Place: Montaña De Oro State Park, Los Osos, California
Length: about 3 miles
When the first spanish explorers sailed along the coast of California saw the coastal hills covered with sting bloom of California poppies they were so impressed by the glorious sight that they named the place Montaña De Oro: Mountain of Gold.
|Oats Peak-Reservoir Flats-Islay Creek loop. Map segment scanned from MdO SP brochure.|
There was no gold on the mountain in September. From far the hill looked dormant-gray but all along the trail there were quite a few late summer bloomers.
|Sticky Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus)|
|Cabbage White Butterfly|
At that point, all of the morning's cloud cover had dissipated completely and the sun was bearing down on us mercilessly. The ascend wasn't all that steep or long, but the heat made us stop for breathers frequently. I didn't mind. There was plenty to observe on these short breaks.
|Dwarf Chaparral Broom (Coyote Bush), Baccharis pilularis|
|Western Fence Lizard|
|Cardinal Catchfly (Silene lanciata)|
Extending beyond the meadow and between the hills - Islay Creek, still intensely green and very inviting. On my next visit I'll hike it :-)
The trail descends into that valley and continues on eastward. We turned left on Islay Creek Trail and started looping back westward.
|Hummingbird Trumpet (Epilobium canum)|
Not to say that Montaña De Oro is a harsh place ... I was simply happy to see lupines blooming so late in summer.
|Summer Lupine (Lupinus formosus)|
|Lichen on an oak tree|
|A relief from the September sun: Ilsley Creek Trail|
|Common Aster (Aster chilensis)|
|California Quail, male|
Lesser Goldfinch, female