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Devil's Postpile National Monument, California

Our day started early for a hike in Devil's Postpile National Monument. We had breakfast in the park and began our hike. The hike to the postpiles was short about 1 mile roundtrip. The postpiles look like tall tree trunks stacked high and upright against each other, measuring 40-60 feet (12 to 18 meters) high.  These Postpiles were formed as a product of the slow cooling of a hot basalt lava lake. The lava lake was 400 feet deep and existed between 80,000 to 100,000 years ago. As the lava lake cooled, cracks (called joints by geologists) formed to release the tension that lay within. Cracks extended from the outside in, forming these hexagonal columns. These hexagonal columns were later exposed by many forces, one of them being glacial excavation. You can see the glacial striations on the rock at the top of the columns on the hexagonal “tiles”. Though very much man-made in appearance, these hexagonal shapes are common in nature - example bee hive honeycomb, packed bubbles, eyes of flies.  For more information on the geology of these postpiles, see Geology of Devil's Postpile

Phantom Falls, Oroville, CA

Phantom Falls is located in the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, near the town of Oroville, California. It is a seasonal waterfall, flowing only during the wet season, and disappearing during the dry season, hence its namesake. Phantom Falls, also known as Coal Canyon Falls, flows near the end of Coal Canyon. It flows over cliffs of basalt columns formed by ancient lava flows. North Table Mountain is a mesa-like structure that is both tall and flat, forming a table top like formation. There are many waterfalls on North Table Mountain, as creeks and streams make their way down from the table top cliffs. 

Berkeley Rocks Urban Hike, Berkeley, California

Rocks are fascinating! They tell stories of our earth's history in a way not many other things can. I read about this hike in Bay Nature regarding these ancient volcanic rocks from 11.5 million years ago from an area just south of San Jose. These rocks were carried north about 50 miles to its current Iocation in Berkeley as the continental plates moved past each other.  There are several city parks that contain these volcanic rocks in the Berkeley area. We hiked a loop starting at Remillard Park, to Cragmont Rock Park, to Mortar Rock to John Hinkel Park then to Grotto Rock. Our total distance including accidental detours was 3.7 miles.

Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

We started our hike at 9:30am on a quiet, rainy late November Saturday morning. The parking lot had five or six cars. We began at Palomarin Trailhead, then followed the Coast Trail, then onto the Alamere Falls turnoff. The Coast Trail gave us a view of the ocean below, then into a few groves of trees. We also walked by two lakes, Bass Lake and Pelican Lake. The latter, Pelican Lake is a lake with a peek-a-boo view of the ocean in the background. The trail was dotted with puddles, large and small, which required puddle jumping, sidestepping and occasionally carry-overs by daddy. I think that made it a little more exciting for the boys. We encountered at least 3 salamanders and an equal number of banana slugs.  The boys spent a few minutes watching them get merrily on their way, albeit very slowly.

Glass Beach, Sinkholes and Bowling Ball Beach, Mendocino County, California

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California

We visited Glass Beach in Fort Bragg after I saw some very convincing pictures of pebbles of curved glass on the beach. I had also read that the amount of glass on the beach was significantly less than what it was 30 years ago.  Though I was half-hearted about the way it began,  I thought Glass Beach was worth a stop on our trip to the northern California coast.  Parking at Noyo Headlands at the corner of Old Haul Road and Elm Road, we made our way towards the beach. The glass was not obviously visible from the trail above, so we decided to explore towards McKerricher State Park following a footpath going north.