Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve: A July 17 Hike

This new preserve in Morgan Hill has been open for about a month and, like much of the Coyote Valley, it has a history of ranching activities.  My favorite aspects of this hike were the wonderful views to the North and East, the variety of tree species, serpentine outcrop, and the signs of animal inhabitants.  There were even some July flowers in bloom.

Leaving the busy world behind.  Preserve entrance and surroundings on Palm Drive.  Map, preserve info, and driving directions.

There is only one official trail here and, from the parking lot, you climb and then descend for four miles through switchbacks with about 400' elevation gain.  Patches of shade provide scattered resting places all along the way, although there are hot stretches in full sun.  We went counterclockwise along the loop trail.

We were greeted by a juvenile Western bluebird in the lower preserve-entrance side of the Arrowhead Trail where there are remnants of ranching history.

Someone in the canine family has been on the trail and, since dogs are not allowed in Open Space Preserves, it was probably a coyote.  The size was right.  We also saw deer and their tracks.

Valley oak and buckeye are prominent trees.  Bay grows around the now-dry draws.

This hollyleaf cherry was at the first picnic table overlook and  a new species for me.  

Mount Hamilton is visible through valley haze to the northeast... is the Metcalf Energy Center to the north.

Hikers below, leaving the preserve.

Serpentine outcrop (?), agriculture, east valley hills; a scene from the hike's descent.  

You may have noticed that, except for the Valley itself, the Preserve and surrounding area is very dry.  What flowers could possibly grow here in this droughty July?  Consider the annual white tarweed which seems to be finding water and sustenance in a shaded spot along the trail.  It may have edible seeds and, who knows, might be your new lawn and snack in a few years.  (Do not harvest tarweed here!  This is a Preserve. Do not eat wildflowers without consulting a certified expert!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Lush and the Sharp: A June 30th Hike at Almaden Quicksilver

It's dry and hot at AQS but summer wildflowers and even some farewell-to-spring are out.  Many are not in my immediate repertoire so I'm hoping to get ID assistance.  This one reminds me of buckwheat.

This seems to be a teasel of some kind and it is blooming from the bottom up.  Lovely anthers and we can call this specimen both sharp and lush.  

Elderberry, at the height of lush abundance.  

Very lush but very sparse and in only one spot on the hike.  Composite of some sort.  Anyone know?

Going to seed in the softest and downiest way.  A thistle 
or close relative, perhaps.

The least-focused but the sharpest of all and now we know why artichoke is a thistle.