Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Oso Crest Trail Through Fern  Grotto and Wills Canyon
May 23, 2018

Laura, Ken and I set off late one afternoon with Bodee and Lucy to check out Oso Ridge.  The last time we were up here was in April when plants were greening up and life was coming back to the mountains.  Sages, mustard, and the last remnants of lupine garnered the trail.  We enjoyed the light breeze as we ascended Oso Ridge and took in the view of Rancho Matilija with it's fields of golden harvest.

There are still skeletal trees standing like stark soldiers.  They will remind us for years of the Thomas Fire and the toll it took on all of us: plant, animal, environment; mind, body and soul.  

Different flowers and shrubs adorn this trail, so exposed and dry with a lot of bedrock on the surface.  bed.  We hiked past Chaparral Mallow, Monkey Flower, Delphiniums and sages up and over the crest.

The non-native Spanish Broom was not deterred in making a comeback, but it's remarkable yellow flowers are always cheerful.  We wonder to ourselves "when does a plant species become native after it has taken hold in a new environment, is there a time limit"?

We stop to take in this tree with a huge goiter and admire the Chinese Lanterns that we have only seen in Wills Canyon.

The sun is getting lower on the horizon and we are hiking in the cool evening hours.  Fern Grotto is always a pleasant surprise with it's robust ferns and shady landscape.  This north-facing side of the ridge it doesn't get the full exposure that south-facing Oso Crest does so it's not a parched landscape.

We meander down Wills Canyon and start to see other hikers, joggers and horseback riders.  The bottom of the canyon is still pretty green and the tops of the oaks have leaves.  An errant,  rather large gopher snake meanders across our trail and leaves it's tail hanging out.  What a joy to see reptiles and we hear reports of red racers, rattlers and garter snakes in the preserve!

The sun has now passed below the horizon and darkness is setting in and we have to cross the river at some point.  We opt for the lower crossing because we will still have a little light left to rock hop across.  Our flashlights and headlamps are out and we hike back along the river to the Oso Trail head where we luckily parked outside the gate because it is now locked.  I stepped over an interesting scorpion on the way back and we start to hear interesting night sounds in the river bottom.

This was a lovely hike to do in the evening now that our days are heating up.  

Happy Hiking,

Beth & Laura
Bodee & Lucy