Saturday, January 28, 2017

Storm Wrack

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I tried to drive out around the north side of Mt. Tam this morning, but Fairfax-Bolinas Road is closed again. There must have been more storm damage -- and so soon after they reopened the route! They were closed for months last time, and the closure this time begins in the same place, up by the Azalea Hill parking lot. 

I turned around and went for a drive along Lagunitas Creek, making a pit stop at the Cronin Fish Viewing Area. I crossed the street to check out the Ink Wells and almost went back for my camera. I couldn't quite get the angle I wanted, though, so I just took a brain picture. Sorry I can't share it. I did not see any salmon splashing up the falls or anything like that. Just a lovely scene that was a bit too cluttered in the foreground.

I continued past Sam Taylor Redwoods and was struck by the beauty of the forest along the creek. There's often nowhere to pull over at such times, but this time I was able to park at Devil's Gulch and walk a short way back along the road until I found a place to drop down to the creek. I followed a set of raccoon tracks in the sand and stopped to make a few photographs. You can see the big dam of flood debris in this image and the one above it (the lower image is cropped from the upper one). Note the debarking of the standing alders. That'll give you an idea how high the creek flooded.

I didn't go far upstream because this nice open area soon morphed under a darker tree canopy.

This buckeye seed was rooting into very shallow soil on a boulder patched with lichen, moss and polypody. It would be interesting to check up on it again in a few months to see how it fares.

Just as I was about to cut away from the creek and up to the road I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. It was a deer skull with only one antler still attached and most of its flesh peeled off. It's grisly business to get caught in a flood. Hopefully this buck was already dead when it got swept away.

I took this selfie just to make my wife jealous. She is the one who found this huge bay laurel in Bear Valley, and it instantly became one of her favorite trees. Mine too. In the fenced field behind the visitor center I scouted for badgers to no avail, but counted twenty-four deer browsing in the grass. Closer to the visitor center building, over by the electric car charging area, there were more quail than I could count, either pecking along the ground or sunning themselves on the wooden fenceposts.

Although I did stop at the tree, I wasn't really in the mood to do a whole Pt. Reyes thing without my wife, so I circled back toward Mt. Tam and drove up Bolinas-Fairfax Road. Chilly offshore winds were howling over the ridge, and I scouted in vain for bobcats or coyotes. I parked to take a walk in the woods and spotted this little banana slug pushed up against some mushrooms. It sensed my presence and seemed in no hurry to actually start feeding, so I took a quick photo and continued on my way. When I finally returned to the car maybe a half-hour later, the slug was about two inches away from the apparently uneaten mushrooms (I didn't check the gills, which is the part slugs often relish). Life in the fast lane.

This toothed jelly fungus was just about the only fungus I saw on my little walk. This guy is probably about an inch tall. It's not super-wet up there despite all the rain. I'm disappointed that I couldn't get a look at Alpine Lake to see if it's full. Last time I was there (Nov. 20), the bathtub ring was at least twenty feet high.

Here's a crop of the jelly fungus showing its teeth. They have been known to bite, so they should always be treated with care. I was surprised as I continued my walk to have my trail crossed by a group of four women who didn't know where they were or where they were going. They were just having a ball, out exploring. I told them the road was one way, the creek the other, and they charged off toward the creek.

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