Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mt. Tamalpais Sunset & Moonrise - 6-14-11

          After work I drove up Mt. Tamalpais to West Ridgecrest Boulevard and BoFax Ridge. With plans to meet Sarah at the Laurel Dell parking lot at 7:15PM after she got off work, it left me with a couple of hours to explore.
          I parked along Ridgecrest Blvd. and set off toward a secluded serpentine outcropping in search of some snakes. The sun was high in the sky and beating down on me, reminding me to stop and apply some sunscreen.
          I scoured the rocks and although I did not come across any snakes, I did come across an abundance of Mt. Tamalpais Jewel Flowers.

Mt. Tam Jewel Flower (Streptanthus batrachopus)

          The high pitched shriek of an Osprey drew my attention upward to the top of a Douglas Fir tree where it was perched.
          I wandered about for a few minutes before heading back to the car to explore elsewhere.
          I then drove along the Ridge to the start of Bolinas Fairfax Fire Road where I checked up on the blooming Red Clintonia near the entrance gate. The blooms were at the tail end of their display, but I did notice some spikes starting on the Rattlesnake Plantain Orchids.
          I hiked a short distance along The Bo-Fax Fire road before returning to the car and pushing onward.
          I drove back to the Laurel Dell trailhead and thought I’d wait for Sarah, when I spotted a pair of Western Bluebirds perched on nearby posts. I’ve seen these same birds here several times in the past. It’s a great spot and I don’t blame them.

Western Bluebird

          I got restless waiting so I decided to drive back along the ridge toward the Rock Springs Parking lot. I parked at a pullout just before the Rock Springs lot and walked the short distance up the hillside to an area known as Serpentine Power Point.

Serpentine Power Point

          I continued uphill a short distance to a grove of granary trees. Many of you might have come across a granary tree and not even realized it. A granary tree is basically a food storage locker for Acorn Woodpeckers. The woodpeckers peck out different size holes throughout the trunk of the tree and then place tightly fitted acorns in the holes for storage and protection. They will even move the acorns from hole to hole as they shrink and warp so that they always remain safe and secure. You can see how well their technique works if you try to get one of the acorns out of the holes yourself. It can prove to be quite difficult!

Mottled Bark of a Granary Tree

          There are many granary trees on the western flanks of Mt. Tamalpais and when you find one you are almost surely going to find some acorn woodpeckers as well.
          I knew Sarah would be arriving on the ridge soon enough so I retreated back down the hillside and just as I was passing Serpentine Power Point I flagged her down as she drove by.
          We got in one car and drove back out along West Ridgerest Blvd. to hangsite #3 where we ate dinner and awaited sunset. The weather could not have been better with just enough warmth and little to no wind.

Lovely Lichen

          Because it was such a clear day I didn’t expect much as far as a colorful sunset but as the sun began to set I was pleasantly surprised with the crimson glows put off near the horizon line. The sun began to dip below the horizon and I noticed the nearly full moon rising above the trees to the East.

Moonrise over the Western Flanks of Mt. Tamalpais

          One of the great things about the day before a full moon is that the moon rises as the sun sets.
          I did my best to capture both moments but was torn between which of natures wonders to focus on.
          It was truly a magical experience as a colorful sunset gave way to a moonlit dusk. The skies above the moon glowed faintly with a hint of pink reflected from the setting sun.

Moonrise on West Ridgecrest

          The sun cast its final rays for the day and the ever changing display of colors continued.

Sunset from Western Flanks of Mt. Tamalpais

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog Cole! Can I ask you some questions about the trails in the no-man's land of the upper portions of cascade canyon above cascade damn and below the railroad grade? I figure you might know something about those trails since you grew up in the area. See my email below. I love what you're doing - keep up the great work!