Posts Tagged ‘banana slugs’

New camera, new boots, giant salamander, banana slug porn: Purisima

June 3, 2013

I found this beautiful little guy, with the bug eyes, on the window frame outside the back door.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

It was to be a hot day again, so I went out fairly early, drove up the hill to  Purisima Redwoods open space preserve. I took no jacket, and it was foggy. Thought I might have a problem with chill and rain, but the parking lot was above the fog, and as I descended the west side of the ridge, the fog burned away before me. Cool all day, very nice.


I am experimenting with the new camera. What can it do?


I have to say, I’m not disappointed.




I often hike Purisima as an add-on to a hike that comes up from the east side of the ridge, making it a killer hike. And as part of a killer hike, I don’t explore the side trails.

But today, with only Purisima on my plate, I decided to hike up Borden Hatch Mill trail and back down Grabtown Gulch trail, an add-on of 4 miles, 1000 feet of climb. That makes the total 15 miles, 3600 feet of climb. Too bad I also didn’t bring along any calories. By the time I got back to the parking lot, I was dragging a little.


But I’m very glad I did the detour. I have been looking for a giant salamander for years, and have only ever found one before, incidentally, also here at Purisima. On today’s detour, what should I find but my second one ever! Cool!


A millipede crossed directly under the salamander’s nose. I thought for a moment that the salamander might lunch on it, but they ignored each other completely. This could have been because the salamander was wary of me, or it could have been because millipedes taste horrible. I posted six seconds of rather poor video here.

There is a Giant Salamander trail at El Corte de Madera open space preserve, just a bit further along the ridge, but Corte Madera is mountain bike heaven, and Darwin probably doesn’t favor a strategy of freezing in place when a threat comes along.

As I topped out on the climb and started down Grabtown Gulch trail, I came upon a pair of banana slugs engaged in heavy making out. I watched them for quite a while, but they had more patience than I did, and they never consummated the relationship, not while I was watching.


You need to understand two things about banana slugs: first, they are hermaphrodites; second, the genital opening (anal as well) is there toward the rear of the carapace. So chasing each other’s tails around in circles is just foreplay.

What I don’t know is whether they fertilize each other, or whether the eggs mature at different times, so that one of them plays the role of female in a given mating.


What they do is stroke each other with their mouths, from the carapace along the side of the body, all the way back. I suppose this is immensely erotic for both parties.





If their faces (such as they are)  accidentally come into contact, they pull in their horns and swerve away. No kissing.

Well, as I say, they had all day, and I fully sympathize with the joy of taking all the time in the world. But I didn’t have all the time in the world, so I eventually went on.


Came upon another pair later on, curled up tight. Maybe this couple is consummating their relationship? No, don’t think so.


At least the view into the genital pore shows something. Eggs, maybe?

I also shot a lot of video footage, which I may use if I ever see a pair actually concluding The Act.


The fog had burned off to the coast, and while it was still chilly in the shade, it was warm in the sun. Still experimenting with the camera, I shot this butterfly from a distance of five or six feet.


I had also stowed my Birkenstocks in my backpack, in case the new hiking boots were going to be recalcitrant, but they were okay.

Rose Peak, the granddaddy of killer hikes

April 6, 2013

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Rose peak is the loop that first prompted me to use the term killer hike. 19 miles, 4900 feet of climb. My most recent visit was last fall, when I discovered the Sunol gate was locked until the official opening hour of 8 AM. In winter, that creates a problem with daylight hours; although it ought to be okay, there’s not as much margin for error as I like.

So today I planned my arrival for 8. Had time to say good morning to the wild turkey crossing the road in front of me. Had time to enjoy the plenitude of woodpeckers poking through last year’s acorn fall for overlooked goodies. Rolled through the gate right at 8; it was already open, the parking lot was well-nigh full, and great clusters of people were getting ready to go hiking.

I hope they’re not all going to Rose peak.

A chilly, cloudy day with the forecast possibility of rain showers, clearing up later on. There is no such thing as bad weather, merely inadequate clothing, but I am not disadvantaged with inadequate clothing today. Rain showers are okay if they happen, and okay if they don’t.

This open, dry grassland does not host lots of newts, nothing like the damp forests of the peninsula, but I did see one. That’s unusual. And I found a banana slug, also adapted to the requirements of local coloration. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in this particular shade.



Lots of people out on this trail. I like having the world to myself, but I have to admit that it’s good to see people willing and able to take on this level of challenge. On the downside, I saw food wrappers, tissue, water bottle caps and such along the trail, people who just can’t seem to get the idea.

Before I reached the top, the clouds turned into mist and fog. I put on my rain shell, knowing that I would sweat even more on the uphill, but it would be welcome when I started down. And so it was.


Here’s how it looked near the top.


The weather deteriorated as I started down. The light mist turned into heavy mist, then into occasional light rain. Not a problem, but it created wonderful opportunities to photograph the wildflowers.











By the time I had descended a thousand or fifteen hundred feet, the rain had pretty much stopped, and I took off the jacket. I could see nice weather blowing in from the west, but it took a while to arrive.



I believe this one is called goat rock, and Rose peak is somewhere on or behind the ridge to the left. On the way up, I saw a hiker heading over to explore it. Something I have always been tempted to do myself, but the rules say that we’re supposed to stay on the trails. One of these days…


Although it’s still early spring, this butterfly has been around long enough to get its wings tattered.


This view was pretty unusual. There are lots of wildflowers out, but the yellow ones dominate the visual scene. Only when you get close up do you see the intertwingled little pink and purple flowers. In this particular scene, there isn’t much of a mix at all. Very pretty.



Jacky says this would make a great jigsaw puzzle, but very difficult.


It was just after 4 when I got back to the car, on what had turned out to be a pretty nice day after all.

As I drove back to the main road, I passed three wild turkeys off to the side; the male’s fantail was fully splayed out in the glory of optimism. The females were of course studiously ignoring him, while of course staying right nearby so they wouldn’t miss any of the show.


August 27, 2011

Saturday, 27 August, 2011

Hiking 20 miles is a way to get sore feet, and maybe not a whole lot more. The benefit in cardiovascular fitness and weight control comes from adding the 4000+ feet of vertical gain that characterized today’s killer hike, up the ridge from the bay side, down the ocean side and back.

I left the car halfway up King’s Mountain road, in the usual spot, in the middle of the fog zone. As usual, I hiked down through Huddart park to the Phleger estate. I took the Raymundo trail just to add a little distance to the hike, and climbed out to Skyline.

Purisima redwoods open space preserve lies across Skyline. Most places were sunny now, but there was still fog over the ocean and inland some distance. By afternoon, maybe (or maybe not) all the fog will have burned off.

I don’t take the upper Purisima trail (fire road) all that often. Turned off at the Craig Britton trail, hiked over to Harkins ridge and down. First wildlife of the day was a pair of banana slugs making mad, passionate love.

At the bottom of the trail, we come right down along the creek, which runs year-round. Very pretty. There was a log fallen across the creek, with a fairly deep pond just downstream, and in the pond, crayfish!

I bet not one visitor in a thousand knows there are crayfish in this creek!

And a very pretty butterfly, willing to wait motionless while I photographed him.

A nice day indeed, but it was starting to become work by the time I got back up to Skyline. Crossed the road to Skyline trail, which I took to Chinquapin trail and back down.

Spoiled again!