Wildflower season continues and the hills are still green, but they are showing signs of imminent browning. Soon we will return to the Bay Area of Golden hills, after this brief interlude of green. I wandered through four adjacent parks today, Monte Bello, Coal Creek, Russian Ridge, and Skyline Ridge. Around every bend I was greeted by magnificent views and an abundance of many kinds of wildflowers. I’m focusing this post on the flowers, and may return with some vistas tomorrow or later in the week.
Yosemite in April, and the weather was perfect. The waterfalls were raging and making rainbows in the mist. There was a half moon hanging in the clear blue sky in the afternoon. The rockface was shining in the sun, melting snow sending water pouring down. There were faces in the rocks.
I’d never been to Yosemite before, and I saw the famous landmarks and hiked up the side of a giant waterfall. Tonight I edited some of my photos from the first day in black and white, like Ansel Adams. I thought Ansel Adams was a woman until not that long ago. I never knew anyone named Ansel and it struck me as a woman’s name for some reason. Even though I have now seen photos of him and I know he was a man, I still have this residual feeling in my head that the photos were taken by a woman.
Well, a woman did take these photos:
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.
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: