Today was a comedy of errors. I had intended for us to visit Bon Tempe Lake today, our last day in Marin country of our vacation. But, after the warm and supersunnyday on Saturday, it seemed to be a better idea for a shorter and hopefully more shaded bit of Naturing.
I have been curious about Phoenix Lake recently, and it seemed like a decent Plan B. But, there was no parking in that tiny parking lot. And, a number of cars were behind us. It turned out to be a bust. It didn’t help my mood that using AllTrails to get us there ended up not quite getting us there. WHA?
Plan C was Roy’s Redwoods Preserve. And, AllTrails > Google Maps AGAIN led us astray. We were able to finally get there, and thankfully my mood changed once I stepped out of my car.
Right behind my car and at the shoulder edge was blooming Pacific Hound’s Tongue. I saw this on iNat recently, found a research grade observation in GGPark, went to the spot, and couldn’t find it. I thought maybe it was too early to see it blooming? But, it was on my list to try to see soonish. And, THERE IT WAS. Gorgeous little blue flowers! My mood was lifted instantly. It was already a great place to be.
Soon after we started on the loop trail, we were shadowed by GINORMOUS REDWOODS. We’d never seen Coast Redwoods so large before. Not even at The Land. We thought, “Maybe these are Giant Sequoias??” I haven’t checked iNat yet, but it doesn’t appear to be the giants. Turns out, it’s just an old growth redwood forest. I wish I’d been able to take worthy photos of these incredible trees. But, no. You have to go see for yourself.
We stepped off the loop trail to do the shortcut Meadow Trail. And, California Buttercup was the first reward. What followed looked like blooming strawberry. Woodland Strawberry! Newtome flower! Moses at Quartermaster Reach Marsh told me he had planted some of them to see how they’d do. So, I’ve been eager to see these blooming ever since. What A TREAT.
We continued on and saw some Dark-eyed Juncos and Chestnut-backed Chickadees. We also heard but never saw a Northern Flicker.
An unusual mushroom that reminded me of Veiled Polypore started popping up on trees here and there. Luckily, we came across a good specimen soon after. Maybe Northern Red Belt?
At this point, we were deep in the redwood and California Bay and fir forest. It was quiet. And, hardly anyone entered our space in either direction. Most of the time, it was like we had the place to ourselves.
We got to a spot on the trail that is near the creek. A family of three were IN IT, unfortunately. Hopefully they weren’t too disruptive? There was a sign at the trailhead to be watchful for California Newts. I truly hope they watched where they were stepping. Reading later about the preserve, I really wished they hadn’t gone walking in that creek at all.
Apparently, the place is pretty sensitive. The area was logged, then it was a commune, horses and leashed dogs are allowed, and a lot of the area is old growth redwoods. So, staying on the main trails is best for the space there. That’s likely true for all nature places, but there are so few old growth redwoods areas now that it’s even more important for them? I wonder if there are efforts to keep it closed off to the public? I should look into that.
Also, I’m not able yet to find out WHO ROY IS. Hm!
We came out of the woods, and we started seeing more flora than the occasional Pacific Hound’s Tongue and fauna. California Scrub-Jays were mostly seen. An Anna’s Hummingbird. And, rounding the Southeast corner we saw Cedar Waxwings and American Robins and even an American Kestrel. Hairy Vetch were dominating the southern side. And, I even spotted a wolf spider (Thin-legged Wolf Spider?). Oh, and a Botta’s Pocket Gopher (or are there other gophers around?) popped its head out briefly for us to see.
We neared the end of the loop, and a bit of creek appeared alongside that stretched to the trailhead. I looked in vain for any California Newts. They’re now at the top of my list of things I hope to see soon…
All in all, we found a very special place. Redwoods are special to us because of The Land / AtmosTheatre. And, we had no idea such majestic redwoods would be part of our day. After all the previous plans backfiring, perhaps the third time’s the charm? Yeah, I’d say we were charmed.