Sunday's Satisfactory Stroll -- May 17th
I've heard it said that keeping your mind busy with various mental activities helps to ward off dementia, keeps a person interested in something other than the body's aging protests, and provides a bit of challenge, if only to oneself. I know quite a few people who do "Words with Friends," and I tried it for a while, but disliked having my phone constantly dinging to tell me it was my turn. So I opted out. I enjoy the Sunday crossword puzzle, but don't want to do the daily puzzle. I love reading, too, always have; I'm hoping that I'm hedging my bets on the senility part.
Learning is a good thing, regardless of age. Jimmy bought me a nonfiction book for Christmas called, "Trees and Shrubs of Nevada and Placer Counties, California." He knows how fascinated I am in all things nature. Last week I bought it's counterpart, "Wildflowers of Nevada and Placer Counties, California." I've had more fun than a barrel of monkeys looking up various flowers, shrubs, and trees, especially those hard to identify. Each to her own, right?
Both books, I discovered, have a section devoted to local trails, some of which we've been on and some we'd never heard of. On Sunday, (after the puzzle), we decided to try one of the new trails, specifically Rock Creek Nature Trail. Located in Tahoe National Forest, it's less than 10 miles from our house! A mostly level, short (approx one mile) loop trail, it comes with an interpretive guide. (The guide seems more adapted for school-age kids than adults; e.g., "Now try to poke your finger into the soil on the trail. Does it feel different?" etc.) No matter, it was helpful.
We thought others might be on this trail, it being a Sunday, but no other vehicle was in the parking lot, and we saw no one else. OK, well, high-ho, off we go, and it's better to be Out and About than rusting in place. The first thing we spotted on the trail was the above sign: Registered Mining Claim. Absolutely no prospecting allowed. Hmmm ... someone still has mining rights. This being the Mother Lode Country, Rock Creek was probably overrun with gold-seekers after the big discovery at Sutter's Mill. Long ago the Maidu Indians gathered food here (two grinding stones are visible). A large logging operation was ongoing here in the 1880's, and an old cabin site is near the trail, but we couldn't find it.
Rock Creek Nature Trail is not the kind of place you hurry thru in five minutes. It's a tiny meandering creek in a diverse forest that invites a person to stop, look, listen and even smell. The little guide says "The overall theme of this trail is that of ecosystems." And it's oh-so-quiet. Jimmy is standing on a bridge over the creek, which is so dinky you could hop across it, but it is moving water and I'm sure keeps a lot of critters alive.
Starflower (Trientalis latifolia)
We had to rummage around in the Prius to find insect repellent (old) because skeeters swarmed us when we got out of the car. I carried my walking stick, mostly to beat off a bear should we see one (I hope you're smiling at that), and my camera and the unwieldy guide, and I kept juggling these things from one hand to the other. Consequently many of my flower pictures were not well-focused. Maybe next time we'll carry our bear spray in a pack and leave the walking stick in the car.
This one took a lot of looking up, since I'd never seen it before: Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia)
Banana slugs "raced" across the path, taking their lives in their, um, hands?
The trail is unique for the number of orchid species to be found. The above Spotted Coralroot Orchid (Corallorbiza maculata) was one that we saw.
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) is blooming. Another name for this is Salmonberry, which is what I've always called it. The berry is edible, salmon-colored, and usually ripens in the fall when the salmon begin their spawning run. I've eaten a few berries, but they kinda melt in your fingers as you pull 'em off the plant.
Woodpeckers drummed, thrushes sang, and little birds chirped ... those were the only sounds we heard. Some of the trees towered above us ... the largest trees are up to 200 years old ... Ponderosas and Douglas Firs, Black Oaks, Madrones, Pacific Yews and Dogwoods, etc., all shaded the trail. And teeny-tiny Rock Creek streaks along on it's way to the South Yuba River. A most satisfactory afternoon, and I only got bit once. Plus, thanks to me carrying my walking stick, we didn't come across a single bear!