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.
File this under “reasons to be glad that I am not an Eastern Woodlands Hiker”:
People have been turning up at Long Island allergists with an unusual complaint: they are suddenly sensitive to eating red meat. A trip to Burger King might cause them serious stomach distress. These people are not vegetarians or vegans on a holiday: they are people for whom steaks, burgers, and roast beef have been a mainstay of their diet. One doctor has seen nearly 200 cases so far this year.
The originator of the autoimmune system going haywire is the Lone Star Tick. Readers of this blog know that I hate ticks. This one scares me because I do consume a weekly steak. My first experiences with ticks happened in the Southeast where this particular species is spreading rapidly.
We were off to see the turtles, the green sea turtles of the San Gabriel River. A pair of power plants spewing warm water created an ideal temperature that brought the chelonians north, far from the tropical waters where they spawned. Their existence had been dismissed as cryptobiology until a team from the Aquarium of the Pacific arrived at the spot and confirmed that they were the real thing come for a spa. Lynn and I had seen sea turtles or honu in Hawaii. This was our first attempt to view them closer to home.
“You’re the first person we’ve seen on this trail this afternoon,” I said to the mountain biker riding toward me.
“There’s a woman hiking alone back there,” he said.
“That’s my wife,” I said. “We’re turning back.” I put my walkie talkie to my mouth and gave Lynn the news. We’d done enough of this trail. The sun was beginning to come down and there was just more of the empty sage scrub and dead meadows that had accompanied our footsteps from the start of our walk in the back country portion of San Onofre State Beach.