Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tomales Bay Trail to Giacomini Wetland and Lagunitas Creek

The Tomales Bay Trail in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area offers access to the southern end of Tomales Bay. From the trailhead, it is about a mile, slightly downhill, to the wetland and saltwater areas. The photography shows the view along Lagunitas Creek, meeting Tomales Bay. Fog is moving inland from the west over the Point Reyes National Seashore and over the bay. The trail splits into two dead-end trails. One is going north between Lagunitas Creek and old oak trees. The other is going southeast to the Giacomini Wetland, which is named after dairy-man Waldo Giacomini, who build dikes and levees here in the 1940s to convert parts of the marshland into pasture. Today, this is the land of white egrets, river otters, naturalists, hikers and kayaking enthusiasts—then and now, always right on top of the San Andreas fault.

Getting to the Tomales Bay Trailhead
The Tomales Bay Trailhead is about two miles away from A Street in Point Reyes Station, north of Stinson Beach in California. From A Street, take the Shoreline Hwy (Highway 1) and drive northeast for about half a mile. At the intersection with the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, turn left and continue on the Shoreline Hwy until you see the trailhead parking lot on the left side.

Read more on Tomales Bay's restoration, wildlife and paddling:
[1] Carolyn Longstreth: A Marsh is born at Point Reyes: Just Add Water. Bay Nature October-December 2009, pp. 12-15.
[2] Physical characteristics of Tomales Bay.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

White heather at the shore of Twin Lakes

White heather is an evergreen with upward-angled, needle-like leaves. Plants, which grow in masses, typically start flowering in July. The plants in the picture (July 2) were found at the shore of Twin Lakes in the Sierra Nevada in California. Wet, rocky areas on open slopes near and above the timberline are their usual habitat. White heather mats have been located and described in places from Alaska to northern Nevada and central California.

White heather (Cassiope mertensiana), also named alpine heather or western moss heather, belongs—big surprise—to the heath family (Ericaceae). Flowering plants are easily identified by their white bells, hanging from tips of slender stalks and “hold” by reddish pink, finger-like sepals.

More about white heather:
[1] Cassiope mertensiana (Bong.) G. Don.
[2] White Mountain-heather.
[3] Cassiope mertensiana var. mertensiana. Western Moss Heather.
[4] Calflora: Cassiope mertensiana (Bong.) Don.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Twin Lakes in the Crystal Range of the Sierra Nevada

The Eldorado National Forest in the Sierra Nevada southwest of Lake Tahoe in California is an area of small and not so small lakes, hidden in forests or openly placed in granite bowls. This “forest” includes the Desolation Wilderness, a part of the High Sierra with boulders, rocks, and walls; yet featuring various wildflowers and here and there a tall tree. The best time to see the colorful display of wildflowers such as blue lupines or white and red heather is late spring and early summer, when the meltwater is rushing downhill and builds its own streams, not to be found on any map. On July 2, this year, the Twin Lakes Trail still served in parts as a path for running water.
The Twin Lakes hike—on trail sections with up to forty percent grade—is a scenic experience. The eastward view at the lake goes across the lake, small rock islands to a waterfall and patches of snow in the Crystal Range.

Getting to the Twin Lakes Trailhead
From Highway 50 between Strawberry and Freds Place take Wright Lake Road (Highway 4). Drive uphill to the Chimney Flat area. Cross Lyons Creek and South Fork Silver Creek. Continue on Wright Lake Road all the way to the Visitor Center at Wright Lake. Turn right, drive slowly through the camp ground and find the parking lot at the end of the road. This point is close to the eastern end of Wrights Lake and provides trail access to Maud Lake, Gertrude Lake, Tyler Lake, Twin Lakes, Island Lake, Grouse Lake, Smith Lake and Hemlock Lake as well as other lakes, ponds, wetlands (in spring) and waterfalls.

[1] Eldorado National Forest, Recreational Activities: Hiking, Biking, and Horses. Wrights Lake Area.
[2] Desolation Wilderness at
[3] Adam Paul: Nature & Travel Photography and Narratives. Hiking from Wright's Lake to Twin Lake (Desolation Wilderness, California).