Over 500 miles of trails

Someone said that there are over 500 miles of trails in Marin County. I'm going to hike all of them. Want to hear more? Read on...

Location: Woodacre, California, United States

Well, I hike, obviously. I read, without retaining, lots of stuff but mostly classic and contemporary fiction, history, and science. I look at birds and plants. I play my guitar far less than I ought, and watch movies far more. I like to ask people questions, but only if they ask me questions in return. I aspire to honorable behavior and am mostly successful. I'm on the cusp of a career change, with bird research in my past/present and academic librarianship in my future. Occasionally I bust out and cook six course gourmet meals for my friends; for some reason it's always six and never seven or five. Enough about me. What about you? Stranger or friend, drop me a line!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I went on a hike on Friday with my friend Kerry. He took lots of pictures that I will insert into this post, once he gets over here to upload them to my computer. Meantime, here's the highlights: We hiked the Estero Trail to the Sunset Beach trail at the Point Reyes National Seashore; it's an out-n-back rather than a loop. This hike is choc-o-bloc full of interesting sights, though it's a very popular trail and I'm sure most of the folks around here have already hiked it. Early on you come to a grove of bishop pines of around 10 hectares, just sort of hanging out there amid all that coastal scrub. This grove seems to be a haven for all sorts of good birds: we saw/heard black-headed grosbeak, Swainson's thrush, Wilson's warbler, olive-sided flycatcher, and more. We also came across what looked a like a roosting site for band-tailed pigeon; tons of guano and pigeon feathers all over the place and that distinctive bird-poop smell. After exiting this grove we came to a footbridge crossing one finger of the estuary. On our return trip Kerry alertly located a black phoebe nest with at least three nestlings under this bridge. Trail climbs a bluff overlooking the estuary and as you look down from this bluff you see (if it's low tide, which it was for us) an amazing dendritic pattern described by the water channels in the estuary. Climbing up and over a couple more bluffs, you can see the structures used to farm oysters out in the estuary: they seem to just be wooden racks that have ropes attached to them that dangle in the water, to which the oysters attach. There's an article about impacts (or lack thereof) of oyster farming in the estuary in a recent issue of the Point Reyes Light, if you want to learn more. After the oysters you get to the intersection with the Sunset Beach trail, after which you cross this pain-in-the-ass part that's all marshy, with uneven terrain because of all the cows postholing through the mud (yes, there's a ton of cows on this trail- ranches on Point Reyes National Seashore continue to operate, presumably because they were grandfathered in when the park was created.) Despite the postholes we went *fast* through this part because of all the damn mosquitoes. The official trail probably ended somewhere in here but we continued onward to the mouth of the estuary. The beach was littered with little turban-shaped molluscs with spiral shells. These shells had a red lower tier, blue-purple middle tier, and silver top tier. They were quite remarkable; I should have had Kerry take a picture. There were also lots of starfish and sea-anenomes waiting for the tide to come back in. We sat out at the mouth of the estuary and ate some lunch, and watched the harbor seals lounging on a sandbar offshore. Two of them got into a tussle over a particularly choice bed of kelp right in front of us. On our way back we encountered a baby harbor seal separated from its mother that was on the beach, but slipped back into the water as we walked by. Hope it makes it. Also on our way back, we met a girl, Lindsay, who shared our hike back with us. She works at that organic farm in Bolinas that Prince Charles visited, and she grew up in New York City. And, she has Fridays off so maybe she'll come hiking with us again someday.


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