Today around 50 people came out to celebrate 15 years of the Overlook Trail and offer our gratitude to those who fought to save it, and the town, from the recent fires. State Senator Bill Dodd was in attendance, as well as many local environmental celebrities.
The celebration began with music provided by Paul Genovese and Bob Taylor. After some remarks from Steward Chair Joanna Kemper, the two people most responsible for establishing the trail, Karen Collins and Maggie Salenger, spoke about how the trail came about. A story in the Sonoma Index-Tribune about the celebration also has some of that information.
State Senator Bill Dodd also said a few words and announced that he would donate $500 (a sum that harkens back to a donation of the same amount from State Assemblymember Wes Chesbro when the trail was just getting started). The speakers were followed by a short sing-along of songs of love and appreciation.
Guests enjoyed coffee, apple cider, and muffins before hitting the trail for a hike (naturally). The weather cooperated and the predicted rain held off. About 40 people hiked up to the top and enjoyed the view.
abide – to endure without yielding
Readers of this blog and locals probably know that during the recent firestorm Cal Fire bulldozers cut fire breaks on the Montini and Overlook properties. We are happy that they did this, as it was essential to protect the town. But nonetheless we were concerned about these scars as we are entering the rainy season.
Cal Fire and the City of Sonoma worked hard to mitigate the impacts of those scars, and that work is already paying off.
The Stewards had planned to meet this morning to spread seed over the cuts, but we canceled due to rain. I went hiking anyway and spotted a lot of grass starting to poke through the straw that was laid down on some of the cuts. This was surprising to me, as bulldozers moved over those cuts not once, but twice (once to make the cut and again to spread the mounds of soil left from the first time) and grass is already coming up.
That’s a really good sign that Mother Nature is going to heal itself, with little intervention from us. We will monitor the situation, and seed where it looks like it needs it, but for now it might just be enough to let nature take its course.
Join us for a Free Community Gratitude Hike Saturday, December 2 at 9:00am. There will be music, coffee and muffins and we’ll hike the Overlook Trail weather permitting. For more information contact Jeni Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.
45 people came to walk through Mountain Cemetery and hear amateur historian, Fred Allebach tell stories about past Sonomans that now inhabit the cemetery. Not only were the curious hikers entertained with stories about well known pioneers such as Samuel Sebastiani, Mariano Vallejo, and William Montini, they also were introduced to lesser known real estate tycoons, butchers, and even murderers.
Grateful dead folktales were told and Sonoma’s rich history came alive. The funds from this years tour will be used to repair the damage from fire fighting actitivies. If you missed this event and would like to take a self guided tour of the cemetery, pick up the Mountain Cemetery Walking Tour brochure at the Overlook Trail Kiosk written by Fred Allebach and enter the Mountain Cemetery next to the kiosk.
I am very happy to report that Cal Fire came with 30 people to work on the trail and have made it usable again. So the trail is open!
Please join us in thanking Cal Fire for all they have done to not only save much of our community but also to mitigate some of the damage that was necessary to fight the fire. A truly heroic effort.
We also want to thank the Public Works team of the City of Sonoma who prioritized fixing the trail: Chris Pegg, Trent Hudson, and Colleen Ferguson.
Meanwhile, our hearts, minds, and money should also go out to our fellow local citizens who have lost, at least in some cases, everything. Others have lost jobs, paychecks, or other things and require our support.
There are many, many ways to support those who have been damaged by these fires. As you once again hike or run the Overlook, we encourage you to keep them close to your heart.
Anyone reading this blog is likely aware of the wildfires that broke out over a week ago and are still burning parts of Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties. Our hearts go out to all of those affected — many substantially. Also, all of the first responders, from both near and far, have our everlasting gratitude for what they’ve done to save our communities.
One thing they did was to bulldoze firebreaks in the hills, to set up lines that could be defended and stop the fire in the hills before it came down to burn our neighborhoods and towns.
Today I went out on the Montini Preserve and the Sonoma Overlook Trail to see how they had fared. Neither property had been touched by fire. But firebreaks were carved on both properties, with the Montini Preserve not nearly as impacted. The firebreak on the Montini essentially followed the existing dirt road up the hill, and thus only crossed one trail. That is likely easily fixed with some shovel work.
The Overlook did not escape damage so easily. Bulldozers crossed the trails probably 15-20 times, and in places left substantial damage. Several spots will need to be completely rebuilt (see picture of a portion of Rattlesnake Cutoff).
Because of this, we are closing the Overlook until we can get the trails repaired, and in the meantime we are directing hikers to the Montini Preserve. Please bear with us as we work to recover the trails so many of us love.
The California Quail is the State Bird, and can often be sighted in natural areas of much of the state. In the Overlook and Montini properties, the largest brood can be found right along Fourth Street, at the entrance to the Montini property, in the blackberry bushes along the fence. That is where I grabbed this picture the other day. You can frequently see a rather large flock flittering around that spot. For whatever reason, they seem to be sighted more rarely in the heart of the Overlook and Montini properties. Perhaps their location close-in to civilization protects them from predators. But since they prefer dense shrubbery for cover, it’s hard to find anything denser in the area than those blackberry bushes.
In any case, I always enjoy seeing them, as they are so cute and colorful. Their top-knot is, frankly, hilarious and yet somehow suitable. If you want to try to figure out the gender, males tend to have longer topknots than females. The males are always trying to impress with length. Go figure.
To identify them by their calls, you may want to check out their variety of vocalizations.
They seem to share with wild turkeys the propensity to walk unless forced to fly. I find that endearing for some reason.
Keep your eyes peeled for the quail, particularly when you enter the trail system at the Fourth Street trailhead. I’m fairly certain you will spot them.