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I was poking around on the north side of the mountain most of the morning, not finding much in the way of mushrooms and not feeling much inspiration for photography. I drove up the mountain and south along Bolinas Ridge, hooked a right at Rock Spring and pulled out near Sunset Point to take in the view before heading home. I'm scanning the scene when I notice something is amiss! Holy cow! I thought, "It's the end of an era!" Here's what I saw. Can you tell what's different?
When I saw what had happened I drove back up to the nearest parking lot and hiked down to visit the tree. The wind-sculpted top that's been iconic of Mt. Tam for many years -- at least a couple of decades -- is now an explosion of leafy branches on the ground below. A couple of large branches snagged on the way down and are now swinging in the wind, would-be widow-makers. In case you need a reminder, here's how it used to look:
Here's a picture of the same tree from Galen Rowell's book Bay Area Wild, which came out in 1997. According to the stock image profile at Mountain Light (which, like the book, also misidentifies the tree as a Monterey pine), the photograph was made in 1995.
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And to take it back another 20 years, here's the tree in the book Tamalpais, by Bud Fellom and Richard Stortroen, that came out in 1978:
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