I didn't see the ocean today but the cool, crisp air and constant fog drip made me keenly aware of its proximity. So did the dominant flora--Coast redwood, madrone, California bay, Douglas fir and a thick undergrowth of salal, huckleberry, and sword fern. And, I should add, moss--lush, shag carpets of thick, ramified moss encircling massive trunks growing up to the sky.
About the Preserve:
"As San Francisco flourished following the discovery of gold in California, logging of the coastal redwood forests was needed in order to supply building materials for the growth. The remote nature of this Preserve coupled with its steep terrain kept loggers away until the 1860s. Resourceful entrepreneurs spent the next 50 years building and operating eight different mills adjacent to the creeks of the Preserve. Around the turn of the century, the mills were closed or nearing the end of their economic viability. Modern logging continued periodically until 1988."The logging roads are hiking trails now. In Part 2, I will visit the unlogged old growth forest. But today we are going to see something much older.
I had to remind myself, moss is not a vascular plant.
The banana slug (Ariolimax sp.), my college mascot. I rarely saw them in college.
He's making his way over madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and bay (Umbellularia californica) leaf litter
I saw some of the most spectacular madronas I've ever seen today.
Our final destination today, the tafoni--millennia-old sandstone formations. Sandstone comes from the bottom of ancient oceans where the remains of siliceous aquatic microorganisms accumulated over millions of years. Tectonic forces turn it into mountains.
Tafoni is Italian for cavern. The word was first used to describe similar sandstone formations in Corsica. The cavernous formations are the result of a complex weathering process that starts with slightly acidic rainwater seeping in to porous sandstone. The water solubilizes calcium in the rock which then migrates unevenly through the bulk stone, driven by evaporative forces. Regions of low calcium density weather away leaving behind the tafoni.