Spring 2010 Wildflower Trip Chronicles
Spring 2010 Wildflower Trip Chronicles contents|
Spring 2010 Wildflower Road Trips...page 3
Spring 2010 Wildflower Road Trips...page 5
Central Coast Range
Reaching the camp zone loop road, I slowly rolled its circuit peering out towards the full camp of tents, RVs, SUV, and pickups, plus a few well dressed with headgear and mittens early risers drinking what was likely mostly coffee. Saw what appeared to be a few folks from the Backpacker.com gathering, parked, wandered over, and began introducing myself to those sitting at a small bench below an outdoor canopy that provides a bit of shade in the otherwise shade-less open camp; tarol, greg1062, SerpicoRabbit, Lio, wife of sunbeamjfs, the amzing 4wheelbob his wife Gina, friend Greg, toejam with his granddaughter, Adele, and a few minutes later hikerchick395 her husband Greg. I met a few others later that evening and missed others that had made the trip. We chatted a bit and traded information and ideas about what the group would be doing. All too quickly I repacked my car for a day in the field and in a small cloud of dust drove out and back north to Simmler Road.
Old Potato Lake
At 7:30am on the Saturday at what is traditionally the most visited wildflower area of the monument beside Soda Lake on Simmler Road at the peak of its bloom in 2010, I was the only photographer that had bothered to show up at what was the optimal time of morning for photographing the area. Much like I had found in 2006! Go figure? Well although there were a good number of visitors at the monument, few were likely serious photographers. I didn't bother with the main field of Bigelow's coreopsis, coreopsis bigelovii. since I'd shot that in 2006 in much better conditions but rather drove to where I saw a good sized area of light violet hued Lemmon's mustard, guillenia lemmonii, near the north end of Old Potato Lake with image at right. There were also very dense areas of goldfields, lasthenia chrysotoma, and Bigelow's coreopsis, on the lake banks. An image I made of the latter against the sky below right. I had difficulty trying to take just a few close-up images due to an increasing breeze despite using my two 32 inch diffusion and reflection disks to block the wind. By 8:30am other vehicles with photographers began showing up.
windy day in the Temblor Range
I drove northeast off towards the Temblor Range where I knew down in the labyrinths of the foothill ravines was likely to be the least breezy locations in the monument. Landscapes few photographers have explored in the past mainly because there are no trails and travel is awkward and dangerous. Small landslides are common especially during or soon after storms. In April 2006 a friend and I had to take regular tick breaks as maybe two dozen ticks would be crawling on us for every half mile we walked. As I traveled southeast on Elkhorn Road past Wallace Creek, with the sun now at a higher altitude and the hills much closer, it was obvious colorful wildflower areas to the east were at least as good as in 2006. I would have liked to have hiked up into those higher areas on that Saturday but had done my homework on NWS site wind analysis that predicted windy conditions this day but calmer conditions on Sunday. So instead drove to a particular canyon I'd partially explored in 2006 and set out up its ravine. Although it was a mostly sunny day, the air was rather hazy with mid range elements in landscapes indistinct.
Immediately within the first one-hundred yards I identified a long list of familiar species I'd seen in the past. Those foothill transition zones at the western edge of the Temblor Range hills contain a greater number of species versus other areas of the park. Almost all space on these smooth steep badlands hills outside of severely eroded steep faces and storm rain paths was solid colorful wildflowers of several species. However the dominant color was yellow due to hillside daisies, monolopia lanceolata, and goldfields. Some areas wildflowers were thigh high and dense, while in others on more south facing slopes and ridge tops, wildflowers were sometimes just ankle high and thinner as in the image above right. The pink flowers are beautiful Parry's mallow, eremalche rotundifolia with a closeup below right.
By 10am strong winds were making close-up work difficult even deep in the ravines. After winding up a sinuous route and exploring a few stubs ravines, I made my way out at midday. I drove out onto an obscure spur dirt road I've sometimes over-nighted at and went about making lunch, resting, organizing gear, and looking at my considerable stack of maps while the sun was too harsh to work with. Another photographer drove up and it turned out to be someone I've run into in person past years and also on the web. And then a couple drove up I've posted with on a couple other web boards. Suggested they climb up to a particularly nice nearby point that I would soon be visiting again myself as light was improving.
View from that point at right. A foreground of lemon yellow hued hillside daisies, the dominant wildflower in the Temblor Range, just above mid left a patch of ochre yellow hued Bigelow's coreopsis, then to the left a pink patch of Parry's mallow, above left in the background muted orange San Joaquin blazing star, some purple patches of tansy phacelia, phacelia tanacetifolia, and the bronze areas are turning to seed fiddleneck that peaked first maybe in early March. At that time these hills looked vibrant green and yellow-orange. At center poking into the skyline at ridge top are a few California juniper, juniperus californica, about the only tree on the western slopes of the Temblor Range that is otherwise most of the year drab barren hills with saltbrush and a few other desert heat loving brush in the seams. Nope didn't expose a 4x5 sheet on this beauty cause it was quite blustery Saturday. I exposed one sheet of film during my afternoon on a modest side hill landscape in the lower foothills that required a long wait for breezes to wane. By sunset I drove back across the valley to Selby Camp to listen to what others had done during their days. As dusk darkened, I drove out north to a quiet dirt road spot to spend my night and prepare for the promising work Sunday.Spring 2010 Wildflower Road Trips...page 5
Spring 2010 Wildflower Road Trips...page 3
Spring 2010 Wildflower Trip Chronicles contents