Yellow Mariposa Lilies

I really had wanted to see them after the race.

If only it had been cooler.

I also wanted a better look at the butter lupine. As I was going through my books at home I convinced myself that what I thought was a Clarkia with odd leaves was actually a mallow (with normal mallow leaves). And there were probably some winecup clarkias hiding in among the fourspot clarkias. All of which would be worth checking out.

So I made up my mind to hike in on the Tuesday following.

Now the easiest route would be just to go to Rancho Oso and hike for a mile. But I wasn’t sure they’d let me in (or rather, I wasn’t sure they’d let me in at 7am or how much I’d have to pay them for the privilege). So Arroyo Burro Rd hits both Camino Ciello and Paradise Rd. And I wasn’t familiar with either location, but Camino Ciello was a lot closer. A little research showed the intersection was 6.1 miles from the 154.

The weather forecast for Tuesday was 10° cooler than that for the race day. And while that wasn’t exactly cool, it was better.

It was overcast in Santa B when I set out, but sunny on Camino Ciello (of course). There was a road at 6.2 miles, so I pulled over. There was a sign, which read “Shoot carefully” (I’d hoped for a sign saying “Arroyo Burro”, but no luck). I was not expecting a shooting range, and was somewhat discouraged. Still I headed down the road. The shooting range was quickly passed (and was as messy as my house), and not far beyond was a trail hitting the road and the flour mark showing the Blue Canyon route. So here was Arroyo Burro Rd with the trail joining it. Whew! I wasn’t lost.

I immediately realized that there were rock-roses hiding amid the deer-weed (which is common, but a distinction that’s hard to notice when running). And there were some tarweeds. Tiny yellow flowers tend to blur together.

The valley of the Santa Ynez river was also full of low overcast with mountains poking through like islands, and I was hopeful that this would mean cooler temperatures down below. I was already sweating. It seemed hotter here, now, than it had been on race day at this time. It wasn’t really bad yet, I just like to complain to myself.

A little further down and I was out of the full sun and in the shade for a bit. Much better. And there was a cardinal larkspur — I hadn’t noticed them until later in the race, but they were right here, and the buds were almost open too. I think larkspurs are beautiful. And I think cardinal larkspurs are just weird because all larkspurs are blue.

I can pay a lot more attention when I go at a leisurely pace.

Off on the right was a strange little shrub with small rose-like flowers. I still can’t identify it.

Here was a tiny yucca flower spike. No rosette of spines attached to it, and only a very short spike (perhaps 3feet high as opposed to the 10foot giants most plants put up). I wondered what was sending up the bloom, and why it had bothered? I don’t think I’ve ever noticed one like this before…

The road heads across a canyon with a canopy of oaks, and on the right I see a pitcher sage. But as I look closely I realize that it has blue flowers, not white. It looks like a pitcher sage… I touch it, and sniff, yes, definite mint smell. At home I discover there’s a rare species with blue flowers and a strong smell, called fragrant pitcher sage. Always fun to identify something new.

It looks as though I’m almost down to the fog layer now

I spend some time watching a ladybug crawl around a lupine bloom. Now I think of each lupine flower as a fairly small thing, but to the ladybug… it’s as big as she is. They are supposed to be pest eaters, but I see nothing on this lupine to warrant the attention she is giving it (and there’s another on the next lupine, so there must be something interesting here).

Hah. Some of the holly leaved cherries have got green fruit on them.

And I failed to notice the golden stars here during the race.

It looks very much as though the fog is dissipating now that I’m almost in it. Now that’s annoying. Still, it seems cooler here than it did when I started. And there’s a little dew on the grass when I brush my hands against it.

Oh well.

Now I’m finally down to where the first aid station was. If I turn off the road for a bit and down Matias trail I should see some wine cups and some butter lupines (if I remember correctly).

The trail is steep. I actually ran down this?

Yup, here are some clarkias which are really dark purple with no spots on them. Unfortunately, it’s still too early for them and they are all furled up tight. Luckily by the time I’ve found the butter lupine and returned, they’ve opened up for the day.

I finally find one of the yellow lupine, and the seedpods look… well, odd. They don’t look like any lupine I’ve seen before. Back to the books. It turns out the chick lupine has an odd seed spike. So it wasn’t a butter lupine after all.

I go a little further to look at the view (fog has completely gone now), and then return the way I came.

At each stream crossing the meadow grass gives way to oaks and aspens. A little bit of shade in a dry landscape. There are some butterfly mariposa lilies which I enjoy looking at, and some yerba santa. And then it’s down the road again.

What’s this? A tiny little honeysuckle flower, with cream colored blossoms. Not the large pink blossoms I’m used to. And it’s out in the direct sun not shaded, beside a river. That’s two new species so far. It turns out to be the Santa Barbara honeysuckle.

And right beside it is a venus thistle which is finally blooming. I’ve been waiting for weeks for this. Lovely red flower.

There are some little blue flowers in the road. Some prove to be the invasive storkbills, but some are blue eyed grass (which is an iris, not a grass) and are much prettier.

How sweet! Here are two butterflies having sex in the tall grass. They seem to approach tail to tail. (Now what fun would that be? Glad I’m not a butterfly)

I almost missed it.

I was so absorbed in being a voyeur that I almost didn’t see the yellow mariposa lilies which were right beside the butterflies.

There were my yellow mariposas. OK, the trip was now a success.

The mallows were on the Arroyo Burro trail (which runs beside a creek), and I’ve got another mile or so to hike down before I reach the intersection. Then I’ll go up the trail to Camino Ciello (assuming I can work out where the trail goes, and that I don’t end up at Rancho Oso.)

The thought was to go down the exposed road while it was “cooler” and then go up the shady trail as it started getting hotter.

There’s a gate across the road.

There’s never been a gate across the road before. Of course “before” has always been in the middle of a race, so they probably opened it for us. Still you’d think I’d have noticed a large gate dragged to the side. It is possible that I’ve gone too far and am now heading down the road toward Paradise Rd. Hope not.

I proceed a little further, and there is the trail. Still with its flour markings left from the race. Whee! And not much further is the place where the Rancho Oso trail diverges from the Arroyo Burro trail, and that’s obvious too. OK. I’m not going to get lost today.

There are some more of those odd yellow lupines here, so I look at them. Yup. They really are odd. And these are odd the same way the ones I saw earlier were, so both spots hold the same species.

I go along above the creek now. When I’m close to the creek there are mallows. These have five petals on their flowers and claw-like leaves. When I’m further from the creek there are punchbowl clarkias (these have 4 petals and lanceate leaves). To my eye the flowers look exactly alike unless I stop and count petals (or check the ovaries but that requires even closer peering). Perhaps if I weren’t color-blind I would do better (perhaps not. I can’t know).

OK, I have now done what I set out to do.

There’s a cute little member of the parsley family. It looks as though it were serving its flower up on a decorated plate. I’ve never seen it before. Back home my books tell me it is the American wild carrot, and the taproot is, indeed, edible (not that I will test that, the flowers are too pretty).

And just round the bend are some chinese houses, but they are white. I’ve never seen white ones before. I assume it’s just a color variant and only take one picture. By luck that picture catches the leaves which are recurved, which turns out to be a sign that it’s a different species. (The common name of the new species is “white blue-eyed Mary”, which sounds like an oxymoron, so I’ll just call them white chinese houses).

Shady trails have a bad habit of climbing up into the sun as they reach the summit, and this is no exception. It’s hot. In no way is it as hot as it was during the race. Nothing like that. But it’s still hot. The butterflies seem to like it though. There’s a swallowtail flittering hither and yon, but eventually it perches long enough for me to take its picture. I try to take a better picture, but it gets shy and flies away again.

I join the road again, and go past the shooting range (no one is shooting, luckily).

Now this is Arroyo Burro Rd and trail. So called because Arroyo Burro trail in the front country climbed up over the mountains and down the other side. So there should be a trail on the front side of the mountain going down, eventually, to Jesusita. But I can’t find it. I’ve never been able to follow that trail all the way up from the bottom, I guess I won’t be following it down from the top either.

So let’s see. I got my yellow mariposa pictures. I got better pictures of the chick lupine. I found my wine-cup and my mallow. I noticed and identified four flowers I hadn’t noticed before, and I’ve still got one unidentified flower to work on. That’s what I call a good hike. And I got to watch two butterflies have sex.


One Response to “Yellow Mariposa Lilies”

  1. georgeruns Says:

    I left out hummingbird sage (blooming), black sage (quite rare compared to purple, and almost over, but a few blooms left down near the yellow mariposas), buckwheat.

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