I took my dog Esteban with me on a preliminary drive up along Highway 16 West in search of wildflowers. We took the route up through the city of Woodland — which gave me the opportunity to top off my gas tank — and past the 505 interchange. It was overcast, but there was no rain.
There weren’t a lot of wildflowers along the roadsides in the early part of the drive, and I was concerned that the trip might be a bust. I was happy, then, when I found outcroppings of flowers as I got closer to Camp Haswell, an old and now defunct Boy Scout Camp right across from the trailhead to the Valley Vista Trail.
The parking area at the camp was a mudhole after all of the rains, and the building at the site is totally decrepit now, but there are porta-potties you can use if you need a break. Here, I found clusters of Popcorn Flowers, Fiddleneck, Miniature Lupine, Shining Pepperweed and Blue Dicks. Later in the season there should be pink Owl Clover and yellow Goldfields here, too.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
Further along the road I was finding lots of Taw Manroot and California Dutchman’s Pipevine vines, some in bloom. The Pipestem Clematis had spread out wide canopies along the tops of some of the lower-growth trees and shrubs and was just starting to bud. In another week or two, it should be spectacular.
There weren’t many birds around, which was kind of surprising. I saw a single Flicker, a Western Bluebird, a couple of Scrub Jays, and a pair of Canada Geese on a rock in the creek. No sparrows, no swallows, no finches or Kingbirds, and no warblers. I was expecting more considering we’re going into the spring season. Likewise, I didn’t see many insects other than a few bees and some mosquitoes in a damp part of the forest.
The both Cache Creek nd Bear Creek were running, high, fast and muddy. I’ve never seen so much water in them.
I stopped at one of the turnouts at the Cache Creek Regional Park to get some photos and video of the creek there. As I drove in, I could see that some of the boulders there were covered in a variety of lichen.
As I was getting photos of some of the lichen, a young woman came up to me to ask if I was rock hunting. I told her, no, I was looking at the lichen. Then, of course, I had to explain to her what the lichen was. Then she asked, “But what does it do?”
As the National Park Service says, “…They are a keystone species in many ecosystems. They serve as a food source and habitat for many animals such as deer, birds, and rodents. They provide nesting materials for birds. They protect trees and rocks from extreme elements such as rain, wind, and snow… One of the reasons we don’t want lichen to disappear from the forest is that they also act as an air scrubber for the air that we breathe. Much like a mop cleans a floor, lichen help clean our air. Lichen trap particulate matter in the air like dust, while also absorbing smaller pollutants like sulfur, mercury, and nitrogen. This means cleaner, healthier air for us to breathe.” Cool stuff!
While I was walking around looking for more of the lichen, I got out of the sight of Esteban, who was waiting in the car. I suddenly could hear him barking, so I looked over to the car and saw him sitting in the front driver’s side seat. His leash, which is connected to a seatbelt in the back seat of the car, isn’t long enough to allow him to get into the front seat, so I wondered how he’d managed that trick.
I went to the car and realized, as I got closer, that he had somehow wriggled out of his harness and was no longer restricted by the leash attached to it. I got into the car, got him back into his harness, and moved the leash so he could sit in the front seat for the rest of our journey.
On the drive back home, I was so tired, I found myself almost falling asleep at the wheel. The rest stop I usually go to was closed — again — so I stopped at a Starbucks to get some coffee to give me a caffeine boost. It was the WORST Starbucks I’d ever been to. The wait in line took “forever” because the staff was so slow at taking and preparing orders. The drink they gave me was room temperature — not hot or cold — and flat, with little flavor (even with an extra shot). Disappointing. Still, it gave me the boost I needed to get me home.
This was hike #11 ofmy#52HikeChallenge for the year.
- Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna
- Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Bay Laurel, California Bay, Umbellularia californica
- Birchleaf Mountain Mahogany, Cercocarpus betuloides
- Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
- Black-Eyed Lichen, Tephromela atra
- Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
- Blue Dicks, Dipterostemon capitatus
- Brown Cobblestone Lichen, Acarospora fuscata
- California Buckeye Chestnut Tree, Aesculus californica
- California Ground Squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica
- California Quail, Callipepla californica [heard]
- California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Cattail, Narrow-Leaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
- Ceramic Parchment, Xylobolus frustulatus
- Concentric Boulder Lichen, Porpidia crustulata
- Crater Lichen, Diploschistes scruposus
- Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Cumberland Rock-Shield Lichen, Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia
- Erodium, Musk Stork’s-Bill, Erodium moschatum
- Field Mustard, Brassica rapa
- Fern, Goldback Fern, Pentagramma triangularis
- Fiddleneck, Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
- Field Mustard, Brassica rapa
- Gold Cobblestone Lichen, Pleopsidium flavum [darker orange-yellow than Yellow Cobblestone]
- Grasses, Ripgut Brome, Bromus diandrus
- Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana
- Great Egret, Ardea alba [along the roadside]
- Green Rock-Posy, Rhizoplaca melanophthalma
- Hoary Rosette Lichen, Physcia aipolia
- Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
- Lomatium, Foothill Desert-Parsley, Lomatium utriculatum
- Lupine, Bush Lupine, Silver Lupine, Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons
- Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
- Manroot, Taw Man-Root, Marah watsonii
- Manzanita, Common Manzanita, Arctostaphylos manzanita
- Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata
- Mistletoe, Broadleaf Mistletoe, Phoradendron macrophyllum
- Mosquito, Super Family: Culicoidea
- Mountain Lichen, Dimelaena radiata
- Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
- Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
- Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
- Oak, Interior Live Oak, Quercus wislizeni
- Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Orange Atoms, Squamulea subsoluta
- Pacific Pea, Lathyrus vestitus
- Paintbrush, Woolly Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja foliolosa
- Pin-Cushion Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona polycarpa
- Pipestem Clematis, Old Man’s Beard, Clematis lasiantha
- Poison Oak, Western Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum
- Popcorn Flower, Rusty Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus
- Puffball, Lead-Grey Puffball, Bovista plumbea
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
- Rock Nipple Lichen, Thelomma mammosum
- Salt Bush, Cryptocarpus pyriformis
- Shining Pepperweed, Lepidium nitidum
- Shrubby Sunburst Lichen, Polycauliona candelaria
- Speckled Greenshield Lichen, Flavopunctelia flaventior
- Stonewall Rim Lichen, Protoparmeliopsis muralis
- Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia
- Wavy-Leafed Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum
- Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
- Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
- Willow, Salix sp.
- Yellow Cobblestone Lichen, Acarospora socialis
- Yellow Map Lichen, Rhizocarpon geographicum
- Yerba Santa, California Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californicum
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