San Bruno Mountain State Park (4/3/2022)

Today we returned to San Bruno Mountain. The plan was to do the Summit Trail and Ridge Trail.

Mission Blue butterflies are known to be found at the summit. And, April is a good time to see them. Also, I want to see where the Firth Canyon Trail meets up with the Ridge Trail, since I’m clearly never going to make it to the very top via the FCT. Turns out, it takes a while just to get to the summit! So, we just did part of the Ridge Trail back. We spent so much time stopping to look at ALL THE DANG WILDFLOWERS on our way up.

OMG. SO. MANY. WILDFLOWERS. It is just NUTS right now. We took the same way up as last time. Right when the Dairy Ravine Trail splits, and the left/South part goes up to the Summit Trail, THAT IS THE MONEY. Yeah, leading up to there was great and all. Flowering Tree Stonecrop and a California Bordered Plant Bug and Sun Cups and Orange Bush Monkeyflower and Rock Greenshield Lichen (?) and Douglas Iris and a Coyote Brush Leaf Beetle larva were all fantastic. Don’t get me wrong. But, once we started seeing the Paintbrush, things got super exciting.

Pacific Pea popped up. Common Cow Parsnip was everywhere. And, I spotted my first newtome flora of the day. San Francisco Woodland-Star! I would’ve been quite happy with just the one. But, more were to come.

Dwarf Checkermallow are still out! Seaside Daisies were here and there. California Phacelia (that the bumblebees and bees were all over) and Coast Rockcress and California Hedge Nettle. More Paintbrush and Douglas Iris. All with bunches of California Poppies mixed in just about everywhere. At one point, I looked ahead and just saw colorful wildflower after colorful wildflower lining the edges of the trail in front of us. I can’t imagine right there looking any more lovely than this. Just amazing.

Getting closer to the actual summit, Blue Dicks and Pacific False Bindweed were showing themselves. The actual summit was just ok. I’m not into views. And, the haze in the air didn’t help. HOWEVER, I finally spotted the lupine I was expecting up there. Can’t have Mission Blue butterflies without it. And, that was the first I’d seen it over there.

No sign of the MBB, of course. But! We saw a handful of delightful Variable Checkerspots! They even sat and posed for us. So kind! So, we ended up seeing butterflies today on San Bruno Mountain. Yay! And, it was Brian’s first time seeing the Variable Checkerspot. Super yay!

Also at the top, I spotted something that’s been on my list for some time. San Francisco Wallflower. Yes, I’ve seen it in the AIDS Memorial Grove, but not yet in the wild. I was downright GIDDY at seeing it.

We didn’t have enough time for the Ridge Trail, so that’ll have to wait for another day. Ideally when the Summit Parking Lot is re-opened?

On our way down via the Ridge Trail, there was Hummingbird Sage and Grassy Tarweed (?) and California Lady Beetles and more Variable Checkerspots. The rest of the Summit Trail was more of the same as we’d seen before. But, again. Just a gorgeous display of wildflowers on the hillsides.

We didn’t see or hear a lot of birds, as it was super windy out. But, we did see Greater Bee Flies (newtous!), and Brian almost stepped on a small snake that crossed his path on the trail!

Nearing the end, I saw my last newtome flora, California Brome. With such bizarre flowers! Had no idea grasses flowered. WHUT! A couple Milkmaids dotted the trail side. And, I managed to recognize a very past due Checker Lily. At least, that’s what it looked like to me. Seek believed the same. iNat also leaned that way. But, it was so dried out and withered, I wasn’t certain. We also saw similar looking plants nearby, but they were SO TALL and with so many more leaves than I’ve seen on them before. For today, I’ll trust it’s that. But, now I have to return next year to VERIFY.

Reddish Tufted Vetch was the last flower we saw before we reached the end. It was fitting to see something so colorful as our last flora image of the day.

It’s interesting how I originally had no intention of exploring the Summit or Ridge Trails, thinking there wouldn’t be enough flora or fauna up there for me. Just views. But, I was wrong. And, I still have trails left to meet on San Bruno Mountain. That mountain just continues to surprise me!

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