Up in the forest this afternoon, we encountered an unusually large number of visitors. Good Friday holiday, maybe? Anyway, in under an hour we saw: Two hikers; three dogs with six people; and five guys riding their cycles. (It’s always guys. Only once have we seen a woman riding on the mountain.)We were impressed by the courtesy from everyone on the mountain. Everyone exchanged greetings, everyone was careful to share the trails.
“Friendly dog coming through,” said one person, as they approached from behind on a narrow trail. The dog was indeed friendly, ears flopping back and doggy smile as it raced up the slope. “Didn’t want you to be surprised,” said the person, and they ran on.
“Don’t jump,” another instructed his dog as they passed by. The dog didn’t, merely giving a polite sniff before continuing on its walk.
We moved aside for the bicycle riders; two legs are more maneuverable than two wheels with momentum. They always thanked us. One dismounted to make way for us instead, and we thanked him. He kindly said he didn’t want to inconvenience us. Two delightful young guys were zipping around on every trail — we may have crossed paths four or five times. It was a joy to see them having such a great time.
We know the riders are … controversial. We’ve heard the complaints at meetings, and some have talked to us directly. For joggers or brisk walkers, it’s disruptive when a cyclist comes rushing by. They resent having to break stride and move off the trail, and someone reported nearly being run over. We don’t downplay their concerns, and as more people come onto the trails, this will have to be worked out. But we tend to ramble around the forest, and our own experience has been pleasant.
We’ve written before about the habitat destruction from blackberry removal. Parts of the forest are quite bare, with nothing much under the trees. This is hard on the birds, and we heard far fewer of them than last year, especially up on the South Ridge trail; though in areas where the understory is dense, the forest was still bright with bird-sounds.
But in places where the blackberry has been mown down, forget-me-nots line the trail. It’s some consolation, though it doesn’t compensate the birds. The beautiful display of them just before the entrance to the Native Garden is as lovely as last year’s.
We saw a few Douglas iris here and there, and some California poppies and scattered lupines in the Native Garden. And miner’s lettuce, also blooming in tiny white flowers over saucer-shaped leaves. The Native garden is green and lush now, except for the area where the meadow’s being replanted. This is a good time to go look at it; in a couple of months, much of it will be dry and brown.
The shrine we’d written about earlier — that used to be a memorial to Ishi, last of the Yahi — still has its cairn of stones, but the frieze of dimes has been replaced by a line of pennies. It still has a sense of being a special place. Someone cares, someone remembers.