On Saturday D. and I returned to Coal Creek Open Space Preserve and took some pics. Here's mine.
We enter the preserve on Crazy Pete's Trail.
There really was a Crazy Pete. He was a woodcutter who lived in the area in the early 1900s. And he really was crazy, too. He wound up dying in a mental hospital on the morning of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
We only see one. I guess we should go back and wait till we see three more.
There are several private homes along the trail, one of which has a fence that sports a fuzzy crop of lichen.
Eventually we see a meadow with an old barn in it. The barn now serves as a storage shed for Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District rangers, and the meadow contains the headwaters for Coal Creek, which flows down to join Corte Madera Creek outside the preserve boundary.
I'm proud to say this pic has been chosen by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to represent Coal Creek Open Space Preserve on its preserve page.
A few fruits remain on this buckeye tree, which went dormant and dropped all its leaves during the height of the dry summer.
Once past the private residences, we reach the trailhead and its warning about poisonous mushrooms.
Colorful poison oak climbs up this tree.
A contorted madrone bough snakes its way toward neighboring trees.
Brilliant red poison oak, backlit by the sun.
Bracket fungi sprout from this fallen log.
The canopy overhead of bigleaf maple, poison oak and live oak.
Just off the Coal Road trail we find a golf ball.
Looking around nearby on both sides of the trail we find about 2 dozen other golf balls. Someone in one of the houses above the trail is practicing their golf swing off their back deck or from their back yard. Not only are these littering the preserve, but flying golf balls also could injure a hiker or the wildlife within range of that house. I hope whoever is doing that can be identified and persuaded to stop.
Coal Road Trail, an old farm road.
The name, Coal Creek Open Space Preserve, comes from a small creek at the northern end of the preserve in which thin veins of coal can be found (not enough to be mined commercially, though).
The startling contrast between a pair of three-leaved vines: red poison oak and green blackberry.
Lichen on a fallen log alongside the trail.
The preserve has its own twelve-step program.
A colorful poison oak leaf on the trail.
A tuft of lichen on the trail.
At a clearing around a bend in the trail, we encounter a strange sight: a hole in the ground with a torn-up paper wasp nest strewn about its opening.
I thought paper wasps built their nests up high, in tree branches or house eaves, but this hole has nest fragments inside it, and there are no trees anywhere nearby in this clearing.
The poison oak must be at its autumn color peak right now, because every turn in the trail brings new blazing patches of rich red and gold.
Yawning tree is bored by yuppie hikers and doesn't care if they know it.
Coal Road Trail.
On Crazy Pete's Road (a different trail than the Crazy Pete's Trail we entered on [no wonder Pete went crazy]), we find a rough-skinned newt crawling toward a damp area at the side of the trail.
Newts eat small invertebrates such as worms, snails, slugs, sowbugs and insects, as well as amphibian eggs.
Fallen logs feature fantastic fungi.
This mossy boulder is like a miniature landscape, a world unto itself.
Bigleaf maple leaf.
Lichen on a tree trunk.
Lichen, moss and fungi are the usual trinity of plants found growing on trunks, branches and fallen logs in mixed woodlands of oak, bay, fir and madrone in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
On our way back on Crazy Pete's Trail we see an orange cone ahead.
An incongruous sight in the autumn woods, it marks the eroded edge of the trail which was gouged by a rill running down the hillside and across the path.