Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Baker's Dozen from the FRC Nature Trail

 OK, I counted wrong.  Let's just say it was a generous baker.  My narrative about this wonderful hike will be posted tomorrow morning.  It's past my bed time.  Make no bones about it.
Friday: 7:54 p.m.  I didn't exactly make it by Wednesday morning. Got very busy and had to put blogging aside.  Since my enjoyable hike on the FRC nature trail, we've had more warm weather and more wildflowers are blooming, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  The top two photos were taken soon after I got on the trail from the trailhead at the south end of the main parking lot at the college.  The most noticeable feature, if one looks upward, would be the large Ponderosa Pines, Douglas-firs, and even some large California Black Oaks.  On the other hand, if one looks downward, the most prominent feature would be horse poop.  I'm generally in favor of "multiple use" in principle, but I do think different access points for hikers and horses should be developed.  As one gets into the higher elevations, the concentration of users thins out and an occasional pile of poo on the trail is not a problem.  But, as it is now, that first 100 yards can be quite unpleasant as well as suffering from erosion. 
After that beginning stretch, I began to enjoy other natural features.  The top photo is of a part of a pelvis, most likely of a deer.  Then I came across a group of squirrels that seemed to be playing with each other.  Click on the second photo for a better view of one of the squirrels racing across a downed tree trunk.  Then, where the trail forks into upper and lower routes, someone had decorated the signpost with a hawk feather.  Nice touch.
Next is a view of the lower branch of the trail in a stretch where the canopy was thin enough to let some sunlight through.  Compare that with the following photo taken a little further along where the canopy closes and lets very little sunlight through.  It's kind of a nice, mysterious feeling which could be scary if it weren't so close to the campus and a relatively busy paved walkway.

I suppose this next one is out of order since the main accumulation of horse poop was near the beginning of the trail.  But I couldn't resist posting at least one image of it.
Next, at the bast of a large oak, I found nice adjacent patches of moss and lichen.
Then an even prettier sample of a fruticose lichen growing up through a patch of moss.
As I approached the end of this branch of the trail near the buildings of the upper campus, the large trees gave way to shrubs, many of which were covered with a bright gray lichen.  Is bright gray an oxymoron?  Click on this image and see what you think.
When I came across a group of three deer, I had to shoot into the sun, but the rays gave this one a dramatic look, as if this deer were something special.
Beyond the first buildings one encounters, the trail passes through an oak grove with a sign honoring the early presence of Maidu Indians on this site and explaining a bit about their controlled burns used to increase the acorn harvest.
Last, as I entered the nearest building to use the drinking fountain, I spotted a very active moth.  I tried a half dozen times before I could get a shot of it standing still.  The carpet in this photo reminds me of a package of assorted jelly beans.
Then, on the way back to my car, I found the Spring Whitlow Grass was springing up in the lawn everywhere.  This flower is so small, one could walk over it every day throughout the spring without noticing it.  It's quite pretty close up.  A member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae.

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