Poison oak is all over the place in the hills of Marin and Sonoma Counties. You'll see it along the trail as you hike in the park. It is very recognizable, if you know what it looks like. This is a clear picture of the leaves. Avoid it at all costs. A case of poison oak is a bummer. If you stay on the trail, you'll be ok. It's only when you go off the trail that you will run the risk of coming into contact with poison oak.
Actually, "Touch of Black" would be a more appropriate title, but Grateful Dead didn't write that song. In Marin County, many of our coast live oaks have fallen to the fate of picking up sudden oak death. Kind of a misnomer - it's not all that sudden. The fungus attacks the tree around its lower trunk and gradually cuts off the channels that send the nutrients up to the rest of the tree. It can take years for a large tree to die. The sudden oak death syndrome is easy to diagnose after the tree gets the hard black fungus growths you see in this picture.
There is still no cure for this, although University of California scientists are trying to come up with something. They have been for years. Some people will spray their trees if they have live oaks in their yards. Bad, bad idea. The spray is a carcinogen and I can tell you it doesn't do a damn bit of good.
Only in the movies and on TV do you see two people in love running towards each other in a field of flowers. As tempting as that may be, you can't do that here. You'll have ticks crawling up your legs for sure. That would freak me out and be such a downer. I know those ticks are out there in the billions, because my cat keeps bringing them home.
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