Point Reyes Interlude

We are taking a break from your regularly scheduled road trip to visit Point Reyes. I got Thursday off from school (the second day of the quarter!) for Cesar Chavez. When I found out Tuesday that I didn't have class on Thursday, I came straight home and reserved a campsite in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Pack packed and I'm ready to go. I'll be off the grid for 30 hrs. Miss me!

It's both cool and ridiculous (mostly ridiculous) to get a 2-page receipt for "Backcountry Camping" from the federal government, especially when it arrives after I have already come home from said backcountry camping and merely recites a bunch of notificatory gobbledegook the website and the park ranger already told me when I reserved the campsite.

Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday, "San Francisco was brilliantly sunny, diamond-clear, cool, and green." Or in this case, blue. That's a quote from Julia Childs' biography My Life in France. She wrote that recalling her visit to San Francisco promoting her magnum opus Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I intone that line whenever we have clear skies.

"San Francisco was brilliantly sunny, diamond-clear, cool, and green."

I parked my car at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and humped my pack up to Sky Camp (from sea level to 1000' elevation) by way on Meadow Trail, which sounded less strenuous to me than Mount Wittenberg Trail (no "Mount" in "Meadow", right?). Since I hiked down from Sky Camp on Mount Wittenberg Trail this morning, perhaps I can say that Meadow Trail is in fact be less strenuous than Mount Wittenberg, but it's matter of fine degrees. I was sweatin' my ass off by the time I reached the meadow.

Meadow trail, Point Reyes

Point Reyes
is geologically and ecologically fascinating. The whole land mass broke off from the southern coast and moved north millions of years ago along the San Andreas Fault when the continents were in different places, bringing with it a different bedrock and soil type parent material than what is otherwise found in this part of California. The whole peninsula is on a different tectonic plate than all the rest of California. This epicenter of the earthquake that destroyed San Francisco in 1906 is now a trail near the visitor center. We visited it once on the old blog and I showed you how it broke a fenceline, moving it several feet, but I cannot seem to locate that post now, so nevermind. Ahem.

Point Reyes' dominant megaflora is Doug Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Bishop Pine (Pinus muricata). You find the Doug fir on the east- and north-facing slopes and Bishop Pine on west and south. The zonation can be quite dramatic in places. Literally, one tree type starts in a line and the other begins. I tend to appreciate the microfauna a bit more.

The most exciting (to me) microfauna on this trip was the geophyte Brodiaea terrestris (below), growing sooo low to the ground, blooming so thickly in places it was hard not to trample it. Seriously. Can we call it a micro-pedicel? Why do some of the most beautiful plants insist on growing in the compacted soil of a foot trail, anyway? Sorry little flowers! I think it hurt me more than it hurt you. Invasive Romulea rosea, abundantly distributed.

Brodiaea terrestris

I'm sorry this picture is blurry. I'm sorry all of these pictures came from my iPhone. My camera batteries died as soon as I got started, and there is noone but me to blame for not having replacement batteries. As a blogger who relies as heavily on pictures as this one does, I feel downright amateurish. Well, I can't stand professional blogs anyway. So fuck it. Noone ever swears on professional blogs. Fuck, fuck, fuck!!! Love it, or leave it baby.

As I made my progress to Sky Camp, mixed-oak woodland gave way to meadow (above) gave way to Bishop Pine forest,

Pinus muricata? Point Reyes

Point Reyes

Ferny scenes,

Point Reyes

and epic views.

Point Reyes

I set up camp and headed to the beach.

Sky Camp

Woodward Valley trail to the coast was epic.

Point Reyes

And I think if you go soon, you will see epic blooms of Doug Iris on Coast trail. It was just starting to happen yesterday.

Doug Iris

I don't mind telling you I got a little over-exuberant and ventured beyond what I was provisioned for on this trip, specifically with regard to water. That is to say, I was six miles out from camp (downhill) when I ran out of it. I could tell I was getting a little dehydrated. In my desperation, I plucked an unusually large clump of Claytonia perfoliata right out of the ground and stuffed the whole thing in my mouth. It was quite literally the sweetiest, juiciest, creamiest, crunchiest thing I have ever eaten.

If you think running out of batteries is amateurish, try running out of water. Shameful. Don't ever do it.

Tired and thirsty, I hiked back to camp. I timed it from the bottom of Sky Trail. And now I know. I can hike 4.1 miles, mostly uphill, in exactly 1.5 hours.

At Sculpture Beach, two hikers warned me off the trail claiming to have seen "very large" cat prints. Should I have heeded their warning? I would have liked to have seen Sculptured Beach again. Ah, what might have been. Doesn't a tiny bit of that coulda-shoulda-woulda add something unique to a vacation experience? The path not taken is left behind, with a standing invitation to take it next time.

I had dinner back at camp


And as I was drifting off to sleep, I had two thoughts for what I would like to have if I could have anything in the world, in this order: 1) A bit of satellite reception so I could call Guy to say goodnight, and 2) beer. Specifically Lagunitas' Cap Stout.


Rufino Osorio said...

Hi Chuck,

Love California and love your posts.

That little flower growing so thickly at ground level is not a Brodiaea. Unfortunately, it's the highly invasive Romulea rosea from South Africa. If you Google the name and do an image search, you'll see that it's a match. The Brodiaea has petaloid outgrowths in the center of the flower that your image lacks. See, for example, this image of the true B. terrestris.

Kind regards and wishing I was in San Francisco right now!

chuck b. said...

Thank you for the correction! Now I'm sorry I didn't step on them harder. Sparaxis tricolor is another South African bulb that can be found throughout Point Reyes. Very strange.

Anonymous said...

Nice camping trip and fabulous view. Nothing like being thirsty to know you're alive... and nice that you could grab some Claytonia. I eat that right out of my garden. In fact, I 'm thinking of just the right viniagrette to go with a Miner's Lettuce salad.

I had to do a double take when I saw your cat. Just like one I had. Cute.

I like how unprofessional you are.

Kaveh Maguire said...

I just ordered a second battery for my camera this morning for my trip to England in May. =)

I considered buying some camping gear and taking trips up the coast but I have to admit I have not been camping since I was 17 (and it was not a good experience) and I chickened out. I would like to try sleeping under the stars again though.

ryan said...

Three cheers for Claytonia. And amateurishness. There are quite a few things I don't like when they are 'professional.' I signed up for a garden photography class, but I quickly realized that I don't like the instructor's photos or many of the photos that he considers professional looking. I like the photos on the garden blogs a lot more.

A.G. said...

I have a question regarding Miner's Lettuce. Do you pick off the leaves, as I've seen in many "M.L. salad" pictures, or are the stems, blooms, etc edible?

chuck b. said...

I ate the whole plant, stems, blooms and all.

I broke off a bit of root that had a mud clod attached to it.

Laguna Dirt said...

i so want to do that point reyes hike! glad you survived!

Les said...

Oh goody! Someone typed the F word on their blog more than once.