Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"H Is For Hawk," Wednesday, April 15th in Point Reyes Station

At midnight tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15th, the time for procrastinating on paying Uncle Sam last year's taxes ends.

But at 7:00 pm (before or after you begrudging send off your loot to the IRS), you can attend a special "bird book" event at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station.

Here's what the program, sponsored by Point Reyes Books, is all about:

"Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk is among the most anticipated works of nonfiction this spring. Winner of the 2014 Costa Book of the Year and the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction, it is the remarkable story of one woman’s resolve to raise and train the most bloodthirsty of birds: the goshawk.

"But it’s also a heart-wrenching account of Macdonald’s grief at the sudden death of her father; a literary meditation on The Sword and the Stone author T.H.White—a writer who also sought to fill a void through training a goshawk; a gripping piece of nature writing that “reads like a thriller” (The Guardian) and transports both writer and reader to the edge of humanity and back."

Click here to read more about the author and tomorrow night's reading.

Leapfrog Lunch on Mount Burdell

The weather was perfect for today's hike on Mount Burdell in Novato.

Hidden Lake, our lunch stop, was indeed hidden: All of the water which had recently been there had completely evaporated.

And the tadpoles that of late had been swimming in that vernal pond had turned into an abundant colony of tiny leaping frogs frolicking away while we enjoyed a sunny midday meal.

Chimney Rock (4/21) Hike Preview

We'll return to Point Reyes National Seashore for this hike which we do every year in Spring. (Click here for a recap of our 2010 trek.  You can also view photos taken on past hikes.)

Here's what Wendy promises for this outing: "This is one of Marin's must-see spring wildflower displays which includes some beautiful endangered flowers.

"We'll see Northern Elephant Seals at the overlook and take time to learn about their history and return from the brink of extinction. (Click here to watch Dick Jordan's "Saving Seals By The Seashore," a 3-minute "short" which aired on MarinTV.)

"We often see Piegon Guiillemots, Eared Grebes in breeding plumage, Common Loons, and Savannah Sparrows on this hike. Bring binoculars if you have them."

Directions to trailhead: Take Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to Olema. Turn right at Olema onto Highway 1, then make an immediate left onto Bear Valley Road.

There are restrooms at the trailhead --- another 30-45 minutes down the road; if you need a restroom break now, take the first left off Bear Valley Road and stop at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Continue on Bear Valley Road until you pick up Sir Francis Drake again.

Turn left to follow Sir Francis Drake out to Point Reyes. Go through Inverness.

At the junction with Pierce Point Road, bear left and stay on Sir Francis Drake. Follow signs towards the Lighthouse and Drake’s Beach. You’ll pass the turn to Drake’s Beach on your left.

Keep going until you see a left turn to Chimney Rock. (Sir Francis Drake continues on to end at the Lighthouse parking lot).

Driving time from the College of Marin: One hour, thirty minutes.  

Carpoolers can meet at St. Rita's Church in Fairfax at 8:30 am.

(Click here to get driving directions from your location and a MapQuest map showing the trailhead.) 

Weather forecast: As of Tuesday, April 14th, the National Weather Service forecast for the Point Reyes Lighthouse area was partly sunny, with a high near 58. (Click here for an updated forecast).

Real-time weather reporting for the Point Reyes Lighthouse is also available (click here). Sometimes it is very windy when we do this hike, so in addition to your rain gear (if the forecast changes), be sure to toss some extra layers and a warm jacket and hat (bring some duct tape to "tie" your hat on your head) in your car in case it is "blowin' like snot" (a sailor's term for windy weather).

More on this hike: The general area covered by this hike is shown in hike "G13 PR Lighthouse and Chimney Rock" in the Martin's book, Hiking Marin and the "Chimney Rock" hike in Tracy Salcedo-Chourre's book, Exploring Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

 Click here to view and print a copy of the park map for the Point Reyes National Seashore.

You can also view and print out a map of the Chimney Rock area from the Point Reyes National Seashore Web site.

Here's the hike profile.

Here's the route we'll follow.

The Google Earth image below shows where we'll be on this outing. (Click on the photo to open a larger image in your Web browser).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A New and Improved Steep Ravine Trail

Five of us (Wendy, her friend from Otto from Austria, Judy, Arthur, and Dick) correctly guessed that yesterday's heavy rain would stop before and not resume until well after the hike.

Tip: If the weather for a hike sounds like it might be wet and windy, go to the KTUV Channel 2 Website and check out the "FutureCast" which, unlike the National Weather Service Website, predicts cloud cover and rainfall hour by hour and may indicate that we'll be "high and dry" on the trail during the hike that day.

We five who managed to reach the trailhead (albeit 45 minutes late in Dick's case) despite the big traffic snafu on Highway 101 between San Rafael and Corte Madera and along Sir Francis Drake near the Greenbrae interchange discovered that it is now a bit easier to get up the Steep Ravine Trail to Pantoll.

A new bridge has replaced an older one that was wrecked by a falling tree during last December's storms.

(Alas, the other bridges that are missing boards or rotting away haven't been replaced yet.)

 The ladder that we have to ascend next to a waterfall looks to be brand new, too.

And downed trees that nearly blocked some sections of the trail have been removed.

Except for a bit of overcast during our lunch break, and some brisk winds as we crossed the meadows along the Dipsea trail, yesterday's weather was perfect for hiking in Steep Ravine, with a lot of sunshine.