Walking Along the Trails at the Sac’to National Wildlife Refuge

It’s my day off, but I still got up early because I wanted to drive out to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge before it got too hot… on this Summer Solstice Day!  Sergeant Margie and I were out the door by about 5:45 am.  On our way we didn’t encounter a lot of traffic (which is kind of odd on a Friday, even early in the morning), but we did get to see fields and fields of sunflowers (the farmers are growing them for seed this year), and in some of the mowed fields we could also see little “herds” of jack rabbits.  Hah!  On the way to the refuge, I stopped to put gas in the car, got my morning coffee, and picked up some stuff for lunch later in the day.

We got to the refuge just a little before 8:00 am, and it was still relatively cool and breezy there (about 68°).  I didn’t do the “car tour” and instead headed out with the dog on their hiking trails.  This time of year, most of the vernal pools are already dry, so we didn’t see any water birds on our walk.  We did get to see the Fuller’s Teasel (Dipsacus sativus) in bloom, which I’d never seen before.  They’re invasive, so technically they’re “bad”, but they’re soooooo neat-looking!  After they lose their fluffy flowers, the hard spiny heads are really intriguing.  According to my research, before metal combs were invented, the teasel heads were used for carding wool.  They’re super-tough, and when the plants grow in thick stands even humans can’t get through them.  The seeds can sit dormant for up to six years, so sometimes landowners don’t know they have teasel until it’s too late to stop the incursion… So, they’re “bad”, but they’re interesting… Kind of like the “Moriarty” of the invasives’ world.

Anyway, Sergeant Margie and I walked all but one short length of the trails around the front part of the refuge… but after a while it got too hot for the dog and he really started dragging, so I headed us back to the car, stopping occasionally to sit on the makeshift benches along the trail and rest in the shade.  When we got back to the car, I gave Sergeant Margie some bottled water, and then he kind of curled up on his pillow in the back seat and fell asleep, snoring away.  I wore him out.

On the way back to the house, I stopped at a rest stop just outside of Sacramento.  Sergeant Margie and I had a little picnic there — during which we had to stave off an onslaught of black flies — before packing up again and going the rest of the way home. We got back to the house right around noon.

It was such a nice, quiet morning with my dog; I loved it.