On Sunday D. and I visited Coal Creek Open Space Preserve to take some pics. The closer we got to the preserve, perched up on the side of the ridge, the more fog we saw rolling in from the coast. We wondered if it was going to be socked in with fog when we got there. Read on to find out (with my pics first, then D.'s).
The preserve entrance is down a road lined with private homes tucked into the woods. Such an apt name for an often-foggy place.
On our way past some lavish residences, we get a glimpse to the northeast.
O say can you see the Welsh dragon? Flags a-flying outside a huge mansion.
At the gate, we must do some fancy footwork to enter.
The Cloud's Rest Trail takes us through a Douglas fir and live oak forest.
Before long we emerge onto a grassland.
The Meadow Trail takes us around the meadow and through chaparral, thick with coyote brush -- and thick with fog as well.
The mansion with the Welsh flag can barely be seen from the trail in the fog.
An old water tank, a remnant of the ranching days.
We don't know if it is sunny or foggy. The fog itself doesn't seem to know either.
The trail is lined with poison oak, California blackberry and coyote brush.
Draped over lichen-encrusted limbs, poison oak makes a striking display of brilliant autumn color.
A California buckeye, branches laden with fruits. The nuts inside are the deep, rich brown of a buck's eye.
The Meadow Trail.
A power line resists the fog's chilling embrace.
Poison oak makes splashes of color among the ferns.
The trail joins Alpine Rd., which used to be an actual road but was closed to vehicular traffic 15 years ago due to a landslide after a huge storm. It continues to have problems.
Looking up the gulch opposite the washed-out gully. During wet winter storms I bet a torrent rages through here.
(That thick gray-ish vine going up the right side of the pic? Poison oak. )
This western fence lizard lost its tail in a tussle with a predator; it lost its life as well.
The trail along Alpine Rd. goes through a woods of buckeye, bigleaf maple, black oak, coast live oak, toyon and coyote brush.
Moss and lichen on a dead log.
Lichens are plants comprised of an alga and a fungus in a symbiotic relationship. The alga provides food for the fungus, which provides a protective structure to keep the alga from drying out. It's a win-win arrangement. Mosses are tiny plants without flowers or roots. They thrive in damp environments, covering rocks, branches and logs. They help to create organic matter, enriching the local habitat for seed-bearing plants.
We turn from Alpine Rd. onto Crazy Pete's Road. Step lively!
Crazy Pete's Road. (Yes, there really was a Crazy Pete, a woodcutter who lived in the area in the early 1900s. And he really was crazy, too.)
It's barely autumn, and the poison oak color is in full swing.
In wet winter months there's a 5-foot waterfall here. It's way too early in the season now for this branch of Corte Madera Creek to be flowing, so there's just a small plunge pool remaining from last winter.
Water, air and sky are a-quiver on the surface of the pool.
The gulch down which the creek flows (when it's flowing).
The wooden bridge by the waterfall.
The bridge hosts a healthy population of lichen and moss.
Maple, oak and poison oak leaves on bridge rail.
This withered bigleaf maple leaf reminds me of a grasping claw.
One sees all kinds of things on bridges in the woods these days.
We retrace our steps to return to Alpine Rd.
Fungi galore on dead logs.
The bigleaf maples on Alpine Rd. are beginning to turn yellow.
Fallen leaves are a carpet of autumn color underfoot.
Alpine Rd. is like our own private forest.
They didn't even bother to conceal this geocache -- it's literally swinging in the wind for all to see.
The camo duct tape doesn't really help.
The geometry of decay.
An enormous fallen madrone.
Some kind of bark borer made hieroglyphics on its wood.
The gulch where Corte Madera Creek flows.
We rejoin the Meadow Trail and return to the fog invasion.
Before turning onto the Cloud's Rest Trail to leave the preserve, we take a detour along a deer trail up a hillside in the meadow. On the way we pass this strange thing in the ground, with nothing else around it.
We also find a cairn by the summit.
The relentless chilly wind rakes the hilltop, dragging thick rolls of fog in its wake. Time to go home.
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And here are D.'s pics.
The view from the parking area on Skyline Blvd.
Here come the clouds, to rest.
On the way to the preserve gate, we pass by a private road leading to houses tucked into the woods.
Cloud's Rest Trail.
A tree in the sun and fog.
The sun in the fog.
A mansion in the fog.
A house in the fog.
More views of the trail.
The view toward the east (I think, can't quite tell), past a lichen-encrusted dead tree.
The waterfall place on Crazy Pete's Trail.
Black-tailed deer in the woods.
A bright bigleaf maple leaf on the trail.
The little thing that looks like a squished green fig and a hazelnut next to it is an immature buckeye fruit with the buckeye seed popped out of it.
A dramatic silhouette against the sky.
California honeysuckle berries.
Oak leaf on the trail.
More colorful bigleaf maple leaves.
The canopy overhead on Alpine Rd.
The trees seem to glow in the late afternoon light.
On a clear day, the San Francisco city skyline, Mt. Tamalpais, the East Bay hills and Mt. Diablo are visible. This is not a clear day.