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Pahavit's Universe

pahavit
Date: 8-25-2011 12:36 AM
Subject: Faber-Laumeister and Ravenswood Marshes
Security: Public
Tags:bay trail, baylands, bird, cordgrass, duck, dumbarton bridge, field trip, flower, gull, hetch hetchy, insect, marsh, moffett field, mt. diablo, native wildflower, palo alto, pickleweed, pipe, power lines, pumphouse, railroad, ravenswood, rust, slough, thistle, train tracks, wasp
Faber-Laumeister and Ravenswood Marshes


On Sunday D. and I got out for a little while to the marshes at the edge of San Francisco Bay. We went to the Faber-Laumeister Trail in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, and from there on up to the Bay Trail in Ravenswood Open Space Preserve just to the north. Here are some pics I took.


A look out over the marsh toward the Diablo Range across San Francisco Bay.





Wasp on trailside fennel blossom.





Looking south over the marsh.





Marsh gumplant is in bloom everywhere, creating a riot of yellow from one end of the marsh to the other.





A couple of ducks are napping on an old pipe in the slough.





Looking down the slough toward the bay.





The marsh, looking north and looking south.







A late-blooming thistle.





The slough on the other side of the trail.



It's low tide.



The trail is lined with low white pipes, each with a sequentially-numbered tag, of unknown purpose.





Power lines are a ubiquitous presence in the marsh.





A gull ambles along a rickety boardwalk for utility workers to access the power lines that go out over the edge of the bay.





More power lines.





From the end of the trail we see the boardwalk crossing the mouth of the slough where it empties into the bay.





Unfortunately, this part of the trail is only a little over a quarter mile from the end of the Palo Alto Municipal Airport runway.  Many planes roar loudly over our heads, one after another.









We relocate to Ravenswood Open Space Preserve a quarter mile to the north, and get another look at the bay, first looking east with the Dumbarton Bridge on the left, then looking north into the stands of cordgrass and pickleweed in the marshes.







We take the Bay Trail around the perimeter of the preserve and see across the marsh to the bank of fog perched along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west.





An isolated clump of Amaryllis belladonna is an anomalous splash of pink in the browns, yellows, olive greens and other tawny tones of the marsh.





As the trail turns northeast, we get a glimpse of the bright yellow gantry used in the construction to replace the severely-aging Hetch Hetchy Bay Division Pipeline drinking water aqueduct running across the bay.









Many parts of the regional water system are 75 to 100 years old and/or do not meet current seismic safety standards. Most of these major pipelines cross active earthquake faults on their way from the Sierra Mountains to the S.F. Bay Area, and this project locally will be replacing the leaking, aging pipes running above ground on more than 1,900 wooden trestles with a tunnel under the bay.



The view north, with the Ravenswood pump station on the right and an excavator machine sticking up a little on the left.





This fence keeping people from the access boardwalk leading to the power lines is not very secure, with that big hole torn in the lower section of the gate. 





As we pass underneath the line of high tension towers, we see some insulators tied to the foot of one.





A disused, rusty pipeline runs from who-knows-where right out into the marsh.  I'm sure it's a very good thing it isn't discharging anything into this sensitive habitat anymore; several endangered species live here (clapper rail and red-bellied salt marsh harvest mouse, to name two).







The trail curves northeast and runs parallel to the abandoned Dumbarton Rail Corridor tracks.









It's about 200 feet away, so we go investigate.









A disused power distribution line runs alongside the tracks.





The east-facing signal.









The Dumbarton rail bridge was the first bridge across the Bay, carrying freight trains from 1910 to 1982.   In January 1998 the wooden western trestle was completely destroyed by fire. The stubborn fire, fueled by the creosote-treated railroad ties and bridge supports, raged in spite of a heavy, pounding rainstorm at the time.  Arson was suspected but never proved because most of the evidence floated away in the aftermath.







Some of the views from up on the tracks.













California sea lavender, or marsh rosemary is beginning to bloom in the marsh.




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November 2019