Mr. Mouse and I spent last weekend away from home. We'd been ready for a break, feeling a bit worn out between work and things to do around the house and garden.
We started the weekend with a Saturday hike at Mount Tamalpaias in Marin County. Mount Tamalpaias is a state park, with many beautiful hikes. It actually took us only about 90 minutes to drive there. When we arrived at the East Peak parking lot, starting point for our hike, the views were amazing. It had rained recently in the North Bay, and the weather was cool and clear.
The most amazing thing, though, were the plants. I usually hike in areas that have been logged or grazed or otherwise used by humans. The vegetation in those areas is very much a mix of natives and exotics. The area where we hiked, however, looked as if it hadn't had much to offer for humans. It was too steep for cows and no large trees beckoned to be felled. More importantly, the soil is serpentine. Many European and other invasive plants don't do well in serpentine soil and many natives, including native grasses, do well.
I was especially impressed by the size of some of the Manzanitas, the one above is easily 30 feet. Not a surprising size for a Madrone, but quite unusual for a Manzanita. There were also Ceanothus, Toyon (photo below), and other chapparal plants near East Peak, and our hike went through a mixed woodland with ferns, moss, and lichen.
I could have stopped every 10 minutes to take another photo, like this one of the Richmond Bridge (did I mention the views were amazing?)
But we weren't quite sure whether we were on the right path, and the gates closed at sunset. Thanks to a good guidebook and Mr. Mouse's excellent navigation skills, we made it back to the car with time to spare, ready to continue our adventure.