Saturday, April 2, 2011

Steep Ravine Spring

Spring has come to Steep Ravine. Webb Creek is running high thanks to nearly a month or rain. No surprise that there were plenty of people out there.

Of course, with Spring comes flowers, and first up is another one of my favorites, Crimson Columbine, an entire patch of which can be found in the lower section of Steep Ravine.
Higher up on the trail, I came across this very unusual fungus. Anyone know what it is?
Out into the Dipsea sun, saw this flower for the first time, so I have yet to identify it. Also found some Mission Bells and Giant Trillium in bloom (another first for me).

This was the first warm weekend of the year, and it was great to get outside. See you on the trail!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!

After a very wet March, the sun has burst out and so have the flowers. Spring is here. I headed to the Yolanda trail to take a look.

With all the creeks rushing, Phoenix Lake was positively murky, thoroughly choked with sediment.

The Yolanda Nursery has sprung to life with two of my favorites: Red and Violet Larkspur. Also in the vicinity was a patch of Few-Flowered Shooting Stars and buds of succulents.

Plenty of Indian Paintbrush and the first Miniature Lupins also appeared along the trail.

Not to mention Irises and fields of Wild Onion.

Plus Blue Dicks, Scarlet Pimpermel, Orange Bush Monkeyflowers, Vetches, Blue-Eyed Grass, you name it. Get out there now!

Friday, March 11, 2011


It's been a wet March, so I thought I'd head out to see how Cataract creek was flowing. Starting at Rock Spring and heading down the Simmons trail, I immediately came accross of patch of 30 or so Few-Flowered Shooting Stars.
Only a few steps away were a few Calypso Orchids.
And only a few steps from that I saw a Newt, one of three I spotted on this day.
The creeks were running well and everywhere was damp. I also spotted a number of these weird things that I presume to be spider holes. Probing a few of them with a stick, I never got a spider to emerge, but I did find that some of them are up to a foot deep.
Once done hiking, I got back on the road to San Francisco, and spotted another one of my favorite wildflowers is starting to bloom—Red Larkspur.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clear Day on West Peak

The air is still chilly, but the sun has come out, so we take some friends out for a hike. One of the the first new sights (for me) is this mysterious needle ice, caused by freezing air and a wet, slightly warmer ground.
We head to the top of West Peak, where the foundations of an old Air Force base remain. The air today is incredibly clear. We have no problem seeing downtown San Francisco, Mount Diablo, Point Reyes, and the snow-capped top of Mount Saint Helena.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SF Columbine

I have to admit I have an unhealthy fascination with Crimson Columbine flowers. They usually appear mid-Spring, but our warm winter weather (until recently) must have tricked this one to pop out early. Not on Mt. Tam though—I found this guy in a sidewalk planter at Waller and Cole St in SF.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow on Mt. Tam

If you live in the Bay Area, you surely hears that many of the surrounding peaks got snow, including a healthy amount on Mt. Tam. The incomparable John Wall has some photos here.

I was surprised to see quite a bit of snow still lingering around Rock Spring when I arrived two days later. Then again, it was still so cold up there, it really should have been no shock. Snowmen abound.
With the recent precipitation, the moss is really coming out. I always love seeing these thick, lush carpets of green covering trees and can never resist running my fingers through it.
The snow we checked out was around Rock Spring. I imagine there was a lot more up higher, but the road was closed, it was cold, and we weren't really dressed for snow.
So we headed down to Pan Toll for a little hike. One thing we saw a lot of were these little holes in the ground. They're like little tubes with spirals of pine needles sticking out of them. Quite a mystery, but my best guess is that spiders are making them. The tube structure could have been finely woven spider silk. Anybody know for sure?
The first calypso orchids are starting to appear. Here's a mature one alongside another just making its way out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dawn Falls

After nearly a month of beautiful sunny weather, some rain has arrived. So we decide to head into the woods and see how Dawn Falls is running. It's raining, but not pouring, so the falls are only running at medium strength.
Along the beautiful wooded we see a few other gems. First, a collection of expired puffballs draws our eye.
Then this oversize drop of water suspended in a spider web somewhat amazed us. (As usual, the photo doesn't do it justice.)
We also met friendly dogs and encountered zero visibility along the ridge above. Drenched and shivering, we jumped back in the car for SF.