Raceway Hike

Thanks to all of you hikers who made donations to raise money for the rehabilitation project on the Overlook Trail this past Saturday. Over 100 hikers gathered at Sonoma Raceway for a special hike that offered 360 IMG_0121degree views, wildflowers in bloom and wooly weeders doing their jobs—we even saw some spring lambs frolicking in the still-green grass.

IMG_0147We had a delicious picnic lunch provided by Levy Restaurant.

 

A huge thank you to Steve Page and his team for the superb job of hosting, promoting, and keeping us all on track over hill and dale.IMG_0139

 

If you’d like more information about how your hiking on the Overlook is even going to be better. . . go to the information on our rehabilitation project that your donations are going to support.

Overlook Trail founder is honored

fullsizeoutput_7196Karen Collins, who helped establish the Overlook Trail, has been honored as Sonoma County Woman of the Year for the Third Senate District. Karen has made vital conservation efforts in Sonoma and we appreciate all she does for us hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Karen has long been active in local civic and community service. She spearheaded the community effort to preserve the land to the north of town for hikers instead of having a luxury hotel built. She co-chaired the task force that created the trail and is still involved with the volunteer stewards and maintenance and use of the trail.

She currently chairs the Sonoma County Regional Parks and Recreation Commission, which oversees the County’s outdoor recreation programs and is also on the board of Jack London Park Partners, the nonprofit group that operates Jack London State Historical Park. In 2014, she was named the Sonoma Valley “Conservationist of the Year.”

We are lucky to have a dedicated person like Karen that supports the Overlook Trail and outdoor recreation in Sonoma County.

Congratulations Karen.

The Movies and Hiking

While hiking the Overlook trail, I’ve been thinking about movies that I enjoyed that had hiking as the central plot.

IMG_3111Wild is a story of an inexperienced hiker who decides to hike solo the 1,100 mile Pacific Crest Trail. She wanted to drive out her demons after the death of her mother and her own addiction. With sheer determination –and some help from REI replacing hiking boots—she made the entire distance and experienced what many hikers know—get out in nature and your problems diminish. I may not be driving out demons but every time I go on a hike I feel better afterwards. Being out in the great outdoors lifts my spirits.

A Walk in the Woods is a tale of two older friends who challenge themselves to hike the legendary Appalachian Trail. They aren’t really tackling any weighty issues—the movie is really the story of two grumpy old men dealing with mishaps, sharing confidences (some of them pretty racy!) and building a bond between them while hiking. I find that walking with a friend is comforting and fun and this movie reminded me of how hiking with another person can create a strong bond with your hiking buddy.

There are many movies that have hiking as part of the plot, I’m much more aware of them since I’ve become a hiker. I’m even reflecting on hiking that may not be central to the plot –think Julie Andrews hiking with the seven Von Trap family members out of Austria to safety at the end of the movie Sound of Music, a multiple Academy Award winner.
What movies have you watched lately that made you think, “Forget sitting here watching a movie, I’m going outdoors to hike!”

Day of the Dead Cemetery Tour

002097_l On Saturday October 29th at 9:30-11:30am and 1-3pm, amateur historian Fred Allebach will lead an informative walk of the Sonoma Mountain Cemetery introducing you to cowboys and Indians, ranchers and 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. The $35.00 cost per person includes the walking tour and a picnic lunch complete with googly eyes! Proceeds support the Sonoma Overlook Trail Maintenance and Education programs. The Trail is solely supported by private donations. The walk and lunch are sponsored by Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards.

To reserve your spot, contact LaurieSOT@gmail.com Please indicate preference of morning or afternoon walk. Thank you for supporting the Sonoma Overlook Trail!

Tour beautiful Oak Hill Farm during fall harvest and help support the all-volunteer Sonoma Overlook Trail

home_slideshow_1_0You are invited to join Oak Hill Farm owner Anne Teller for a guided walking tour of her sustainably-farmed fields of flowers, vegetables and and fruit orchards on Saturday, October 1st from 10:30AM -1PM.

Oak Hill, a 25-acre farm at the foot of the Mayacamas and known to many by its distinctive Red Barn Store, is one of Sonoma Valley’s treasures. The Teller family has practiced sustainable agriculture for more than 50 years and harvests 200-plus varieties of organically-grown vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs as they naturally come into season.

The farm is part of a larger, 700-acre property held in perpetuity as protected wildlands.  Anne will be delighted to talk with us about the Tellers’ commitment to sustainable farming and to stewarding Oak Hill’s incredible natural resources.

This is an easy, flat walk of about two miles round-trip. Afterwards we will enjoy a discussion with a light lunch and wine.

The walk is limited to 40 people and reservations are required. A donation of $45 will secure your space.

All proceeds go toward upkeep of Sonoma Overlook Trail. The public trail is managed on an all-volunteer basis by a group of Sonomans who donate their time to keep the trail in good repair, protect natural habitat, assist visitors and lead hikes.

To place a reservation email us at  LaurieSOT@gmail.com

To learn more about Oak Hill farm, please visit oakhillfarm.net.

We’re Winning!

P1010218Faithful readers of this blog (all two of you, and one is my Mom) will know that we’ve been fighting the good fight against the invasive non-native Yellow Star Thistle on both the Overlook and Montini properties. The season for pulling it runs from mid-May to August. Now that we are in August, when the weed dries out and the seed heads drop off, we must quit.

But I’m here to tell you that we are winning the war. This is the second year that I can certify that all of the infestations on the main properties of both the Overlook and the Montini have been essentially cleared. Judging from the number and size of the plants we are pulling in most areas (see the small plants pictured), we are depleting the seed bank, which can be viable for up to five years.

We could not have reached this point without essential assistance from Rich Gibson, a biologist and a Sonoma Overlook Trail volunteer steward, and the Sonoma Ecology Center’s EnviroLeaders program. Twice, at least half-a-dozen teenagers from the EnviroLeaders Program came out and helped decimate the worst patches of Yellow Star Thistle on the Montini Preserve. Tony Passantino, the SEC’s EnviroLeader’s program manager, has been very willing to bring his team out to support our removal efforts whenever we called for help. And the teenagers who are a part of this program are willing hard workers and ready to learn about the environment and how to keep it great. We so appreciate their help.

Next season expect a call to go out for help in decimating this scourge. And if you see it, please consider helping. The situation gets better every year, but we are still years away from eradicating it completely. We can use your help to make YST only a memory on these properties.

 

California Naturalist Training in Sonoma

“California is an incredible place to be a naturalist.”

CalNat-logoSo begins “The California Naturalist Handbook,” the standard textbook for a rigorous UC-approved course designed to turn local nature lovers into trained California Naturalists. These knowledge keepers act as park docents and as key leaders in the “citizen science” movement helping to shape California’s future.

Right now, Sonoma Ecology Center is teaming up with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to offer this accredited eight-week course locally – and we’re looking throughout Sonoma and Napa counties for people interested in joining the elite and venerable league of California Naturalists.

The course results in real college credits – but even better, it turns nature lovers into certified graduates of the UC California Naturalist Program, making them valuable authorities on California’s plants and animals, geology and soils, water, climate, biodiversity and much more.

California Naturalist courses are available at certain locations throughout the state, but this is the first time such a course will be offered at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. The course, held Monday evenings from 6 to 8:30 p.m., will run from Sept. 19 to Nov. 19 at Sugarloaf Park’s Robert Ferguson Observatory. Speakers will include professors from local colleges and universities and experts from Cal Academy and the Sonoma Ecology Center.

The course also will include four five-hour fieldtrips (Oct. 8th, 22 and Nov. 12, 19) lead by field experts in and around Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. As their final project for the program, each naturalist-in-training will complete an eight-hour volunteer service learning project for a community organization. Participants of this course will graduate with a specialized knowledge of the oak woodlands indigenous to the Mayacamas Mountains.

“We are thrilled to be offering the California Naturalist certification training this fall as an expansion of our education programming at Sugarloaf,” said Sonoma Ecology Center educator Tony Passantino. “Bringing an accredited college course to this state park at the heart of Sonoma and Napa valleys is a rare opportunity.”

To sign up for the first-ever Fall 2016 California Naturalist Program at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2586749. For more information, call or write Tony Passantino at 707-996-0712 ext. 124 or tony@sonomaecologycenter.org. The course costs $370 (or $399 after Aug. 19) and is limited to 25 participants. Limited scholarships are available on a case-by-case basis.

Those able to do so are encouraged to print out and post our flier for the event! A pdf copy of the flier is available by clicking the link below.

CalNat_Course_Flier_SugarloafPark