pahavit (pahavit) wrote,

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

On Sunday D. and I planned on returning to El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve, but when we got to Skyline Blvd. we found the ridge fogged in.
foggy woods pic
another foggy woods pic

The fog was so thick it was condensing on the trees and falling like rain onto the leaf litter underfoot. On all sides, the only sound we heard was moisture dripping relentlessly from branches and leaves all around us, pit-a-pit-a-pat, pit-a-pit-a-pat. We had no hats, no coats, no umbrella. Not a good day to go tromping through the woods.

We thought if we went to another preserve on the other side of the ridge we wouldn't have to spend our day shrouded in chilly fog. So we decided to go down the road and try Windy Hill Open Space Preserve.

No luck. If anything, Windy Hill was even more fogged in. It was a thick white blanket blowing like mad over the ridge on a howling wind.
windy hill fog pic

Our only other option within reasonable distance was Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, where we'd been once before and always wanted to go back to. And here was our chance to have a nice walk and take some pics (mine first).

This is more like it: fog is burning off right overhead.
monte bello pic

We set off on the Stevens Creek Nature Trail.
trail pic

A western fence lizard gives us the skunk eye before vanishing into the dry grass.
lizard pic

The hills are completely dried out by now. High fire danger.
dry hills pic

Before descending to the creek we get some lovely views of rolling hills and distant mountains to the south (including the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake).
view south pic
another view south pic

We enter the shady woods.
shady trail pic

Another lizard poses in a sunny patch of the path before scurrying into the brush.
lizard pic

The trail gets closer to the creek.
shady trail pic

We take a lot of nature walks and know what undisturbed habitats look like. And this couldn't be more obvious. They might as well have a flashing neon sign.
geocache hiding place pic
Secret place = FAIL

Moss and fungus share a tree trunk in the shady canyon.
mossy fungus-y tree trunk pic

Sun-dappled Stevens Creek, which, unlike many Bay Area creeks, flows year-round.
creek pic

Nettles grow in the dappled shade. Don't touch! Big owie!
nettles pic

A string of miniature suns glints along the creek bank.
mini-suns pic

Stevens Creek.
creek pic

A bridge over the creek.
bridge pic

Western coltsfoot (Petasites palmatus) forms huge stands along the banks of the creek. Their broad, lobed leaves spread out to catch as much light as possible under the deep shade cast by towering redwoods.
western coltsfoot pic

The afternoon sun casts dappled light throughout the forest.
forest pic

A fallen tree makes a fine bridge for animals to cross Stevens Creek.
fallen tree pic

The canopy overhead.
canopy pic

The trail crosses the creek again.
bridge pic

We pass by a clearing and see a charred log, a remnant from a long-ago fire.
charred log pic

Leaves of three, let them be -- especially when they're climbing up a tree.
poison oak pic

The fallen leaves on this Ganoderma bracket fungus give it a funky hairdo.
ganoderma pic

Countless decades of icy cold, searing heat, thrashing rain and fierce winds have taken their toll on this deeply-weathered log.
weathered log pic

A live oak on the Canyon Trail is a sentinel on the hillside.
live oak pic

As the trail climbs up out of the canyon, we see more tinder-dry hills.
hills pic

Another Ganoderma fungus, this one looking a little worse for wear.
ganoderma pic

This memorial bench on the Canyon Trail is more than half-hidden in the tall grass.
memorial bench pic

Climbing higher, we can now see across to the other ridge.
view pic

Cattails grow in a sag pond formed on the San Andreas Fault, which runs through the preserve.
cattails pic

One of the many enormous mossy oaks growing by the sag pond spreads its limbs far overhead.
oak pic

The trail passes by the straggling remnants of a walnut orchard.
walnut orchard pic

A view to the south.
view pic

Summer has turned the hillsides yellow, silvery green and pale gold.
summer hillsides pic

❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧ ❧

And here are D.'s pics.

The fog begins to burn off as we set out on the trail.
trail pic

Dry hillsides.
dry hillsides pic

Stevens Creek Nature Trail.
trail pic

This snaggly madrone looks dead, but it's sprouting new branches in 2 places.
not-dead-yet madrone pic

A Ganoderma bracket fungus.
ganoderma pic

A garter snake, one of the few snakes we've seen on our walks.
garter snake pic

Water striders create odd shadows in Stevens Creek.
water striders pic

Poison oak berries. Don't touch!
poison oak berries pic

There are edumacational signs along the nature trail. Here, we learn all about the western fence lizard.
edumacational lizard sign pic

Bridge over the creek.
bridge pic

Western coltsfoot along the creek.
coltsfoot pic

The animals have their own bridge across the creek.
fallen tree pic

We learn about the role insects and invertebrates play in the ecosystem.
edumacational invertebrates sign pic

Here we learn about the food chain.
edumacational food chain sign pic
(Food Chain 101: Everyone eats everyone else smaller than them.)

A live oak soaks up the sun in a clearing.
live oak pic

Live oak on golden hillside: an iconic California landscape.
hillside pic

Memorial bench plaque.
plaque pic

View from the memorial bench.
bench view pic
There probably used to be an actual view from here. I have a feeling it wasn't nearly this overgrown at the time of dedication.

The edumacation just doesn't let up. They are determined to edumacate us, goshdarn it!
edumacational succession sign pic

Another memorial bench, near the sag pond.
bench pic

The sag pond, so choked with cattails and other vegetation you can't hardly tell it's actually got water in it.
sag pond vegetation pic

Looking south.
view south pic

Tags: canopy, el corte de madera creek preserve, field trip, fog, foliage, fungus, insect, lizard, monte bello, moss, poison oak, redwood, sign, snake, stevens creek, stevens creek trail

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