ContentsPutah and Cache: Lake Berryessa

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Markley Cove to Berryessa-Knoxville Road

Robert Thayer

Only a small fraction of Berryessa's vast water surface is visible along Route 128. Berryessa provides year-round power boat recreation and launching, houseboat facilities, and well-known trolling for lake trout, bass, and other game fish. In addition, on hot days, its shoreline offers cool respite. The reservoir supports a population of bald eagles and osprey, and its quieter arms can be enjoyed by canoeists and kayakers as well.

At approximately mile 43 (depending on your odometer accuracy)our route crosses Capell Creek. On the far right creek bank are the first several Douglas fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii) to be seen on our circumnavigation of the watershed. They mark the southeastern border of the "Northwest"—the trailing-off remnants of the great forests dominated by Douglas fir which extend from British Columbia well into northern California. Here, as poet Gary Snyder says of the unique mix of manzanita and Douglas fir, is where "Canada meets Mexico."

Here also occurs a change in the flora of our watershed, as sufficient annual moisture (approaching 30 or more inches per year, augmented by summer fog) now allows mixed conifer and oak forest to occupy wetter sites. We'll dip back into chaparral (dominated by chamise, Adenostema fasciculatum), blue oak woodland (Quercus douglasii, often occurring in pure stands amid foothill grassland), and foothill or ghost pine (Pinus sabiniana, the pine with light-gray/green foliage and divergent trunks, seen at lower elevations amid oaks or chaparral). But from this point on we will see Douglas fir more frequently, indicating our approach to the upper watershed.

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"Glory Hole"
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Upper Putah Creek