Place:Carrizo Plain National Monument
Coordinates: 35.133368, -119.851000
Length: about 4.3 miles in and out
Level: easy to moderate
|Our hike at the Caliente Ridge as captured by Papa Quail's GPS|
I found the place to be interesting and certainly worth going back to. I posted about that visit a few months later, and promptly I received a comment from my botanist friend that it was that place I should have taken her to, and she directed me to online photos that were taken there during spring. Following the link I saw photos of spectacular display of wildflowers, so magnificent that the thought 'photoshop' crossed my mind. In particular, there was a recurring scene photographed by multiple people of a deep gorge with slopes blazing with intense blossom. Having that image etched in my mind I promised myself to return to Carrizo Plain on the following spring.
But the drought, which started that year, didn't end. The following spring saw very little bloom there, and so did the next. The last winter, however, had had a very promising start. While, unfortunately, the promise wasn't fulfilled, I decided that it might still be worth the while to visit Carrizo Plain this spring. Bringing full equipment this time, we had stayed the night at the Selby campground.
|Sunset at Selby Campground|
I wasn't expecting any wildflowers spectacle. Certainly not after having been told on the phone by the field office person that it was a very week winter there and whatever was blooming had peaked a month before our arrival there.
Still, I could see some colors right away.
|Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis)|
|Snake's Head (Malacothrix coulteri)|
All species of California native bees are solitary. While I do not have the knowledge of which species is the one in the photo below, I can tell for certain that it is not a honey bee.
|Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia), and pollinator.|
It got more and more windy as we hiked. That posed quite a challenge on getting my photography objects in focus. I ended up using the10-shots series mode, hoping that at least one will turn out ok. That turned out to be a very good strategy, thanks to digital photography!
|Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum)|
|Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla)|
|Veatch's Blazingstar (Mentzelia veatchiana)|
|Painted Lady visiting a Snake's Head|
Then it moved. Just slightly, but suddenly I saw it. A dragon-like lizard that for some reason was named a horned toad. So perfectly camouflaged it was.
|Can you see the baby dragon?|
|Field Primrose (Camissonia campestris)|
|Sundysoil Suncup (Camissonia strigulosa)|
|Parry's Mallow (Eremalche parryi)|
|Bird's Eye Gilia (Gilia tricolor)|
|Common Linanthus (Leptosiphon parviflorum)|
|Linanthus (Leptosiphon sp.)|
|Clouds' shade on Soda Lake|
|Golden Madia (Madia radiata)|
|Chia (Salvia columbariae)|
|Many-flowered Eriastrum (Eriastrum pluniflorum)|
|Horned 'Toad' Lizard|
|Sidebloched Lizard (Uta stansburiana)|
|Chick Lupine (Lupinus microcarpus)|
|Heart Leaved Thorn Mint (Acanthomintha obovata ssp. cordata). Rare and endanghered.|
The wind was getting stronger yet. In the heat of the day the wind provided a welcomed relief but down on the plain it was raising up a storm.
|Soda Lake Sprite Dance|
|Caterpillar Phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria)|
|Great Valley Phacelia (Phacelia ciliata)|
|Orangetips visiting a Fiddleneck|
To to get it wrong - they did have a lot of fun on the hike. But the flowers interested them only so much. Even those named after animals.
|Denseflower Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja densiflora)|
|Wind Poppy (Papaver heterophyllum)|
The morning air was still. all the wind had blew away and now we were already missing it. We broke camp and drove to our next destination at Carrizo Plain NM: Wallace Creek and the San Andreas Fault.
Many thanks to members of the California Native Plants Society for their help in identifying flowers!
Thank you too, anonymous commenter, for correcting the lizard ID!