Saturday, June 29, 2013

North Side Ramble

* * *

I woke up at a crazy time this morning, one of those wee hours where I probably could have made it all the way to Yosemite in time for sunrise. But I had no intention of going to Yosemite, so I spent a couple of unproductive hours trying to go back to sleep before I finally got up and headed out to the north side of Mt. Tam by way of Fairfax-Bolinas Road. That's Mt. Tam's East Peak on the right, and Mount Diablo on the distant horizon.

(4-second timelapse)

I parked at Azalea Hill and stepped out of the Jeep into a mellow pre-dawn darkness, expecting to be slightly chilled -- but it was warm and breezy. I've been out there for sunrise before, but only in the winter, so I couldn't quite wrap my head around the warmth and ended up throwing on a longjohn top just in case, only to peel it off as soon as I reached the top of the hill.

I'd been on the lookout for animals in the road during the drive up but didn't see any. With my commanding view atop Azalea Hill I figured I'd at least see some deer or maybe a jackrabbit, but there was nothing but landscape. 

I stopped off at the Lily Pond but didn't do any photography. I couldn't help noticing a couple of gross patches of used toilet paper on the edge of the pond. Real neighborly. As I was hunkered down in the horsetail looking for an angle to photograph I heard what sounded like a gunshot -- CRACK! I looked toward the sound, which had come from the woods on the other side of the road, and the first crack was followed by more as a huge branch peeled off and crashed to earth.

My next stop was Cataract Gulch, where the creek was running fairly strong due to the rain we had earlier in the week. Once again, though, I wasn't feeling inspired to shoot any pictures. I drove up the hill, but the gate at the top was still locked, so I poked around and photographed the fern just to pass the time. Although I'd cooked a breakfast burrito before leaving the house, I was already hungry again and ate the PB&J I'd brought along. They opened the gate a little later, at about 8:30 a.m.

The light was still pretty nice on Bolinas Ridge, so it was a good time to start a mini-project of photographing the ridge from the same vantage point, with the same lens, at different times of the year. Sort of a longer-term timelapse. The green on the hillsides is not grass, but bracken fern, along with some coyote brush and Douglas firs.

I parked at Rock Spring and hiked a short distance down the Cataract Trail to stalk some leopard lilies. I'd hoped to photograph them being visited by a swallowtail butterfly, but as I was making this image with my macro lens a hummingbird swooped down. Unfortunately, the bird was too nervous to feed in my presence and buzzed away. I changed lenses and waited for the hummer to return. It did return -- several times -- but each time it lost its nerve and zoomed away when it realized I was still there.

While I was waiting for the hummingbird I snagged my first Grappletail dragonfly of the season. These guys are a bit of a nemesis. I've yet to get a shot of one that I'm really happy with. Grappletails and Pacific Spiketails were the two big dogs in the area, but I never saw a spiketail stop to rest.

* * *


  1. Looks like you found some good stuff.
    Nice Sunrise and landscapes. Enjoyed the light on the fern and always glad to see a Leopard Lily.

  2. It will be interesting to see the result of your "mini-project".