Spring 2010 Wildflower Trip Chronicles
Spring 2010 Wildflower Trip Chronicles contents|
Spring 2010 Wildflower Road Trips...page 2
San Francisco Bay Area
See image at page top, 10_A1-2. I'd been looking for a good manzanita situation for several years and more often searched at Henry Coe. The tree was in front of a California Bay seen behind the trunk split and below branches of a valley oak of which dried leaves and acorns can be seen in the forest litter below. On the trunk were patches of moss and lichen, and shredding bark. Like all my 4x5 work, the intent is to produce images that can be drum scanned, processed for good fidelity to the scene captured, then printed large with high detail. Of course far more than can display on these tiny web images. After exposing a couple 4x5 sheets of Provia 100F slide film, I continued up the Longwall Canyon Trail and around back to the parking lot via the Mayfair Ranch Trail.
Particularly interesting was where the trail follows Baldy Ryan Creek through a bedrock area of whitish geology. Crossing a wooden trail bridge, below rushing rain waters in the scoured creek bed were gnarled white and green blotched roots of a California sycamore tenaciously wrapped about small stream boulders. See image bottom left. On shady slopes below a heavy understory of bays and maples were rainbow shelf fungi, lots of mossy trunks, rocks, and various other lichen and fungi. Where the trail leaves the creek climbing the ridge were two nice areas of Indian warrior. Generally saw the same species from the previous week that were out in increasing numbers as well as a few white hued baby-blue eyes, nemophila menziesii var atomaria. Along the old ranch ridge top are beautifully green open grasslands with picturesque valley oaks.
Hunting Hollow at Henry Coe State Park
The next Saturday, February 13, on the 3-day holiday weekend, I drove south to the Hunting Hollow entrance of Henry Coe State Park that is at a low 860 foot elevation and with just my G10 hiked a 6 mile up 1300 feet loop on Steer Ridge south facing trails. Swaths of Padres shooting stars, dodecatheon clevelandii, were freshly rising on several lower woodland south facing slopes. There were nice areas with lace lichen hanging on blue oaks, California bay, and California sycamore. And at right with my G10 a dewy piece of lichen that had fallen to the ground:
Coit Road at Henry Coe State Park
And on President's Day Monday February 15, drove south to Henry Coe's Coit Road trailhead at the 1000 foot elevation where a bridge crosses Coyote Creek up to the old Gilroy Hot Springs location. At this time of winter, the creek is good sized and everything is nicely green in what will be a very hot dry zone in just a couple months. One of the most pleasant springtime-like relatively level mountain bike routes for the first couple miles one will find anywhere in the region, a hard pan and gravel dirt road that in some places one can still see some old pavement. A few wildflower species sprinkled roadside grasses including milkmaids, California buttercups, blue witch, woodland pea, and mosquito bills. At right blue witch, solanum umbelligferum:
After walking north about 1.5 miles on the Coit Road beside canyon live oak, blue oak, manzanita, and digger pine, at the Anza Trail junction I headed east up a winding footpath into a cool shady woodland of coast live oak and California bay trees within a slight canyon containing a small seasonal stream. At 0.6 miles up 300 feet reached a grassy bench with dense areas of Padres shooting star beneath blue oak and valley oak. There I took a trail junction right south onto the Cullen Trail that would climb through more cool shady north facing woodland over the ridge at about 1800 feet. Passed the most blooming western hound's tongue amid happy butterflies that I've yet to see anywhere in the SF Bay region. At the top, the ridgeline was similar to many Coe ridge lands that are either chaparral or blue and valley oak savana grasslands from former cattle grazing days. On the sunny south facing slope I immediately began passing through areas of chamise and began seeing a few fuchsia-flowered gooseberries, ribes speciosum, in spectacular bright red bloom, above right:
Lower down I passed some of the more common less showy California gooseberry, ribes californicum. The trail dropped down into Grizzly Gulch, crossed a small feeder stream and came to a junction with a trail of that same name. From here back west 250 feet down to the Coit Road near the trailhead was about 0.7 miles of the most interesting and pleasant landscapes of my 5 mile loop route. On the canyon bottom, two lively small streams with dense live oak, California bay, and big leaf maple, cut steep ravines separating benches with blue oak and valley oak and belowflowing grasslands of shooting stars, popcorn flower, plagiobothrys nothofulvus, johnny-jump-ups, viola pedunculata, and lupinus bicolor. At one bench was a spectacular limbed valley oak where many generations of woodpeckers had drilled in acorns.
Where the trail crossed the main stream, I heard a loud chorus downstream so stepping quietly wandered down about 100 feet to a pleasant shaded mossy pool. Keeping still and quiet, it wasn't long before I spotted one of several female northern Pacific treefrogs, pseudacris regilla, swimming about the grasses on the shore while loud male honkings came out of the undercut steep bank of the opposite side. Looking down in the water I could see several translucent egg globs about shallow underwater grasses. Also another amphibian, an orange hued California Coast Range newt, taricha torosa torosa, swam by. I'd seen dozens of these pleasant little creatures the past few weeks and am always careful to look while I'm stepping on wet trails where they often slowly crawl about early mornings. The final third of a mile to the road was nicely shady beneath California bay, blue oaks, and even some black oaks, quercus kelloggii, with mossy greens below. Near the end I came upon this strange fluted black elfin saddle, helvella lacunosa above right.Spring 2010 Wildflower Road Trips...page 2
Spring 2010 Wildflower Trip Chronicles contents