The last time I visited Big Basin, I had not yet learned to shoot with a DSLR and was still taking pictures with my iPhone. High contrast nature scenes, like what you find in a shady forest with dark shadows and bright patches of sunlight, are one of the situations where phone photography falls short. So it was really fun to revisit this park with a real camera. We hiked out and back to Berry Creek Falls. Along the way, we saw blooming redwood sorrel, wake robin, canada violet, star solomon’s seal, and more forest flowers. It’s the perfect time of year for a waterfall hike here, right after the rain, wildflower season in full effect. Big Basin has some of the most beautiful redwood forest in the Bay Area.
I headed up to El Corte de Madera this morning, a park I haven’t been to in awhile. It’s a large park, with almost an overwhelming array of trail choices. First I stopped off on the opposite side of Skyline Blvd and took a look at a 1900 year old tree, aptly named Methuselah. Then I headed into the park. Usually when I go hiking I make a clear plan about what I’m going to do, sometimes with an option to make it shorter if I get worn out. But today I just decided to choose whichever trail seemed more attractive when I came to a junction (and refer to a map of course to make sure there was a plausible way back). I found this quite enjoyable and ended up doing a 6.6 mile loop that took me to see the Tafoni sandstone formation for which the park is known and back to my car in a loop.
I got to thinking about how I tend to choose a loop at a given park and do it over and over again. Nothing wrong with that, but I realized there are a lot of trails I’ve never seen even within parks I have been to many times. So I decided I would start keeping track of the trails I hike on a big paper map I have of the whole area (from Redwood Hikes, by the way, excellent maps) and make an effort to diversify my trail selection. I am probably missing some hidden gems.
Rain makes everything more beautiful. We even had some distant snow-capped mountains today, something I have never seen in the Bay Area before.
I took my macro lens to get a better shot at my favorite little weird wildflower, currently in bloom at Pulgas Ridge. Such a funny Harry Potteresque flower, both in name and appearance.
When I go to Pulgas Ridge, I almost always do the longer loop, which means I almost never go on the Polly Geraci trail. This trail cuts through the middle of the park, essentially halving the distance of the loop. Yesterday afternoon, I decided to take it for a change and to slow down and look for small things to photograph instead of having to keep a good pace, as the sun still sets pretty early.
There’s a particular type of wildflower I’ve wanted to see again ever since I saw it years ago. I’ve been looking for this flower in the place I remember seeing it before, and it has never reappeared there. When I went on the Polly Geraci trail yesterday, I saw hundreds of them! Quite exciting. I’m hoping I can get back out there with my macro lens tomorrow. The flower is small and hard to notice as its coloring is green and black, it blends in with the surrounding foliage rather than standing out like more colorful wildflowers. So it is fortuitous that I happened to be looking for small things on a day when it is blooming. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about slinkpod (the name I have decided is best.)
“Scoliopus bigelovii is a species of flowering plant in the lily family known by several common names, including California fetid adderstongue, Bigelow’s adderstongue, slinkpod, and brownies. It is native to California, where it is known from San Luis Obispo County, parts of the San Francisco Bay Area and North Coast Ranges. It has also been collected just over the border in Oregon. It occurs in old-growth forest in the understory of redwoods. It grows in mossy, moist places, often in shade.”
I had another computer meltdown that prevented me from posting for a bit, but after a clean windows installation (an interesting experience on a computer that decided I needed no text anywhere to be seen), it seems to be working. I am dubious about how long this will last, but for now it is all good. Unfortunately WordPress’s app doesn’t arrange my photos the way I like them for these posts, so I haven’t figured out a way to post here without my laptop. I do post regularly on Instagram though.
I have been taking pictures though, uploading them and editing them all in LightroomCC on my iPad Pro. Even now that this computer is fixed, I will continue working that way. Editing on the iPad is much more fun and intuitive than on a laptop screen. Some of my favorite photos from the last couple of weeks:
I went to the Women’s March in San Francisco yesterday. I haven’t really tried my hand at photographing large crowds like this before. I took my 10-18mm lens, wanting to get wide shots of lots of people. I particularly like the ones where I was in front of the march with the sun behind them, casting long shadows. Many photos were taken holding my camera up high in the air hoping to get a better view of the crowd than I could see at eye height. I did a little creative editing on a few of them.
The last park we visited, on the way home from Mendocino, was Hendy Woods, and it was the most awesome of the trip. Hendy Woods is full of old growth giant coastal redwoods! And it was very quiet. Now that I know about this place, it’s definitely where I’m going to take people who want to see big trees and aren’t into strenuous hikes.
WordPress reminded me today that I have had this blog for two years. When I started it I wasn’t sure how long I would keep it up. I was learning to use my Canon 80D and wanted something to do with the photos aside from posting on facebook. I found I really enjoy keeping this blog. In fact, I briefly switched the title to include Art (and Photos by Kate) thinking I would post some of my artwork too, but found I didn’t want to do that. I like posting the photos and writing a little something about them without much forethought. It’s not a lot of work and it’s relaxing. It gives me an incentive to edit my photos, which is needed. I seem to know a lot of photographers who take a lot of pictures and never really look at them or edit them. Personally I don’t see how you get better if you don’t look at your pictures, but ok 🙂
So I kept this to Bay Area Photos by Kate. I did start an art blog on my real website too, if anyone’s interested. It’s HERE. Not too many people read this or look at it though and perhaps that’s part of the charm. A couple of “likes” a very occasional comment. Not a lot of views. I’m posting these photos pretty much just because I want to and enjoy doing it.
So anyway, here are some more photos from the trip, these are from Russian Gulch State Park which was exceptionally green. There was so much poison oak and such overgrown trails, it’s a miracle I didn’t get it. After a bout with it earlier this year, I would like to never get it again! Horrifying stuff, really. But somehow, possibly by holding my arms in the air going “don’t touch don’t touch don’t touch,” I was spared. It’s a beautiful park with a nice waterfall destination.