Posts Tagged ‘Giant salamander’

Purisima, again

October 31, 2015

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Hiked Purisima for the second time this week. This time, with a little more sweat, over 18 miles, 4300 vertical feet.


Dawn alpenglow in the west, out over the ocean. Very pretty.


I have been thinking that I should have a self-portrait in hiking gear. No sooner said than done.


I went up Borden Hatch Mill trail and down Irish Ridge, where there were some terrific views. This would probably be San Gregorio State Beach.

Even though it is still daylight time, it felt like the day was getting on by the time I got back down to Purisima Creek trail. And what should I discover but a giant salamander! In thirty years, I have only seen three, and as it happens, all three were here at Purisima. The next preserve down has a Giant Salamander trail, but I think it’s just marketing fluff.


If I can’t see you, you can’t see me!


But I can lift the leaves off, and then what do you have to say?


Nothing, that’s what. These guys are completely torpid except when they actually panic. Because it was out in the middle of the trail, I was concerned that a mountain bike might come along and splat it. So two of us got little sticks and encouraged it over to the side of the trail. It panicked, of course, which was actually okay, because otherwise it wasn’t entirely clear that it was capable of more than a twitch.


A beautiful clear day. Onshore, anyway. Half Moon Bay bright and sunny, even though the ocean is fogged in. Mavericks surf visible to the left of the radomes.

Wunderlich — El Corte de Madera Creek

June 15, 2013

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Left the car at the Wunderlich parking lot. Starting at 7:15, I hiked up the hill and down the other side in El Corte de Madera Creek open space preserve. Mountain bike heaven, although there was less traffic than I feared.


The small animals department was a little thin today. I thought the west side of the ridge would be more lush, but it’s far enough from the fog zone and the ocean that it’s pretty much the same as the east side, dry and dusty.

I think I have been to the tafoni area before, but it was many years ago, and I don’t remember anything about it. So I checked it out.


According to the bumpf, this is formerly submerged sandstone in which acidic water differentially dissolved calcium from some areas and either carried it away or deposited it in other areas. The calcium-rich areas do not erode as rapidly as the rest of the rock.



I have always just called these letterboxes, but the official name is tafoni. Very nice.






I hiked the Resolution trail, named for an aircraft that crashed here in October, 1953. It was a DC6 called the Resolution, inbound from Hawaii. The coast and ridge were fogged in, and in the days before radar navigation, and certainly before GPS, the pilots appear to have mistaken where they were. There were of course no survivors.


After seeing a giant salamander nearby two weeks ago, I had to hike the giant salamander trail here. Didn’t see anything along the trail, but the subsequent Timberview trail runs along a tiny creek, and I bet these little guys are giant salamander juveniles. One indication is the vertical tail fin.



A young water-strider turns lightly to thoughts of love.


At the top of Methusaleh trail is the Methusaleh tree, just east of Skyline. According to the sign, it is estimated to be 1800 years old, and has a ground-level diameter of 14 feet.



It isn’t tafoni, but the slate is pretty interesting, too.

First killer hike with the new boots, 22 miles,  4700 feet of gain. They still make my feet sore, but they’re getting better.

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.