Sunday, March 6, 2016

Apres Storm

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If Saturday's storm wasn't wrecking anything for you -- and I hope it wasn't -- I know you had to have enjoyed it as much as I did. One thing I knew for sure was that the waterfalls would be going off on Sunday, so I got up early to drive out to the falls on Little Carson Creek.

We heard a single roll of thunder just before dawn Sunday, and that was followed by a brief downpour of rain and hail. I thought I might not get out of bed after all, but as the sun began to rise I could see breaks in the clouds. Then, still under the covers, I watched passing clouds slowly reveal the waning crescent moon, and I knew I'd have to get up and go. 

I parked and hiked up an unmarked but often-used trail. I mean it is unmarked on my maps, which I forgot to double-check before I left home. About half-way up the trail I remembered that the mapped trail, called the Old Sled Trail, was a little southwest of where I parked. No matter. I ran into a couple of women at the falls who had hiked up a third route -- Pine Mountain Road to Oat Hill Road -- from Azalea Hill. The ladies were looking for a loop hike, but they didn't have a map so I told them there is no loop. You could follow Little Carson Creek down toward Kent Lake reservoir, turn left (south) on the Alpine-Kent Pump Road, then left again on the Old Vee Road back up to Oat Hill Road, but try explaining that to someone without being able to show them on a map.

I used my binoculars to look for foothill yellow-legged frogs along the edges of the waterfalls and would not have seen this guy without them. From a distance he was too well camouflaged.

It began to rain just as I was leaving the frogs and falls behind. I enjoyed watching the rain glinting in the sun from the comfort of my portable cave (a large golf umbrella), and soon reached a serpentine outcrop near the top of the falls. 

Spring beauty wildflowers formed little pink pillows in the serpentine soil.

This view of East Peak from the Old Sled Trail was especially nice with the fragrant California lilac in full bloom. I ran into numerous hikers on my way down, and there were lots of cars parked at the bottom, and also at the bottom of the Old Sled Trail.

Looping back home by circumnavigating Mt. Tam, I stopped by the Lily Pond to see what was up. Along with the Indian warrior, there were a few early-blooming mission bells (Fritillaria affinis).

I was interested in this banana slug. I've seen them eating mushrooms and even heard one eating living plant leaves (in an otherwise very quiet redwood forest), but this was the first I'd seen one eating lichen.

Between Lily Pond and Alpine Dam, this fallen tree lay across the road. There was no way to know for sure if I would eventually be turned back by a rock slide or downed tree, but thankfully there was nothing more serious than this spot. Numerous cars were parked at the foot of Cataract Creek, but I didn't stop. My stomach was telling me it was lunchtime, so I drove up the mountain and along the length of Bolinas Ridge toward home. There was a little more rain up there, but when I got home I learned it hadn't rained a drop all day in San Francisco. However, we appear to be getting a few drops right now, as I wrap up this blog post at 5 p.m.

This was actually my first picture of the day. I'd brought along an old Lumix point-and-shoot for just such an event. I was lucky to find a spot to pull over with a relatively unobstructed view. Unfortunately, there had been no rainbow happening back when I was nicely centered between the sun and the mountain, but I was still happy to catch this rainbow with the mountain, if not centered under the bow, at least still in the frame.

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