Mt. Sutro (1/27/2022)

Today I went up Mt. Sutro! It’s been forever!

After we explored GGPark at the start of the pandemic, Mt. Sutro was next on our list. It will always be a special place for us. GGPark is where I fell in love with Naturing. And, I think Mt. Sutro is where I fell in love with wilderness. It’s funny to say that about such a small spot in a small city, but I think it’s true.

Now, I’ve been outdoors and seen places like Yellowstone before. I’ve seen grand open huge spaces before. But, since becoming a Naturalist, all those kinds of places are so much more to me now. And, oddly enough, Mt. Sutro was a tiny wilderness for me and my first since becoming a Naturalist.

All that said, it has been some time since I last visited. So long ago that I can’t remember when I was there last. It was nice to be back.

After parking at the Clarendon Trailhead, I spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk perched on a light post. Small but decent welcoming committee. The Clarendon Trailhead has been getting work done! And, there’s a nice new signpost up with a short history and a map and events and whatnot there now. It’s tough to forgive the misspelling of “it’s” for “its,” but ah well.

Not long after I started on the trail, I noticed a Yellow-faced Bumblebee clinging to Red-flowering Currant flowers. I love seeing bumblebees so frequently now! Pacific Pea and some soontocome Twinberry Honeysuckle started showing themselves just south of the Sutro Nursery.

It’d been so long since I’ve visited that I forgot that the Clarendon Trail took me further west than I planned. So, I headed back to the Fairy Gates Trailhead and continued on my planned route. On the trail (likely my favorite on Mt. Sutro), I took my time crossing through the troll-like rock heads you have to walk through and past. That chert always gets me. And, I love those two rock heads next to each other. The one further in always makes me think of the rock creature from The Neverending Story.

Found a small village of Sulphur Tuft hiding on the hillside, all tucked away. Spotted part of A CAR on the hillside I have definitely never seen before. And, I finally saw the Ishi shrine. We looked for this when we first visited but were never able to find it. I’m guessing overgrown foliage kept it hidden from me until now??

Candlesnuff Fungus and Turkey-Tail and False Turkey-Tail were seen. Some of the kiddie shrines are still around and even thriving. And, old Carnival Candy Slime Mold was clinging on to a small stump.

The only thing I don’t enjoy about Mt. Sutro is all the bikers. I really wish they’d adopt a schedule so that some days/times of the week are just for bikers so some days/times of the week can be just for pedestrians. I’m sure such a thing would never work, but it’s a nice fantasy I’ll keep holding onto. This same fantasy applies to China Camp, as well…

I had planned to take the one bit of the Historic Trail I’ve never been on (that goes from Medical Center Way and goes west), but it was closed! So, back south to head onto the Mystery Trail.

Spring is definitely imminent. Super bright green leaves I couldn’t ID are all about to explode. Even saw some blooming Douglas Irises! I need to come back in early Spring…

At one point, I turned a corner, and everything was bathed in what looked like Golden Hour light. But, it wasn’t Golden Hour yet. The Mystery Trail can have that effect. But, heading east I came across a section where A TON of eucalyptus trees were taken down. So much so that you can actually see decent views of downtown now. It was SHOCKING. The Mt. Sutro I first knew had practically no views due to all the eucalyptus. So, it was bizarre to see the city skyline. There’s a tree stump that’s been turned into a chair on the trail. And, you now have a view of Angel Island and Alcatraz from it. Made me think that mountain (formerly known as Blue Mountain before Sutro bought it) once had the best views of the entire city before Sutro planted all those trees.

Made it to the summit, and it felt like FULL-ON SUMMER up there. All the meadows had grasses and other happy-looking plants. AND, I actually saw BUTTERFLIES. THREE DIFFERENT KINDS, PEOPLE. Now, I rarely see butterflies. I am rarely out Naturing in the morning or middle of the day when they’re out and about. So, this was a true treat for me.

The cherry on top was that I saw a newtome butterfly! The California Tortoiseshell. And, there were THREE of them! Two were dancing or fighting with each other most of the time. And, the third wanted none of it. I watched all three for a while. It was awesome.

Also at the summit were a West Coast Lady and a Red Admiral. So lovely to see so many butterflies!!

Headed south on the North Ridge Trail, and the area west of it is fenced off with a sign for GOATS. I’d love to come back when the goats are out, eating everything in sight. Likely even the fence.

Spotted just one plant of Rough Hedgenettle blooming and more Pacific Pea. And, TONS of Pacific Pea waiting to bloom. I daresay it will be Pacific Pea Heaven quite soon…

On Quarry Road Trail, I heard a familiar sound I haven’t heard in a while. A House Finch! Their R2D2 sounds always crack me up.

Got to the end of the Clarendon Trail, where that same Red-shouldered Hawk was sitting in the same place two hours prior! Before leaving, I watched an Anna’s Hummingbird absolutely own the garden over there. And, my first Black-tailed Bumblebee sighting of the year was there, as well. It was whizzing all around a Coffeeberry bush.

So, all is well on Mt. Sutro. So nice to see new things there. And, I should visit more often. Yep.

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