Posted in Forests

Fall Forest Fungus

Today I came across for the second time a small patch of large mushrooms at Fauntleroy Park. After some research I think these are called Shaggy Parasols (scientific names are Chlorophyllum rhacodes and the Chlorophyllum brunneum).

The article I read said they are edible but can cause gastric problems for some if not cooked properly. Plus they do look like the mushroom that poisons more people than any other.  This convinced me that my instinct to not eat them was the best move.

So, let us enjoy their visual beauty versus the stew pot.

Here is my shaggy Parasol on the forest floor
Get a little closer to this big shroom.
A Shaggy Parasol up super close so you can see it’s shaggyness
A younger Shaggy Parasol not fully extended
Posted in Forests

Glow of Fall

After my encounter with the stellar jays I wandered down to my spot where there is a grove of vine maples. (link to the Stellar post) It is the time of year to enjoy their fall color change and a good photo could be in the making. It turns our I am a bit early for their blazing yellow-gold glory. However, the sun was playing peek-a-boo with them. This brought them into a back-light glow.

While wandering from photo spot to spot I kept encountering hummingbirds. First it was just one who eluded my camera and later nearer the creek a pair chasing each other.  That second sighting I was a millisecond too late to capture him. Nature was telling me to just enjoy the serendipity of the moment and a photo wasn’t needed.

Enjoy the GLOW!

Prior years brown leaf contrasts with the glowing green
Blackness of big Maple tree trunk shows off vine maples in their glory
I am just a leaf basking in the morning autumn sun
Reversed colors – dynamic green highlights the maple trees silhouette.


Posted in Forests

Coal Creek Waterfall Visit

Between storms I went to visit the Coal Creek Waterfall.  With all the rain we had it surely would have a spectacular flow. During the summer it was a trickle so I wanted to see how it looked now. As you can see it was a gusher.

I could hear her before I even saw her and then one rounds the trails corner and there she is in the distance.

Coal Creek Waterfall rumbles away up in Cougar Mtn Natural Area

As you get closer the bridge across the creek comes in to view. Some other nature lovers give you a good perspective on the size of the area.

Bridge, hikers and falls treat those that hike a couple of miles.

Up onto the wooden bridge I went. From there I got this nice shot of the two falls. First the creek shoots off the top of the rock-wall and then it pours over the boulder. She is a pretty thing when you concentrate on the falls itself.

Double falls up-close from bridge

It was time to eat lunch after I mucked around a bit.  I went back up the trail and crawled up into the forest. There I found a flat and fairly dry spot under a large cedar tree. I could see and hear the falls from there plus anyone coming thru the trail would probably not see me. Here is a little shot of my view while I ate my ham sandwich.

View from lunch spot under cedar tree

That is the falls for you. But don’t go!!  I have two other topics to share with you about my visit.

The forest is not just the living trees that you see. It is a cosmos of the living and the remains of their ancestors.  Today’s forest is here at Cougar Mountain Park is certainly not old-growth. Some of the trees are approaching that age since they for some reason were passed up but the granddaddies of these trees were either logged a hundred years ago or fell naturally before man arrived.

Behind my lunch spot were a few mammoth old stumps and downed logs.  I am talking about a log that is huge laying on the hill-side. Next to that is a pretty huge stump. Since cedar has a slow rot rate they are here to show us what was.

Old Stump and downed log – they were really big old growth

This got me thinking about all the stumps around the falls and the logs lying around like littered tinker-toys. See how in this picture you have the two stumps. You can tell they were logged vs a natural end by the straight cut top and foot hold holes on the sides.

Coal Creek Falls and cedar trees cut a century ago. – The view in this perspective is a bit cluttered and not so pretty.

This next stump is across the bridge and it gives a clear view of how logging before chain saws was done. Plus these were big trees so they cut footholds to either stand in or put planking to stand on. Then they used a big manual saw and cut the tree down.

Old logging technique cutting foot holds to get the saw up high enough

Now that we have looked at the stumps let us move to the logs lying around. Around the falls were several larger trunks. Here is the one that lays close to the bottom of the first falls but behind the pool on the bank.

Huge log beside Coal Creek Falls
Close up of rotting log next to falls

What a magnificent tree it must have been when she lived. I could not triangulate her stump so maybe years ago she was pushed down the creek and over the falls.  That would be a ton of water to do that. or was she one of the cut trees and the men who fell them gave up getting them out of the wilderness?

More logs are around this special place to entice my imagination. Here is one that was laying over the ground where the trail was pushed through. The builders just cut through her and give us a glimpse at her size and how she is preserved for us.

Log cut thru on trail. She was a big one!

Then we have the really big log that is by the bridge. This log is so big that the side trail to get up closer to the falls one has to skirt her up a slippery muddy round about. Guess one could climb over but it would be a bit of an up and over.  The photo does not give you a true feel for size, but know it came to my thighs when I walked around her.

Downed cedar log next to Coal Creek Falls

Now my imagination went looking for the stump of this gigantic old growth tree trunk. I think I found it but then who would really know.  Here are two photos of that stump. She is a beauty!

Huge Stump on hill above falls – is this the tree that fell next to the bridge? (the stump is between the two small trees and is bright orange.)
Stump viewed from my lunch spot. She was a big one!

Last as I left there was this stump of a really really big tree that was cut down long ago. What is left of her was taller and wider than I am tall.

Clear cut cedar stump of old. She was over 6 feet wide and taller than me.

Now I leave you with the second cool thing I found at the falls. It was a wildlife moment. As I was standing on the bridge a small squirrel or chipmunk appeared at the creek on a log. Then he proceeded to run and jump across to the other side. He moved so fast he is a blur on my photos.  I have circled him so you can see his progress in the three photos.  Enjoy!!

Squirrel crossing log over Coal Creek.
Squirrel at Coal Creek Falls got across and is on the rock now
That little creature is about to disappear into the brush as he climbs the old stump.
Posted in Forests

Meet Mom the Cedar Tree

At the west entrance to the enchanted cedar forest at Fauntleroy Park is Mom. She is the oldest tree in this family of cedars and that is why I named her Mom. You see I was so entranced by them I started building a map of the cedar forest and documenting their age.

Mom – looking NE with my bag and water bottle.

How do you do that you ask? I would never think about cutting them down to count their rings.  That is the most accurate method but how could I kill these wise beings just for my fancy? Instead I found the formula to calculate their approximate age.  Here is what you do:

Measure the tree’s trunk at about 5 feet off the ground.  I use an old sewing cloth tape that is 60″ long. In this picture you can see I have hung the tape to give you perspective of her size.

Mom – the cedar tree wearing measuring tape – looking SW

Next you apply Pi to that circumference you just measured to get the diameter. Divide that in half to find the radius. Apply the growth rate of cedar trees and you get their age. I took it a bit further and sorted out what year they were born.

To keep my data straight I built an excel map of the trees with this formula all set up. I have about 20 trees in my file. Remember this is not perfect but gets us in the ballpark.

Mom measured 146 inches around – that nets to a 23″ radius and an age of 465 years. She was born around 1553.

Did that blow you away? Imagine what she has seen in her years. Basically the forest floor below her in the enchanted forest all grew up before her and even a few older trees she has witnessed fall at her feet.

I am working out those older trees too in my project. I am happy to say that I have not found a tree in this park that has the old turn of the 19th century sawed off appearance with foot holds carved in. All the old stumps are jagged.  They died of old age or wind and water damage.  Natural death in other words.  Don’t we all wish for that?

Cedar Mom’s crown – way up there

In my quest to learn more about trees and their being, I have sat or stood next to several of these older cedars. They do bring a peace and perspective after one clears yourself of our inward chatter. A mediation in partnership with another being of the earth.

No wonder the practice of forest bathing brings us such peace of mind and strength. The forest is living at a slower pace than we and when we allow in their vibrations we are lulled into a calm.

I leave you with pondering what life would be as a tree who is 400 years older than me. Never moving from her spot but yet holding court with all who enter her space.

This is Mom – from ground to near her crown – she is so big hence the diagonal photo
Posted in Forests

My Baby Cedar Trees

This summer I have had a new nature love.  Don’t get me wrong I have not forsaken my crow clan but the cedar grove drew me in.

Trees are the silent fellows that we forget are beings too. Before I tell you my baby cedar story, I want to share a recent post by an internet friend of mine.  She writes a fabulous blog called Parallax. It touches subjects from man’s spiritual being to nature and this week “The Secret Lives of Trees”.  Here is a link to her post for your tree loving moment – Parallax

I have visited a place I call the enchanted forest for over 20 years. It is a stand of cedar trees that range in age from youngsters to old mama trees.

The Enchanted Cedar Grove

The oldest best I can tell is 465 years old – Mom tree is what I call her and she was born around 1553. Then there is Bear tree. He is a bit younger born around 1700. His name comes from the face he has shown the world on his trunk.

Bear guards the little trees

Last year and again this year there was a group who planted native trees and bushes in the park. They put many little trees on the floor of the grove. Sadly they did not make it due to the conditions of the forest floor. It gets little light and in summer is too dry for a young tree to make it.

Sad dead baby trees who did not make it

This year they tried again and the results were about the same except a few little maple trees and my three cedar trees. Here is a photo that shows two of them to the north of bear tree. They are hard to see since they are only about 12 to 18 inches tall on the cluttered forest floor.

See tag on one baby tree & in distance on old fallen cedar (reddish) wood.

Each Sunday I have driven to Fauntleroy Park with a jug of water. With that I carefully built small dams and watered them. It was in the 90s and 80s for months with no rain. The ground needed to be stirred to get it to absorb versus run off. I had little sticks close by to facilitate soaking their root balls.  Let me introduce you to them:

First there is Bear Baby. She rests very close to Bear Tree and even gets a ray of sunlight in the morning.

Bear Baby with her tag still on to protect her.

Next is Log Baby. She is the healthiest of the brood. She was planted on a very old cedar tree downed log, a nursery tree. That log has embraced her and when I watered her the soil sucked up the water readily. She actually has new growth right now.

Log Baby on her nursery log – look close for bright green new growth

Then there is the third baby tree a little distance away. I call her Brownie.  She has had a tougher time and I don’t sense a parent tree close by to protect her.  The best thing today was when I watered her a small spider came out of a hole at her base.  Maybe he is adopting her. He stayed on the edge of his home while I gave her the water.

Brownie is trying real hard to make it to winter

Those are my baby cedars. I am going to keep working with them to make sure when the fall rains come they can make it to next year. The grove is trying hard to get them hooked up to their family safety net. I want to give them that hand of extra help to get them there.

Next time you walk through a forest or close to trees, touch them and for a moment feel their energy and ancient wisdom.