Saturday, March 24, 2012

First, a Bit of Color; TM, 3/23/12

Table Mountain is in some ways like an island.  Its relative separation from adjacent environments might not be as obvious as in the case of oceanic islands or islands in lakes, but is still sufficient that one finds a unique flora and fauna and usually at least a few endemic species.  Table Mountain brings to mind images of incredible wildflower displays during spring.  I took an all day hike on the mountain yesterday with some friends, and I'm posting here some photos of the more colorful wildflowers.  What made a very strong impression on me, however, is that this would have been an incredible experience even if no flowers had been blooming.  As one of my hiking companions said, Table Mountain is a year-round experience, fascinating in every season.  I have yet to put that to a thorough test, but I intend to.  When it's very hot in July and August, and the thin soil on the plateau has turned to cement, and the slender salamanders are hiding out in little pockets of moisture 20 feet below the surface, I am going to visit the mountain again.  I'll bring lots of water and bananas and a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen, and hike around the dried-up plants and see what I can see.  In my next several posts, I'll share a few more images of blooming flowers but also some of animals and rocks.  In fact, the geology of this mountain is one of its most fascinating aspects.  I'm a relative beginner at geology, but visits to Table Mountain always make me want to take up the study of geology more seriously.  Yesterday we were guided by a map prepared by the Chico Hiking Association titled "Many Waterfalls Cross Country Loop."  Very good title.  The waterfalls were amazing.  We burned a lot of calories in seeking out and viewing several major waterfalls from vantage points above them but also scrambled down steep notches in the cliffs to visit pools and caves at their bottoms.  Stay tuned for more pictures of this incredible place.

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