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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Going Home to Phleger

Ah...it was nice to go home. Stillman and I hadn't gone hiking since last July when MonkeyPig visited HQ. Part of the reason was that Stillman had knee surgery, and part of the reason was I was too busy eating on the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now that Stillman's knee is ready to face the wild again and I am face to face with my New Year's resolution, we have begun our hikes again. And, what better place to start it all off again than the Phleger Estate? Yes, it was like coming home again. There were so many little nooks and crannies that became familiar again once we came across them.

One thing that was unusual was the packed parking lot. Turned out that there was some sort of foot race being run out of the park, but not on the trail. So, off we went into the forest.

There were so many things that I had forgotten but was reminded of again when I went into Phleger! We went past the spot where I had first met the kung fu master. She wasn't there today, though. But, you know who was there? The Banana Slug Welcome Back Parade! Sometimes, when we think about trees and shrubs standing still or the banana slugs living solitary lives since they move so slow, we forget that they really are a community together. I mean, look at the parade they organized for us, right? And, look at the trees and their vine entourages. These are not solitary things, after all.

It was really nice to walk along the trail under the overhanging tree trunks. The heavy canopy kept the rain off, but when we got to the part with the chaparral, we felt a bit of the rain on our heads. We were struck with a sense of nostalgia as we encountered our first switchback:



But, there were so many new things! Since, I only started hiking last April, I have never seen the trails in Winter. There was a lot of fresh, new moss. This was the most mossed single-standing structure. And, since it was so soon after the rains, the brook was REALLY babbling:



And, the birds were really chirping:



We also saw a whole bunch of new mushrooms sprouting up:
Clump 1
Clump 2
Clump 3

Also, we witnessed one of the first blooms of the season. Stillman and I thought it was an iris, but Professor Know-It-All says that it's a Slink Pod (of the Lily Family). But, it was a day of learning for me. Stillman explained that, if you look carefully, you will see a dead tree in the middle of a ring of new trees. This is because the dead tree in the middle (the parent) sprinkled acorns from its branches around their trunks. Then, when a fire goes through and burns through the forest, the parent tree dies, but the fire helps the acorns to start growing into trees. We saw quite a few examples of large burnt out tree stumps surrounded by new growth on our hike.

Speaking of old and new growth, any one want some nice fungus? Check this out. They're fresh and there's plenty for everyone! The soft orange puffy ones seem to be new fungal growth that will mature into the harder looking ones. (I left them in high resolution so you all can see what I'm talking about.) These guys are also glow-y. Here, take a closer look.

One last thing that was new was a real live lizard! I've shown you guys lizards in still-life format before, but here is one on the move:



At the end of the day, we were bid farewell by our old friend, The Graffiti Rock. As you can see, the graffiti others had left was erased by the moss' regrowth. Of course, I had to leave my mark. (YAY, GIANTS!)

6 comments:

Teve Torbes said...

alright. i'll take a 1/2 oz. of the clump one and 1/8th of the glow-y ones.

~ ~ ~

Nonny Nu said...

Sass sauce comes free with all shroom orders.

stillman said...

Slink Pod, that's my new nickname for you.

I'm getting sick too! :(

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

I would have liked to have heard the relaxing sounds of the babbling brook, but there was an annoying commentator that talked throughout the brook part. When did Marlee Perkins join you and Stillman?

Nonny Nu said...

Shhhh!! Not so loud! He's going to hear you and then he won't let me go hiking in the rain anymore!!

Yours truly,
Slink Pod

Nonny Nu said...

Man from U.N.C.L.E., it's rude not to respond to the brook when it babbles at you.