A walk in the rain

It’s been more than a month since I had a chance to see what (if anything) was blooming in the back-country, so I decided to hike down to Forbush.

Then I learned it was going to rain.

I went anyway. But I drove up to Camino Cielo.

This is about the nadir of the year for blooming flowers. The summer flowers are over (or almost over) and the winter/spring flowers haven’t started yet.

The everlastings turned out not to. There’s a little bit of wand chicory left but it looks kind of sad. The silk tassels are just short stubby buds, and the sugar bush has about four months to go before its buds turn into blooms.

Well, there are a few flowers I really like that I’ve been watching to see how long they will bloom. One is actually on front side of the mountains, down almost to Montecito Peak, there are a couple of others down near Forbush, and one even further down near the grotto. I’m not sure I’ll get that far in the rain.

I’m most interested in Golden Eardrops. Last year I thought they finished in July, but this year they were still blooming in October. They are down near Montecito Peak.

But to get to them I must pass a patch of dense false gillyflowers. These were also blooming in October, but are now just withered stems. On to the eardrops!

I begin to worry that I’ve passed them, but I find them. And still in bloom too. Not the abundant blooms of June, but still respectable.

Now I head back to Camino Cielo, and when I turn I realize the trail looks more like a little stream. I hadn’t really noticed when I was going downhill. The clouds are hugging the mountain tops here and it’s very misty.

It becomes windier as I approach the top again, and the rain sweeps past.

And then down the other side. I’m looking for morning glories here (well, false bindweeds anyway), but I don’t see them yet. I had assumed that since the coastal false bindweed blooms all year in the front country then the pacific false bindweed would probably bloom all year in the back. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I haven’t seen any pacific since August.

🙂 I like the way the trail switchbacks around. The rain seems to have enhanced the contrast, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this view before.

Ah. Here’s another patch of dense false gillyflower, and like the first one it has become a tangle of dried stems. On the other hand, there are a few Plummer’s Bacharis in bloom here. It’s almost over, but around here I see a few blooms. They are pretty shabby looking though.

Even the toyon berries disappoint, they haven’t turned red yet and are a drab indeterminate shade.

Then looking behind me, up the canyon, I see a couple of big-leaved maples which are pretending that it is fall and have turned yellow.

The little bush, here on the left of the trail, is a mature oak tree with lots of acorns. Acorns which look disproportionately big on this small shrub. It’s 3~4 feet tall. I still can’t get over the scrub oaks here. I expect oak trees to be big.

When I get to Forbush meadow I am initially disappointed — I don’t see any Elegant Madias. Off to the side are some fleabanes with rather bedraggled blooms because of the rain, but no Madias. Nonetheless I walk through the meadow, and finally I spot a single bloom. A rather inelegant madia, but still, a madia. Well, I doubt it will last another week; I’m glad I came down today.

Just beyond Forbush, about a quarter of the way up the trail on the other side of the valley, is a little patch of hummingbird trumpets. Hummingbirds don’t like the rain, so the flowers aren’t living up to the name, but they are in bloom still.

It’s another mile to the grotto, and my hands are cold (the rest of me is ok). I decide I’m not really that interested in learning if the Lobelias are still blooming. I think I shall turn back.

The fog is slowly creeping up Blue Canyon toward me. In the course of 5 minutes or so the hill on the right becomes lost in the mist…

On the way up from Forbush there’s a rather nice glen of live oaks, seen through a lens bespeckled with raindrops.


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