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2018 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

Almaden Quicksilver County Park 2/27
San Pedro Valley County Park 2/28

2018 Trip Chronicles:  Page 1

dry start to 2018 winter

The 2017/2018 winter began with modest late November storms, then a long dry period through December until early January, then another dry period till the end of the month with a few storms, followed by yet a third dry period. By the end of February precipitation over the southern part of the state had been exceptionally dry while the central state was quite dry and the far north coast moderately dry. That lack of storms in the Tahoe Sierra Nevada region had limited my snow skiing such that by early February had only 13 days of skiing. Instead had spent weeks during each dry period occupying my fitness needs with local hiking that did not include any photography given the dry conditions.


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On February 25 I joined a California Native Plant Society, aka CNPS, hike into San Pedro Valley County Park in Pacifica where I noted some surprisingly good subjects thus decided to return as soon as weather was favorable. The only day that had overcast skies necessary for diffuse lighting in understories plus light winds would be Wednesday February 28. That week I also had Santa Clara County jury duty and it appeared I might be called on that day. On Tuesday February 27, 2018 my noon jury status showed I was not on call so drove out to nearby Almaden Quicksilver County Park where I spent the afternoon exploring a modest zone on the southwest part of the park. Very few species were blooming anywhere. Although it was breezy, I found some emerging Indian warrior, pedicularis densiflora, in some dense woods where it was reasonably calm so captured the above image.


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And this image above at the base of a coast live oak. Later my jury status required checking in again on noon the next day so that gave me the opportunity to return to San Pedro Valley County Park during the morning.

San Pedro Valley County Park

Thus on February 28, 2018 I rose at dawn then drove the 50 miles north, arriving a bit before 8am. Weather was a bit more breezy than forecast with mostly cloudy skies then by late morning was totally cloudy with wet fog mist. I first worked the 3 frame stitch blended image at page top taken from a small wood bridge across the Middle Fork of San Pedro Creek that is next to the parking lot. A moss covered aesthetic tree branches the creek right there with an amazing tangle of still dormant deciduous vines and tree branches behind and lots of green plants rising below. On many of the branches are light blue lichen. An excellent subject for a large print with high detail. In a month or so most of the trees and vines will have leafed out obscuring this fine winter scene. At frame left are the long bluish green hued fronds of western sword ferns, polystichum munitum. At frame center bottom beside the creek are lighter yellow green hued coastal wood ferns, dryopteris arguta. The center slice of the enlarged vertical slice view link shows some white hued milk maid, cardamine californica, flowers above those ferns. The left slice at top shows 4 giant trilium, trillium chloropetalum, plants with their mottled leaves and large white flowers. At center below the tree trunk are a few colorful dried leaves of creek dogwood still attached to the otherwise bare branches.


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The Hazelnut Trail winds uphill for a couple miles through coastal chaparral before descending down into level San Pedro Valley. The full loop back to the parking lot is about 4.5 miles with 800 feet of vertical rise. A few switchbacks up I stopped to work the above close-up of a lovely western trillium, trillium ovatum, that were the most numerous blooming showy species at this early time of the season. Its 3 petals start out white then after pollination begin to curl up while turning light pink to purple. The leaves have a consistent darkM green hue.


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This next image above is the mossy burl base of a brittleleaf manzanita, artostaphylos crustacea, with its shiny dark wine red bark that curls and peels away. The green leaves on spiny branches in the foreground are California blackberry. The green leaves mid frame left are those of young coast silk tassel shrubs.


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As I climbed further up the trail, breezes increased making close-up work difficult as I need still subjects to focus stack blend. About a half mile along were several nice hounds tongue flowers however despite using both my disks to block the wind, results were too far out of registration. I needed to climb another 1.3 miles of uphill so decided to push my pace breathing strongly and note I was carrying two tripods, both my Benbo for close-ups and Induro for landscapes besides a weighty day pack. About 1.3 miles up the trail where I had noted a plant 3 days earlier on the CNPS hike, I worked the above giant trilium, trillium chloropetalum, the flowers of which begin white, then after pollination turn pink. Notice how the 3 mottled leaves are a lighter green than the western trillium with a larger more wavy form. Also note the 3 light green slightly purple tinted sepals, and red with yellow sided anthers.


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About 1.8 miles up the trail at its high point at 1100 feet above sea level were the most trillium plus other species. There found a post pollination pink western trillium I had seen 3 days earlier, but this time moved my 60mm lens closer using a 12mm extension tube. By this time of late morning, cloud fog had enveloped the slope as a large storm a few hours yet away impinged on the coastline, causing all target plant surfaces to become wet.


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Above are white hued petals of pre pollinated western trillium and at lower mid center are one of our oddest flower shaped species, fetid adder's tongue, scoliopus bigelovii. Its beautiful lily family leaves below are oval shaped with linear segments and mottling. The red tinged leafless flower stems droop after pollination hence its other common name, slink pod.


With time running out I worked the above western wood anemone, anemone oregana, that were too wet to have the aesthetic I would prefer.

At 11:09am as cloud mist increasingly was getting my gear and clothing a wee wet, I was about 1.85 miles from the trailhead where I needed to check my jury duty status at 12 noon as it was possible I might be assigned to one of the county court houses I would then need to be at by 1:30pm, a distance of 50 miles. So did not have time to dawdle on my hike back although I certainly saw other subjects I would have spent time imaging. Thus pounded my way down the trail at speed reaching the bottom just before 12 noon. With a bit of hunger gnawing at me, decided to stop at the MacDonald's near SR1 where I used their wifi to access the Santa Clara County court site and found I would not be needed the rest of this afternoon. Thus took a more exploratory drive home south on SR1.


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South Lake Tahoe

At dawn on March 14 after a dump of fresh cold powder snow I would later ski at Heavenly Ski Resort, I was in the Hard Rock Casino parking garage on floor 4 at Stateline, Nevada to capture the above snowscape.


The storm track returned to California in the Miracle March of 2018 producing the most rain after a dry winter start since the more famous 1991 season. Between much skiing I did manage to get out for occasionaly local hiking. Much of my skiing this winter was at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe where most of my time was spent bump skiing looking down the above Little Dipper mogul slopes.


As a now retired person able to choose my days mid week while others are working, I did get in a few fine days fresh powder skiing including April 16 where I bounced down the above tracks like a happy rabbit on my fat skis off of Crossover Road, a most pleasurable sensual experience. The resort ski season was ending and I was already switching seasonal gears for wildflower photography road trips the first of which was to North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve near Oroville on this next page.

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2018 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

   David Senesac
   email: info@davidsenesac.com

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