Among the lonely spirochetes of Hood Mountain

I've been spending days exploring our wonderful Hood Mountain Regional Park: a substantial piece of the small fraction of Sonoma County that is accessible to the public. Well worth a special trip. Aside from ferny canyons, ponds and fir-ed ridges, there's an amazing serpentine part with a fairy forest of stunted Sargent Cypress. From the top(2700' or so) you can see St. Helena, Mt. Tam, Mt. Diablo and a bit of Pt. Reyes. In season(now), you see the snow covered ridge of Snow Mt.(7000') on the northern skyline. And as usual, I had all of this mostly to myself.

Leaving yesterday, I'd picked up a Western Black-Legged tick . She was not hard to find, because the bite was surprisingly painful on the bony surface of my sternum. A small price to pay for my visit.

Or so I think...don't get me started about ticks when the trauma of dealing with our local infestation of Lyme paranoia is still so fresh. As a general physician, I saw hundreds of Lyme Victims; only very slightly outnumbered by those afflicted by Gluten Enteropathy, or those worried about microwave contamination... In truth, it's very hard to document actual Lyme cases here. Whether it's a difference in our vector, low prevalence of the lyme agent in our ticks or whatever, we are pretty safe; and probably 100% safe with a few precautions. It's like staying out of our wonderful ocean because there are Great White Sharks: not a real issue given the very poor choice of staying home with your medical marijuana and video games when the south swell is in.

Of course, if you've practiced medicine in the USA of the last 1/2 century, you are no stranger to our epidemics of health paranoia. Ebstein-Barr, Candida, Food Allergy, etc. etc. This is sad, when there are so, so many examples of low-hanging fruit on the hazard-abatement tree. The same local community that roils with the microwave controversy blithely drinks arsenical well water without protest; this perhaps mitigated by diluting it in their precious body fluids by the expedient of sucking on giant slurpies: which is fine as long as they remember to take their chlorpropamide...

In this particular case, it's yet another lame-o excuse to stay out of the woods. Even though we've so little access to the zillions of pristine Sonoma acres, it paradoxically seem more than enough for the slender demand. We actually have had a sales tax to help finance open space, but in the apathetic climate 90% of this goes to buy conservation easements form local landowners. A number of extent public holdings are inaccessible because of strangely efficacious private resistance to granting access across slivers of their property. In this setting, i hate to hear any nonsense about the danger lurking in the woods and fields.

Posted by icosahedron icosahedron, January 30, 2013 15:32

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Goldback Fern Pentagramma triangularis

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 13, 2013 01:30 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Sargent's Cypress Cupressus sargentii

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 13, 2013 02:00 PM PST

Description

Quite a forest of these on a serpentine ridge... a Sargent Cypress. Not much else beside manzanita and a dwarfish oak in this area. These cypress are all rather small, giving the impression of a fairy forest: I'd wonder if an effect of the rather meager nutrition of the soil. Above and below this part of the ridge, where the surfaces are decomposed granite, the plants are much more diverse and lush.

The last picture is of a more formidable specimen growing a bit lower among Douglas Firs.

Photos / Sounds

What

Knobcone Pine Pinus attenuata

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 13, 2013 03:00 PM PST

Description

On the higher part of the serpentine ridge carpeted below with dwarf cypress, manzanita and leather oak.

Photos / Sounds

What

Western Sword Fern Polystichum munitum

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 13, 2013 04:15 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Common Manzanita Arctostaphylos manzanita

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 13, 2013

Description

Just at the top I saw a fine stand of these blooming manzanitas; a bit different from the sea of more silvery(and non blooming) ones on the serpentine ridge.

Photos / Sounds

What

California Shield Fern Polystichum californicum

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 16, 2013 11:00 AM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Giant Chain Fern Woodwardia fimbriata

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 16, 2013 12:30 AM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Brittlegills Genus Russula

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 16, 2013 12:00 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Leather Oak Quercus durata

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 22, 2013 02:30 PM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Western Forest Scorpion Uroctonus mordax

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 29, 2013 11:00 AM PST

Description

It may appear that the scorpion has some interest in the amphibian; this is entirely an artifact.... I'd pried it out of a crack with a twig to get a better shot, and it happened to land there. The second picture is how it was huddling under the bark of an old fir log when I first intruded.

Photos / Sounds

What

Snail-eating Beetles Genus Scaphinotus

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 29, 2013 11:00 AM PST

Description

Under the loose bark of an old fir log; very anxious to get out of the light.... just a touch of gorgeous iridescence. Habiting this space with the scorpions and salamanders show on neighboring posts.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

California Slender Salamander Batrachoseps attenuatus

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 29, 2013 11:00 AM PST

Photos / Sounds

What

Western Black-legged Tick Ixodes pacificus

Observer

icosahedron

Date

January 29, 2013 12:00 AM PST

Description

Attached to skin over my sternum; surprisingly painful. This is the local vector for Lyme spirochetes; and there's then a 1-5% chances that you're looking at these too.

Comments

Thumb

Much of this area burned in Oct 2017. You may find it interesting to revisit this area and see the recovery going on.

Posted by rawills5339 over 2 years ago (Flag)

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