Dateline: 8 April 2017
I took a recent opportunity to explore the chaparral region of California’s Santa Monica Mountains by heading up to Will Rogers State Park in the hills above Sunset Boulevard. The park is nestled in the hills next to Topanga State Park and next time I’ll take a longer stroll. This time the Inspiration Point Loop was just right. It had rained overnight and even late in the morning the plants were sparkling with water drops.
The showstopper of the day left me so entranced that no photos were taken – a flight of wild parrots. I also thoroughly enjoyed the twining snapdragon, but the photos were underwhelming. It turns out that blue-flowered Solanum Xantii, unlike many of the nightshades, is a native of the Santa Monica chaparral. There was lots of ceanothus, in fruit and in bloom. Here’s a small selection of what was in bloom.
Big pod ceanothus.
Ceanothus in bloom.
Bright yellow along the trail
Blue and yellow brighten the side of the trail.
The vine and the shiny shrub intertwine.
Looking toward the ocean on the way down from inspiration point.
On the way to inspiration point.
Dateline: 22 March 2016
While Tucson doesn’t seem to have experienced a “super-bloom” this year, the subtle delights of the trail were the intense colors of the spring wildflowers. We took a short hike to avoid the heat and were amply rewarded. Inquiring hikers want to know: does the desert sun concentrate those colors? They were simply eye-popping.
Trailing four o’clock, also known as trailing windmills.
Intense magenta blossoms then fades.
Winter rain in an orange package = desert mariposa lily.
Desert rosemallow, in the light.
Looking west from the ridge.
Coursetia flowers and pods.
Penstemon in the early light.
Red ocotillo, blue sky and golden brittlebush.
At the start of the day.
Framed by saguaro ribs.
Dateline 5 April 2016
Even though it’s only just April the heat has come to the desert. We got up in the early light to enjoy the Pima Canyon Trail while our journey up the canyon was still shady. Our reward was the song of the canyon wren and the gentle plash of the stream at the crossings. Many more flowers had opened on the way back as the sun entered the canyon. Somehow I missed photographing the Arizona Blue Eyes that suddenly seemed to be everywhere.
Ocotillo frames the city.
A bushy, climbing pea = coursetia.
Looking from the shade to the sides of the canyon in the sun.
So curly that wild cucumber – you can’t eat the gourds.
Cottonwoods are fully leafed out.
Desert chicory visited by friends.
Climbing milkweed or fringed twinevine.
Catclaw acacia smell heavenly but keep your distance!
Dateline: 1 March 2016
Taking a break from the heat in the valley, we met at the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground for an amble part way down Soldier Trail and back. The foundations of former prison buildings can be seen at the beginning of the hike. The campground was named in honor of the most noted resident of the federal honor camp, Gordon Hirabayashi. It’s a story well worth reading.
Many spring flowers greeted us on the trail including blue dicks, evening primrose, golden corydalis, thistles (mostly not in bloom yet), in addition to the colorful flowers in the included photos. We were glad to we started early and didn’t hike the full out-and-back as it was already 80 degrees when we finished our walk and wildflower visit.
Look carefully to see more clusters of verbena.
The moon at the start of our walk.
Bright Goodding’s verbena scented the trail.
Dalea is also known as “prairie clover.”
Bright Penstemon stand above the grasses.
A little lower down the tackstem appeared.
Monkey flowers by the stream.
The trees are greening.
Another sun-loving plant opens – we’ll call it fleabane.
Pods from the desert cotton are a contrast to the bleached grasses.
A bit of shade under the oak.
Delicate Anemone opens in the sun on the rocky slopes.
Manzanita bushes in bloom greet us at the start of the trail.
Dateline: February 23, 2016
With all the buzz about the “super-bloom” we headed out to Catalina State Park to take a look. It was a lovely morning and a delightful spring walk but on the loop trail the spring flowers have not yet approached that spring carpet stage that we hope for each year at wildflower time. We saw the lovely yellow desert evening primrose, something that looked like the tiniest miner’s lettuce I’ve ever seen, common fiddleneck, lupine, ragged rock flower, blue toadflax, lots of new growth on the trees, and an interesting vine.
Early morning light and shadow.
Lupine in the light.
Along the trail.
Saguaro against the skyline.
Time was short so we enjoyed the morning on the Milagrosa Trail and turned around at the first creek crossing. The flowers are already out, familiar and less so – mallows, brittlebush, fairy duster, asters, lupine, buds on the ocotillo, and a couple of mystery blooms.
Heading up the canyon.
Trailing plant with sticky leaves.
Mystery yellow flower.
A lovely spot for a break.
From the first ridge.
Because, yellow and purple!
Dateline 12 May 2015
The unusually cool weather continues and while it was a bit chilly and somewhat windy on Mt Lemmon a splendid day was had by all. The hike down the Lemmon Rock Trail, through the Wilderness of Rocks, across Marshall Saddle and down Marshall Gulch was full of delights. One reason to take this steep trail is the amazing vistas. Just now the strawberries and New Mexico raspberries are in full bloom – very striking! Everywhere was a touch of spring green from the bracken along the trail, the young pines and Douglas firs, and the knee-high oaks and maples along Marshall Gulch. It was the best kind of hike – too short!
Fluff on the willows in Marshall Gulch.
Douglas fir mandala.
Red osier dogwood, ready to bloom.
Bright spring green.
Strawberries & monkey-flower.
New Mexico raspberry – believe it or not!
The first columbine!
A touch of spring green.
Thimble Peak in the distance.
Nearing the Wilderness of Rocks.
Pine overlooking the valley.