Thursday, October 11, 2012

habitat ~ 10/11/12 ~ Memorial Park

October 11, 2012

For the last 3 years we've headed south to Morro Bay in October.  Forecasts of a major thunderstorm all along the central CA coast made us rethink our usual.  For a 2-night camping trip, we prefer not to drive more than about 2 1/2 hours from home and definitely south of San Francisco to avoid the Bay Area traffic.  Keeping close tabs on weather predictions, north of Santa Cruz seemed like the best place to go with overcast skies and only 10% chance of precipitation.  It's thanks to fellow bloggers Dipper Ranch, Curbstone Valley Farm, Nature of a Man, Way Points, and Town Mouse and Country Mouse that I've become more interested in the Santa Cruz Mountains and even became aware of the extensive county parks, state parks, and open space preserves up there.

Andy found this small San Mateo County Park online and liked how it connected to other parks through trails for his typical trail running outing.  Bay Area Hiker has a nice summary of what the trails are like within Memorial Park.  One thing she doesn't mention, is the showers are old school - corrugated tin stalls painted many times over with that light-colored forest service green and ancient high pressure shower heads for 25 cents per 2+ minutes of very hot water.  Andy likened it to prison showers (not that he'd know), and I declined taking a shower at all because frankly they were a little creepy. And, true to Yelp reviews, the ranger was indeed gruff, but he gave us extra firewood stating he wanted to get rid of the larger pieces that wouldn't fit in neat bundles.  Based on his girth and the fairly new no smoking regulations, I have a suspicion as to why he seemed so grouchy. Actually, there were "no" signs everywhere for everything: no smoking, no hard liquor, no ground fires, no gathering of wood, no chopping wood on fire pits, no using water in fire pits, no washing dishes at water faucets, no raking or sweeping of sites, no swimming, no firearms, no fishing, no pets, no horses, no bikes, no skateboards, no scooters, no amplified music, no feeding wild animals, no this, no that, no, no, no. Not that it was a problem for us, but the signs were excessive.

When we arrived, we were quite surprised at the proliferation of camping sites and wondered why there were only a handful of campers around.  Typical of my rain curse, it thunderstormed right above our heads and dumped rain on us the first evening and drip, drip, dripped on us the remainder of our stay.  Chatting with a fellow camper, we heard we had apparently missed the biggest part of the storm the night before.  Needless to say, it was a bit exciting and extraordinarily beautiful to be camping in a freshly washed redwood forest littered with the changing colors of bigleaf maples. While we didn't get vast views from the summit of Mt. Ellen (not a big hill by any means), the sight of clouds through the mountains was breathtaking. I searched several times along Pescadero Creek for newts with no luck. We did see numerous gray squirrels, which I'm fairly sure were eastern grays and not western due to their brownish heads and casual demeanor around our campsite.  And, bright yellow banana slugs were out in full force probably enjoying the rain.  I would definitely go back again if we can time our visit with as few other visitors as possible.

inky cap ~ 10/11/12 ~ Memorial Park

a type of inky cap
a coprinoid mushroom
(now separated out to Coprinellus, Coprinopsis, Coprinus, and Parasola)

Sometimes it's wonderful not knowing.  Too often these days, I see something and my brain immediately starts compartmentalizing, looking for identifying features, and trying to remember names.  I forget to simply enjoy the elegant beauty of nature without labels and allow my imagination to run wild.  As I knelt in the sand to take these photographs, it struck me how this mushroom's translucence gave it an almost luminescent quality under the stormy skies.  Upon closer inspection the cap reminded me of a hand dyed pleated chiffon couture skirt. Enchanting.

Having no idea which 4 inch tall mushroom I found and after some trial and error, an online image search led me to the Coprinus name.  I can't tell if the substrate is sand or the nearby tree root (shown in both photos above).  I would have liked to include more links in the ID, but I don't have a clue as to sp.  Plus, many sites are either woefully incomplete or appear to exaggerate claims made about these fascinating fungi, which I'm not going to repeat. Michael Kuo's MushroomExpert.Com (linked above) provided the most succinct, detailed, and accurate summary.  Here's a live link to the late Kees Ulj√©'s Coprinus site.  Back in 2004 Tom Volk offered a conversational discussion as to the changing systematics of inky caps.  If anyone knows which sp. I show above, I'd love to hear from you.