When my youngest started kindergarten, I trained to become a Terwilliger nature guide. My site was Ring Mountain, where I am now. This morning I stepped out and passed two houses to cross a stream and enter the sacred site.
This is Coast Miwok land. The Nature Conservancy bought it when the Tiburon Mariposa Lily was discovered to grow here and nowhere else. There is serpentine at the top surrounded by sandstone so flowers developed and then were caught as though planted to keep this land always open in honor of the native people and plants.
I couldn’t go far today because of the mud but I know there is a midden here and a hole in the rock where the Miwok people ground their acorns. It’s under a buckeye tree which loses its leaves in the winter and grows them back in the spring. Therefore sunlight is moderated, and it’s next to a stream, so acorns are leached so they can be pounded and eaten.
Salem Rice, an expert on Bay area geology, said that there were more different kinds of rocks on Ring Mt. than across half of the country. It’s a paradise of rocks and because there’s no pollution lichen grows luxuriously on the rocks.
In those days, I lead fifth and sixth graders on field trips on the mountain. I showed them how one could survive right here. Everything was provided. The bay provides clams, crabs, fish. Quail run free and can be caught in special traps. Boats can be built from the tule grasses if one wants to venture across the bay. Tule also provides housing, and soaproot provides soap. It’s a paradise and the road below is actually called Paradise.
With the children we also discussed the modern day. People need homes so how do we balance the natural landscape with that? The children understood. They are wise, like owls. Last night, I was entertained by the hooting of an owl.
At the top of the mountain are petroglyphs facing west. This is a sacred place. My photos only give a taste of a small part about 2/3rds up as I couldn’t walk very far along the trail with the mud, but more days come along with rain today.