Sunday, November 25, 2018

Accomplishments Afoot

Waning Gibbous Moon

This year I have noted three accomplishments in hiking that I think just about anybody would consider world class crazy. I mean crazy in a good way, of course.

Here they are in no particular order.

Heather "Anish" Anderson became the first woman (wowman?) to complete the Triple Crown of American hiking in one calendar year. That's the Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles), the Continental Divide Trail (3,100 miles), and the Appalachian Trail (2,190 miles). In one swell foop. Backpacker Magazine did a write-up on her. Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Uma in Kill Bill, etc. - you name the super hero, Anish matches up.

Jeff "Legend" Garmire just finished his Great Western Loop of ~ 7,000 miles this week. I followed his daily blog on Instagram, amazed by his stamina (frequent, in fact, common 40+ mile days) and relentless positivism, if that's a word. What did he eat to keep all this up? Read the GQ article here. Oh, and sometimes it was cold.

Then there is Mary "Medicare Pastor" Davidson. She completed her mission of section hiking the Triple Crown at the ripe young age of 76! I just finished reading her book Old Lady on the Trail: Triple Crown at 76 yesterday. This gutsy gal is wired together with titanium and plastic replacement parts and still going. The stories about her adventures are fun and serious at the same time. She didn't even start this thing until she was 60! A real retired pastor from Washington state, Mary inspires without being preachy. Check out her book on Amazon. The rest of us have no excuses.

Peace, Love, and Move It,

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Fremont Peak State Park Monday

Waning Crescent Moon

One of the many under-utilized hiking venues in San Benito County is Fremont Peak State Park, just eleven miles up the San Juan Canyon Road from San Juan Bautista. Click on the link above to see the park brochure which includes a map of the hiking trails and more info than you ever knew you needed.

Yesterday, blessed with nearly perfect sunny, mild weather, I parked at campsite #24 in the Oak Grove campground (after paying my $5 Senior rate day use fee). I paused to take in the view before heading north through the woods down the connector path to the Cold Springs Trail.

I was happy to see that the trail was in such good condition. Last year things had become pretty overgrown, but apparently the California Conservation Crew came over the summer and they really did a great job. I saw the following wildlife on this section of my hike: a deer, a roadrunner, a few lizards, several flying insects which I will generalize with the scientific term "gnats", and a human couple who looked like they had time traveled from Santa Cruz circa 1971. Nice folks. A little bit dazed and confused, but nice. I failed to photograph any of these critters, but I did get some shots of the trail that winds through the oak and madrone forest.

Many of the madrones seemed to be shedding their outer layers of "skin" or bark. I asked Dr. Maynard Moe for an explanation via Facebook and here is what Maynard had to say.

 In tree (shrub) bark there is a cork cambium that makes "cork" that prevents water from leaving the plant through the secondary phloem (tissue that transports sugars). the tissue on the outside of the cork dies and eventually sloughs off. These cork cambia have various 3D shapes and are thus responsible for the structure of the bark. For example, recall the "puzzle piece" bark of yellow pines (ponderosa, Jeffrey). The puzzle shapes reflect the shapes of the underlying cork cambium. So, in Madrones and manzanitas, the cork cambium is large and nearly all around the stem. Thus all the outer bark peels off.

Dr. Moe is a retired Professor of Biology and author from California State University, Bakersfield who grew up in Yosemite National Park. That's right, in Yosemite National Park. He is my go-to authority on all things botanical, since I pretty much cannot retain any info on the topic whatsoever. 

I really wanted to stop at this point on the trail and see if I could go ahead and get beamed straight up to heaven to visit my ancestors. Maybe I could plead for some mercy for when my time comes. I settled for a quick picture instead.

At the end of the Cold Spring Trail near the park entrance, I crossed the road to Jack's Trail which led me to the Fremont Peak Observatory (star parties held here). Then I switched to Carmen's Trail (come on, let's go downtown...) for a roller coaster walk through the oaks past crystalline marble outcrops with a view of the peak above.

I also stumbled upon this biggo mushroom. I don't know anything about mushrooms, either, so don't ask me what kind it is. It's big, though, bigger than my hand. 

At the end of Carmen's Trail, I looped through the parking lot back to my truck and headed home. On the way down the canyon, I stopped to check out the old limestone mine scar. For a long time back in the 20th century, this mine was the lifeblood of San Juan Bautista, providing jobs for locals and building materials for the surrounding area. Now what?

For a random Monday in November, this was a remarkably pleasant day. I liked it.

Peace, Love, and Footpaths,