San Bruno Mountain (2/1/2023)

Today I returned to San Bruno Mountain. My goal was to try and find a way into Buckeye Canyon, possibly via a side trail I’ve passed by before.

Let’s just get this out of the way now, shall we? I didn’t find it. BOO. HOWEVER, I did discover a number of new things in my quest, ANYWAY!

Started off via the trail at the end of Trinity Road in Brisbane. Thought it might join up with the Buckeye Canyon trail, but it only went to the rocky service road that parallels it. That said, this trail was much easier to get to the spot on that road where the Checker Lilies are. So, that’s good to know!

There were many Sweet Scabious flowers there, and in a variety of colors. Love those. And a California Scrub-Jay was perched high up, like they love to do.

ALSO, because it got me so high up there, I was able to explore a bit more up there. Seems like that small bit of SBM is used by the locals. A handful of folks walking their dogs, a man just climbing up for exercise, and one mountain biker. That’s easily the most people I’ve ever seen on that end of the mountain!

There’s a spot with Pine trees there that has THE largest gang of American Robins I’ve ever seen in one place before. They were making such a racket that I didn’t envy the person’s house they were right behind. NOPE.

Right off the road, facing Buckeye Canyon, are lovely and sprawling meadows with wildflowers. And some were out! Some Lupine and some California Poppies and even some California Golden Violets! First time seeing them this year. Love them.

And looking toward Buckeye Canyon, I could see much more of the mudslide. AND, DANG. It’s kind of amazing.

Headed up and found a parallel earth trail that I took up, after noticing a Red-tailed Hawk high up on a tower looking down at the world. The trail seemingly just follows the road and presumably goes all the way up. No, thanks! Came back down when I realized it wasn’t the trail I was looking for, but I happened to notice a side trail I missed the way up. Took it, and it’s QUITE NARROW. And on a HILLSIDE. I’m honestly not sure how I got as far as I did on it.

Perhaps it was that some fauna were there to distract me? An Anna’s Hummingbird perched on a tiny twig and made even me feel intimidated. A California Scrub-Jay was perched high up, like they do. And a Spotted Towhee teased me by letting me see it eversobriefly and then NEVERMORE.

But here’s the exciting part. I looked across the ravine and saw part of the Buckeye Canyon trail. Ok, so I’m sure NO ONE would remember this from my first post forever ago about this. And if you do, you scare me. My first time going up the Buckeye Canyon trail, I got to a clearing among the Coast Live Oaks. And I could see across the ravine to another hillside. And a super narrow trail connected to it. I remember distinctly thinking at the time, “There’s no way I’m going there!”

But today I got pretty close! I could see the entire path to get to the Buckeye Canyon trail. Though, about that time, my legs were starting to get that crazy electricity up the backs of them because I was starting to get freaked out that I was so high up and on a narrow and slanted trail. It was about then that I decided to sit on an inviting group of rocks and ferns to just chill for a minute. Looked out at the view and kind of couldn’t believe how high up I was. WHO AM I.

Decided having a panic attack all by my lonesome wasn’t a great idea, so I slowly made my way back. Apparently it was a lot easier with the hill close to my left and the descent to my right? WHA? Ultimately, I’m so glad I know where that trail goes. That it connects to my favorite trail there. And that I never need to do that again.

Got back to the road, and I saw an earth trail on the other side. Took it, and it seemed to just parallel that side of the road. But what was interesting is seeing water embedded in the trail. Not totally dry yet after all this time. Still so much water in that mountain!

At that point, I was done. Still had some time left, so I ventured over to very close-by Costaños Canyon Park. And, what an adorable space! Despite the plaque (from 1970) talking about the “gentle Indian people” previously living there.

Reminds me a lot of Firth Canyon Park. Starts with a dry creek and runs up with trees and whatnots along both sides. Costaños is a lot smaller and runs just between two residential streets, but it’s got a lot of charm. And many California Buckeye trees. All getting ready TO BLOOM. Must be incredible when they do. And the place clearly designated for kids and is clearly used by kids. It’s awesome. I’m so jealous of those kids.

Every hollow California Bay tree trunk is a hiding place. There’s one shrine. One fort. One swing. There was even a tiny bit of water still there in the creek! AND, a nice bit OF FUNGI. Spotted two Sulphur Tufts (I think) and a couple Waxcaps (Western Witch’s Hat??) and A TON of rather large Mulch Maids and a small cluster of Candy Caps (?) and a couple Rufous Candy Caps (maybe?) and a wee Russula cerolens. Nothing but the Mulch Maids are confirmed yet. But that was a lot more than I expected!

Sad that there is some flippin’ garbage in that creek. Where, presumably, young punks hang out? It’s tough to see. In EVERY creek/ravine in the area.

After I was done there, I STILL had light left so I went to go check out some random trail closer to the State Park. On the way, I happened to drive by ANOTHER CANYON in the middle of the residential area. Sierra Point Canyon. It’s not on the map! But then, it’s not really a park. A dry dreek (only recently dry) that quickly turns into Ivy Land, sadly. And way more random garbage. Ugh.

I managed to reach the end of Golden Aster Court, where a random trail meets up with Old Ranch Road Trail. Stopped my car and looked at what was there and thought, “Huh, that bit of meadow would be perfect for bunn…” AND THERE THEY WERE. Two Brush Rabbits, at the edge of the small meadow, having dinner.

I parked and took a look-see. Unfortunately, the Rabbits were kind of on the trail, so they hopped away in their cutest fashion when I approached. Felt bad, but I figured they’d come out again, right? A California Towhee and a Spotted Towhee scattered as I got near. And then I was formally on the trail.

The trail is narrow and runs alongside a water way. Unfamiliar scat was here and there on it. And I got the impression it was hardly used by people. And when I got to the top, I figured out why. At the top is a water tower and road. Assuming it’s Old Ranch Road? The road heads up and connects to the main Guadalupe Canyon Parkway as well as the rest of the Old Ranch Road Trail, which eventually connects to the other trails further North. But there was a Red-tailed Hawk high up on the tower next to the water tower.

So, not a whole lot up there overall. Though, I FINALLY managed to actually see a Northern Flicker there! Okokok, so I’ve heard like one Northern Flicker in pretty much every location I’ve been Naturing lately. And I’ve NEVER FOUND THEM. So, this was TERRIBLY EXCITING. Didn’t get great photos, but ones to ID it with. I’ll take it!

Oh, and another Brush Rabbit scampered away as I headed back. So, there’s THAT.

Got to the end, and I stopped at a decent distance to wait and see if the Rabbits would come out again. While waiting, a Botta’s Pocket Gopher worked on its hole nearby. Decided I should keep a greater distance to wait and see. And, YES. Eventually two Rabbits came out from the Brush and ran around a grassy knoll in the distance. And I felt like I received the sign it was ok to go. So I did.

I’m getting more and more familiar with SBM. And I like that. I know it’ll take a while to visit every Ravine and Canyon and Trail. But I’m looking forward to finding all the nooks and crannies of that mountain, which always turn out to be my favorites.

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