Yesterday, I hiked up to Table Mountain with the Harrelson kids and their mom. If you've every driven the road from Shell to the trailhead, you know that it is deeply rutted and crosses two cattle guards and requires opening and closing two gates. Jenny navigated the road with finesse, choosing the smoothest available way which did not mean we didn't bounce around. At one point, a herd of horses stood in the road and one refused to move. Another put his head in the window to see if Kyle had any food to share. He got a pet on the head for his effort. In the end, Jenny got out of the Suburban and slapped the stubborn horse who refused to leave the center of the road. He bounded off and set the other horses in motion too.
The hills were green and beautifully decorated with purple brodiaea and vetch, but when we reached the top of Table Mountain, the wild flower bloom had already turned dry and crunchy. There were a few late blooming lupine, buttercups, and fiddleneck. Candice and Kyle picked samples and stuck them in their sketch books to flatten and dry. Cody collected samples of lava rock, filling his sweatshirt pocket until the rocks clinked musically as he walked. Taylor looked for places to sit and sketch the spectacular view of New Melones Reservoir. Jenny and I focused on calling kids back when they got too close to the cliff's edge. We all enjoyed trying to spot landmarks from the southern side of the mountain that looks toward Highway 108 and Jamestown.
Even though we missed the huge array of flowers that probably bloomed a few weeks ago, it was a worthwhile trip. Not only did we get to walk on the ancient lava flow, Table Mountain is a terrific place to get a bird's eye view of much of the county. Next week, we are going to Uncle Andy's to hike a segment of the ditch system and hear about hydrology in Tuolumne County.