Category Archives: Discovery

WHALES! (And More)

Whale!

Trinidad retreat
Beach, BIG trees, Banana slugs,
WHALE of a good time!

On my last weekend as a Redding resident, we indulged in a three-day Trinidad retreat (north coast of California). We rented a gorgeous house with this view from the backyard:

Home Sweet Home

There were delicious home cooked meals with fireplace peep s’mores for dessert. We walked on the beach…

Beach

and through the forest. In the picture below, my friends humored me when I suggested they spell “BIG” with their bodies in front of what is known as the “BIG Tree.” Good people ūüôā

BIG tree

We even surfed a fallen giant!

Surfing!

WE SAW WHALES!!!!

Whale!

Two whales!
Two whales! (You have to find these ones for yourself ūüėČ )

I literally jumped for joy when I heard from another beach visitor that there were whales within sight of shore. We also saw whales from that beautiful backyard oasis pictured above and that happens to be where these pictures were taken. This was a dream come true, and it inspired the first draft of the haiku for this post:

Whale! Whale! Whale! Whale! Whale!
Whale! Whale! Whale! Whale! Whale! Whale! Whale!
Whale! Whale! Whale! Whale! Whale!

I know, a masterpiece!

Not to be outdone by its massive marine mammal competition, the redwood forest banana slugs put on quite a display. This little guy is a mighty muncher!

This one was the funniest of the bunch:

Banana^2
Banana Slug Banana

It was a grand way to end my time as a northern California resident. Thanks friends!

Weekend Warrior*

This is one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. We were situated above the coastal fog, approximately on O'Rourke's Bench in Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Phenomenal.
This is one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. We were situated above the coastal fog, approximately on O’Rourke’s Bench in Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Phenomenal.

Sea of fog sunsets
Point Reyes falls, seals, lighthouse
Muir Woods sky-scrapers

As if we had not been spoiled enough, we were treated to this gorgeous view out of our tent on Saturday morning at the Pantoll campground in Mt. Tamalpais State Park.
As if we had not been spoiled enough, we were treated to this gorgeous view out of our tent on Saturday morning at the Pantoll campground in Mt. Tamalpais State Park.
Our Saturday adventure began with a seven-ish mile hike along the coast at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Our Saturday adventure began with a seven-ish mile hike along the coast at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Our destination was Alamere Falls, a waterfall into the ocean.
Our destination was Alamere Falls, a waterfall into the ocean. California really does have it all.
We made it!
We made it!
Throughout the park, we were treated to an abundance of blooming wildflowers. The Douglas iris (pictured here) was particularly stunning.
Throughout the park, we encountered an abundance of blooming wildflowers. The Douglas iris (pictured here) was particularly stunning.
In the afternoon, we journeyed across the park to see the Point Reyes Lighthouse. For the physics buffs out there: the Point Reyes Lighthouse is a "first order" Fresnel lens, and its inner workings are particularly display-worthy because they originally debuted at the 1867 Paris World's Fair.
In the afternoon, we journeyed across the park to see the Point Reyes Lighthouse. For the physics buffs out there: the Point Reyes Lighthouse is a “first order” Fresnel lens, and its inner workings are particularly display-worthy because they originally debuted at the 1867 Paris World’s Fair.
Our final park stop was to see the elephant seals. This is a picture through a binocular of one of the male elephant seals calling.
Our final park stop was to see the elephant seals. This is a picture through a binocular of one of the male elephant seals calling. It was a rather amusing sound.
Day two of our adventure led Laura and I to Muir Woods National Monument. Yes, we are wearing matching rain jackets and pants; we bought the rain jackets separately.
Day two of our adventure led Laura and I to Muir Woods National Monument. Yes, we are wearing matching rain jackets and pants; we bought the rain jackets separately.
There is something captivating and special about these trees. For the botany enthusiasts, these are the coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). You will see a picture of another of the "redwoods" in the next section.
There is something captivating about these trees. For the botany enthusiasts, these are the coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). You will see a picture of another of the “redwoods” in the next section.

Walking among giants
Walking among giants

GIANT sequoias
Rim Trail, peep s’mores, & dyed eggs
Sippin’ the good life

In early April, a group of us went to see the “Big Trees” of Calaveras State Park in Arnold, California. The “Big Trees”¬†are giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), and no picture can do them justice, you will have to come see them for yourself.

Walking along the North Grove Trail was akin to walking through an adult-sized jungle gym made of tree parts past and present. Look how big they are!
Walking along the North Grove Trail was akin to walking through an adult-sized jungle gym made of tree parts past and present. Look how big they are!
On day two, David and I hiked a 10-mile section of the Arnold Rim Trail.
On day two, David and I hiked a 10-mile section of the Arnold Rim Trail. Here I am at the Top of the World.
At night, we refueled and rewarded ourselves with peep smores, which is just like a traditional smore but with the marshmallow replaced by a peep! Before you dismiss the idea, try it. Its all about the caramelized sugar.
At night, we refueled and rewarded ourselves with peep s’mores, which are¬†like a traditional s’more, but with the marshmallow replaced by a peep! Before you dismiss the idea, try it: it’s all about the caramelized sugar.
Easter coincided with our trip and to celebrate, we dyed eggs.
Easter coincided with our trip and to celebrate, we dyed eggs. I think that one is looking at you!

Cache Creek Backpacking

Cache Creek backpacking
Rolling trail, wild blooms, critters
Vast oak savanna

The last weekend of March, three of us went on our first backpacking trip of 2015. Our travel destination was Cache Creek Natural Area, a 70,000+ acre expanse of BLM land. For our adventure, we selected the 10-mile Ridge Trail hike, which meandered through oak savannas and the occasional stretch of chamise chaparral. It was a beautiful trip full of wildflowers and animal sightings, the latter of which included a coyote, a gopher snake, a ring-necked snake, a squirrel, and more lizards than I could count.

Sometimes the best way to celebrate trail life is with a shady nap.
Sometimes the best way to celebrate trail life is with a shady nap.
Dinner never tastes so fine as when it comes at the end of a 10-mile hike and is made over a camp stove.
Dinner never tastes so fine as when it comes at the end of a 10-mile hike and is made over a camp stove. Here we are enjoying pita pizzas.
Gopher snake left; Ring-necked snake right
Wildlife sightings/catchings: gopher snake left and ring-necked snake right.
Happy crew nearing the end of our trek - what a weekend!
Happy crew nearing the end of our trek – what a weekend!

*Weekend Warrior endnote: hopefully now it is clear why there have been a dearth of posts. This blog is still something I intend to keep up, but the spread between posts might continue at the current pace. Thank you for reading!

Fritillaria gentneri

F. recurva

Red and gold blossoms,
a curvy doppelgänger
of scarce gentneri.

How grateful I am that looking for flowers can honestly be counted as a day of “work”!

On Wednesday, April 1, my mentor and I traveled¬†north in search of the only known population of endangered Fritillaria gentneri¬†(Gentner’s fritillary) occurring on public lands in California.¬†F. gentneri has a doppelg√§nger: F. recurva¬†(scarlet fritillary),¬†which is the species in the photographs with this post. F. recurva co-occurs with F. gentneri and is distinguished from the endangered species by its recurved flower petals. Both are strikingly beautiful.

Spring time in the mountains
Spring time in the mountains

Next week, the state and federal botanists will have their fun identifying the flowers that were preparing to bloom. I hope they find an abundance of F. gentneri.

We had the place to ourselves!
We had the place to ourselves!