Monday, September 29, 2008

A wooden bench halfway between Spooner Summit and Kingsbury Grade

This wooden bench can be found on the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) about halfway between Spooner Summit and Kingsbury Grade on South Camp Peak. You can get there by either hiking about six miles north from the Kingsbury North Trailhead or about the same distance south from the Spooner Summit South Trailhead. Either way you need to go upwards, but switchbacks and the shade of pine trees make it a relatively easy hike. Mountain bikers enjoy this section of the TRT, which also is open for equestrians. Depending on the time of day and year you are doing this trip, you may see more deer along the trail than people. However, don't be surprised if the bench is already occupied. This is a place where people meet and stay for some time. On a clear day the view of Lake Tahoe and distant Sierra peaks is magnificent. Try to spot Emerald Bay, Cascade Lake and Fallen Leaf Lake. If blue is not your color, study the greenish yellow patterns of lichens on the rock outcrops in front of you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bluegrass Trailhead

Where can you hike between bluegrass sessions? At Anderson Marsh State Historic Park south of Clearlake in California! This year's Old Time Bluegrass Festival took place there over the last weekend. It was sunny and hot. Bands such as The Mighty Crows had to play under the sun (left picture), but the audience could enjoy the music from under a parachute roof (upper right picture). Workshops for flatpicking guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle were scheduled at the old ranch house. During your self-planned intermission, you could hike on some of the trails of this park, where the Cache Creek meets the lower end of Clear Lake. Trails lead through riparian habitat, hills with blue oaks and grasslands. And during the festival, faint bluegrass sounds passed over the hills and trails.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hiking through prickly habitat

Stephen Ingram introduced his new book about cacti, agaves and yuccas yesterday at the Sundance Bookstore in Reno. In addition to the amazing color photographs and botanical watercolors, the book contains range maps for most of the spiny and sometimes hairy plants. These maps help you to anticipate which succulent species you are likely to see on your next hike through some arid habitat in California or Nevada. You may not want to touch any of the plants, but many animals do. They interact with them in various ways. Ingram's book provides plenty of examples including ants feeding inside a prickly-pear fruit, orioles perching on a Shaw agave and a ground-nesting cactus bee visiting the flower of a Whipple cholla. I am wondering about the wildlife I'll experience along the next trail through the prickly world?

The Book
Stephen Ingram: Cacti, Agaves and Yuccas of California and Nevada. Cachuma Press, Los Olivos, California, 2008.