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Pahavit's Universe

Date: 5-10-2011 12:04 AM
Subject: Coal Mine Ridge 2
Security: Public
Tags:bench, bird, canopy, coal mine ridge, duck, field trip, flower, grass, lizard, mallard, poison oak, pond, portola valley, reservoir, sign, spider, windy hill
Coal Mine Ridge 2

On Saturday D. and I returned to Coal Mine Ridge to see a section of the preserve we missed last time, due to less than ideal trail signage and misinterpretation of a hike description in a book. We wanted to see a vernal pool, possibly a sag pond lying atop the San Andreas Fault. Since vernal pools are transitory and fade by early summer to little more than a damp patch in a meadow, we didn't want to miss another chance to see it when there was still significant water in it. Along the way I took these pics.

Pacific Ninebark blooms above our car where we park across the road from the trailhead.

Forget-me-nots line the path at the trailhead.

The Common Rigid Hedge Nettle flower spike is small and unobtrusive, but the individual flowers are lovely.

Poison oak: pretty foliage, but, of course, don't touch. 

Milkmaids, a broccoli and cabbage relative, and Western Starflower.

The oak woodland canopy overhead.

Miner's Lettuce.

California quail make a run for it across the trail upon our approach.

Their little topknots are so cute.

California Dandelion is blooming all over the place.

Ookow (Dichelostemma congestum), a very pretty flower with a peculiar name.

Its close cousin, Dichelostemma capitatum, is called blue dicks. 

Slender Wild Oat.

A crab spider scuttles across the trail.

Western fence lizard, with its pretty turquoise spots.

Looking ahead and behind us on the Old Spanish Trail.

Native blackberry.

Little Quaking Grass.

Further along the Old Spanish Trail.

Poison oak, in vine form, climbing a tree.  It also can grow as a shrub.

Coal Mine Trail, where it passes by a huge water storage tank.  The fog bank is visible in the sky behind the trees.  Will it hold off?

Behind the water tank the area is closed for grassland habitat restoration.

California Everlasting in bud, and Owl's Clover.

Mule's Ears look like dwarf sunflowers and grow in meadows.

A meadow on the Coal Mine Trail.

Hound's Tongue Berries.

We take a spur trail around a bend to find a primitive bench with some impromptu art carved into it.

Perhaps the artist enjoyed a sunset there.

The bench is at the top of a sloping meadow providing a view of Windy Hill Open Space Preserve.

The forest canopy overhead.

Finally we reach the area of the vernal pool.  At its far shore we find a momma mallard and her brood of ducklings eyeing us warily.

Indian Warrior and Ithuriel's spear.

Common Checkerbloom begins to furl its petals as the fog moves in from Windy Hill.

Fernald's Iris, a naturally pale yellow wild iris.

We come across another body of water, a small reservoir.

Hillside Star.

The view of a neighboring ridge.

We come across a third body of water, undoubtedly another sag pond lying atop the earthquake fault.

Just in case people are wondering where they are . . .

The fog is rolling in thicker, blotting out the sun and chilling the air.  Before we turn around to go back, we investigate a spur trail leading up around a curve to a vista point of sorts, with special amenities: a bench, a swing, and a bit of a view.

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