Monday, December 5, 2011

Two in a Row

I skipped yoga this morning to attend a docent led walk (too short to call it a hike) in Blackstar Canyon, also in Trabuco Canyon. It was about the Red Rocks of Blackstar Canyon. You may recall that this is the place I went several times with the Wilderness Workshop, years ago, to watch the moon rise. I wrote two poems about it, and there is a very good photo of me in the process of writing one of these taken there.
The Irvine Ranch Conservancy led this hike. They are a very different sort of organization from OC Hiking, which is part of Meetup, and thus rather informal. This is a Nonprofit, with a capital N, with a very organized hierarchy and website, etc.
The docents are very knowledgeable people, who are carefully trained and supervised, not just folks who like to go for hikes. They learn all about (or already know about) geology, biology, botany, astronomy, and lots of other relevant topics.
During the daytime, Blackstar is lovely in a different way from at dusk. The red rocks recede a bit into the deep blue sky, and one gets to see the details of the animals and plants that live on them. Today I took up the docent's challenge, and spotted the abandoned nest of a golden eagle, winning the prize of a bottle of water.
I also looked with interest at several oak galls, one in a tree and one on the ground, and some dudleya, which looks like a type of echeveria, a round, pinkish green succulent that likes to grow on cliffs and rocks.
I learned about mule fat, which is a plant that, according to the docent, is a euphemism for mule fart, since supposedly this is the effect it had on mules, back in the days when lots of mules came through this canyon.
I even heard ghost stories about a massacre of native Americans that took place there, and people say the souls of those people now haunt the canyon at night, but certainly, mountain lions and other beasts, including bears, haunt the canyon, and make me want to keep close to the parking lot if I go there at night again rather than wandering the trails as we did today.
It was cold and windy, and I wasn't dressed warmly enough, but I enjoyed it very much. A good day's bit of learning.

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