The first lab mussel-hunting trip

Our first lab mussel-hunting trip to Point Reyes was a success despite heavy surf.  We hit the mussel rocks at low tide and were able to collect enormous amounts of big, happy mussels.  Our entire lab and numerous allies spent the whole evening cooking and eating them – and still had a bunch left over for later.  Lots of work, but it was a very tasty lab outing.

Fall lab outing – Mussels at Pt. Reyes

After two years of carving pumpkins, we are doing something more adventurous this fall.  Our fall lab outing will be to collect mussels (Mytilus californianus) on Point Reyes in early November (weather and dinoflagellates permitting). Exact date TBD depending on tides and surf conditions.  Mussel shells will be collected in the interests of science; soft tissues are surplus to requirements and will be safely disposed of with the help of white wine, garlic and butter.  Stay tuned, and think where you can get a wetsuit.

5th annual mushrrom hunting trip

This year’s mushroom trip-and-dinner was once again a success.  The weather and forest spirits cooperated with our intentions to a sufficient degree:

The dinner menu featured porcini and shaggy parasol soup, 10-mushroom-species minestrone, sauteed winter chanterelles, hedgehog mushroom risotto, pasta with black trumpet sauce, and candy cap cookies.

Let us hope the next season will be as good or better!

And many thanks to Grace for wonderful pictures.

Mt Agassiz hiking trip

This year’s lab hike was to the scenic Mt. Agassiz in Desolation Wilderness.  It was a great day – pleasantly shaded approach, just-adventurous-enough climb, great views from the summit, watermelon for lunch, and a swim in the cold mountain lake.  Extra features included a bit of rappelling practice on the western gendarme and a dog-carrying session.  The pictures are here:

Where should we go next year?

Lab hike 2012!

This year we will climb Mt Agassiz in Desolation Wilderness.  With it overhanging, “diving board” summit hanging in the air over the heart of Desolation Valley, Agassiz has arguably the best views in the Tahoe Basin.  Plus, it has an easy (if somewhat long) approach and is non-technical, i. e. can be climbed without any gear.  Here is a picture of the summit:

And here is the view from the summit:

Is it nice or what?

The approach from the trailhead to the base of the mountain is about 6 miles (one way) on a nice, well-maintained, not-steep trail.  The trail ends at a tiny alpine lake above tree line – that will mean fewer mosquitoes.  Those who decide not to climb the mountain can rest, picnic, and go for a swim there (the water will be ice-cold though).

With those who still have the energy and desire to climb, we will leave the trail and hike to the top of the ridge that connects Agassiz to Pyramid Peak, then walk this ridge to the top of Agassiz.  This part of the hike is on broken rock and is steep but completely safe and non-technical.  You may occasionally need your hands for balance, but there’s no climbing involved.  We will eventually come to the summit block that looks like this:

Despite its forbiddng appearance, getting to the top requires nothing more than a straighforward scramble – you will definitely need your hands but there are no technical moves.  Most people will find it easy, but I will bring a rope and other gear just in case and belay anyone who feels uncomfortable at any point.

The top is a completely flat slab of granite that can easily accommodate us all.  We will take a well-deserved break, have lunch, do yoga, lean over edge to enjoy the exposure, etc.  Then we will scramble down to pick up the folks who’ve been cooling their heels on the lake and follow the trail back to the car.  It should not be hard to get back before dark.

More details to follow