The fog blowing in last evening softened all the colors to gray. It was growing late, too late for the forest. We went anyway. These are some of the most beautiful times in the Cloud Forest, and we’d been away too long.
We continued into the Native Plant garden, where the sign, now surrounded by greenery is perhaps the most attractive element.
For the rest, the Native Plant Garden definitely done for the year. Everything but the bushes and the trees are brown and dry. They’ll stay that way until spring when we should get three months of greenery and flowers.
UCSF has recently removed a lot of vegetation around the water-tank, and as a result, it’s now clearly visible from the Native Garden. Though it’s painted an inoffensive minty green, it doesn’t add a lot of charm.
By the time we made our way down to the North Ridge Trail, it was quite dark. We trod carefully, avoiding puddles, mud, and tree-roots. Suddenly, at a turning, we saw something brindled move, then freeze. A coyote! We’d heard they were in the forest, but this was the first time we’d seen one. It turned and pelted down the path. Just to be sure, we clapped and yelled, and continued to do so for some distance, to enable the animal to stay out of our way.
We were tempted to take the Fairy Gates Trail, but by now it was completely dark. Discretion being the better part of valor, we ended the hike with a walk through UCSF’s foggy Aldea campus.
FIRE WEATHER SOUTH AND EAST
The trails show the typical summer pattern – wet, even muddy, in many places; dry in others, particularly where the forest has been opened up and either the canopy is gone, or the subcanopy and understory are sparse. But even where it’s dry, the only vegetation that dries out are grasses in opened-up spaces – like the Native Plant Garden. In most of the forest, the understory and the herbaceous layer are green and moist. (For a description of the forest’s ecology, go HERE.)
Elsewhere, it’s fire weather. Only 10 miles south and two days ago, San Bruno Mountain had a fifty-acre fire in grass and brush. Even at this writing, fire-fighters are trying to contain a 3700-acre fire on Mt Diablo 50 miles east of the forest. Both those mountains are covered in tinder-dry grass and brush.
On Mt Sutro, there are puddles.