Mix Canyon was a Bust, But… 04-03-23

Okay, this was a very weird but eventually rewarding day. After feeding and pottying the dog, I got myself ready to go on a drive up Mix Canyon Road with my friend Roxanne. We were on the hunt for wildflowers; it’s that time of year.

Along the way, we saw about 10 hawks in the trees and on telephone poles along the highway. Mostly Red-Tails, but also at least one Swainson’s Hawk. As we were heading further into the foothills along Highway 128, I spotted some Ithuriel’s Spears (which we hadn’t seen yet this year), so we stopped the car to get out and take some photos.

There was a shallow ditch along the road that had a trickle of water and some gravel in it. I thought it would be safe to step on the gravelly part, but as soon as I did, my foot sank about 7 inches into soft mud and I lost my balance and fell forward into the tall grass. Now, when I fall down, I can’t get backup, because of the weakness in my legs (especially my “cancer leg”).

Roxanne tried everything she could to get me back up onto my feet, but I’m pretty much just dead weight in that kind of circumstance, so she fell down, too. What a pair we make! We had to laugh at ourselves, even though it was a very stressful situation.

I flagged down a car that was heading toward us on the highway, and the woman who was driving it was kind enough to pull over to help. She and Roxanne actually got me onto my feet once, but as soon as I stepped toward the car, my feet hit another soft spot on the ground and I fell once more. They tried to get me up again but by then my legs were completely shot [it doesn’t take much] and they couldn’t budge me off the ground.

Right about then, another vehicle stopped on the opposite side of the highway and two more women stepped over to help us. Between the three Good Samaritans and Roxanne, I finally got back onto my feet again. Someone found an old discarded car floor mat on the side of the road, and had me step on that — disbursing my weight over its surface — while I crossed out of the ditch area. My legs were weak and exceedingly shaky, so the ladies held onto me until I got back to the car and sat down in the passenger seat. Phew! Yay!

Women are empathetic and strong! Thank you for your kindness, compassion and support!

After things had settled down, and the Good Samaritans had driven away, I felt nauseated and had to vomit outside the passenger side of the car onto the road. *Sigh* Thereafter, along our drive, I had to have Roxanne stop the car four more times so I could be sick on the street. I never get carsick, so I couldn’t understand what my problem was. Roxanne suggested that the fall had put so much shock and pressure on my body that it had to barf it out. She was probably right. Clinically, it’s called “cyclic vomiting syndrome”, a series of vomiting spasms after a high stress situation which abates once the person is feeling calmer and safe again. Eventually, the bouts of nausea got fewer and farther between and went away.

We continued on toward Mix Canyon Road, determined not to let the events of the morning disrupt our whole day. We did get so see some common birds along the way including Wild Turkeys, California Quails, Buffleheads in the lake and even Peacocks on the side of the road calling to one another.

When we got to Pleasant Valley Road, where the turn off is to Lake Solano Park and Mix Canyon, we found the highway was completely closed off for about 4.6 miles, cutting off access to the Monticello Dam. There was a landslide, not on top of the highway, covering it, but UNDERNEATH the highway, making it unsupported and prone to collapse. Scary.

Photo from CalTrans of the sink hole on the other side of the road closure.

Still, we were able to turn off on Pleasant Valley Road and continue on to Mix Canyon Road but there, too, we found a road closure sign. This one said the road was closed to everyone except residents, but it didn’t say why. We decided to check it out anyway and continued to look for wildflowers. Usually, along this road we see Globe Liles, and Shooting Stars, Hummingbird Sage, Chinese Houses, Twining Snake Lilies, and Indian Warrior, among many other flowers. But today, we didn’t see any of that. It was very disappointing.

So, we decided to turn around and take Highway 505 to Highway 16 where I knew there would be wildflowers because I’d seen them there just recently.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Along the way, we could see hillsides covered with poppies that weren’t quite open yet. In another few weeks, those hills should be absolutely golden.

Cache Creek and Bear Creek were running high and fast along the sides of the highway.

Along Highway 16, we were greeted with a wide variety of wildflowers, and the Pipestem Clematis buds were opening up from the tops of the trees to the edge of the road.

At the Camp Haswell area, we found Purple Owl’s Clover, Popcorn flowers, poppies, Blue Dicks and even a stand of Lacy Phacelia, among other flowers. That made up for the dearth of flowers earlier in the day.

We seem to talk abut this every year, but notice the color difference between some of the lupine flowers on the stalk above: some have white centers (lips) and some have purple/magenta centers. The color change happens when the flowers have been pollinated. Bees will be drawn to the ones with the white centers, but ignore the ones with the purple centers.

According to the Native Plant Society: “…The pigmentation change is a response to ethylene produced by the pistil (female part of the flower) after it has been pollinated and is no longer receptive…” Cool, huh?

Above, you can see the difference in the leaves between Taw Manroot (left) and California Manroot (right). We saw both species during this trip.

I also saw a handful of different insects while I was out there . We seem to see so few insects these days, it was nice to see them starting to emerge in this area: spiders, bees, bee-flies, and some butterflies including Acmon Blues, Cabbage Whites and Sulphurs.

The extended drive from Solano County to Highways 16 and 20 took up a large portion of our day, so we skipped the idea of having a long lunch somewhere and stopped instead at a Starbucks to get a cold drink and sandwich to eat in the car on the way home.

We got back to the house around 3:00 pm. That was a long day for both of us. This was hike #15 of my #52HikeChallenge for the year.

Species List:

  1. Acmon Blue Butterfly, Icaricia acmon
  2. Bee Fly, Family: Bombyliidae
  3. Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
  4. Birchleaf Mountain Mahogany, Cercocarpus betuloides
  5. Blue Dicks, Dipterostemon capitatus ssp. capitatus
  6. Buckbrush, Ceanothus cuneatus
  7. Bufflehead Duck, Bucephala albeola
  8. Cabbage White Butterfly, Pieris rapae
  9. California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
  10. California Quail, Callipepla californica
  11. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
  12. Cattail, Narrow-Leaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  13. Clouded Sulphur Butterfly, Colias philodice
  14. Common Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum
  15. Concentric Boulder Lichen, Porpidia crustulata
  16. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  17. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  18. Crane Flies, Infraorder: Tipulomorpha
  19. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  20. Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata [red line on leaves when young]
  21. Erodium , Redstem Stork’s-Bill, Erodium cicutarium
  22. Fiddleneck, Bristly Fiddleneck, Amsinckia tessellata
  23. Field Mustard, Brassica rapa
  24. Fragrant Sumac, Rhus aromatica
  25. Fringepod, Sand Fringepod, Thysanocarpus curvipes
  26. Giraffe’s Head, Henbit Deadnettle, Lamium amplexicaule
  27. Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia
  28. Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
  29. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  30. Ithuriel’s Spear, Triteleia laxa
  31. Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
  32. Lomatium, Foothill Desert-Parsley, Lomatium utriculatum
  33. Lupine, Broadleaf Lupine, Lupinus latifolius
  34. Lupine, Bush Lupine, Silver Lupine, Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons
  35. Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
  36. Lupine, Sky Lupine, Lupinus nanus
  37. Manroot, California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
  38. Manroot, Taw Man-Root, Marah watsonii
  39. Manzanita, Common Manzanita, Arctostaphylos manzanita
  40. Milkmaids, Cardamine californica
  41. Mistletoe, Broadleaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum
  42. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  43. Mule’s Ears, Gray Mule-Ears, Wyethia helenioides
  44. Mule’s Ears, Smooth Mule-Ears, Wyethia glabra
  45. Narrowleaf Goldenbush, Ericameria linearifolia
  46. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  47. Oak, Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii
  48. Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
  49. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  50. Pacific Pea, Lathyrus vestitus
  51. Paintbrush, Woolly Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja foliolosa
  52. Peafowl, Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus
  53. Phacelia, Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia [purple]
  54. Pipestem Clematis, Old Man’s Beard, Clematis lasiantha
  55. Poison Oak, Pacific Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
  56. Popcorn Flower, Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus
  57. Poppy, California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
  58. Poppy, Tufted Poppy, Eschscholzia caespitosa
  59. Purple Owl’s Clover, Castilleja exserta var. exserta
  60. Red Maids, Calandrinia menziesii
  61. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  62. Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
  63. Shepherd’s-Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
  64. Shining Pepperweed, Lepidium nitidum
  65. Silverpuff, Grassland Silverpuffs, Stebbinsoseris heterocarpa
  66. Sparrow, Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  67. Sparrow, House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
  68. Stonecrop, Moss Pygmy Weed, Crassula connata [tiny, red]
  69. Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni
  70. Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  71. Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
  72. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  73. Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa
  74. Wall Barley, Hordeum murinum
  75. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  76. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  77. Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
  78. Western Wallflower, Erysimum capitatum
  79. White Nemophila, Nemophila heterophylla
  80. White Tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus
  81. Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum

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