Look who’s hiking and working on the trail

Every Wednesday morning at 8:30 a group of hikers gather to hike the Overlook.

Up (30 minutes), then the Top (catch breath and take photo) and then down (30 minutes). Here’s a few photos from the top by the bench from this past year of Wednesday hikes.

And look who we bump into on the trail nearly every week. Hint–he’s going from rock removal to invasive removal –see his blog posts!

Join us at the Trailhead kiosk on Wednesdays. . . . the hike is open to the public. Good way to start the day. . . .and enjoy the view from the top!

The Game is Afoot

Picture of an Italian thistle plant.

A young Italian thistle.

I know what all five of you who read this blog are thinking: “Oh no, not again!” you’re groaning. And I don’t blame you.

Yet again I’m blogging about invasive species management on the Overlook and Montini properties, as I have for years. But as you might imagine, there’s a reason for that, and it’s because we’re in a decades-long fight that we may never win.  So buckle up, buttercup, here we go again!

I first sighted Italian thistle popping up in early November. Certainly by November 8, two days earlier than last year, I noticed more than one patch of it. Therefore, today I went out on the Montini Preserve and pulled not only the one pictured plant (the largest one I found today), but also many other, much smaller plants. The game is definitely already afoot, thanks to some early rains.

So far I’ve been unable to tell if our previous work has made much of an impact on the problem. My instinct is that we haven’t yet, that we still have a ways to go to seriously reduce the seed bank present in the soil. There seem to be plenty of plants along the trail on the Montini, which is where I’ve focused much of my attention, so there doesn’t seem to be much progress there. Yet.

But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that invasive species management is a long game. And few people know what the long game takes better than I do, I submit. So once again I saddle up, and enter the fray. I’ll see you out there.

Rock Patrol Ups Its Game

rock chiselAfter I became Maintenance Chair, I began considering new kinds of trail maintenance activities. Since Sonoma Overlook Trail is a particularly rocky trail, over the past year or so I pioneered what I dubbed “Rock Patrol“. As it was originally conceived, it consisted of hiking the trail with a shovel and a pry bar, levering out rocks and backfilling with soil to remove “trip rocks” and make a smoother tread.

Over time, I added an activity that I called “trail smoothing”, which I conceived of as a more systematic effort over a stretch of trail from 6-12 feet or more. In this activity, we would remove many rocks from the trail bed and fill with soil and gravel, packing it down to recreate a smooth tread. This was devised as an activity for our monthly group trail maintenance work days.

Now I’ve added another activity that I’m calling “rock reduction”. To do this, we’ve purchased a cordless rock chisel/hammer/drill (pictured; click the photo to see a video of it in action). As I say in the video, it is a complete game-changer. I really don’t think there is a rock on the trail that we can’t now either completely remove or reduce to trail level or below.

Given that fact, I’m now open for any trail hiker or runner’s nominations of rocks to remove or reduce. Take a photo of your most hated rock and/or ridge of bedrock that impinges on the trail and send it to me at roytennant@gmail.com along with a description of where to find it on the trail. Just do your best; I’m pretty sure I will recognize it. Having nominated it, I will let you know when it has been removed or reduced.

Check out the video. It’s less than 2 1/2 minutes long and I think it does a great job of illustrating how we can now take down even some of the hardest rocks on the trail (many are much softer than the one in the video, which I had originally attempted to take out using a large, heavy, iron pry bar).

Rock reduction is now officially part of our arsenal.

Day of the Dead Cemetery Walk

Today local historian and Sonoma Overlook Trail Steward, Fred Allebach, led local Sonomans through the Mountain Cemetery on a “Day of the Dead” Walk. He shared fascinating stories and lively lore that he “dug up” through the years. There were homemade cookies and freshly made Sonoma cider to fuel the walkers. Proceeds from the event (over $1,750) go towards improvements on the Overlook Trailead and the Kiosk. The trail is solely supportd by private donations.

Fred Allebach telling a “Grateful Dead Story”

Dia de los Muertos • Day of the Dead Cemetery Tour is SOLD OUT! See you there….

Day of the Dead


Experience Sonoma History
on a Walk through Sonoma Mountain Cemetery

Saturday, October 29
Times: 10:00 OR 12:30 pm
SOLD OUT

dayofdead

Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards invite you to join us on a lively, informative walk through our historic cemetery with our own amateur historian Fred Allebach.

Meet ranchers and ranch hands, real estate tycoons, farmers and farriers, carpenters and stone masons, quarrymen, grocers, butchers, bakers, maybe a candlestick maker, and many more!

This fundraising event is limited to 25 participants per hike. Your $35 donation includes the walking tour, cookies and cider. All proceeds go directly to support Sonoma Overlook Trail. The Overlook is funded solely by private donations.