Sending in the Child Soldiers

Child soldiers, sent into the breach.

The season for eradicating Italian thistle can begin as early as December, or as late as early or even mid-January. For at least four months after that, we essentially pull and drop it, as it isn’t yet going to flower, let alone seed. But now it is flowering, and some is even going to seed, so we must bag it up and carry it out. We use contractor debris bags from Friedman’s, which last for multiple years.

The contents of the bag are emptied into a pile beside a dumpster in Mountain Cemetery, and eventually the City of Sonoma hauls it all away.

In this period of the thistle pulling season we pull out other tools, such as weed whackers, in our desperate attempt to keep the thistle from fully going to seed. Let’s just say it’s an act of total desperation, as the thistle can still put on blooms, which means we need to weed-whack it again later.

It’s also the season when Italian thistle ups its game, and sends its child soldiers into the battle, just like Nazi Germany went both up and down the age range of males to send into battle toward the end, to try to win the war, in a total act of desperation.

These are truly tiny plants (see picture), which barely clear the soil and go directly to bloom, which of course makes them hard to see, challenging to pull, and frustratingly difficult to eradicate. This is part of what makes Italian thistle the hardest invasive species I’ve yet battled — far harder than Yellow Star thistle, which is all but eradicated except along Norrbom Road.

The only good angle on this is that since they are so low to the ground, it’s not all that likely that they will spread their seeds a long way. At least unless there is a strong wind. Oh, right, we’ve never had a strong wind in Sonoma Valley. 😦

Hiking Alone?

If you’d like to join a group of energetic hikers, come every Wednesday morning at 8:30am for a one-hour round trip hike to the top of the Overlook Trail. We practice social distancing and wear masks. Meet at the trailhead kiosk.

“…you might think you walked all the way to Italy.”

The Sonoma Overlook Trail is in the news! Travel & Leisure Magazine lists Sonoma as one of the 10 Best Small Towns in California. It says that besides the wine tasting, colonial architecture and picturesque town center, for hikers the Sonoma Overlook Trail offers breathtaking views.


“…you might think you walked all the way to Italy.”

ttps://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/best-small-towns-california

New Overlook Trail Kiosk Panels!

Photo by Susan Peterson

New kiosk panels at the Overlook Trail trailhead were installed recently, after many months of thoughtful work. They have replaced, in some cases, outdated and fading panels, and in others added information that we had decided over time would be useful additions, such as trail descriptions that could help hikers understand what the different trails have to offer. Please take time to check them out when you are next on the trail.

This work was originally led by Lynn Clary, but after he left the stewards group, it was taken up by John Donnelly and brought to completion. Other stewards involved in this work include Lori Parmalee and Priscilla Miles.

The design and production of the panels was very ably accomplished by the good people at ASA Graphics, who also designed our logo. They were excellent to work with, and they came and hiked the trail to better get a sense of what we are about. Rochelle Zatkin, the principal, met with us multiple times, and has made sure that her staff understood us and also only charged us fees appropriate to a volunteer-led non-profit. We simply could not have had a better partner in this journey, in my personal opinion.

Meanwhile, the head of our Communications Team, Jeni Nichols, has already swept into action and created a new display along with the help of Susan Peterson, to create a display for our renewed “Hiker’s Gallery.” Please understand that this area is free for anyone to use. If you have a display you would like to create, just contact Jeni Nichols. We would love to see your contributions!