Sunday, August 18, 2019

About those pesky typos

Head's up, since I've been somewhat itinerant, writing bloggy-bits on my iPad has some serious limitations—especially when it comes to editing. I can only see a few lines of what I write at a time and I literally can't access the the bottom halves of my blogposts. But I can read the typos on the finished page  just fine! Please excuse my typos. I literally can't get to them in order to fix them unless I'm on my laptop. In other words, I can’t fix the typos. So, stand down.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Climbing Mt. San Jacinto (photos)

Swimming in the headwaters of San Andreas Creek, on the upper slopes of Mt. San Jacinto, where the San Jacinto and San Andreas faults meet. We wallowed in a pool sheltered by house-sized boulders that created a cave. The water was icy cold, while the ambient air outside about 119°. The gap of sky between the massive boulders created a visual tension that made bathing worrisome.

I once climbed Mt. San Jacinto in the late 1980s. It took us all day to climb the 2nd highest peak in SoCal on what is now called the Cactus to Clouds Trail that begins on the desert floor in Palm Springs, and rises up through granite scree to the summit at 10,834 feet. That's one mother-tough 10,700 ft. climb through five climate zones. The only climb more arduous than Mt. San Jacinto was Mt. Whitney, and that hike took us three days. (Not counting Machu Picchu, that was the mother of all climbs.)

Thought I was gonna die by the time John Oliver Simon and I reached the lodgepole pine timberline. I hardly even remember being on the summit. I remember seeing some sort of bog orchids and corn lilies, but not the summit. John was a stickler for things like that, so I know we reached the summit. I probably tried to die right there. Or take a nap on the geodetic marker.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway sure saves a lot of time. But that wasn't an option. We descended down the mountain in near darkness and camped on San Andreas Creek, beneath the native CA fan palms (Washingtonia filfera palms) whose fronds clacked and gurgled like creek waters. And we slept and slept and slept in the oasis. I have no photos to commemorate the event. Only a memory triggered by another memory.

But on this day captured in the photo, the 4th of July, 2007, we merely hiked up the San Andreas Creek until we could go no further. I was hiking in flipflops, and I blasted my knee...but the water was so cold, I never even knew it was injured until we came back down the canyon. Then it swelled up to the size of a basketball. But my wrist, which I had strained from an excessive pruning bout, was fine (note the wrist brace.)

Eons of snowmelt carved a deep gorge in Andreas Canyon. The canyon wall looks like the trunk of the native California Washingtonia fifera fan palm. I felt like a child caught between giant elephant legs. Native California palms are like redwoods, they need to keep their feet cool. Both have an extraordinarily small range and specific micro-climate needs. They favor the fissures caused by the San Andreas fault.
To the Cahuilla Indians, the peak was known as I a kitch (or Aya Kaich), meaning "smooth cliffs." It was the home of Dakush, the meteor and legendary founder of the Cahuilla. Naturalist John Muir wrote of San Jacinto Peak, "The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!" —Wiki

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Marin watersheds

1898 tourist map of Marin replete with trails and creek names.

The creek where I grew up one has many names, and I even wrote a poem about all the name changes. I realize that all those names represent a slices of history. Who came first who came second who came next. Of course the Miwok names are lost. The creek I grew up on, was once called the Arroyo de San Geronimo, which runs from White's Hill/Woodacre to Shafter's/Inkwell where it joins Lagunitas Creek. We called the whole thing from Woodacre to Shafter’s, Lagunitas Creek. But we were wrong.

The headwaters of Lagunitas Creek is Lake Lagunitas on Mt. Tam. All those Marin reservoirs including Kent Lake, are filled by Lagunitas Creek, and its sibling, Carson Creek.

Was a time the old name of Arroyo de San Geronimo Creek was applied all the way to Pt. Reyes Sta. and Tomales Bay. I found it on an old Rancho map.

After Samuel Taylor set up the paper mill, the bit of creek that ran from Shafter's pool to White House Bend was eventually called Papermill Creek, and just to confuse things, also Lagunitas Creek.

A. Van Dorn’s 1860 map of Marin labels the stretch of creek that goes from Woodacre to Pt. Reyes Sta. in its entire length, as Arroyo de San Geronimo. The paper mill is marked on the map but the creek wasn't yet called Papermill Creek. Probably Arroyo de San Geronimo morphed into Papermill...but Lagunitas Creek was one ridge to the west, not in the San Geronimo Valley.

The creek that ran from Woodacre to Shafter's was NOT called Lagunitas Creek though it runs through the town of Lagunitas (more on that later). As kids we called the creek San Geronimo, Creamery, Forest Knolls, Lagunitas, even Papermill Creek, depending upon where we were located....same creek, different names, depending on one's whim.

The map above predates the construction of the reservoirs, and you can see that the long north-south creek following the San Andreas faultline, where Kent, Alpine, Bon Tempe, Phoenix, and Lagunitas are all located, is clearly marked as Lagunitas Creek.

Today's town of Lagunitas didn't yet exist, it was a 1910 subdivision. Some say that the real Lagunitas was where Shafter's RR spur and water tank, along with the Log Cabin were located, at the sharp bend where Arroyo de San Geronimo joins Lagunitas Creek. Lagunitas Canyon had several logging camps, hence the name, Lagunitas. But there’s more to that story because there was also a Lagunitas above Ross. Kent Lake wasn't yet there....

1875 NPCRR picnic and campout at the Shafter's RR spur and water tower at the Inkwell,
where San Geronimo Creek joins the MOUTH of Lagunitas Creek. Note the use of the word "mouth." As in terminus.

Facebook friend, Steve Tognini wrote: Don’t forget that the section from the inkwell to Pt Reyes station was called Daniels creek after it was arroyo San Geronimo and before it was Papermill creek. Also, early on Lagunitas creek in Lagunitas canyon ended at Carson creek and that junction down to the inkwell was called Big Carson. Lagunitas canyon and the community of Lagunitas in that canyon consisted of Lagunitas ranch, Lagunitas dairy, Liberty ranch and resort, Lagunitas gun club, Malliard cabin, Kent cabin, Masons cabin, shafter/Howard sawmill, possibly a Malliard saw mill and the logging community.  It’s this community that voted for Lincoln in 1864. This is also the area where the little lakes existed and where the Lagunitas name originated from. Once the dams pushed this community out the name migrated down into the area it occupies today.

I said, Niice Steve. Yes, my family used the Big Carson name, and though I know where it is, I didn't understand why. Makes more sense now.

Pretty much all of Marin voted for Lincoln.

It seems our concept of where creeks begin and end is on really shaky ground. It sounds like our definition has also shifted. And that there is a huge uneasy conflation of all the Lagunitases into one thing. 

A revelation that Lagunitas Creek spilled into Big Carson creek that ended at Shafters, and another creek name was introduced at that junction. Daniels creek. I guess it didn’t last long before Daniels Creek succumbed to Papermill Creek. Who was Daniels anyway?

I always found it puzzling that some kids called San Geronimo Creek—Papermill Creek—as there was no papermill in the SGV. So renaming the Forest Knolls Lodge Papermill Creek Lodge is a weird misnaming that happened in the 1970s. It was always the FK Lodge, founded in 1907, when I was growing up in the 1960s.

I suspect June Berensmeyer, who, to the consternation of local valley folks, often muddled valley history, is ultimately the source for renaming the Inkwell as a plural entity.

According to my grandmother, the San Geronimo Valley, there were vernal pools from Flanders field and at the Woodacre turnoff, and at Dickson Ranch, and the Dougan/French Ranch, and on the back side of the golf course for starters. Even more pools during my grandmother's time. So we do come by the name fairly.

But I’d bet in Lagunitas Canyon there must have been another string of little lakes where the dams are now.

Steve said I read an article from the magazine Outdoor Monthly, 1875, I think, it’s on the SGV Stewards page, that describes hikers dropping into Lagunitas canyon from above and walking past the “little lakes”. If the name originated in Lagunitas canyon, and I believe it did, then it follows that the little lakes would be in the Lagunitas canyon. Our town of Lagunitas did not exist in the SGV as a place until much later so I feel that likely removes the valley from consideration for the location for the lakes. Pretty evident that names changed and moved from place to place. I think it key that we remember that Lagunitas canyon was the first place that held that name.

I said, Steve Tognini  yes, that story makes sense....except there were also many vernal pools, my granny loved seeing them from the train. And of course, she said that’s how Lagunitas got its name....
Some modern map resources on watersheds, since some people don't know their watersheds, or where their local creeks drain to:

Full-sized download, here: 33 megs, 6165x4904 pixels -- which works out to 16x20 inches if it were printed at 300 dpi.

From a Facebook post

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


While scanning old negatives
I accidentally reversed one, 
& then when I posted them, 
I was startled by a mirror image
heart made of granite and snow. 
So that's why his smile looked all wrong 
in the photo, because it was reversed.
A stranger was grimacing at me.
Maybe if I had seen the flip side, then,
I might have saved myself some grief.
I literally scaled mountain peaks—
even the heights of Machu Picchu with that man—
it was a short, fierce relationship, 
lasting only a few years, 
but it came with a lifetime sentence. 
Sometimes the sentence is all there is: 
all verb & noun. The temporalness of snow 
and the endurance of granite.

8/13/19 & 9/11/19

Tule elk and eco-justice warriors rant

A half-baked opinión piece posing as journalism published in the Fresno Bee and the Sacramento Bee plays on sentiment and manipulates emotions through half-truths, or half-lies, depending upon whether your cup is half empty, or half full. People will read the article on the culling of a handful of Point Reyes tule elk will just assume it's a well researched story, when in fact, it's an incitement, armed with half-facts and partial truths.

This kind of exploitative journalism is exactly why we were all so concerned when Kevin Lunny's Drake's Bay Oyster Farm (formerly Johnson's Oyster Farm) came under scrutiny by eco-justice warriors, and it snowballed into an imbroglio with the NPS and the GGNRA falsifying bogus scientific reports to prove their claims.

Once DBOF went down for the count, in 2012, we knew it was merely a matter of time when the ranchers would be next. Few people remember that the ranchers are the key reason why there’s even a park in the first place. Not only that, the ranchers were assured that they could preserve their way of life via leases. Looks like there will be a trail of more broken promises ahead.  Kind of like Trump stomping on our national parks. Welcome to the future where missionary zealots from afar, armed with half-truths, and fabrications, are hell-bent on changing our county to fit their ideals.

FWIW, yes there were once tule elk in Marin, BUT these transplanted elk are from Tejon Ranch in SoCal. The native elk also once had predators but we've removed them from the conversation. So if we destroy the dairy ranches—we also kill Stornetta-Clover, and Straus dairies. Ironic in that Albert Staus' mother also founded MALT to preserve the West Marin ranches. She’d be rolling over in her grave.

Just out of curiosity, how many of the eco justice warriors were there to protest the NPS slaughter of Old Man Ottinger’s imported white deer, and fallow deer to make room for the tule elk? When I was a child we used to go out and visit him and all his animals. One time we camped out at Wildcat Beach and there were white bucks in the moonlight. Magical.

See Oystergate

Here’s the article in question.
"Feds plan to kill elk at Point Reyes to protect ranches. Here’s why they might start killing tule elk at Pt. Reyes
New legislation may give the National Park Service authority to kill tule elk so dairy cows can graze at Point Reyes National Seashore.
The majestic tule elk that lock antlers and lazily graze on the hillsides beside the Pacific Ocean are a popular attraction for visitors to Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County.
There’s just one problem: the elk in an area of the park known as Drakes Beach are eating too much grass, taking feed from the cattle that are grazing the family farms and ranches that have been in business inside the park’s boundaries for decades, well before the park was owned by the federal government.
The feds now plan to shoot a few of the elk each year to reduce the conflict with ranchers — a move that infuriates some environmental groups who’d rather see the cattle operations gone from the park.
On Thursday, the National Park Service opened up its draft environmental documents for 45 days of public comment. According to the documents, the government’s preferred plan is to limit the Drakes Beach herd to 120 adult animals.
If the plan was in place today, that would mean the Park Service would kill around four adult elk, since at the end of 2018, the Drakes Beach herd was made up of an estimated 124 total animals.
But due to the rapidly expanding size of the Drakes Beach herd, which grew to 112 animals in 2017 from 76 in 2014, the Park Service estimates that as many as 10 to 15 adult elk would likely be shot annually, the venison to be donated to local charities.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Park Service has conducted a cull of antlered animals inside the park, outraging the animal rights activists who are a powerful force in the Bay Area.
In 2008, the park hired a wildlife management company to kill a herd of hundreds of nonnative fallow and axis deer that had been living on the park for decades and were competing with the native tule elk.
Opponents put up a “wailing wall” at park headquarters. Around the park and nearby towns, activists hung “wanted” posters featuring a photo of owner of the sharpshooting operation. They also hired helicopters to harass the gunners during their aerial sharpshooting operations.
Point Reyes spokeswoman Melanie Gunn said Thursday that the Park Service wouldn’t need to go to extremes under this plan. Park employees would likely kill a few elk at various times throughout the year, carefully selecting their targets for a proper ratio of males and females to ensure the herd stays viable.
Other alternatives
The Park Service ruled out other alternatives to limit the elk population as being impracticable or unsafe, according to the documents.
The Park Service nixed using contraceptives on the elk or sterilizing them, saying it would be too labor intensive, expensive, the drugs aren’t very effective and handling the animals to administer drugs or perform surgeries would put the elk under dangerous stress.
Moving the elk also is out of the question because some Point Reyes elk are infected with the microbes that cause Johne’s Disease. Because of the risk of infecting other livestock and wildlife, state wildlife authorities wouldn’t allow them to be moved to new habitat outside the park, the documents say.
Bringing in recreational hunters to shoot the elk was deemed too impracticable. Due to safety concerns, the park would have to invest too much staff time and resources to train hunters and conduct a hunt safely, the documents say.
The documents outline a range of other alternatives to address the conflict between elk and livestock, including eliminating the dairies and ranches outright, and Point Reyes spokeswoman Melanie Gunn said the park is open to suggestions during the comment period.
Tule elk are North America’s smallest elk species (though males can top 800 pounds), and are only found in California. Once numbering close to 500,000 animals, they were nearly hunted to extinction during the Gold Rush. Thanks to reintroduction efforts such as the one on Point Reyes, there are now 21 herds totaling 3,800 animals in the Central Coast and the Central Valley.
In the early 2000s, groups of tule elk moved into the farms in the Drakes Beach area after splitting off from another herd that roams the park’s wilderness area. In total, more than 600 elk roam the seashore in three separate groups, whose numbers have steadily climbed since a handful were released to the park in 1978.
A liberal congressional ally
While killing elk to keep ranchers happy outrages environmentalists such as the Center for Biological Diversity, keeping the livestock operations in the park has strong support from the region’s congressman, Rep. Jared Huffman, a top environmental advocate in Congress.
Huffman argues that the ranchers are a key reason why there’s a park at Point Reyes in the first place, preventing that part of the Pacific Coast from being devoured by urban sprawl.
In the 1960s, Congress passed a law that paid the original landowning families $50 million for their properties. The ranchers were allowed to lease them back and keep working their acres.
Currently, two dozen dairy and ranching families have leases on the national seashore and on the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is also managed by the Park Service. In total, agriculture takes up about 28,000 acres – around a third of the federal parkland.
“From the very beginning, Congress talked about this as ‘the pastoral zone,’” Huffman told The Bee last year. “It was always envisioned as this mosaic (of land use), to preserve the character of what was there. It was partially agriculture. It was partially wild lands and wilderness. That’s what parks do. They preserve this.”
Gunn, the Point Reyes spokeswoman, says a final decision is likely to be made early next year, and, barring lawsuits or other challenges, officials could begin shooting the elk before the end of 2020.

Granite heart (photos)

An accident while scanning negatives last night, I reversed one, and when I loaded them onto FB, I was surprised to see the images made a heart of granite and snow. I also realized the reason why John's smile looked all wrong, because it was reversed! It was as if a stranger was grimacing at me.Maybe if I had seen the mirror image, then, I might have saved myself some grief. I literally scaled mountain peaks—even the heights of Machu Picchu—with this man. It was a short, fierce relationship, it lasted only a few years, but came with a lifetime sentence. But sometimes the sentence is all there is: verb and noun. The temporalness of snow and the endurance of granite. We had decided to forego following the trail (we don't need no stinkin' trails) and traversed a narrow bridge from one summit to the next, a "Thank God" ledge no wider than our feet, we inched along the crest of a sheer wall, I was terrified. Even Edwin Drummond had never taken me out on a ledge like this. I nearly fell off that mountain because I forgot to hug the wall with my hips. John reached over and shoved my ass back to the wall. I hugged that wall with my hips for all I was worth. I damned near made love to that blasted rock face and lived to tell the tale. I'm not too sure what happened to my pants. I seem to be wearing only longjohns. Awkward family photo mpment. Desolation Wilderness, near Echo Summit, 1986. Pyramid Peak stands at 9,984′, but soon it will be 10,000'. The Sierra Nevadas are young mountains still growing.

RIP John Oliver Simon. Gone little over a year. I still miss him. (John was Ansel Adams's cousin—scaling mountains was in the bloodline).

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Broken homes do not create mass murderers

Broken homes do not create mass murderers, letter to a 2nd cousin who is a Republican

I was raised without a father. Or a mother, for that matter. And I’m hardly intellectually disabled. I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to go out and massacre a bunch of people! Broken homes do not necessarily make criminals or assassins. The shooters are young white males who support the far right, not the far left. And they seem to all be racist. And while you’re painting things in stark generalizations, most liberals, myself included, do not advocate taking guns away from everyone.

But assault rifles do not belong in the hands of the general populace. There should be background checks before someone purchases a gun. There should be gun licenses. The mentally unstable should not be allowed to buy guns. And someone buying a lot of ammo should raise red flags somewhere. Just common sense. Americans make up 4.4% of the world’s population, yet own 42%of the world’s guns? That’s not the second amendment, that’s stockpiling for Armageddon.

Clearly making a generalization that terrorists come from broken homes is far too simple an explanation. Many of these shooters are not from broken homes, and were raised in a traditional households. Of course, the other absurd extreme is that video gaming creates these terrorists. But only in America. Nowhere else....

Time would be better spent by looking at ways to regulate gun control. The root cause is not fatherless sons. But racism seems to be the main motivating factor. Teaching tolerance would be a place to start. Many feel that gun ownership should be like owning a car—with a license, insurance, registration, etc. that’s a start. But how do we even begin get guns out fo the hands of those who are irresponsible, crazy, etc., that’s the real dilemma.