I am very happy that I went here today. I thought I knew the North Bay pretty well but I keep stumbling across these absolute gems that are little-discussed and yet anywhere else would be the #1 trail. A great combination of redwood forests, views of the mouth of the Russian River, the incessant coastal struggle between fog and blue sky, and flowery single track trails going through beautiful meadows, along with the requisite climb - and the start is right next to the beach. Pictures are ascending Pomo Canyon Trail, going down to the campsite in the "back", then back down Red Hill. I was watching for sorrel which as a hallmark of healthy and undisturbed redwood forests is always nice to see. The meadows and moors are also really nice.
A tangential thought: between the unique geology and climate of this area, this area is very atypical for this planet, and there really aren't many places that look or feel like it elsewhere. If aliens asked you for representative pictures of your planet and you showed them these, you'd be doing them a disservice. And yet, I (and many other people) really innately like these areas, despite its dissimilarity to Earth as a whole. Why? Does it remind us of wooded savannahs of the youth of our species? Except cooler, therefore more comfortable now that we wear clothes, and safer, ie yes mountain lions, but no regular lions, or leopards, or crocodiles, or cobras, or baboons, etc.) Probably a simplistic way to think about it but things like this keep me up at night.
Above: from Point Reyes, solitude and foxglove along Estero trail on the way to Sunset Beach. The orange stuff in the first image is dodder, a parasitic plant which I notice a lot more in Socal (esp. around San Diego.) The area around the Estero always feels so empty and lonely in a way I find strangely comforting; it reminds me of Pennsylvania on a nice October day, or maybe Ireland in the summer. Below: this colorful fellow is a garter snake in Point Reyes. Nearby I also saw a 3 foot leopard shark swimming around under a trail bridge at the tip of one of the fingers of Drake's Estero, but the pictures didn't come out well. Below that: a gopher at the trailhead.
Above: starfish in tidepools along the Sonoma Coast. Check out Kortum Trail which runs through the moors along the coast and in particular the mammoth tusk-markings nearby.) I just saw my first (in the wild) sea otters here.
The next few are from Lake Sonoma: as it were, the Blue Marsh of Sonoma County. I had never been here before and I'm glad I finally got there - great views, although despite what the Sonoma 50 website will tell you, "rolling" is a stretch for these hills. Also hot in the summer - I think this will be a fall through spring location for me.
Above and below: Taylor Mountain, in the woods, and then with Mt. St. Helena looming. And then a tower of bicycles.
Above, pastoral charm outside Petaluma, which was on my route to connect my house to the loop around the Bay (and therefore to the state line.) Below, Salmon Creek Beach: clouds and the mouth of the Creek. These really looked like the pictures of morning glory clouds over the Gulf of Carpinteria. But these are much colder. On that note, Norcal beaches are like models you hire for parties. They're stunning, and you're drawn to them, but when you get there you realize they're just for looking at. Plus you get eaten. (Note: all I searched for was "sonoma coast shark attack" and found an incident at that exact beach from 2 months ago that isn't even a point of discussion among locals.)
Last three above: I somehow forgot how awesome Marin Reservoir territory is. The change in landscape on the single track trails from Deer Park past Phoenix Lake is pretty startling (open oak meadow to redwood.) Below: Annadel State Park, looking east toward Hood, then north toward Mt. St. Helena, and Lake Ilsanjo
Apparently, so I'm told, definitely not from firsthand experience, in Annadel if you follow Rhyolite over the edge of the old quarry and descend, you come out on Woodley Place. You can also see redwoods which survived the 2017 fires sprouting needles even on the trunk, which I've only seen once before, at the southern end of the redwoods' range in northern Los Padres. They look furry. It's also obvious that multiple small fires started in these woods and then burned themselves out, since you pass through 1-2 acre burn-areas out in the middle of things that obviously weren't being guarded by firefighters.
Above: Sonoma sunsets. Below: the last Sacramento sunset, and then a Sonoma moon. When I first saw a moonshadow as a kid I was just amazed.
Below, Hood Mountain. Still lots of fire damage, but life is finding a way. From the top you can just barely make out San Francisco in the distance. This mountain has the advantage of having a good winery immediately at its base.
And then back in the Sierras, Stephens Trail and Tahoe. My hiking companion is from the future and if you see his face you'll get all screwed up. Last weekend in June, it was still too snowy to do a full leg of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Don't trust this snow map which said everything was clear.
Solvitur ambulando! Note the thick brow-ridge, the idiotic grin, and the death-grip on the beverage. You can email this handsome devil at email@example.com.
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