1999 - 2000 season
2000 - 2001 season
2001 - 2002 season
2002 - 2003 season
26 January 2004
6 April 2004
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 Plant Guide.
26 January 2004
WE NEED RAIN!
I hiked to mile 4.82 of this trail, and, unfortunately, the most interesting thing was to see which plants are growing, and which plants are not.
When I was last on this trail, on 12/3/03, almost two months ago, essentially no annuals had germinated anywhere. Hence I surmised that most of this trail didn't get much of the inch of rain we got in Fallbrook on 11/12-13.
The trail must then have gotten some significant rain on 12/25-26, when Fallbrook got 1.2 inches, since some annuals have germinated in a few places:
- first, in the shady campground and creek bottom, a significant number of annuals have germinated, mostly the Camissonia sp. in the campground and grasses.
- then, once out of the shade, almost nothing but a few grasses have germinated.
- but surprisingly, near tick heaven at mile ~3.5, literally thousands of chaenactis have germinated and have a rosette of ~4-5 leaves. And most are still alive and looking good, despite this being the sunniest and hottest part of the trail, due to a south-facing slope. But a few are looking a bit peaked.
- above this, in an area high enough to be moist on my last visit, mostly only Cryptantha sp. have germinated. But even that area is no longer moist.
- but aside from this, there is essentially zilch - nada - zip annuals around. No Phacelia, no calif poppy, no Silene gallica, no Hirschfeldia, no Erodium, no lupines, no Lepidium, no snapdragons, etc, all of which were on this trail last year.
The spike moss has mostly gone back to sleep.
So unless it rains significantly soon, these annuals may skip the year again here, like they did during the drought. (I don't know if they will germinate from March rains, for example. I'll bet a number of these species wouldn't germinate from August rains, so I don't know how they decide conditions are not right to germinate.)
Some perennials are growing; some are not. Only a few of the many soap plants have baby leaves; most have none. None of the lomatiums or Mariposa lilies have any leaves. Only a very few blue dicks leaves are up, and only a few of the deerweed have leafed out. Most of the numerous wild cucumber on this trail has taken a pass so far; I estimate fewer than 10% are actively growing.
But golden yarrow has leafed out everywhere, as have most of the Solanum parishii and the Keckiella antirrhinoides^2. The one patch of jepsonia has a fair number of leaves.
But if we don't get rain soon, even the Chaenactis et al may give up the ghost.
- I found a Ribes indecorum at mile 0.60, which is now the first occurrence on the trail, that I had never noticed in 9 previous botanizing visits here! It was, of course, in full bloom, which is why I noticed it this time.
- I found some quite-white stems on some Ceanothus leucodermis, as well as some gray-glaucous-green stems. In contrast, the Santa Monica Mountains Flora says that the bark for leuco is green! Munz says "pale green smooth bark". JM says "gray-glaucous". (;-)
Michael and I did see mostly pale green bark in the Santa Monica Mountains, but that was not my memory of Mr. Ceanothus "white skin" elsewhere. (;-)
- Hazardia squarrosa, Eriogonum fasciculatum and Stephanomeria virgata still had a few blooms.
- Most of the manzanita were not blooming yet, except for one planted cultivar in the campground which was in full bloom, and a few A. glauca had actually finished their bloom, despite most of the A. glauca not having blooms yet!
- Ribes indecorum and Garrya veatchii in full bloom.
- A few Ceanothus crassifolius were blooming; the huge number of other specimens are ~2? weeks from bloom.
- On the way down, I did trail maintenance and pruned quite a few branches off the trail.
- On my four previous visits this fall, in one area, I had noticed a lot of a dead tiny plant about 3 inches high with lots of tiny dead flower remnants. I didn't list it in the guide, since I thought it looked awfully familiar and might be one of the species on the list that I just didn't recognize.
Today, I actually looked at a plant up close, and immediately noticed zig-zag stems and thought of Nemacladus! This seems a very likely id. I nabbed a sample to see what I can learn.
I was quite pleased to finally be zeroing in on this id of this dead plant. (;-)
- The temperature was in the 50s during my entire hike. I measured 55 degrees at 1:30 pm at 3120 feet. It was pretty much ok except when the wind came up, making the wind chill temperature sub-zero as far as I was concerned.... (;-)
6 April 2004
WE GOT RAIN! (;-)
Of course, we did not get much rain, and things were pretty dry everywhere. In fact, it was ironic that the Dripping Springs Campground had just begun its normal Arroyo Toad Spring Closure (the trail is still open). In this dry year, I doubt that there were ever any pools of water in which they could breed.
But even though the rain was minimal, the rain we got in February and March was enough to create a pretty good show, at least in the locations where annuals had germinated. It looks like the February rains germinated some additional annuals as well, especially on the shady north slopes.
James Dillane and I found so many annuals in bloom, ones that I hadn't seen before for the guide, that we struggled to get out of the campground area and onto the trail! Everywhere we looked there was something new and interesting.
I had never botanized this trail post-January in a non-severe-drought year, so it was just a delight to see all the annuals, and even some new perennials on the trail.
The gilias and linanthus took my breath away in places, with almost solid color. They provided the best displays by far. If the id for the linanthus doesn't turn out to be showy linanthus, I'll be shocked!
Three perennials took me by surprise as well:
- In the campground, there was a solid mass of what may prove to be California Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica. Whatever it proves to be, it was a new delightful species for me!
- James found very young new growth for a perennial near the Arroyo Seco that I had never seen before. (It was too young and unfamiliar to us to recognize.)
- Summer snow, Linanthus floribundus was in full bloom just before entering the Wilderness area. I had at times suspected these plants were a different species, but the plants always looked too pathetic before to be sure.
But the very best treat of the day was finding southern goldfields, Lasthenia coronaria. James immediately recognized them, and I was immensely pleased that I finally got to see this species after seeing zillions of goldfields, Lasthenia californica.
After emerging from the canyon and achieving the top of the open area, there were still essentially no annuals at all. After the delights below, it was sad to see even the geophytes hardly producing any leaves. Most of the soap lilies and Mariposa lilies are skipping this year for any growth at all.
But more delights awaited on the switchbacks up the northwest slopes to the next level. A patch of Indian paintbrush, Castilleja foliolosa, was showing off its best colors, almost mocking me for never discovering the plants there before. The best surprise was perhaps a hundred small-flowered meconella, Meconella denticulata, in full bloom in one spot!
I was way too busy recording the new species to keep track of all the species in bloom. My guess is that was a minimum of 60 species in bloom, and perhaps significantly more.
We picked a good day to do the trail. The temperature was probably around 70° F. Since we were in the shade of the campground most of the time, it was quite pleasant. The bugs were fairly annoying, but not bad enough to ruin the botanizing.
We came across two king snakes, who we almost missed due to intensive botanizing!
Copyright © 2004 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 6 April 2004.