Friday, April 18, 2014

Redwood Creek

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The plan was to spend the morning exploring the valley bottom along Redwood Creek, including the creek itself. I was going to bring my aqua slippers so I could navigate the creek, but I decided to leave them home at the last minute, thinking it hadn't been so hard to access the creek on my last visit.

I started out in the shade where I found some impressive cow parsnips, some of which were as tall as I am at six feet, but was drawn into the sunshine by some nice morning light streaming onto the landscape from the southeast.

Although the landscape was gorgeous, I couldn't find an interesting way to photograph it. A cooperative bobcat would have been nice, or even a big, flower-filled bush lupine.

I satisfied my sun-seeking yearnings with Indian paintbrush and morning glory.

During the walk over to the sunny hillside I passed some impressively gnarled old trees and made a note to get back there before the sun filled the whole valley. 

You can't be everywhere at once, though, and one of the trees I'd hoped to photograph was already sun-blasted by the time I got to it. Luckily I got to this great old bay laurel in the nick of time. Speaking of bay laurel, Pam and I saw some fantastic old grandfather bay trees along the Earthquake Trail in Pt. Reyes.

This bridge seems to get a little more rickety every year.

The contrast between Redwood Creek now and back in late December was pronounced.

The creek is no longer stagnant. All the trees have leafed out. The California buckeyes are full of flower buds.

And stinging nettle is growing everywhere. All my previous creek-access points were choked with the stuff. I should have brought my aqua shoes after all.

I had to console myself with trailside foliage such as these chickweed plants growing among hairy-leaved hedge nettles.

It's been so long since I spent much time in this area that I'd forgotten what this berry bush was called, but I did remember that the berries it produces are poor eating.

The sun finally reached the valley floor.

I had returned to the Jeep and just turned on the ignition when some quail trooped out in front of me, so I switched off the motor and tried my luck with them to little avail.

I thought it would be interesting to transition from shaded, wet-loving plants in the creek bottom to sun-loving plants on exposed serpentine areas higher up the mountain. The sickle-leaved onion is one of my favorites because the flowers are so colorful and the plants themselves so pungent.

While I was poking around, trying to find a good angle on some Linanthus, I spotted this yellow flower spider from maybe twenty feet away. I couldn't see it clearly, mind you, but a bright yellow ball in the middle of a hog fennel umbel could have been nothing else. It appeared to have recently captured an unlucky hoverfly for breakfast.

The cream cups, a member of the poppy family, are usually still closed when I see them. They don't open until they've been in the sunshine for a while. And by that time it has often become too windy to photograph them. 

Cream cups again, showing their hairy stems.

Also out on the serpentine is this little Phacelia divaricata.

I took this picture on Wednesday as Pam and I returned from our camping trip at Steep Ravine. It's a memorial for Magdalena Glinkowski ("Our Hiking Sister of Mt. Tam"), a woman who died while hiking from this location at the end of March. This morning I learned that a second hiker, Marie Sanner of Marin, had died after possibly suffering a fall along the Matt Davis Trail between West Point Inn and Mountain Home Inn. The authorities still had the area cordoned off when I drove by on the way to Rock Spring.

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  1. Wonderful photos, John. Also, your crab photos in the previous post are great. --Got my feet wet in Redwood Creek on Thursday, but have little to show for it. Tragic about the two deaths on the mountain--reminds me to be extra careful.

    1. Yes, me too! I was placing my feet even more carefully than usual today, even though I was on a very safe trail. So easy to get distracted and make a misstep, especially at such a beautiful time of the year.