August 31st, 2010

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve: White Oak Trail

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve: White Oak Trail

On Sunday, D. and I returned to Monte Bello Open Space Preserve to walk the White Oak Trail in a section of the preserve we hadn't yet seen, and we took some pics. First, here's mine.

The trail leads us from the parking lot.

A grasshopper is well-camouflaged on the dusty trail.

As the trail rises we begin to get some nice views to the south.

A western fence lizard obligingly poses for us on a fence.

The trail takes us around the top of Stevens Canyon and the source of Stevens Creek.

Two kinds of thistles, invasive non-natives, are nearly overwhelmed by the dried anual grasses.

Fields of dry annual grass are punctuated by large stands of California everlasting, also known as popcorn flower.

Looking south down Stevens Canyon toward Mt. Umunhum and Loma Prieta, an armada of puffy clouds sails across the sky, unusual for this region.

Another grasshopper.  This one looks like it's missing a rear leg. 

This huge white oak is festooned with so much lichen I am reminded of ZZ Top.

As we get closer to the riparian habitat of Stevens Creek, we see more poison oak.  Don't touch! 

A trail maintenance crew must have left this rake behind. 

The trail takes us into the cool, shaded mixed oak woodland found along the creek, full of mossy bay laurel trees.

This gnarled poison oak vine looks like a rope climbing up this trunk.  Don't touch! 

This mossy bay trunk hosts a hammock-like spider web full of leaves, pollen and other plant debris.

Weathered logs are like abstract sculptures in the forest.

Crossing an unnamed tributary of Stevens Creek.  There are springs in the mountains that keep most of these creeks flowing year-round to one degree or another in spite of dry summers.

Yawning tree wishes you would go away and let him sleep.

Centuries of weathering have carved this bay tree log into an intricate sculpture.

A tuft of lichen perches on an oak seedling.

A big puffy cloud sails across the horizon as we backtrack out of the canyon.

Another gorgeous view south.

More puffy clouds.

We take a spur trail to an unnamed pond, a remnant from the ranching era.

Near the pond, thistles.

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And here are D.'s pics.

The view looking south, toward Mt. Umunhum and Loma Prieta.

Some of the cloud armada sailing overhead.

Thorny branch.  Another no-touchy plant.

Daisies along the trail.

Another view south along Stevens Canyon.

The fence lizard on the fence.

The trail takes us closer toward Stevens Creek.

Another view south.

A buckeye butterfly.

Vinegarweed looks like sage but smells like turpentine.

The canopy of white oaks overhead.


A rope-like poison oak vine climbing up a tree trunk.

A black-tailed deer crosses the trail.

One gorgeous view after another.

A thick stand of pennyroyal near the pond is abuzz with busy bees.

Pond.  (That's all the preserve map said: "Pond." )

A male Common Whitetail or Long-tailed Skimmer near the pond.