Friday, December 25, 2020

North Bay Autumn Roundup

(Update: we restarted the Winers H3 hash house harriers! Except now it's called the Valley of the Moon hash house harriers. Come on out! You can also see us along with the other hashes on this calendar. If you live in the Bay Area/Northern California, what are you waiting for?)

The Great Redwood Trail - in preparation for another of my Stupid Projects(tm), I've run to Windsor. Why? Because the old rail line that ran to Arcata will at some point in the not too distant future be converted into a rail trail. I will be ready to spend a month or so getting to Oregon on foot.

Above: running in the backcountry around Lake Sonoma on a rainy day, you’d think you would have the place to yourself. Nope! In 2 hours I saw like 5 other people! What’s up with that! In the rain, the western end of the lake looks very Pacific Northwest and even a bit Transylvanian with the fog. Lest I get too spooked, some friendly California newts were out to greet me. Also included: a sunnier day, and yet another inappropriately named trail, a sad testament to the number of damn hippies tolerated in the trail-naming department of the Army Corp of Engineers. (See here for other such travesties.)

Above: Mt. St. Helena - I remember this from about 15 years ago as having a much longer and more annoying slog up the fire trail than I encountered this time. Above you can see a few inside the “crater” (don’t know if that’s really what formed the bowl-ish shape at the top) and the redness of the post-harvest vineyards down in Napa Valley whose soil the volcano long ago fertilized. Also yellow leaves passes for “fall color” on the West Coast (one of the things I miss about back East.)

Above: the Confluence Area, Sierra Foothills - after a year and a half finally got back there. There isn’t a bad season to be up there. Besides summer.

Above: burn areas are still turning green with winter rains.

Above, BONUS! Western PA winter - Two nice ones from the PA subreddit, my apologies for losing the usernames of the creators - comment below and I will give you credit.

Above, Salt Point - the trails up to and including the Pygmy Forest, not just the (also awesome) coastal section which was my only exposure before.

Above, Orion, taken with the night feature on an old Pixel. Dammit Betelgeuse going supernova would have been a nice accent for 2020 but it wasn’t to be.

Above, the very last pepper I harvested was the only hot one. After producing only peppers with a heat reminiscent of two-day old oatmeal, the plant gave me ONE hot one, just to prove that it could. Experiment over. For their taunting I’m letting the frost kill them slowly. I will now move on to planting a small gentleman’s vineyard, and a neighbor was kind enough to give me a single professional-grade vine (not pictured – dormant bare-root – looks like a stick in a cup right now.) Gardening is a relaxing, peaceful endeavor and it’s important to have a positive attitude and show love to the Earth and all beings, and if the grapevine doesn’t grow I will find its grape family and hurt them.

Above, Ignacio Valley/Marinwood Open Space/Lucas Valley. It had been years since I was up on this ridge. Views of Tam, the northern Bay shoreline, and the city were to be had. Really nice, and my first time coming down Ponte Fire Road, which I will definitely return to.

Above, China Camp. Similarly, it had been years, and the last time I was there I had set just a wonderful, delightful, not at all mind-and-body torturing trail foR the Marin Hash and ended up getting my bare a** sat on a block of ice in public for all my trouble. Sniff! New to me - the open space on the east side of the hill there has some fun, stupid-steep social trails which I must admit I could not resist. As of early November the holly was out. Despite its best efforts to succumb to entropy as seen here, the bench persists.

Not pictured, Shiloh Ranch, which for some reason I thought it would be flat and lame but it's big and hilly enough to be interesting. Had a great late fall run there.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Wright Peak, Mt. Konocti

I was always interested in this mountain as a volcano. Years ago I was quite interested in the idea that the Sutter Buttes were in fact the southernmost Cascade - either way they're anomalous in their own right, but part of my argument was that they were close to, or not far south from, the Mendocino Triple Junction where the North American Plate, the Pacific Plate, and the Juan de Fuca (or at its southern extent, Gorda) Plate, the latter of which is a subducting rather than transverse plate associated with Cascade volcanism. These are the remnants of the Farallon Plate which once subducted under North America all the way to the Rockies.

Plates are physical objects, less abstract than you might think; the JDF for example can be measured as bending 60-80 degrees downward as it melts into the mantle about 200 miles inland (DiPietro, 2018.) The map above comes from a 1997 USGS report, "Tectonic Controls on Magmatism and Geothermal Resources in the Geysters-Clear Lake Region, California: Integration of New Geological, Earthquake Tomography, Seismicity, Gravity, and Magnetotelluric Data", and you can see the Triple Junction is actually about a hundred miles north of Konocti, and the Buttes are about 15 miles north of Konocti, over in the Central Valley. Some Tahoe-worthy views there, consistent with the elevation difference of 3,000' from lake to summit.

Of course, there are several volcanoes around here (St. Helena, Hood, Geyser Peak) and a) it's never that simple, plus b) what does it mean to talk about something being a "Cascade" or not? Case in point, there are flat fields of lava from just the last few thousand years around southern Oregon directly between Cascades - no one would argue that these flows resulted from the same process that created e.g. the Sisters, but is it a "Cascade"? This region has to do with more recent volcanism (~2 million years ago) resulting from a gap created by the San Andreas meeting the Triple Junction. The prominent dark colored rock you see in one of the photos below is actually sedimentary rock uplifted during the volcano's formation, not basalt.

Other notes: the oldest site of human habitation is at adjacent Borax Lake, one of several smallers lakes now separated by volcanic deposits. Clovis points dating from 12,000 years ago have been found there, with their age initially doubted but later confirmed by other means. Unless you have DNA, it is always both highly speculative and politically charged to try to determine if the people then make up a large part of the ancestry of the people who lived there at the time of contact with Europeans - case in point, Pomo people speak a language in the Hokan family and can be found as far south as San Diego County, and probably preceded Ohlone speakers (in the Penutian language family; at nearby Olompali, there was a turnover in the archaeological record about 4,000 years ago possibly corresponding to the arrival of proto-Miwoks who occupied it when they were trading with Russians and Mexicans.) The fire tower is from 1889, which surprised me (I would've placed it in the WPA era), and was being actively used by a lookout the day I was up there - and he was quite busy. It's been a bad fire seeason, and you can see the smoke layer in some of the pictures of the Glass Fire to the south, still not fully contained. The mountain was a healing place for the Pomo and boy did I need that yesterday. If you're interested in this stuff, there's a California State Parks report here, and another USGS report on the geological history of the Clear Lakes region.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

These Are Ridiculous Men and They Should Be Proud

First: an 82 day, 1,100 mile golf game (par 14,000) in South Africa. Learn more here.

Second: a man who rode from Poo Poo Point Trail, Washington (which your humble blogger has also visited) to Pee Pee Creek, Ohio. To raise money for food insecurity in Yemen. Also, for poo poo and pee pee. CLICK THAT.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

New Record on the TRT: 37:12:15

By Adam Kimble - story here. Clearly inspired to beat my own record of 3 years and counting so far!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Pennsylvania Roundup

I'm including extra Pennsylvania news which is sure to please Dirty Uncle J, who was just visiting, and peed in a drain next to my jalapenos. Such a philistine.
  1. Fees to be added to Pennsylvania State Parks? Pennsylvania has a very underrated state park system - underrated most of all by Pennsylvanians! And most states don't even HAVE a state forest system. Or game lands. Start valuing it or it will a) get more expensive to maintain like this (due to legislators not wanting to spend tax dollars on it) or b) it will go away.

  2. Cool study showing how ecosystems changed in southeast PA after the arrival of Europeans. Basically, until then, streams branched a lot more and there were richer wetlands. Europeans arrived and dammed things for mills, depositing a lot of silt and channeling the streams into a few bigger ones. I used to look at the landforms around Berks County and wonder how beavers would have been able to survive, but with marshier streams, it makes more sense. The work was done by Dorothy Merritts and Robert Walter at Franklin & Marshall.

  3. Reddit user u/geotolken posts this map on the PA subreddit. S/he is clearly doing important work. I have several crates of Utz products in my garage in California as I type. I don't think many Pennsylvanians realize how thoroughly abnormal and wonderful it is to have basically a snack food manufacturer for every county! I know it's hard to see on here so click here to open in a new tab if you want to see if your favorite one is on there.

  4. Below, great video of kayak camping on the Delaware. I've only done this once, and was serenaded by foxes all night. So much wilder than people realize. A friend where I now live in California, who grew up here and spent his summers in Yosemite and is quite well-traveled, told me the Delaware Water Gap is one of the most beautiful places he's ever been.

  5. Daily pH cycle for Loyalsock Creek near Williamsport:

  6. Bonus Sonoma County California news: laugh it up Pennsylvanians!

    As it does every summer, Sonoma County has caught on fire and at this writing has been burning for two weeks. This set of fires "only" burned 580 square miles (the ones in the Bay Area - the ones in the northern half of the Bay Area anyway) and even though they're mostly out, we basically haven't been able to go outside for two weeks due to the air quality. COVID plus megafire = just really a great time. And to top it off, yes I had my first home-grown jalapeno (pictured, fortunately prior to J's micturative exertions); and of course, it's about the ONLY thing around here that's not hot right now! (Yes it's my first and I was too excited to wait for it to show corking but I don't think that would make its heat more respectable as opposed to the nursing-home-gruel-level it's at.) Below that is our new county seal.

    Above: a commentary on experiencing the unexpected mildness of the pepper during the summer of 2020.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Point Reyes August 2020, Woodward Valley

Most of these are from Woodward Valley Trail, a heretofore unknown gem and new favorite in PRNP. Sadly, a few weeks after I took these pictures, the Woodward Valley Fire burned most or all of it. It's gone now. I'm glad I got to see it but sad that I can't take my family back there.

Above, "sand" at Schoolhouse Beach.

These are crocosmia (montbretia), southern Africn invasives that mak you think you got lost and are now in Hawaii.

Fog was striking as I descended Woodward Valley Trail.  Glimpses of Sculptured Beach through the gaps in the cliff.

Above:  Tamatoa not looking so good these days.

Below, blackberries starting to ripen.