The sun had set behind the rocks at the point where Baker Canyon meets Santiago Creek. A whitish glow lingered in the west. Against this a bat appeared and pumped its wings. The hike leader pointed at it. Mexican Free taileds were known to roost near here at a place called the “Bat Bridge”. I looked to see if it had a tail. It flew overhead and became lost in the darkness.
Three nights later we saw another one on the Hicks Haul Road. A 12 year old boy spotted this one. The little Chiropteran had sneaked up on us. I saw it for only a few seconds. “Did it have a tail?” I asked.
It was my intention to arrive early before other hikers obliterated the tracks of the previous night, but my punctuality didn’t help: at least one docent preceded me and other walkers passed me so there was nothing to see other than scat by the time I scanned the trail. Saturday offered another open access day on which the general public could explore the lands to the east of Black Star Canyon Road. We picked up our lime green passes at the registration table, walked up the road, and started our journey into the dry forest of Baker Canyon. Eucalyptus gave way to live oaks and sycamores as we marched further in. Baker Meadow was lovely even with the dead grass. Coyotes were eating some kind of pitted fruit — the cactus hadn’t ripened yet so it wasn’t that — and leaving purplish mounds in the middle of the path. We lost the forest canopy and trudged up the Hall Canyon Trail — a hard climb that led to a mercy of switchbacks and a crest over which we passed to get to the flood plain of Silverado Creek.