||[May. 2nd, 2014|06:21 am]
So... Mt Diablo.... But first there was the misery of afternoon traffic. As soon as i turned north off 580, i was in beautiful rolling country side. The grasses were on the golden side of green, unlike on the bay side of the Oakland hills and Sunol ridge. The road headed straight north, towards a fascinating ridge that looked like a huge uplift of sedimentary layers. The late afternoon light was lovely on the range and played in the leaves of the aged walnuts that lined the road. I did not stop at the strawberry stands, wondering if they would be open when i headed home.
After a slow increase in grade, there was a sharp left to get on Morgan Territory Rd, and suddenly the road changes to a one lane road with sharp curves as i climb the uplift. I pull over, letting two cars pass, and then follow them, hoping that they will run into any oncoming traffic and stop it before it hits me. I have moments of glimpsing glorious vistas, but generally my eyes are on the road ahead, looking for large farm vehicles to be barreling around the next curve.
Wild turkeys were well off the road in driveways of homes that make me wonder how fast internet is out along that stretch: it feels remarkably remote. The road turns, and i'm suddenly in oak woodland, and i realize i'm on the north side of the ridge. I'm generally headed west, as the undulating road periodically faces me towards the blinding sun, and i learn how to look ahead just before the windshield is splashed in the glare. This is a regional open space preserve, and i'm curious -- but i know i am racing the light, so i speed up any time i feel i have enough road to react and do my best to try and see the opposite side of curves.
I promised a colleague i'd be available during the install this weekend: i can't imagine how long it would take to find me if my car went off the road here. I hear my mother fussing at my father as we drove a similar road in Sonoma county, and i figure i'm going twice as fast as my father. I race the light, stopping only once to discover the purple flowers on occasional roadcut banks aren't lupine but Collinsia (probably Collinsia heterophylla, purple Chinese houses).
While one would see oncoming headlights in the trees at night, i'm not certain i want to take this route at dusk.
When i finally left the woodland, the valley i entered had deep green grasses, and cattle look happily fed. I raced along with the happy discovery that, yes, i had roaming G3 signal and navigation.
I found the trail head fairly easily, crossed a seeping creek and choose a route to the burn area.
Perkins meadow, looking up Diablo Mines Trail
Lots of purple vetch along roadsides and within the meadow. I haven't keyed it out, as i assume it is a non-native Vica (V villosa, probably) and not the native V americana or any of the 180+ native Astragalus species. Less visible in the grasses, but persisting into the oak woodlands were Dichelostemma capitatum (blue dicks).
I continued racing the light, dropping filters in the meadow (found on my return), exhausting myself. The grasses were high and deep; i ran a negative script in my head: long drive - can i do that drive at dawn? Where are the flowers? My heart is racing. I turned off my cell and no one will find me if anything happens.
It's beautiful, but i'm rushing. (I will note that i am rationing my antidepressants due to delays both by the doctor and the mail order pharmacy.)
When i got to a point where a trail marker points off into unbroken grass along the contour line and the uphill road is marked "utility access," i traipse into the high grass. I think this took me to fire breaks from last fall. On one hand it seemed creek-like, the fold in the hill and the banked area, but the soil was raw and i found a tin can in the ditch. I slid in the loose red soil, filled my shoes with grit. Soot transfers from the trees to my hands and clothes.
The endangered fairy lanterns are everywhere.
I floundered with the tripod, took photos, and clambered back to the access road. Still exhausted -- it was surely still in the upper 80s -- i sat and tried to get some photos of the hyacinths with the burnt branches behind them. (I should have used the telephoto and not the wide angle for those.)
I took a more civilized route home, the new moon hanging in the west and onion rings echoing its shape. I finished the audio lecture of ecology and listened to a free eight chapter reading of Sand by the same person who wrote Wool.
There are some lessons about rushing and time for me in the experience. It was a bit of a reconnoissance mission, and if i do go back anytime soon (Monday is on my mind) i will give myself all the time i can.