Monday, December 7, 2015

07 Dec 15 Samual P Taylor State Park

Samual P Taylor State Park is the closest campable state park to our house in Oakland. Its a deeply cut canyon off of Sir Francis Drake Blvd in Marin County. We snuck out of Diane's office party a wee bit early and headed here instead of back over the bridges and highway to Oakland.

The campsite was mostly deserted when we arrived after 10:30 pm, so we had a pick of spots by the river ($20/night )

In the morning we headed out for a short 2.2 mile hike on the Pioneer Tree trail - suitable for hikers of all ages and conditioning. The trail weaves in and out of a variety of redwood groves on a side slope of the park.

The forest floor is covered on every inch with thick ferns and moss. There is a heavy fog in the air as we stride through the forest. The mist forms water droplets on the waxy needles that fall to the forest floor when a slight breeze ruffles the foliage. This moisture is absorbed by the broad, shallow roots of the giant redwood trees and ferns. Branches sprout canopy roots that take in more water from the air. 30-40% of the water supply for these incredible trees comes from this self watering system.

The ancient stumps of the massive redwoods remain as evidence to the early logging of this area. Many large redwood trees remain still with diameters of over 5-7 feet. These giants tend to dwarf the smaller bay and oak trees which grow up in rings around the ghosts of the ancient ones.

The coast redwoods ability to resist forest fire is remarkable. Thick bark contains tanins that resist fire, insects and diseases. Redwoods can even heal themselves after a fire. Fire benefits redwoods in many ways - they burn away debris on the forest floor, while allowing sunlight to reach the ground, improving the chances for new plants to grow. Bay laurel, tan oak, mardrone, hazelnut and huckleberry provide forage for the foxes, squirrel, stellar jays, and woodpeckers who have made this habitat their home.

This hike is best taken early in the morning when the birds are active and the cars along Sir Francis Drake Highway are not. This winding ribbon of asphalt which connects the metropolitan 101 corridor in Marin to the quieter coastal communities of Olema and Pt. Reyes Station carries a steady stream of traffic once daylight burns away the dark shadows of the curving and tree lined road. This bend in the road is perpetually enshrouded in fog and mist, held by the large trees and steep ravines on its way inland from the coast.

As the trail climbs out of the narrow canyons, and sunlight can more easily reach the forest floor, the floral changes to meadow grasses and harder wooded trees. Poison oak, and wild rasberries begin to encroach upon the trail from both sides.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Ski Tour up Mt. Disney

985 feet of climbing from village to summit

Google earth overlay - there was full snow coverage during our tour.

Ice Rime on trees along summit ridge

Relaxing on the old Crows chair (not in service)

Rime on old Crows chair bullwheel

Mike and Denise Hann

Monday, November 16, 2015

Cold November Ski Touring at Royal Gorge

Near Lyle's Lookout with Castle Peak in the distance. On the grassy forest roads the touring is good, with 8" of fresh light snow on a consolidated but fracturing melt-freeze base.  Off trail is super iffy, with lots of unmarked but to be expected obstacles.

Summer and fall wind storms have brought down a handful of trees across the trail. A good nudge by the groomer might be enough to clear these out of the way on Killie's Cruise above "The Guillotine" , but a chain saw would be better.

Too many grapefruit sized rocks close to the surface for safe descent on skis, not to mention the gully and dip at the bottom of the slope which could harbor dragons at speed. Diane chooses to hike down this stretch instead.