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2020 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

Calero County Park 4/15
Calero County Park 4/16
Calero County Park 4/21
Santa Teresa County Park 4/25

2020 Trip Chronicles:  Page 1

abrupt Skiing season end due to pandemic

David's first photography work during 2020 did not happen until mid April given a busy ski season, modest Southern California desert wildflowers, and the coronavirus pandemic. When the pandemic abruptly closed the winter ski season, I had already enjoyed 24 Tahoe ski resort days and expected to get in at least a dozen more spring season days. Much of the winter focused on recreational bump skiing especially looping Heavenly's Little Dipper run beside the Comet Express lift where by mid season was running 600 foot vertical bump lines stopping just once or twice.


Despite being a senior, my skill level as someone skiing since 1980 is better than ever, at an elite level. One major minus was just managing to ski one decent fresh powder day. Early March I was set with tickets and a Winter Park 4 day Icon Pass to fly out the first week of April to Denver and then with two old friends ski Maryjane mogul fields 4 days. Also after resorts closed, I could have backcountry skied the excellent late March storms, however with state wide shelter in place orders, resisted the urge to drive up and do so even though such was still legal at the time. Additionally would have done road trips early April to Antelope Valley and Carrizo Plain were it not for the pandemic. A long 40 day or so dry spell in February reduced what could have been some decent blooms in the south to just ordinary.


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Calero County Park

After remaining at home for 6 weeks, just walking local urban streets for exercise, began visiting serpentine geology areas. The local Santa Clara County health directive allowed doing so for "exercise" and health. Thus on Wednesday April 15, 2020 drove the 20 miles south to the Casa Loma Entrance for Calero County Park that is actually outside the park within the Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve. The Llagas Creek meadows at the parking lot had a nice bloom of sky lupine, lupinus nanus, and fiddleneck, amsinckia intermedia, given the good late March storms. Shot the image at page top showing how wonderfully blue saturated the lupine were at this early time with few pollenized seeds. Then shot the above larger swatch of lupine. At the time there were not yet any paths in the meadow flowers. After that did a 5 mile loop hike though did not bother to use my camera as an unworkable breeze increased and rather surveyed familiar areas that showed average early April conditions.


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The next morning, Thursday April 16, 2020 drove to the Rancho San Vicente Entrance of Calero County Park where the northern park section had only opened during the previous year. Skies were hazy with thin clearing overcast and enough breeze that I would not be stitching any panoramas. A serpentine landscape I had been eyeing for years. Thus hiked the Cottle Trail over a mile and then went off trail up through thigh high grassland savanna dodging areas of poison oak to an obscure zone I'd seen from a distance that is well away from trails. After lunch shot the above patch of flowers including California poppy, eschscholzia californica, red purple hued hooker onion, allium acuminatum, whitish blue hued serpentine linanthus, leptosiphon ambiguus, tomcat clover, trifolium willdenovii.


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Lichen covered serpentine boulder amidst goldfields.


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Steeper slopes had a greater mix of species including purple owls clover. In this area did come across a small sunny gopher snake that was still so cool that I was able to get a close moto g shot with.


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This slope was dense with short wildflowers including several species not mentioned above. A breeze made any stitch blending work impossible so I just managed this one focus step shot while intending to return on the next workable light breeze morning.


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The morning of Tuesday April 21, 2020 showed light breezes less than 4 mph early so I drove back to Calero County park, hiked out to the same location and with breezes indeed near calm, managed over 120 shots to created this 5 column 1 row 13100 by 6000 pixel panorama that required about 15 hours of post processing. Interestingly a strong breeze quickly grew as I ended working the set of images. I did try to shoot a beautiful bitterroot bloom but that ended up hopeless.


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Four days later on Saturday April 25, 2020 woke up expecting to have a quiet day at home sheltering in place after too much fun hiking Friday. But noticing my milk supply that I drink a lot of, was low, decided to make a grocery run to a nearby Walmart Neighborhood Market. Over the 6 weeks had only been to markets 3 times while buying way more than usual. However besides milk also had run low on Red Vines candy and other pleasure food. Thus got my masks, gloves, and other virus public clothes on and did that trip while noticing near dead calm despite a breezy forecast. That had me making a quick plan to drive out to the Stiles Ranch Entrance of Santa Teresa County Park where a large foothill poppy patch grew on sunny chamise slopes.


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I hiked up the Ridge Trail that then after a mile descended into a ravine where breezes were less an issue. Tall grasslands species, Ithuriel's spear, aka grass nuts, triteleia laxa, usually difficult to work because the tall flowers move easily even in slight breezes.


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The very common in wet areas seep monkeyflower, erythranthe guttata.

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2020 Trip Chronicles:    Contents

   David Senesac
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