Parker writes, “Closely related and very similar in appearance to Common Blennosperma, Sonoma sunshine is a much more pleasant descriptor than its generic cousin’s moniker. An endangered species, its bracts are yellow and the lower leaf lobes are entire or three lobed. The lobes are longer than those of the Common Blennosperma. You may find this annual herb in vernal pools and wet grasslands.
P. 89

Still another lovely was in this patch, Ithuriel’s Spear or Grass Nut (Triteleia laxa) in the Lily Family, Liliaceae. Parker writes, “Named after the spear of Ithuriel, an angel in Milton’s Paradise Lost, it is also known as Wally Basket. . . . Bees and butterflies love this blossom. . . . In the mid to late spring as the grasses begin to golden, this bright blue purple flower provides the only contrast color over vast stretches of gold. Spear head like flower buds open to reveal six petals forming each vivid flower. Clusters of flowers sit atop leafless stems.” P. 167

A former quarry, a long time healing. The exposed greenish rock at the base is serpentine, California’s state rock.

The area along the fire road and the adjacent seasonal creek provided a welcoming environment for this California pipevine or California Dutchman’s-pipe. Michael pointed out that the pipe shape would be that of a Meerschaum pipe. “The larva of the endemic California pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor hirsuta) relies on the California pipevine as its only food source. The red-spotted black caterpillars consume the leaves of the plants, and then use the flowers as a secure, enclosed place to undergo metamorphosis. The plant contains a toxin which when ingested by the caterpillars makes them unpalatable to predators.” Note – one of these main characters is coming onto the stage at the top of the photo.

Michael shows us close-up a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar:

We turn off on the Waterfall Trail looking for a lunch spot, that waterfall was about two months earlier this year. We stop to admire some dandelion flowers
gone to beautiful white seed orbs about to be blown away by the wind.

Further on as we walk up the little stream, Michael spots some water striders in the pools and is able to bring up a talk he made on them on KQED, NPR pulling it up on his iPhone. 10 June 2010 They’re called the Jesus bug in Texas which hatched the discussion of which disciple walked on water.

Just over a small bridge that has a horse forbidden sign, Michael spotted and identified an unusual wildflower called Gay Wings, Polygala californica in the Milkwort Family.

And just over the trickling stream our picnic spot appeared. Looks very comfortable as long as there’s no poison oak.
Michael’s latest on his KQED Perspective series:

Easy conversation over lunch. We started remembering Drive-in movies for some reason and Sue Morris was recalling their family going to the San Rafael Drive In on one occasion with their four year old son. Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog” (1959) She remembers that her son found it very frightening and started screaming prompting a walk back to the refreshment stand for some distracting, quieting popcorn. Then Kit was remembering going to see Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” with three girl friends and feeling positively gushy about the film. Michael mentioned that he heard about a woman who went to see a Shakespeare film but didn’t know about the author. When asked how she liked it she said, “It was ok but it was really full of cliches.”


Stalking the Wild Egrets in Santa Rosa with Michael – 15 May 2017

What better way to treat a beautiful spring day than a visit with Michael on his home turf in Santa Rosa. Having just returned from leading two trips in Bhutan, he was still fresh from his Himalayan adventures. The prospect of spotting egrets on a median in the middle of a Santa Rosa street was curious, not our usual approach to bird watching. It would be easy to be just the least bit skeptical.


Taking a stroll around Michael’s back yard I began to think that perhaps we’d already achieved our goal with this exotic creature. Had we found our answer already, was the treasure hunt over so soon?

Michael shared his customs return while we were gathering for the hike. He was the lucky one, two, three, four, FIVE to be taken aside for the full luggage search.
He opened up his suitcase and the inspectors laid out some curious objects: a number of large, wooden fertility symbols that are hung outside houses in Bhutan to keep away evil spirits and to “be fruitful and multiply” – all done in bright red. These were a gift of Michael’s long time friend and guide on these Bhutan forays.
Next came out the flaming hula hoop though not flaming at the moment but a part of Michael’s hula hoop diplomacy when he takes trips to many parts of the world.
And finally, there was the can of bird’s nest soup which he brought back for his son Hunter who has enjoyed previous exotic foods on Michael’s other trips. By this time the other customs inspectors were coming over to have a look at this exotic assemblage – nothing like something to break up the day. It was all passed except for the bird’s nest soup so that will have to be another time and an another place for Hunter. The bird’s nest soup was a bridge too far.

Wondering about egrets lurking in the shrubbery we pass our first traffic circle which should get a prize for cuteness, well-cared for gardens and for outsized directional signs..

We stopped beside a picket fence and Michael talked about some of the plantings. The one in the corner is a Virgin’s Bower vine, Clematis ligusticifolia, “called ‘pepper vine’ by early travelers and pioneers in the American Old West. They used it as a pepper substitute to spice up food since real black pepper (Piper nigrum) was a costly and rarely obtainable spice.”’s-Bower) I was reminded that I’ve avoided vines in my garden and that they add a context and transition to the plantings.
Further down, Michael talked about the white Foxglove blooms, Digitalis purpurea. The wiki entry mentions “it is not clear why the flower should be called foxglove, other etymologies have been offered. Henry Fox Talbot (1847) proposed folks’ glove where folk means fairy. Similarly, R.C. A. Prior (1863) suggested an etymology of foxes-glew, meaning ‘fairy music’. However, neither of these suggestions account for the Old english form foxes glofa.” Michael mentioned the medicines that are extracted from the foxglove plants called digitalis. Used for patients with heart conditions – it is prescribed for those who have atrial fibrillation.
Lastly, he talked about the name of the yellow blooms, Yarrow (Achillea milleforium) which is white or in this Moonshine variation a vibrant yellow. Michael who loves words and their origins asked what hero was remembered in the name? It’s Greek mythology’s Achilles. The wiki entry for Achillea mentions that his soldiers used yarrow to treat their wounds i.e. the names allheal and bloodwort. The Achillea millefolium wiki adds some other common names for it. “..called
plumajillo (Spanish for ‘little feather’) from its leaf shape and texture. In antiquity yarrow was known as herbal militaries, for its use in staunching the flow of blood from wounds. Other common names for this species include gordalado, nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, and thousand-seal.”

Santa Rosa has a tradition of marking and investing in many historical districts but no Egret Historical District as yet.

We continue in the West End neighborhood and immediately come across a remarkable building both historic and architecturally significant, the Issac De Turk Barn located in the park of the same name. The building is completely round as compared with other historic “round” barns which have corners with octagonal or other shapes. De Turk was born in 1834 in Berks County, Pennsylvania but his parents made their way west moving first to Indiana (1838-59). Both he and his father were horticulturalists. DeTurk moved out west to Santa Rosa, California planting a small vineyard in 1859. This was followed by a continuously expanding winery business with size of vineyards and scope of wine production increasing exponentially. He purchased a 1200 acre vineyard in what is now the Sonoma Valley and in the early 1880s produced 400 thousand gallons. He is described as “the Gallo of his time.” Here in his obituary they note that he was a member of the Sonoma County Horsebreeder’s Association and the owner of the “celebrated stallion” Anteeo. It was for this very valuable horse that he build his barn. Be sure to click on the orange image of the camera for a wonderful video of the barn’s reconstruction, reclamation and fascinating history.
In the spirit of Achilles as we walked past, there was a fellow focused on his Yoga exercises. Some of us remember another man meditating on a bench in our Haight-Ashbury hike-log.

We walk past more history with project, classic automobiles along the way. Matt continues to look for passing or roosting egrets not forgetting our mission in life.
Larry mentioned to me that Rod used to own one of these and that they were designated “Fairlady” or Datsun Fairlady 1500. The racing version of this car is pictured as # 6 in the following series.

Inge is taking some close-ups of Matilija Poppy bush, gorgeous delicate blooms on a native bush that needs lots of room.’s-Matilija-Poppy) Mary Elizabeth Parsons in her book “The Wild Flowers of California” (1897) writes, “ The Matilija poppy must be conceded the queen of all our flowers. It is not a plant for small gardens, but the fitting adornment of a large park, where it can have space and light to rear its imperial stems and shake out its diaphanous flowers. It is justly far-famed, and by English gardeners, who now grow it successfully, it is regarded as a priceless treasure, an people go from many miles around to see it when it blooms. It is to be regretted that our flowers must go abroad to find their warmest admirers.” P. 66 Named for the famous Irish astronomer, Dr. Romney Robinson, the Matillija poppy (Romneya coulteri) was named because of its abundance in Matilija Canyon which is above Ventura in the mountains. On a more mundane note, some call it the Fried Egg Plant.

As we continue to walk through the neighborhood, we quickly pass a fellow who had a cautionary rock in his garden noting there was an “attack tortoise” but it was inside the house cooling down from the sunshine so no one came to undue harm. The owner said it was being cared for by his daughter. I wondered how such a slow motion confrontation might proceed. Cave Testudo
But as we moved down the street past Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, we began to see small white specs in the trees. Our hearts beat faster realizing that we were not just tilting at windmills after all . We spot some nesting birds in the Live Oak in the foreground, the Sycamore behind and in the distance a Great Egret landing in a Eucalyptus. The neighborhood has been very tolerant and protective of this unique phenomenon that began in the 1990s. This article speaks of 216 nests in 2016. This year a volunteer in the neighborhood said that 350 had been logged.

This gentleman, Steven, is one of many volunteers who keep track of the rookery and save baby birds who have fallen out of their nests and are unable to return. The Madrone Audubon Society puts down rice straw at the base of many nesting trees to facilitate a safe landing. Steven said that there were four main types of nesting birds this year: Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons.

Steven had left with a previously fallen Snowy egret when this bird tried unsuccessfully to claw back to its nest. Fortunately, Steven had left his phone number and Kit called him about the newly fallen bird. He returned and was able to carefully corral it after some hide and seek around the eucalyptus. Here he checks up into the foliage for other possible customers and then carefully shows the bird to some of our group across the street. He took the birds to the International Bird Rescue facility in Fairfield, CA on 4369 Cordelia Road, Fairfield, CA. 94534 Phone 707-207-0380, or 707-207-0395

Earlier in the day, Steve had saved another fallen egret which he’d put in a rescue box. He kindly brought it over to show us.

Looking up in a sycamore tree we see a nesting Great Egret.
The Great White Egrets get the top floor and the pent house suites.

Looking up at the main rookery area in a eucalyptus tree. It was binocular kind of day. Background and history of the rookery Splendid action photos A quiet ballet, the rookery is actually filled with calls, clicks and cries – quite a vibrant cacophony. Sound on this from the rookery, passing cars and a musical background.

P.S. An enjoyable bird watcher website that goes back to 2006 and is current, this particular entry is about when to CAPITALIZE the names of birds.

Abbott’s Lagoon with Jim Coleman – 15 May 2017

Abbott’s Lagoon is a favorite flat hike through grasslands that lead to the Pt. Reyes Great Beach. Writing in BAY NATURE in August 2012 the estimable Jules Evans says, “A visit to Abbott’s Lagoon always proves rewarding and never fails to offer a fresh experience. I’ve strolled down to the main lagoon dozens of times over the years and each visit is unique and memorable.” In an interview by Paul Epstein in BN, January 2016, he asks David Lukas about his favorite trail at Pt. Reyes. DL: My favorite spot is Abbott’s Lagoon because there’s intact old growth coastal chaparral there, and a sense of openness to the sky, and openness to possibility – with the beach tantalizingly far off.”

This scene greeted us in the Abbott’s parking area beckoning bewitchingly on this Goldilocks Day last Monday.

Matt checks reception by the trailhead and points out that the sign has a “no drone clause”. “Launching, landing or operating unmanned or remote controlled aircraft in or onto Point Reyes National Seashore is prohibited.”

Jim is listening to Kit who is enthusiastically relating an exciting experience en route to Abbott’s this morning, She had a close and personal experience watching a coyote stalking some wild turkeys and then finally opting to “scout” a herd of cows before being scared off by the herd leader. Roz has found the perfect chapeau and some of us are having a group meeting. not Kit’s coyote but in the family and just down the road
How about “herd leaders” to which I hadn’t given much thought.

Jim introduces us to this amazing location and is telling us that the lagoon is divided unlike Gaul into two separate parts. He’s also talking about the exotic grasses brought in by agriculture for this area that have almost displaced the native grasses tended so carefully by the Miwok Natives for two thousand years. “Less than one percent of California’s grassland is still intact today. The northern coastal prairie, which extends into Oregon, is the most diverse type of grassland in North America. Pristine patches of this vegetation still grow at Point Reyes on either side of the San Andreas Fault.”

Jim plucked up a few grass samples as we started the hike identifying some of the common agricultural grasses. From left to right we have “rye, oat, barley and brome” which sounds suspiciously like a rock group escaped from the Haight. Great history of the transition from native grasses to the exotic European grasses. Looking at these grasses from the farmer’s point of view since we normally just rue the loss of the native grasses.

We’ve seen Owl’s Clover (Castilleja densiflora) (Castilleja exserta?) in a number of areas this spring. Lillian McHoul writes in her WILDFLOWERS OF MARIN about it with another name, Orthocarpus densiflorus, when it was included in the genus Orthocarpus. “From the Greek orthos, upright, and carpos, fruit.” The CNPS website notes that “the plant is an annual about a foot tall with a hairy stem covered in thready leaves. Although this species is variable in appearance and easily hybridizes with other Castilleja, it generally bears a brightly-colored flower cluster of shaggy pink-purple or lavender flowers that resemble clover (but they are not related). … this is a hemiparasite which derives some of its nutrients directly from the roots of other plants by injecting them with haustoria; this is the reason for its small reduced leaves.”’s-Clover)
And because you were curious: – it wasn’t some kind of Roman building after all.

California’s only native thistle, the Cobweb (Cirsium occidentale), there were a number on the verge showing their cobwebby appearance. “spreading spines which are laced, often quite heavily, in fibers resembling cobwebs.”

a cobwebby discussion

We passed many areas with velvet grass which is a very invasive exotic and is very soft to the touch – there’s some kind of lesson in that.

Santa Barbara Sedge (Carex barbaras) was favored by the native Americans for basketry.

Jim spied this Click Beetle along the trail practicing for its next olympic jumping event. It spun off his hand in a high arc and when snagged again continued to jump even higher with aplomb. The Wiki entry states that there are 9300 known species worldwide and 965 “valid”(?) species in North America.

A PRNS biologist passed us on the trail coming up from the beach. He’d dismantled some protective fencing that had been set up to protect a hatching Western Snowy Plover. With predation of the hatchlings the fence was no longer needed here and was being moved to South Limantour Beach where a viable hatching site needed protection.

There was a congregation of Cow Parsnips (Heracleum lanatum) in concentrations we hadn’t seen before. Like many coastal plants they were growing closer to the ground than their cousins in more protected places stretching to well over your head.

Scott spotted this spider web filled with midges and was wondering, “What if the spider doesn’t like midges?”

Jim is pointing out the great differences between disturbed land to the right (man-made changes here for agriculture) and areas that have non-native grass dominance. He made the point that the disturbed land gave opportunity for the growth of native plants that had lost the competition in undisturbed areas.
We found this on various hikes with Michael when cattle are run over grassy areas breaking up the hard soil and making a place for native plants to take root along with surrounding fertilizer.
A fine example of this is the work of Tiffany Knight and Eleanor Pardini on some the dune areas of Abbott’s Lagoon. Here a “rare lupine is being pillaged by a native mouse that steals most of the seed pods. . . . The mice are a ’subsidized’ species, given a competitive advantage by human activity.
European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria), originally planted to stabilize the dunes, has had the unintentional side effect of giving the mice cover for their nocturnal forays among the lupines. Since the beachgrass near the richest patch of lupines has been removed in 2011, the rare lupine is rebounding and the dune ecosystem – perhaps -is recovering its previous equilibrium sans mice.”
Removal of the beachgrass was actually designed to help the endangered snowy plover by multiplying its natural breeding areas. It also inadvertently helped the recovery of the rare lupine. Cf.

Next along the trail we found some Mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana) Sounds like a name that J.K. Rowling might have enjoyed – Hogworts for a start.

Jim spotted some Johnny Tuck’s blooming just up from the trail and was delighted to fine them, here he shares his enthusiasm.

Sometimes called “Butter and Eggs” in the yellow coloration, this discovery will remain Johnny Tuck dressed in white.

Just below the JTs was this lone outpost of Trifolium wormskioldii, cows clover or coast clover among its many handles.

We looked back on the upper, eastern, freshwater portion of Abbott’s Lagoon – a study in blues and greens and tans.

Lunchtime beckons with another “room with a view”

The wind was blowing smartly even in this semi-protected area so we found shelter behind this large log. It must have made its way in from the ocean in one of the heavy winter storms of years gone by.

We’re looking out on the beginnings of the western part of Abbott’s Lagoon. It has some interesting history from WW 2. It was used as a practice bombing range with dummy bombs made wooden bodies with metal heads and tail fins. If the bombardiers were able to hit a 25’ triangular target it would blossom white material indicating a hit. This detritus they assured us was washed off in the rain. As I recall, Armando told us that he dove in here while a ranger at PRNS and observed some of the remnant debris. Entitled “Tomales Bay Bombing Target” this link also includes Abbott’s Lagoon:
Along with Tomales Bay, this part of Abbott’s Lagoon enjoys bioluminescence, this article was dated in June of 2012.

Who were the Abbotts of Abbott’s Lagoon? The Winter 2014 UNDER THE GABLES newsletter of the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History includes a well written account of early butter making in the Pierce Point area of Pt. Reyes by Carola DeRooy called “Butter Days”. As I recall, you were not encouraged to smile in these 19th Century posed photographs, serious, dignified and even solemn ruled the day. This might be your only photograph so you didn’t want to ham it up for posterity.

On our return trip, Jim was excited to spot some Pacific Reed Grass, Calamagrostis nutkaensis, on a far hill.

Jim highlights a Yellow Bush Lupine which is part of the native dune scrub community in central and southern California but can be an invasive species on the northern California coastal dunes.

Many thanks to Jim for another stellar hike.

P.S. – River Otters at Abbott’s Lagoon

Haight-Ashbury & Buena Vista Park with Don McLaurin – 8 May 2017

It’s the jubilee year for the Summer of Love in San Francisco, a time of remembering. Jubilees are usually 50 year events which cast a long shadow through history.
The importance of this 50 year anniversary is found both in Judaism and Christianity. “In Jewish tradition, the year of jubilee was a time of joy, the year of remission or universal pardon. . . . during which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven. … The same concept forms the fundamental idea of the Christian Jubilee with the number 50 . . . the number of remission. Christian jubilees, particularly in the Latin Church , generally involved pilgrimage to a sacred site, normally the city of Rome.” Looking back 50 years for the Hippies of 1967 would be to 1917. They would have both “the poppies in Flanders fields” and “Where have all the flowers gone” to wrestle with – a huge challenge in a struggle for remission. Clean slates were hard to come by in the 20th Century and before. But the Hippies were not so much a looking-back-people preferring goals of a future world beyond war, a world of love and peace, longing and stretching for that Age of Aquarius. This is a rosy glow I know. There were downsides and slippery slopes as well or was it slickensides?

Ottorino Respighi in the second part his “Festa Romana”, Jubilee (Giubileo), portrays the joy of pilgrims as they arrive near their destination, a breathtaking view of shining domes of Rome from Mt. Mario.
Perhaps the hippie pilgrimages to San Francisco had some of these moments too seeing the skyline of the city, the enormous Bay of San Francisco or profile of the Golden Gate Bridge softened and mystical in the incoming fog.

16 San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair).m4a

“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and sung by Scott McKenzie. This sweet and memorable song captures the idealism of the beginnings of the Hippie experience sharing that moment with other pilgrims of this history seeking an El Dorado of the heart and mind. “McKensies’s version of the song has been called ’the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, including the Hippie, Anti-Vietnam War and Flower power movements.”

At the end of this hike-log there’s a Vimeo video of our walk-about-the-Haight.


Our starting point was the Park Branch Library, San Francisco Public Library, Branch No. 5, the oldest existing San Francisco Public Library building. It opened on October 29th, 1909 and its renovation was completed on February 26, 2011.

Katherine Powell Cohen writes in her book “San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury” 2008, “At the turn of the 20th Century , the Haight-Ashbury gained prominence as the gateway to Golden Gate Park. Six decades later, it anchored the worldwide cultural revolution that bloomed in the 1960s. Though synonymous with peace, love, and living outside the mainstream, its history goes back long before the Summer of Love.”

Don is a San Francisco City Guide and so comes prepared not only with a wealth of fascinating information but with some visual aids as well. Here he’s talking about an earlier incarnation of the neighborhood when there was the Chutes, an amusement area with attractions and a thrilling ride.,_1902-1907
He also told us how this area of San Francisco was called “the Great Sand Waste” (also the name of a current band) prior to the development of Golden Gate Park and many other “reclamation” projects.

“In 1870 California Governor Henry H. Haight’s decision to develop Golden Gate Park under the guidance of the San Francisco Park Commission spurred investors, builders and prospective home owners to build along the blocks between Divisidero and Masonic. The original purpose of the park was to feature a broad green swath from City Hall and the Civic Center to the ocean. But land was precious in those early days of expansion. A compromise was forged allowing for three, instead of five miles of parkland with a narrower, one-block wide strip for three-quarters of a mile at the eastern end. . . . The narrow strip was dubbed Panhandle Park and was used as entry to the wider, more expansive Golden Gate Park. The Panhandle was no ordinary grassy open space. It became an outdoor arboretum with living exhibits from more than a dozen countries of every continent. . . . Today the eucalyptus trees in the Panhandle, originally from Australia, are among the oldest trees in all of Golden Gate Park.” Mr. Helquist describes himself as an author, historian and activist. His fine website includes a “Politics and Passions Blog” and articles on San Francisco and Oregon history.

Don was telling us about the unique plantings in the Panhandle both at its inception and later when it became the botanical experimental garden for John McLaren who with William Hammond Hall developed Golden Gate Park. “The Panhandle is actually the oldest of the parks; at one time it was John McLaren’s arboretum. Every bush, every tree, even the Eucalyptus (now politically incorrect non-native species) were first planted in the Panhandle to see how they survived. Thus the Panhandle has the oldest trees in Golden Gate Park and 21 species of Eucalyptus.” Following the trail of Elizabeth McClintock as she identified and described the Panhandle’s historic trees in 1973. McClintock was a herbarium botanist at UCLA from 1941 – 1947. She was the curator of the Department of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences from 1949 until her retirement in 1977. “She added many tree specimens from Golden Gate Park to the herbaria after noticing they were not well documented.”

St. Ignatius Church looks over the proceedings in the Panhandle. After a series of moves in downtown San Francisco, this St. Ignatius Church building was dedicated in 1914 and continues to be the chapel for the University of San Francisco. It is a “mix of Italian Renaissance and Baroque elements and its floorpan follows that of ancient Roman basilicas.”

We joined this person who remained in deep meditation as Don was describing a historic concert here on New Year’s Day 1967 by the Grateful Dead. They had given earlier concerts here on October 6 and 16, 1966. (In Marin they gave one at Rancho Olompali, Novato, CA on 5/22/66.) Their New Year’s Concert here was followed by their “Human Be-In Concert” on 1/14/67 at the Polo Fields of Golden Gate Park. Here are the lyrics to their song “The Golden Road”:
As a fascinating aside, Oliver Sacks talks about “The Grateful Dead & The Power of Music” with a severely brain damaged patient.
Amazingly after we got up to leave 10 minutes later, our “host” remained in this quiet, quite wonderfully relaxed position. It was a moment that we might have had at our hike at the Zen Center in Green Gulch Farm two weeks ago.

This plaque dedicated to Susan J. Bierman on September 5, 2001 honors her as “a true champion, who brought the neighborhoods together in an eight-year struggle to preserve the Panhandle victory and what the nation called San Francisco’s ‘Freeway Revolt’ when, BY ONE VOTE, the Board of Supervisors rejected plans to pave a freeway through this wooded concourse to Golden Gate Park.”

Don pointed out the new Nate Thurmond Basketball courts further down in (Golden Gate) Panhandle Park, it’s not just the trees.

Some Panhandle ambience and atmosphere:

Peace symbols are across Page street while Don gives us some neighborhood detail.
Enjoying the houses of the Haight provides an intriguing and memorable experience – so many beautifully painted and with the gingerbread given wings to soar.

As we walk down the sidewalk, we see some students on their way back to school. Urban School is a private high school founded in 1966.

Don asked his friend Chip, another City Guide, to share some details about his Victorian home kitty-corner across the street. Known as “The Hippie House” it was one of the locations for Harry Reasoner’s quite famous or better infamous film, “The Hippie Temptation” which has the look and feel of a “60 Minutes” episode. Clearly, the film was a collision of two cultures with the 50s in a “call the tow trucks tangle” with the 60s – in the Haight.

In addition to the beautiful detailing of his house and home, Chip had the most attractive side walk flower gardens that we saw on the walk and his house was a match.

Don has been tracing down where Janis Joplin lived or stayed in the Haight focusing on this area, one of these houses is “likely”. “At the height of her musical career, Janis Joplin was known as ’The Queen of Psychedelic Soul’. Her performances were described as electric.”

We passed St. Agnes Church with its banner in front “Immigrants and Refugees, Welcome” – a sanctuary church in a sanctuary city.

As we passed this house, Don asked us, “Who lived here?”

Built in 1900, the Magnin house this was (is?) their family home along with some adjoining houses for family and workers. After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Don mentioned that the Magnins sold some things at this address during the rebuilding of their store near Union Square which wasn’t reopened until 1912. “In the early 1870s, Dutch-born Mary Ann Magnin and her husband Issac Magnin left England and settled in San Francisco. Mary Ann opened a shop in 1876 selling lotions and high-end clothing for infants. Later, she expanded into bridal wear. As her business grew, her exclusive clientele relied on her for the newest fashions from Paris.” This is full of rich detail about I. Magnin history, lots of sweet memories.

Don mentioned that one contractor built this entire procession of Victorians. Ok, I forgot the builder but you have won instead: – This is a superb albeit longer link about the architecture and social structure of the Haight with lovely detail and historical photos. There’s even a part 2!

Inge & Don and Barb & Scott live next to each other in the Haight so that they can take care of each other’s cat when they go on vacation. The cats know and give this arrangement their imprimatur. How convenient for us too, we could come by here for a rest stop and have a go at the ‘loo’.

The last part of our hike was at Buena Vista Park just up the street. From Wikipedia, “The park is on a steep hill that peaks at 575 feet (175 m), and covers 37 acres.”

Neat panorama of some our hike area looking over our ports of call – have we sailed in a new direction? Is this Umbria?

And, of course, it’s time to appreciate a magical four-footed addition our walk.

And at no extra cost, Don adds a shining geologic phenomenon for the end of our hike. The name is Slickenside and I remember it by recalling our children enjoying a Wham-o product when they were growing up called Slip ’N Slide. Our Slickenside is
# 11 on this list, Slickenslide in Chert (sounds like a song yet to be written). Here’s a clear explanation along with some kid context by the remarkable San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Carl Note. Pat and I arrived in California in 1962 and Carl Nolte has been with the SF Chronicle since 1961!

Thanks to Jeannie for these photos.

Our final “number” is from the “Rock Band Slickenside”.

Thanks to Inge for this parting shot.

And many thanks to Don whose hikes around the City continue to intrigue and delight. Can’t wait for the next one.

As one of our venerable hikers said, “Don is fascinating, I could listen to him all day long!”

The VIMEO VIDEO of our walk-about has “The Age of Aquarius” backgrounding or maybe it’s the other way round.
This classic by James Rado and Gerome Ragni was written for the 1967 musical HAIR. This performance is by The Fifth Dimension which had its start in the 1960s.

San Francisco – Haight-Ashbury & Upper Market

P.S. – This Monday (tomorrow!) we’re with Jim Coleman meeting at Abbot’s Lagoon, turn right at the ‘Y’ onto the Pierce Point Road.

Mt. Tam West Peak with Armando – 1 May 2017

This week’s hike high on Mt. Tamalpais couldn’t have been more different from last week’s at Green Gulch Farm. Bright sunshine and fair winds greeted us at Rock Spring parking area. Instead of rain parkas and umbrellas, it was time for sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats. It was almost shorts weather. The undulating hills of Marin County spread out before us as we looked south – just the distant profile of San Francisco etched in the morning fog. The pathway to the top of this view point was lined with cheering Bicolored Lupine and California Poppies bobbing and blowing in the breezes. Their enthusiasm was hard to miss and happily contagious.

Adding to the excitement, we were able to see our friend and one of our esteemed hike leaders, Armando Quintero, after a hiatus of . . . was the last time 13 May 2013? Mando was in fine feather as he shared some of the moments of his life since we last walked and talked together.
Maybe we recall that chilly moment at the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse with the Gray whale skull that Mando had reclaimed from a beach at Vandenberg Air Base while he was a naturalist at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.
Perhaps it was the hike at Port Costa when he pointed out the tiny mouse bones in some owl scat.
You’ll recall his story of sleeping in John Muir’s bed a bit restlessly when he was working at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez.
Or maybe it’s the hike along the shore of Briones Reservoir when he brought along his then teenagers, Lily and Bella. Now Lily is an obstetric nurse in Seattle and Bella is about to graduate from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Many other happy memories crowd in as we gather for our hike today.

Our hike into history was focused on the West Peak of Mt. Tam which was the highest point on the mountain until it was bulldozed for a national defense installation at the start of the cold war. Now it barely holds that altitude record. Gary Yost whose creative work we’ve appreciated in previous hike-logs has a superb film on the West Peak called THE INVISIBLE PEAK.

Armando emphasized that the mission to restore the West Peak is a remarkable collaborative effort joining a variety of government entities each sharing in the process and contributing to this goal. ONE TAM through the Tamalpais Land Cooperative (TLC) not only seeks to fulfill this goal but to evaluate and meet the challenges of maintaining the health and vigor of the entire Mt. Tamalpais ecosystem. The mission is not only to have government commitment but also to welcome NGOs coordinating wide community support and volunteers. “ . . . Mt. Tam has been protected for 100 years. And it’s through ONE TAM that we can protect it for 100 more.”

Originally the West Peak was over 2.600 feet (792 m) before being “flattened for radar dome construction”. Today after these alterations it is 2,576 feet (785 m).

The East Peak is the mountain’s second highest peak at 2,572 feet (784 m) though it appears the taller of the two from many directions. It was from this peak that another of Gary Yost’s splendid films was shot – “A Day in the Life of a Fire Lookout”.

Rock Spring parking area is a favorite destination with a number of trail directions all around the compass. We come in for a landing on a Monday morning.

Mando keeps bees as well as chickens. He is describing how he got stung by some angry female worker bees during an unplanned moment.

Ed and Armando (wearing the hat) – Mando wears a number of hats. He’s the Executive Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced and a California Water Commissioner. Should you google Armando Quintero, he’s the water one.

Another way of going up the mountain and – – – – coming down. Roadie biking – and then there’s Mountain Biking.

Exchange on the trail, Armando is talking about a mosquito swarm he encountered that wasn’t attacking. It responded moving up and down to his low vocal sounds as if he was conducting their flight.

Then he went on to talk about what the baby in the womb hears and why babies seem to initially resemble their fathers. This could be a protective adaptation in the animal kingdom but with humankind it is under discussion.


Some of the 50s archaeology on the West Peak. Here is an excellent aerial photo of the newly constructed Mill Valley Air Force Station, there were various iterations so I’m not sure if this was at the activation of the 666th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron on January 1, 1951. The map at the end of this link shows the expanded site in 1979 with various buildings identified. This link describes some of the changes with the various electronic improvements and it freely uses a variety of CAPITAL/NUMBER combinations – “acronyms” of military design. Knowing “militarese” would help in understanding.

The West Peak area was marked with a cairn and plaque dedicated to its members “who gave their services to our country during the Great War A.D. 1919” by the California Alpine Club Sadly, the cairn was bulldozed in 1950 to build the Mt. Tamalpais Air Force Station. Read about the California Alpine Club’s history on their fascinating website entry by Verna Steele West.

By the way, Armand (not Armando) seems to be carrying a large metal object but that piping is attached to the site, not Armand.

Looking down on some housing pads for married officers and perhaps, airmen. Here is a lovely and fascinating recollection by Lisa and Madelyn Byrne who lived at the Air Force Station from 1957 – 1959. This is a rare time capsule. The furthest pad next to the red rock hill was the site of their home – of Lt. Col and Mrs. John Byrne and their six daughters. (A little over half an hour but well worth the time)
The film was done by the venerable Gary Yost in 2015. Note to Michael in Bhutan, this film contains HULA HOOPING!

On a previous West Peak hike with Mando on 13 May 2013, he showed us some the USAF facility buildings from the time.

Serpentine underpinnings for part of the Mill Valley Air Force Station. “…the California Legislature specified that serpentine was ’the official State Rock and lithologic emblem’.”

We always love to find a picnic spot with a view and today we weren’t disappointed.

The classic Rambler’s Guide to the Trails of Mt. Tamalpais and Marin Headlands and some new ink, a Redwood Tree that Mando shared after lunch. He has long had a special bond with Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks starting with working there on one of his park ranger assignments. You’ll recall his story of meeting Janet Yellen on the trail in that area. Soon all of our hike leaders will need ink, Don next? Jim?

Jeannie who does such a fabulous job organizing and updating the hike information each series for us, iPhone in hand keeping in touch with us and the world.

Heading back down the Mountain with one “Radar Dome” (FAA-owned radar antenna protected by a “golf ball” radome) still at work on the horizon.

Barb and Scott as we return back to Rock Spring parking area. Barb is a retired nurse practitioner and Scott is a retired engineer. He is a board member and webmaster for San Francisco Amateur Astronomers. If you scroll down you’ll see a West Peak Hike with the SFAA on Saturday, 13 May from 10 AM-1:30 PM with film maker Gary Yost and Marin Municipal Water District ranger Matt Cerkel. They will lead a hike from the Mountain Theater overflow parking lot.

A shady catching our breath and it’s a wrap. Next time we meet with Don McLaurin, a San Francisco City Guide, on a Haight-Ashbury/Buena Vista Park tour.

P.S. There is a remarkable amount of additional material but it can be enjoyed at your leisure, I know, what’s that?

1. Doug McConnell and Armando discuss the Mt. Tam West Peak Restoration Project:

2. “Song of the Last Place” by Gary Yost – Music based on J.S. Bach’s 5th Cello Suite

3. The hike-log for 13 May 2013

Muir Beach and Green Gulch Farm & Zen Center with Michael – 24 April 2017

Heading south on 101 the usual profile of Mt. Tam was among the missing lost in a blanket of fog. The rain was a mixed bag with sometimes wipers, sometimes not. We inadvertently got into the start of a classic car procession (1959 or earlier) that was going over the mountain to Stinson Beach and destinations north. Memories of my first car returned, a black 1958 VW Bug and that unique feeling of the freedom – – the open road. There we were in my 2002 Camry, a part of this procession of collector cars from the 50s. A few people were on the sides of the road in the fog waiving and taking pictures of our parade. Then our turn came up and the classic cars went on up the mountain and we took the left down toward Muir Woods. We’d become, if only for a few brief, shiny and wistful moments a part of the venerable California Mille – Amici americani della Mille Miglia (American Friends of the Mille Miglia – the original in Brescia, Italy). It’s a 1000 mile classic car tour of northern California that has been held every spring since 1991- now in its 27th year.

Originally our hike was a trip to both Muir Woods and Muir Beach. But Michael had checked out the trails to Muir Woods and it was badly overgrown – another time. As we arrived at the new and much improved parking lot at Muir Beach, he gave us some choices. We made the pivot to “plan Bravo” enjoying the beach and its new, improved profile as well as a walk over to nearby Green Gulch Farm.

Here’s a Vimeo video of our hike with Igor Levit playing Bach’s Partita No 5 in G major. Diana has been an enthusiastic volunteer here during the Muir Beach renewal. She and her group planted the native plants and shrubs we were looking at from the bridge. This year we saw the amazing difference from a spotty, stressed environment there to a lush and natural beach backdrop. This was a rainy day hike with a meditative quality heightened by our visit to Green Gulch Farm and the Zen Center. (With a whoops post script.)

Here’s the gathering of the tribe at Muir Beach parking lot while we get a break from the rain, the new restrooms continue to be a boon to woman and mankind getting us off on the right foot.

Michael talks about our hike options while the weather holds off. He also reminds us that this Redwood Creek is one of multitude of Redwood Creeks in California.

Diana shares some of the process of her volunteer work here, renewing and planting in this back beach area.

Joy in this renewal of native plants in this area – a bravo job.

Looking down at the restoration, Michael points out some Beach Evening Primrose (Camissonia cheiranthifolia). Reny Parker writes in her “Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country …” “Beach Evening Primrose is found along sand dunes and beaches. It favors full sun and sand. The solitary flowers are yellow, turning to reddish. They are formed from four bright yellow petals, sometimes with one or two red spots toward the base. Short lived, each flower opens at dawn and blooms for only one day.” P.68

A park worker putting some rock riprap (fun to say fast) together for hillside support at the southside of Muir Beach, anyone with a tendency toward hernias is advised to skip the next picture. The mini caterpillar utility mover makes smaller site-specific projects possible. And just for fun:

You often are thankful that you packed some cold weather gear for coastal adventures. Even in the summertime perhaps especially then it comes in handy with the wind and fogs.

Redwood Creek as it passes out to the Pacific across the northern edge of Muir Beach. Great efforts have been expended to save the Coho Salmon and steelhead that are unique to this creek, fish that are able to hone in on, to smell this particular water of “home”. Odysseus citing Ithaca after his long journey at sea might leap to memory. Michael likes to remind us that this would be the last trip for the salmon who make this return only once but that
the steelhead return to sea for repeat performances. As he says, if I were to be reincarnated, it’s better to be a Steelhead – choose that one every time.
The flow of water in winter and spring augmented by the rains is strong. It forms a passage across the beach which can close later on in the year as the flow subsides. For the salmon and steelhead timing is everything.

Jeannie spots a passing Caspian Tern which conveniently circles back over our heads. After calling it a Caspian, Michael corrects himself saying, “No it’s a U-tern”. Many other terns followed, as we know one good turn deserving another.
P.S. You can see the riprap work in the distance at the base of the hill.

While beachcombing we not only discover a bit of drift wood but some drift paper as well, interesting to think how it got here. We wish them well on the DMV test.

“By the beautiful sea, how happy we’ll be”. To go along with the California Mille, we have the musical BY THE BEAUTIFUL SEA from 1954.
And some music from a local Muir Beach composer and performers that gives a great feeling for the community and its spirit. References to the “Pelican” are to the venerable Pelican Inn.

Here is the youtube rendition of MUIR BEACH by the local composer and performer, Willow Wray (1950-2014). She is described in the muirbeachcomer of August 2014 “… our songbird and friend taught us all so much about living, and about dying with such incredible grace and courage!”

Pink flowering Currant in the Gooseberry Family with the name, Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum. Fascinating article in the January 2012 PACIFIC HORTICULTURE giving a neat Ribes tour. As you scroll down you’ll find this currant. The author writes, this is “One of over 430 California native pants introduced to the public by horticultural pioneer
Theodore Payne, pink flowering currant is widely available and versatile. … used as an understory shrub, it is harmonious with toyon, oaks and coffee berry.
… leaves are sticky and pungent. Dark blue berries are popular with birds in the fall. Found from Humboldt to Santa Barbara counties in the Coast Ranges”

Michael finds a wild cucumber, we often see the galloping vine but the fruit of the vine not as often. Also called a Manroot, the Wild Cucumber can have an enormous tuber. The Wikipedia article describes it, “The anthropomorphic common names “man root’ and “old man” derive from the swollen lobes and arm-like extensions of the unearthed tuber. On old plants, the tuber can be several meters long and weigh in excess of 100 kg (220 lb). – This claim has a “citation needed” added. Michael mentioned that the Latin name Marah fabaceus comes from Exodus 15:22-25 and refers to bitter water. Native Americans used it for a variety of purposes treating aches, sores, kidney trouble, venereal disease and women cut slices from the fruit when they wanted to stop breast feeding putting the bitter slices (sans stickers) on their nipples.

Continuing our promenade Michael points out the Western Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) blooming in all of its delicate glory with a leafy surround next to the trail. It’s a member of the Rose Family

Just a bit further on he spots a Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) in the Honeysuckle Family (Caprifoliaceae). Reny Parker writes, “A treat to behold in many moist coastal habitats, …. The glossy deep purple double berries ripen near summer’s end and are presented in a cup of now bright maroon bracts appearing as a reddish ruff of Tudor women’s dress. A delight to the eye but brutally bitter to the taste.” P. 207

Green Gulch Farm Stand in a quiet space before it gets busy later in the year.
George W. Wheelwright III and his wife soon to be, Hope Richardson, decided to move west from Corpus Christi, Texas buying an 800 acre cattle ranch in Green Gulch, California in 1945. Mr. Wheelwright’s storied career had a restless quality wearing many hats including being a co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation. In writing a history of Green Gulch Farm, Mick Spoke relates that Mr. Wheelwright virtually gave Green Gulch to the Zen Center in the summer of 1972. “The two main requirements we have to honor in perpetuity are to maintain a working farm – this is part of Mr. Wheelwright and Hope’s request – and in the spirit of the surrounding Golden Gate National Recreation Authority property, be open to the public for trails. The Zen Center had at this time already proved itself with Tassajara as an able steward of an inholding surrounded by wilderness”. Rich and extensive history.

Cultivated field as we walk further into the Green Gulch property.

Planting in the rain, sounds like a good subject for a haiku.

Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatie) in the Pea Family. “Crimson clover is commonly used as a winter or summer annual cover crop in rotation with vegetables or field crops.” Meditation and action

The yew hedges mark the entrance to this garden Alan Chadwick designed with four entries or exits.
“One of the original architects of the gardens at Green Gulch was the renowned late horticulturist Alan Chadwick — who had introduced the biodynamic farming techniques influenced by Rudolf Steiner on the farm. Chadwick’s grave is marked by a stupa on site. Author Fenton Johnson writes that Green Gulch Farm, ’serves as a model for living on the land in the context of Zen Buddhist practice.”

Holly is our ambassador, she seems to know someone at all our ports of call.

What a garden shed can be with imagination. From a visitor’s point of view with insights from a beginner – bear with the ads.

What a great way to begin your gardening day.

One of the workers describes their work in renewing and rehabilitating the creek that flows through Green Gulch.

Native plants and boulders at this point to maintain the creek sides.

Heading to the top of the Zen Center

Large temple bell in its superb belfry

Fairfield Osborn Preserve with Claudia and Michael

The ever narrowing road gave us an early taste of this “mountain eyrie” situated between 1350 and 2300 feet (411-701 meters) on Sonoma Mountain. Fairfield Osborn Preserve is located on 450 acres of dramatic countryside that could easily qualify as “the land that time forgot.” In fact, as we walked along next to a burbling brook with a lovely overlay of birdsongs it seemed to be setting the scene for a kind of Jurassic or better, Late Cretaceous experience. (Jurassic does seems to have more zing.) It was an idyllic moment along the trail in a verdant riparian woodland that seemed to be waiting for the crash of trees as a T. Rex approaches or even more disarming the soft movement of leaves ahead that might presage the presence of stalking velociraptors. Imagine seeing the avian image below, there’s an obscuring fog as night sets in. Maybe you can just spot this foot in the gathering darkness, it’s slippery on the path and hard to get a purchase in all this mud.

Claudia Luke met us as we arrived and described the mission of Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Dr. Luke is the director of Sonoma State University’s Center for Environmental Inquiry and oversees activities at SSU’s three nature preserves: Fairfield Osborn, Los Guillicos and Galbreath Wildlands. She emphasized that we are facing enormous and intense environmental challenges. To approach these we need to develop ongoing conversations mingling various areas: education, the arts, economic, business, medical, governmental and others. In setting up the new program at Sonoma State they found that students were spending 65 hours a week with digital media at the expense of actual time in nature. The goal is to have students involved in real world projects and to have lots of outdoor, hands-on experience to combat this “Nature Deficit Disorder”. It is not only brain storming with various parts of society but also the most basic – communication with the natural world for ourselves. Here’s a Vimeo video of Dr. Luke’s talk to us last Monday. This video briefly describes the program and its possibilities for prospective students.

Later on we came across this plaque along the trail, it was so much better placed out here along our pathway than adjacent to some buildings or as part of a parking lot. The Nature Conservancy is a great facilitator for preservation of natural areas, we found them to be pivotal on another hike we took – Ring Mountain in Tiburon. The Roths, Joan and William H. bought this property on Sonoma Mountain “around 1950” and gave it to the Nature Conservancy in 1969. The Nature Conservancy in turn donated it to Sonoma State University “maintaining a conservation easement over the property for educational , research and conservation.” An additional 190 acre donation by the Roths is managed under an easement with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space district. “TNC recognized several natural resources of conservation value on Preserve lands, including the protection of Copeland Creek, one of the few fishless perennial creeks in California.” Remarkable biography An interview with Joan Roth on April 5, 2013 – very fresh and forthright. In one response she describes going to the then one restaurant in Glen Ellen for an early dinner (in the 50s?) riding on horseback over Sonoma Mountain to get there and then riding back. “She briefly mentioned how appalled she was at the information about him (her father Fairfield Osborn) in Wikipedia, especially the claim that he was interested in eugenics. Joan mentioned his time as Captain in an all black group during World War 1 and his desire to separate himself from his father, Henry Fairfield Osborn. According to Joan, her father dropped the name ‘Henry’ and went by Fairfield Osborn. Lovely account of the Roth’s marriage in 1946. Brief biography of Fairfield Osborn – In her Oral history interview Joan Roth said, “Fairfield Osborn was really influential in going around Africa and setting up preserves, conservatories and establishing the importance of the animal wildlife there.”
In reading about Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr. (b. 1857) and Henry Fairfield Osborn Jr. (b. 1887) it seemed all too easy to superimpose the one biography on the other. I can see why Fairfield Osborn wanted to separate himself from his father’s history and use Fairfield Osborn as his name. John Muir was introduced to Osborn Sr. in an East Coast visit in 1893 at Osborn’s Castle Rock home along the Hudson. Muir continued his contacts in 1896, 1898 and took the Osborn family to Yosemite in 1910. In 1911 he spent time at Osborn’s editing the final proofs of “the Yosemite”. It would be intriguing to learn what Fairfield Osborn’s experience was in meeting him during some of these visits starting when he was 6 years old . In this arresting article now more appropriate than at the time of its August 2015 publication, Jedediah Purdy describes a mixed bag in environmentalist history. It might be easy to dismiss this early extremism in the conservation movement with cliche rationalizations, “that was then, this is now” or “don’t throw out the baby with the bath” but with our current great political leap backward, it is sadly and powerfully timely.

Claudia pointed out early signatures of people who had lived on this land. Above the familiar rock wall boundary markers now softened by mosses & lichens and below the remains of a cabin underneath an old Monterey Cypress.

Michael wanting to interject a comment makes himself just a little taller on tip toes.

Some False Solomon’s Seal along the trail I always think that the “false” designation
some how communicates that we shouldn’t take the plant seriously, how about Solomon’s Other Seal!
Some turkey egg shells looking more destroyed than pecked out – All About Birds has some surprising history
Soap Root plants were prolific along our way. Here’s an excellent article in Bay Nature:
And calling on Bay Nature once again as we pass some grayish white lichens on a rock:

Here Rowena who has been a hospice nurse is making a short video for one of her patients who is unable to get out into nature.

Copeland Creek starts “slightly above Fairfield Osborn Preserve on the lower slopes of Sonoma Mountain. Upon reaching the valley floor Copeland Creek bisects the campus of Sonoma State University on its journey into the Laguna de Santa Rosa.” It becomes part of the Russian River basin and in turn part of the Pacific Ocean.

We looped an area called “Turtle Pond” covered with duckweed and continued down the muddiest trail that we’ve had the pleasure to hike. Trousers are tucked into socks to disadvantage any ticks along the way.

Michael spies an American Bullfrog and captures him bare handed with a low, stealthy approach. They are a ferocious predator and Claudia mentioned that they eat small turtles among other things. Michael seems to be in the midst an interspecies conversation.

Since this was our first fauna closeup on the hike there was a lot of interest and excitement.

Adding to the magic of the day, the fog descended on us for a time transforming the landscape with a gauzy blur.

We learned about “slumps” – the geological kind. While ours is less dramatic perhaps than some, it is a slump nonetheless.
Passing a pond on the right, Claudia talked about the kind of decisions that needed to be made as the pond silts in . . . do you let this happen? do you bull doze it out to maintain the life for rails and other water birds? How much “management” is needed to maintain the “preserve”?
Here’s a project to minimize erosion around the creek near the parking lot. And the array of solar panels powers Fairfield Osborn Preserve. This is only a small part of solarization at Sonoma State University. “The Solar Power Monitoring System project for SSU’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve . . was collaborative between SSU field Stations & Nature Preserves and senior thesis students in the Department of Engineering.”
The fourth photo also shows the weather station above the solar array.

Time for an indoor picnic this time as we return to the facility buildings

Harriet shows us what the stylishly dressed muddy person might wear for lunch.

Michael has just returned from an epochal family trip to Oakridge, TN. to be with his mother at the time of her death. He generously shared some of this experience including discovery of family members previously unknown and many family mysteries beginning to be revealed. There was rapt attention and I think it was Rowena who said, “This is better than HILLBILLY ELEGY!