Date: May 24, 2014
Place: Lake Berryessa, Napa County, California
Coordinates: 38.574654, -122.244607
Length: about 4 miles
Last Memorial Day Weekend we went with friends to explore Lake Berryessa. The lake, nestled in the hills east of Napa County, is a large recreational area and provides plenty of opportunities for outdoors fun for vacationers, including a few hiking trails.
We arrived at Putah Canyon campground on Friday evening. After the excitement of our arrival, which was much enhanced by the sighting of a small rattle snake right by our campsite, we had a quick dinner, pitched our tents and went to bed.
We had planned a long weekend of Nature fun and lots of hiking. Not in our plan was the triple-digit day time temperatures.
Night time temperatures were only slightly lower. It was hot and muggy and the people in the neighboring campsite had a loud domestic dispute late into the night. In short - we didn't sleep well at all. What cheered us was the sighting of a very close by osprey nest.
|An osprey nesting on a power line pole, at Putah Creek Campground.|
This trail connects the Oak Shores Day Use Area. We left our cars at the north one and begun hiking south along the lake shore.
I didn't expect to see much green this late in spring and indeed, the grasses were in advanced drying state. The sloping hillsides were covered with live oaks and very soon we were thankful for every spot of shade we got when the trail delved into the forest.
|Yellow Mariposa Lily (Calochortus luteus)|
|Grub-hunting woodpecker holes in a dead oak trunk|
|An empty acorn larder, ready to be stocked.|
|California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)|
Frequent stops means more attention to the little things. Things that are camouflaged too well to notice on a fast walk.
Or not camouflaged at all, but too common to otherwise stop for.
|Twining Snakelily (Dichelostemma volubile)|
|Harvest Brodiaea (Brodiaea elegans)|
|How extended drought and water overuse look like at Lake Berryessa|
|Pricklyburr (Datura inoxia)|
|Giant Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora)|
|Live Oak forest|
|Pincusionplant (Navarretia sp.)|
And then, all of a sudden, we were one curve away from the Oak Shores Day Use Area Area and the end of our trail. Are friends were waiting for us there and as they saw us approaching they started waiving and shouting. Seeing them, Papa Quail took our younger chika by the hand and plunged into the vegetation, cutting through were once used to be a lake's cove over to the picnic area. The elder chika was on the trail ahead of us so I continued after her. Soon I was very thankful for it because of all the lovely clarkias that were decorating the last portion of the trail.
Cutting through the brush isn't normally quicker, but the road was pretty close and I agreed. It wasn't easy going up the hill but we did reach the road without too much trouble, and got to see some more flowers along the way.
|Osprey with the Catch of the Day, flying over Lake Berryessa|
|Osprey and young in the nest, Putah Canyon Campground|