Mt Sutro Cloud Forest Evening: Puddles, Not Fire

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.

Mt Sutro Cloud Forest eveningToday, we climbed into a steady patter of the forest’s interior rain.  The trail was muddy, and there were puddles.

Mt Sutro Cloud Forest sept 2013

fog in mt sutro cloud forest sept 2013

fog in Mt Sutro Cloud Forest sept 2013 -2NATIVE PLANT GARDEN IN SUMMER DEADNESS

We continued into the Native Plant garden, where the sign, now surrounded by greenery is perhaps the most attractive element.

Mt Sutro Forest native plant garden signFor 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.

dried plants in the Native Garden on Mount SutroThe most color comes from the orange plastic flags in the meadow that’s being replanted. (Again.)

orange flag meadow on Mt Sutrotop of water tankThis is one of the driest areas of the forest. Except for some patches under the trees, where the grass is still green, there’s no fog-capture here.

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.


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.)

mt diablo fire sept 2013 abclocal site

Click to go to ABC local story on Mt Diablo fire sept 2013

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.

puddle in mt sutro cloud forest

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3 Responses to Mt Sutro Cloud Forest Evening: Puddles, Not Fire

  1. Tony Holiday says:

    So true! How can people not SEE this? Dry, straggly plants that they keep trying to plant, and yet they don’t appreciate the glorious beauty of all the forests’ trees that already exist. How can they say they care about this city or the environment when all they seem to want to do is destroy it. Hey guys — your “native plants” are not thriving. Give it up and leave the forests alone. Stop trying to turn San Francisco into a desert! I just took some hikes in Sausalito (the hills, not a shopping expedition) and this city is a treehugger’s paradise. Highly recommended for any nature lover. Walk, don’t drive, and see for yourself how it’s like living in a treehouse up there! Defund the destructive nativists. Plant *more* trees like some other cities are doing. Take care of what we already *have*.

  2. How can anyone with even a half a brain even think of destroying this.

  3. Pingback: UCSF, Sutro Forest, and – “Emergency”? | Save Mount Sutro Forest

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