Friday, May 25, 2018

May Day! Mother's Day
Transitional Landscapes
May 2018

Sulphur Mountain Road

A Wildflower Wild Ride!

Our Sulphur Mountain Road Hikes exceeded our wildflower dreams!  I have combined two hikes here because I did them a few days apart.  The first thing you notice as you ascend Sulphur Mountain Road from the Arnez Girl Scout Camp is the sulphur smell from the tar seeps on the side of the road.  Oozing black tar meanders its way across the trail, a shiny, glossy goo you want to absolutely avoid and make sure the dogs don't step in it either!

The first wildflowers we noticed were Hummingbird Sages growing on the downward side of the road, their magenta pink flowers a highlight along the way.  It's obvious why they garner the name Hummingbird.

The ascent is steeper at the bottom and we get past the 1 mile marker.  Some of the mile markers, I'm assuming they were put there for the bikers, are totally hidden in mustard  or are melted from the fire.  Sulphur Mountain Road continues past Camp Willet up to the summit for 10 miles where the pavement starts near the weather doppler tower.  Rounding past mile marker 2 we start to notice an influx of blooming mustard flanking the hillsides on all sides.  The sight is quite remarkable and it's a sea of yellow.

You can imagine we are quite enthused and the hiking is easy.  We pass the 3 mile marker and the landscape changes and becomes a mosaic of purple and yellow.  My son and I did this hike on Mother's Day and he was like a kid in a candy shop with his camera.  Bodee and I lost track of him on the ridges!  The lupines are thriving in banks along the hillsides and poppies are popping up along with canyon sunflowers and starlights.

Once past the 3 mile marker you get a stunning view of the Ojai Valley and the Topa Topa mountains.  We pass the Oak Trees with their roots in the sedimentary rock that we noticed on our first hike, some struggling or giving up the fight.

There are lost souls along the way.  Their strength and endurance finally at an end, but they will provide habitats for many new beings.  We are reverent with their passing but acknowledge that there are many trees in this area that are vibrant even after the fire. 

We are surrounded by bird calls, the sounds of insects, the wind and we realize that for our first few months of hiking in the burn we heard absolute silence except for our own voices. Rehabilitation is happening.

The wildflowers are so stunning, we feel like we are in the Sound of Music whirling on the top of the Alps in Spring!  Somehow we missed the mile 4 marker and were almost to the mile 5 marker when we turned around.  We exalted in the wildflower bloom on the way back, both hikes.

Keep on Trekking!
Keep an eye out for Rattlers they are OUT!

Beth & Laura
Bodee & Luci

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Glorious Unbelievable Spring
Treks through Wills, Rice and Lupine Ridge
April 2018

Spring has sprung and we can't get enough of it!  April found us trekking up Wills,  down Rice and over ridges we never experienced before the burn.  We hiked in the early morning, the afternoon and even the evening when we had to rock hop across the river in the dark - and we loved every minute!

Our first foray into springness started in early April up Wills Canyon with a profusion of green; leaves, grasses the whole nine yards.  We spotted a few wildflowers along the way and we thought "ok this might amount to something special".  Then we topped over the saddle and headed into Rice  and the wildflower stupendousness began and it was lupine mania.

There were stinging lupines  (Lupinus hirsutissimuswith their spiny stems and amazing magenta flowers.  The ever present purple lupines covering the hillsides and slot canyons like blankets took our breath away.  Such an awe-inspiring sight after all the treks through the burn.  We soaked it up and are still soaking it up.

We climbed up onto the ridge that stands between Wills Canyon and Rice Canyon (we have named it Lupine ridge) and couldn't believe our eyes.  The two species of lupines were mingled together with their purple and magenta flowers making amazing bouquets on the ridge.

We didn't see any California Poppies, which was interesting, but we found Monkey Flower, Mariposa Lilies, Blue Dicks and Penstemon centranthifolius with it's beautiful scarlet flowers. Every twist and turn on the trail was a delight.

I especially love this dry creek bed with lupine covered banks!
 Every time I hike by it I take a picture I just can't help myself!

The burn is still with us but the ash has given rise to all kinds of plants.  The drought is still with us and we know we have to conserve water.  But for now we are trekking in the wildflowers and enjoying every moment and rock hopping across the river.

Waltz Among the Flowers!

Beth & Laura
Bodee & Luci