Saturday, March 26, 2016

Noble Canyon in Mid-March

I love Noble Canyon in Mt Laguna because it is 10 miles in one direction, passing through many different ecosystems. You always have to choose whether you wish to hike it top-down or bottom-up. Unless you park a car at each end and hike with a friend, you have to do an out-and-back. For me, that means I don't finish the entire trail, since I'm not yet up to hiking 20 miles at a time. No matter which way you go, Noble Canyon is a reliable place for seeing tons of wildflowers. This time around, at least in the higher elevations, the flower season really had not started yet. Even still, here's what I saw.

Near the Penny Pines trailhead on S-1 (Sunrise Highway) there were tons of Baby Blue Eyes and California buttercups.

Baby Blue Eyes
Baby Blue Eyes

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California buttercup

Baby Blue Eyes

Going on a little way, I saw a mountain violet:

Mountain Violet

And, of course, lots of manzanita:

Manzanita

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Cryptantha
Cryptantha

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Western Wallflower
Western Wallflower

Tons of ceanothus:

Ceanothus

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Butterfly

Butterfly
The same butterfly as above

Summer Snow
Summer Snow

Paintbrush
Paintbrush

I thought that was all, since the light was almost gone. But there was a little bit more:

Wild Peas
Wild peas

Penstemon
And a penstemon

Later in the season, the trail will be covered in paintbrushes, penstemon, phacelias, summer snow, and more. It's a trail to visit often throughout the spring and early summer.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

El Cajon Mountain in Mid-March

El Cajon Mountain, in the El Capitan Open Space Preserve in Lakeside, CA, is one of the gnarliest hikes in San Diego. I call it my abusive lover, because I keep going back so it can smack me around a little more. The real reason I keep going back, however, are the flowers. As you go up the steep (42% grade) slopes of the 5.5 mile trail, you pass some of the best flowers around.

This time around, in mid-March, the flowers really had not gotten started yet. The signs were there as soon as I arrived: the monkeyflowers had not bloomed yet, and the wild cucumbers were still blooming. But I still saw a few nice ones.

Blue Eyed Grass
Blue-Eyed Grass

Blue Eyed Grass

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Holly Leaf Cherry
Holly Leaf Cherry

There were two different species of lupines. Here's one, found around Mile 1:

Lupine
Collar lupine

Chaparral Yucca
Chaparral yucca

Chaparral Yucca

Wild Hyacinth
Blue dicks a.k.a. wild hyacinth

Bush Poppy
Bush poppy

Wild Peas
Wild peas

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Owl's Clover
Owl's clover

Owl's Clover

Owl's Clover

Yellow Bush-Penstemon
Yellow Bush-Penstemon

Later in the season, the trail will be covered in snapdragons. There were only a few there now.

Nuttall's Snapdragon
Nuttall's Snapdragon

Nuttall's Snapdragon

Chaparral Yucca
A close-up of the chaparral yucca flower. The petals are actually tepals.

And the other type of lupine (around Mile 3):

Lupine
Stinging lupine

Lupine

Lizard

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mission Trails in Early Spring

I took a walk through Mission Trails from Old Mission Dam, through south Oak Canyon, and up to the Fortuna saddle. The flowers were incredible, and I even saw some species I'd never seen before. I don't think any were particularly rare. The difference is just that we had some rain this year, whereas in past years when I've been out flower hunting we hadn't.

Old Mission Dam
Old Mission Dam

The fun started in the parking lot, with a rock rose:

Rock Rose

There is a matilija poppy plant, lots of California wild roses, and blackberries there too, but they weren't blooming. Neither was the yerba mansa near the water, just inside the gate. But many of the other common flowers were, and the wild cucumbers were fruiting.

Fiesta Flower
Fiesta Flower

Wild Cucumber
Wild cucumbers

Encelia californica
Encelia californica

Caterpillar Phacelia
Caterpillar phacelia

Cross the bridge, and you see even more:

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Then follow the trail and watch for poison oak.

Ground Pink
Ground Pink

Ground Pink

Morning Glories
Morning glories

Wishbone Bush
Wishbone bush

Wishbone Bush

Wild Hyacinth
Wild hyacinth

California Poppy
California poppy

Camas
Camas

Checkerbloom
Checkerbloom

Checkerbloom

I was so happy to find the ceanothus was still blooming. It is the smell of springtime to me.

Ceanothus

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As you continue toward Oak Canyon, you see even more...

Seep Monkeyflower
Seep monkeyflower

Monkeyflowers
Bush monkeyflower

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Nuttall Snapdragon
Nuttall's Snapdragon

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Miner's Lettuce
Miner's lettuce

Wild Peas
Wild peas

Wild Peas

Jepsonia
Jepsonia, a.k.a. Indian potatoes. This odd plant has an underground corm that is edible. It puts out a flower in the fall and a single leaf in the spring.

Ladyfinger Dudleya
Ladyfinger Dudleya. Edible but not delicious.

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Parry Phacelia
Parry phacelia

Parry Phacelia

Parry Phacelia

Parry Phacelia
(In case it's not obvious, I love this flower)

And up to the Fortuna Saddle...

Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry
Fuchsia flowered goosberry

Woodland Star
Woodland star