Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Definitely Spring Today, Part III

 This is the last post about Sunday's sketch-walk in the vicinity of Gilson Creek.  The first two posts were mostly about our time spent on a sunny hillside above the railroad tracks and above the last couple hundred yards of Gilson before it enters Spanish Creek.  This last post is a group of images made on the hike back toward Oakland Camp.  After crossing beneath the railroad tracks, Gilson Creek goes through a deep gully or canyon in a series of beautiful cascades.  I've never seen this one dry up at the end of summer even though several other creeks on the east side of Spanish Creek do.  Only this one and Tollgate seem to have a pretty good flow until the fall rains begin.
 When we approached the mouth of Gilson, I was intrigued by textures of various plants such as in a large stand of Horsetails.  This shot is of a fertile frond, the blackish button at the top producing spores and the stem having no side branches.  There no sterile fronds yet, but they lack the spore-producing organ at the top, and they have many side branches which look like miniature versions of the main stem.  A very lacy look, and easier to see why Horsetails are considered ferns.
 The new branches on Black Cottonwood were a bright red, providing a nice contrast with the brownish color of the main trunk.  When the tree gets older the bark of the trunk tends to become gray or white and resemble the higher altitude member of the family, the Quaking Aspen.
 AS we re-entered the drier oak-pine forest east of Gilson Creek, the ground was covered in leaves of California Black Oak and needles of Ponderosa Pine.  The occasional wet spots supported nice patches of moss.  This patch has lots of new sporophytes (tan) growing out of the tops of the green gametophytes. 
 When the trees are wide-spaced, as they were in the open area half way back to camp, one is compelled to pay more attention to their bark.  This mature black oak had a beautiful geometric pattern.  Click on it for a closer view of the details.  The Bluebelly Lizards must love running around on this bark.  Easy to grip and I found I could climb a tree like this without relying on branches.  Maybe I'm part lizard.
 The Ponderosa Pine, sometimes called puzzle tree because of the patterns in its bark, is very impressive when it gets to be four or more feet in diameter.  There are some really impressive ones along this trail, including a few that have survived lightening strikes.
This afternoon (Tuesday) was very warm, and I took a nice hike along the Feather River College nature trail.  Some photos from that hike will be in my next post, but the narrative will have to wait until tomorrow.

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