Anita and I have been in Baja for the last month. On our way back we swung through Death Valley to see the ‘super bloom.’ It had waned by the time we got there — apparently a combination of hot weather followed by high winds had finished the thickest patches, and quite a few of the plants had spent flower heads mixed in with the fresh blooms — but there were still some impressive areas.
Desert Gold was the most prolific. It made bands of color in the distance but up close it was politely spaced so we could wander around without stepping on any flowers. An impressive number of other species were mixed in with it. My personal count came to over 20 different species inside the park, including a number of flowers I’d never seen before.
The yellow Camissonia was my favorite of the wildflowers. Such a clear, crisp yellow. Gravel Ghost was another favorite, with the white flowers high over a ground-hugging rosette.
I’ll have some posts about Baja, the main focus of our trip. There is more wildflower photo bling at this Death Valley Wildflower Report.
Last February Anita visited Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. Beautiful place, the photos fascinate me. I love seeing the different eras of the stonework as the masons became more skilled and ambitious, and it’s wonderful how the ruins display the cross-sections of the walls. A place I need to some day see in person.
I’ve mentioned the Stone Foundation a few times over the years. It’s an organization whose mission is to honor stone and stonework. Once a year it organizes a symposium, and this year, in January, the event will be in San Francisco and Gualala. I haven’t been to one of the symposiums before, but I’m of course going to go this year. The Stone Foundation website has details about the event as well as reports from past symposiums.
Along with the Tournesol containers I posted/complained about two months ago, I went back two months later and made some much smaller containers. The idea was to have ice plant growing low among the river stones that cover some sections of the roof. I took shallow flats and surrounded them with a skin of waste stone from the free bin at the stoneyard, using old tiles for the bottom and bluestone strips around the sides. At the moment the stone is just dry laid with the river stones holding the stone in place, but I might use mortar later if the ice plant does well and these become a permanent thing.
Below are three photos of the Tournesol containers after a couple of months of growth. Read the rest of this entry »
While I was on the east side, I went for a hike on one of the trails where I led a crew about five years ago, Duck Pass Trail. I recognized some of our work but I had a hard time remembering exactly which things we had built, which is actually a good thing; it’s often said that good trail work blends into the environment, that it’s not meant to be showy or eye-catching, a good trail is one that let’s hikers ignore the walking surface and focus on the landscape.
I didn’t linger on the trail as much as I might have and I didn’t take any photos of the scenery, which is gorgeous on a clear day. The weather deteriorated soon after I left the parking lot, alternating rain, hail, graupel, sleet, and eventually snow. It was disappointing that I didn’t have better weather, but educational. I’d never hiked one of my trails in such foul conditions, and I was shocked at how much water flowed on the trail, in some places frothing like a creek with little cascades surging over the steps.
Above is a little wall we built to reroute the section of trail you see in the first photo. The trail used to pass to the right of the tree, but erosion was exposing the roots and forcing hikers to make a high step, so we brought the trail around to the downhill side of the tree. Not bad work for a crew that had never stacked a rock before that day.
This is a step that I remember my crew building. It was nice to see it looking almost exactly as it did five years ago, despite all of the runners, hikers, horses, and mules that have stepped over it in the last five years. Trail work never really looks like all that much, a clean stretch of dirt instead of a gullied one, but I’ve had a chance to revisit some of the trails I worked on, and it’s always immensely satisfying.
I haven’t blogged all that much about the drought. It hasn’t really affected me as much as I might have expected. Certainly I see a lot of dried out lawns around the Bay Area and I’ve stopped watering my garden for the most part. I’ve done more lawn conversions this year and for the most part lately I’ve been holding off on new plantings until (hopefully) the rains come back. But many impacts of the drought have been off-camera so to speak. So I felt a little shocked when we went up to Saddlebag Lake on the east side to see it had turned into Saddlebag Ditch. There aren’t many things uglier than a reservoir with no water.