Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cuesta Ridge

Tuesday's are always fun!

 Today, my California natives class wandered around the top of Cuesta Ridge (2,000+ feet). We drove up the 101 and when we reached the top of the Cuesta grade we made a left off the freeway. We were quickly briefed on what we were to expect and then started our way up the mountainside. The ride up was quiet the adventure in itself; 5 girls shoved into a tiny truck (not meant for 5) driving up a mountain with roads that are no longer maintained by anyone. I wouldn't even call it a road. Just giant, deep holes that lead to the top of the ridge. It was a super gnarly ride up (and down) but very much worth it as we made it up to the top. It was another gorgeous day here in San Luis; 75 degrees, slight breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. Are we really in the dead of winter?!

Today we were exploring a chapparal community, full of salvia, manzanita, ceanothus and lots of other goodies.

Just seconds after taking this picture I slipped and fell, disappearing into very sharp shrubbery-naturally.
Our first stop on the ridge.
Serpentine soil (serpentine is the state rock of CA).
Tiny leaves with multiple facets. 
Tiny treasures.
Salvia mellifera-Black sage
Apparently this makes a really good pasta sauce!
Salvia spp.-ground cover.
Archtostaphylos 'Hood Mountain' (Manzanita)
Blooms in the winter and attracts hummingbirds.
Second stop.
Looking out over where a large fire came through in 1994.
Discussing the benefits of the fire active community.
Next stop-moving to a higher elevation-Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area.
Now seeing pines and cypress.
Cupressus sargentii-has closed cones that open and spread with wild fires!
Beth and Carrie trying to maneuver through the dense bushes.
Carex obispoensis
Small patch of Carex praegracilis (Sedge)
Leave it to me to find the moss...

Carrie, Molly, Beth, Lexi, and I.

Looking out over to Moro Bay.
Driving down the mountainside-to our left we saw some Dendromecon rigida (Bush poppy) and we all got very excited.
trying to get down....

I really did enjoy todays explorations....a lot. Though chapparal plant communities aren't my environments of choice, it was still so great to get to experience it all.  And I learned things I hadn't known before. 

I'm already looking forward to next Tuesday, stay tuned to see where we end up and what we find.

1 comment:

Jane Gordon said...

Chaparral is SO California and I love it. I see black sage on some of my bike rides. Perhaps I should pick some the next time and bring it home for my spaghetti sauce. I never knew it was usable in that way. Very cool Rae! Dad and I used to drive up to the ridge just for a little getaway now and then. Brings back memories....