Called the Waterfall Trail, the path promptly veers away from the stream and off into the woods, providing a gently up-and-down hike before it intersects with the Western Ridge Trail, just about a mile away.
One of the pleasures of this particular trail is the presence of rocky ledges and outcrops along the way, the spring-dampened boulders covered with an amazing variety of mosses, lichens, liverworts, and ferns. These are all organisms that provide trailside interest in every season of the year.
One boulder provided a home for this beautiful emerald-green liverwort called Handsome Woollywort (Trichocolea tomentella), distinguished by its branching lobes. Peeking out from amid those branching lobes were a couple of itty-bitty mushrooms of the Galerina genus, a group of tiny fragile fungi that can only be identified as to species by microscopic examination.
Now that most of this year's flowers have faded, it's the fungi that provide the most interest along a woodland trail. This one, with its cascading teeth that resemble the icicles formed in a frozen waterfall, has the interesting common name of Bear's Head. Its scientific name is Hericium americanum, and I can attest that it is quite a good edible. I took it home for supper.
I'm not sure what this chrome-yellow, minutely hairy mushroom is, but the closest I can find to it in my mushroom guides is Gymnopilus sapineus. The common name for this species is Scaly Rustgill, suggested by a variation that is rusty-orange and scaly instead of chrome-yellow and hairy. Go figure. Whatever its species, it was remarkably yellow enough to catch my eye from some distance off the trail.
I was sure this pretty pink mushroom would be easy to ID. With its snowy-white gills and stalk and colored top, could it be anything BUT a Russula species? Ah, but which one? After pondering the many choices in my guides, I guess I will settle on R. emetica, the Sickening Russula, even though I usually associate that species with a bright-red top. But some guides suggest that the top can be a rosy pink. Other, more expert opinions than mine, would be welcome.
It occurred to me that these infant mushrooms, with their pink tops and white stalks, could be baby Russula emeticas, except I have never seen any Russula species growing in tight clusters like this. Whatever they are, I thought they were adorably cute.
UPDATE: A Facebook friend has ID'd these as Brick Caps (Hypholoma sublateritium) and claims they are a good fall edible. A search of images on Google confirms my confidence in this ID. This species is distinguished by its caps having a brick-red coloration in the center and a paler margin. They are said to have a nutty flavor when cooked and to be especially delicious when sauteed in olive oil.
And talk about CUTE! I found these tiny greenish fungi growing in considerable numbers at the base of a pine tree, and I was struck by their long skinny stalks as well as the lime-green color of those stalks and their fragile caps.
My best guess regarding this species is Mycena epipterygia var. lignicola. I have yet to discover any common name for this miniature mushroom that is said to be quite common under conifers. Let's make one up. Any suggestions?
I only walked about half-way on the Waterfall Trail before my painful hip and knee urged me to start home, so I was disappointed I never reached the spot on this trail where my friend Sue and I found this spectacular cataract a couple of winters ago. I would be curious to see what this looked like flowing with water instead of ice. Guess I will have to take more Ibuprofen next time and attempt to find this place again.
Here I am, back on the shore of Lake Bonita, taking the lakeside trail that leads back to my car.
The presence of many American Beech trees along here could be guessed at by the presence on the ground of many plants of Beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana) throughout the woods. Many of our Beeches are dying from a two-pronged attack by beetles and a fungus, but I imagine the Beechdrops will persist as long as the trees' roots are in the ground, for this plant is parasitic on those roots.
I saw a group of Amanita mushrooms growing here on the lakeshore, but I could not determine which species they were. They were the palest yellow in color and without any of the flecks of veil atop the cap I usually associate with this genus. The volva and stem ring were very much in evidence, however.
I enjoyed one last look at this pretty lake before climbing the wooded trail to the road. A small flock of Canada Geese was serenely floating near the little shrub-covered islands.
One more interesting mushroom greeted me before I left the trail. This is the Elfin Saddle, a sac fungus distinctive for its convoluted cap and fluted stalk. Whether this is Helvella crispa or Helvella lactea I cannot now say, since my photo does not show the underside, and I neglected to observe the mushroom carefully at the time. If the underside were densely fuzzy, this would be H. crispa. If smooth, it would be H. lactea. Otherwise, the two species look much alike. Which is to say, very odd-looking, indeed.