Wednesday, July 14, 2010
This morning's hike up Tollgate Creek was highlighted as much by things I wasn't able to photograph as by the items pictured here. First, we saw a four-foot Gopher Snake cross the path in front of us. Too quick to catch or photograph, but slow enough to see well and prompt a discussion of its habits including its ability to mimic a rattlesnake in looks as well as behavior. We also saw an Acorn Woodpecker up close, but moving around quickly and staying in the shadows, making photography futile. We also saw a fine specimen of Pine Drops down a steep grade, too cumbersome to tempt an approach for pictures. Besides, we were hungry and thirsty by then and walked quickly back to camp. Among the interesting sights photographed were more Showy Milkweed, this one with a Ladybug visitor. Then, a great patch of Dodder, a parasitic plant related to morning Glory. Note the orange stems and very tiny leaves and flowers - not very distinguishable from this distance. This is one strangling a Deerbrush whose green leaves are peeking out here and there. Finally, a 6'-tall specimen of Brewer's Angelica which was being visited by lots of little black beetles plus one attractive butterfly. All in all, a pleasant walk with pleasant company, and besides the visual delights, we sampled the fragrances of Pennyroyal, Mugwort, Incense Cedar, and each others' sunblock.