|The Golden Gate, and Bridge.|
Dates: March 1 and 12, 2016
Place: Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, California
Coordinates: 37.908997, -122.264978
Length: 2.5 miles
Level: moderate (strenuous when muddy).
Time was pressing. In two weeks' time I was to lead a 4H hike and the destination I selected for that hike turned to be unsuitable for that group. I needed to come up with another nice trail and, as always, I found what I needed within the vast selection of East Bay Regional Park District hiking trails.
Tilden Regional Park east of Berkeley is beautiful, accessible, and high in popularity. I have taken the 4H Hiking Project there before, but this time we would do a different trail: the Laurel Canyon/Wildcat Peak loop in Tilden Park Nature Area, near the visitor Center and Little Farm. This 2.5 miles hike involves a good measure of elevation change that was just right for this group. As it turned out, however, the 4H'ers (as well as their adults) had to deal with a much greater challenge, brought on by the weather.
|Laurel Canyon/Wildcat Peak Loop Trail as captured by my GPS|
|Coastal Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)|
|A Baby Coastal Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)|
|Budding California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)|
And as far as spring bloom goes, it was still the time of the ephemerals: the first flowers of spring.
|Stairway to Heaven|
As always when I go out on a stay-indoors-weather I meet other creatures out, who flourish in wet conditions. Banana slugs, for example.
|Banana Slug enjoying the weather|
We were chugging along on Laurel Canyon when the chaperon in the back called me to stop, and when we gathered around him he showed me this grub that he found on the trail. It was huge (in insect scale) and it wiggled helplessly on the man's hand. Its entire body looked soft and juicy (from a bird's point of view) but it had a hard head with nasty-looking mandibles that looked like they could cut through anything. I wondered if that could be the forest's big nemesis - the grub of the boring beetle.
|Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)|
|Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum)|
|Western Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)|
|View east: San Pablo Reservoir|
|View northwest: Mount Tamalpais|
|View west: Foggy Gate|
|California Man-root (Marah fabacea)|
|California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)|
|Siverbush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons), March 1|
|Same Siverbush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons), March 12|
The slope of Wildcat Peak Trail is steep, and on March 12 was very, very muddy and slippery. Me and the 4H members were inching down slowly careful not to slip on our behinds. A couple of the kids got into a sour mood but others seemed to flourish in the wetness, just like the trees.
Not all trees could take the storm. Freshly fallen trees, some were already previously dead, littered the forest floor.
|Broadleaf Forget Me Not (Myosotis latifolia), invasive non-native|
|Woodcut tree nest|
|Chaparral Currant (Ribes malvaceum)|
|Black Phoebe, on a willow branch over Jewel Lake|
I wasn't too much in a hurry to miss the little boardwalk detour through the riparian wetland.
The dominant vegetation about the boardwalk were willow bushes, many of them had already finished blooming. The photo below was taken on the higher elevations of my hike.
|Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiandra)|
They dipped nets at the pond and fished all kinds of insect larvae and other microscopic life and brought samples back inside to view by the indoors microscope (the newt was left outside. The rest of the animals were promptly released after the viewing).