T. Chester's Trip Reports For Dripping Springs Trail: 2002 - 2003 Season

1999 - 2000 season
2000 - 2001 season
2001 - 2002 season

24 December 2002

See Dripping Springs Trail for a general introduction to this trail. These comments relate only specifics appropriate to a given hike. All mileages below are referenced to the Detailed Trip Log.

Trip Reports

24 December 2002

I had been avoiding this trail until it got some decent rain, since it has been so pathetic to hike trails and only see dead-looking plants. Apparently, the lower part of the trail missed getting any moisture from that wonderful storm in early November. The Temecula and Winchester weather stations reported 0.00 and 0.21 inches, respectively, during that time. This low rainfall there was especially surprising, since most locations from Fallbrook north got over 2 inches of rain during that storm, and Palomar Mountain, just a few miles to the south, reported totals from 3 to 10 inches. At last, Temecula got almost 3 inches of rain in the last week (from 12/17 to 12/20), so I made my first trip of the year.

Even though I knew the area had missed getting rain in November, it was still a bit of a shock to see that essentially no annuals had germinated. Worse, many of the shrubs still looked dead. Specifically, all the deerweed, all of the Melica imperfecta along the campground road, 99% of the black sage, and perhaps 80% of the hoaryleaf ceanothus looked like they were not going to come back from the drought. It is still remotely possible that they will come back to life, since it has only been a week since significant rain.

I later realized that these species are probably at the normal desert ends of their range here. The stress of the extreme drought may have now constricted their range.

In contrast, the yerba santa, chamise and redshanks looked great, just as if there had been no drought at all.

The campground has a new host couple, Bear and Maggie. They began about six months ago. Bear confirmed that little rain had fallen there until this last week.

Very little was in bloom, mostly only a few surviving blooms from the matchweed. I saw only a single wild cucumber ropes. But the ferns, mosses and liverworts were looking pretty good.

Nearly my entire trip was marred by the very loud sounds of a single off-road motorcycle with its whining, chain-saw-like noise. I never saw the motorcycle, and it clearly was not on this trail, but at times it sounded like it was around the next bend. It is a shame that these vehicles are so noisy, as well as destructive to native habitat.

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Copyright © 2002-2004 by Tom Chester.
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Last update: 26 January 2004.