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Gear up for Halloween at Mission Trails Regional Park

By Audrey F. Baker

Halloween celebrates nature and nature celebrates Halloween! The scene is set. It’s all here, at Mission Trail Regional Park.

Cooler temperatures bring a crispness, and underfoot, fallen leaves of monstrously tall sycamores sound an eerie crunch. Against the skyline, hoary oaks with massive twisted branches are sorcerers, hiding spooky critters on and under their robes of bark. Witches leave locks of orange hair to witness their flights over their sage and chaparral dominion.

Kumeyaay Lake, a portal to the mysterious underworld, is populated by ancient spirits of Native American Indians, and mirrors the past and future. Here, in the land of enchantment, your favorite Halloween creatures dwell. Enter the world of rugged ravens, all-knowing owls, bombarding bats and mystic vultures. Woodrats stealthily creep, spiders spin webs of intrigue and coyotes sound haunting refrains.

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“Deep Freeze” by Rick Wiley (Courtesy of Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation)

We invited you to delve into the mysteries of the animal kingdom. Let your imagination soar while investigating the fantastic world of your favorite spooky critters. Happy Halloween!

Our MTRP Trail Guide walks are an opportunity to learn more about natural Southern California, with its unique landscapes, habitats, local history, and diverse plant and animal life. The walks are free, interesting, fact-filled, and geared to all ages and interests. Grab sturdy shoes, comfortable hat, water bottle and sunscreen and hit the trail!

Morning walks are offered every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. You’ll start from the park’s Visitor and Interpretive Center, 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Carlos. The walk beginning from the Kumeyaay Lake Campground Entry Station, 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail, at the San Carlos-Santee border, gives a different perspective of the park and its diverse habitats. These walks are offered from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, and take in historic Old Mission Dam.

Wildlife Tracking reveals the secret lives of lesser-seen park animals and brings insight into their survival techniques and habits. Mission Trails Tracking Team members assist in identifying and interpreting tracks, scat, bedlays and habitats. Join in for two hours of dirt-time fun – wear long pants for close-up observation. 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 1 in front of the Visitor Center.

Discovery Table: MTRP Rocks, our hands-on science station hosted by MTRP Trail Guides, familiarizes you with the wide variety of common rocks found in the park and explains why, from pebble to boulder, Geology rocks. Inside the Visitor Center, Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Bird Kumeyaay Lake with MTRP Resident Birders Jeanne Raimond and Millie Basden for a shoreline birding adventure focusing on migratory warblers, sparrows and waterfowl that characterize fall birding. Binoculars and bird book are recommended. See you Saturday, Oct. 15, 8-10 a.m. We meet in day-use parking lot, Kumeyaay Campground Entry Station.

Star Party Luminaries intensify in a hauntingly moonless sky. MTRP Resident Star Gazing Mystic George Varga foresees the Summer Triangle will be high in the sky affording views of the Ring Nebula (M57), binary star Albireo, Dumbbell Nebula (M27), the Coathanger and additional clusters. Clouding/rain cancels. See you Saturday, Oct. 22 between 6-9 p.m. at the far end of the Kumeyaay Campground Day Use Parking Lot.

La Mesa Walk ‘n Talk is an opportunity to walk scenic shores with your MTRP Trail Guide after briefly chatting up this month’s nature topic, “Marsh plants and animals.” Get the scoop on how their interactions support a thriving ecosystem. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 9-10:30 a.m. We meet at the ball fields. Enter Lake Murray at Murray Park Drive and Belle Glade Avenue.

Family Discovery Walk shares nature’s fall magic as a family experience and highlights the seasonal changes it brings. Our Trail Guide-hosted interactive walk focuses on fun, childhood enrichment, and memorable moments in nature walk. We’ll examine how deciduous trees lose leaves while stately oaks remain green, producing acorns, and view seasonal flowers that debut as migrant birds arrive. Meet us inside Visitor Center on Sunday, Oct. 23, 3-4:30 p.m.

Birding Basics enhances your nature experience by teaching practical methods to identify birds “at a glance!” MTRP Bird Guide Winona Sollock explains five simple techniques and gives tips on field guide use. Bringing a bird book is optional. Class meets on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 1-2:30 p.m. inside the Visitor Center, Classroom A.

Visit mtrp.org for more information and our events calendar, or call 619-668-3281. Special walks can be arranged for any club, group, business or school by contacting Ranger Chris Axtmann at 619-668-2746 or at caxtmann@mtrp.org. Meanwhile, come on out and enjoy the park!

—Audrey F. Baker is a trial guide at Mission Trails Regional Park. Reach her at aud1baker@gmail.com.

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