Sunday, March 11, 2012

habitat ~ 03/11/12 ~ Pogonip

Pogonip
March 11, 2012

I love the name Pogonip. I recall a childhood memory of laughing with my aunt as she jumped on a pogo stick, so it's a fond word association. In Shoshone it means "ice fog" or "cloud". Apparently, the word is unique enough that the City of Santa Cruz has no need to add "City Park" or other clarification to the official name of this open space.

This is the first time Andy and I have purposely hiked here. We were up in the area anyways to set up one of our extra computers for a friend's 4 kids to use for homework - hey, it's better than letting it collect dust in the garage or dumping it at the e-recycling. Once, the same friend and I utilized an entrance point to get to the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum while Andy ran trails over to Wilder Ranch and back. Another time, I briefly hiked parts of the southern trails from Harvey West Park. And, it's been so long since we've been to the adjacent Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park that I'm not sure if we even have pictures from our excursions.

Besides being tucked among other places we've visited, Pogonip really impressed us with its eclectic mix of trees for such a small, non-manicured city park. In addition to redwoods and a variety of oaks, there are surprises like huge cottonwoods, douglas-firs, madrones, eucalyptus, and palm trees (yes, palm trees in the middle of the woods!). Before the City of Santa Cruz acquired the land, it had been used as an exclusive social club, WWII rehab center, women's polo fields, golf course, and, of course, redwood logging. The clubhouse, the pool, and surrounding area are in total disrepair. It's sad to see natural areas and historical places used, abused, and neglected.

I have to say I'm glad I didn't look into Pogonip before going. We found a couple signs that said parts were closed due to "public nuisance", which I have since learned is because of the prolific drug trade on this land. I also found out there's a mountain lion that's been reported several times in the past few months at Pogonip. Truth be told, I'm more afraid of the mountain lion than anyone cracked up on heroin. After my visit to Pogonip, I'm left pondering how nature gradually heals itself compared to us humans with all our junk and wacky ways.

9 comments:

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Now me I feel just the opposite. Would much rather meet a mountain lion than some druggies in the wilderness.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

True, more than a hungry mountain lion, I would be afraid to stumble upon a pot or meth facility, which wouldn't exist in such a small place like Pogonip. And I haven't personally known anyone who has done heroin, so I don't know how unpredictable they could be.

Waypoints said...

I am convinced that most of the reports of mountain lions at Pogonip and other nearby areas are actually misidentifications of large bobcats. I have personally witnessed specific incidences of misidentifications at least twice. That is, I have seen and clearly id’ed large bobcats that were also seen by others, and mistaken as mountain lions. I once spotted a bobcat at Wilder that was so large that I was not completely sure what I had seen until I got home and blew up the photos I took from a great distance. As far as drugs go; most of that activity probably originates at the college.

Jennifer said...

It looks like such a beautiful place. I especially love the first two photos....so enchanting.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Randy, have you seen those mountain lion reports for Pogonip from January to recently? Once while eating lunch behind work here in Monterey I spotted what I thought was a large bobcat, but then when it turned I saw the swish of the long dark-tipped tail - definitely mountain lion! You may be right about college students, both as sellers and buyers. Although, there is a significant homeless population in the area, and I'm always surprised at how much money they collect from begging.

Rotton Yarns said...

Nice pictures Katie. The first is very reminiscent of the western oakwoods of Britain. The second a typical lowland stream through a wood and the third a rich and diverse scrubby, savannah interface to the wood.

I just love interfaces of any habitat - its where you find the most wildlife, those that can't make up their mind which side of the fence they would like to sit!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I used to love to go for walks in Pogonip, years ago. Honestly, with its history lately, I've had no desire to go since we moved back. You're braver than me ;) Personally, I'd rather take my chances with a Mountain Lion!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Thanks, John. Would love to see some pictures from your neck of the woods. I know Graeme has posted some pictures of animals he saw this past winter at the boundary between the woods and open fields.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Somehow having Andy with me, I feel a little bit safer. The strangest observation we've made when we hike where there's known drug activity, like Pogonip and Mt. Madonna, fellow hikers are unusually polite, look us in the eye, and are eager for a friendly chat. This usually doesn't happen in places like Wilder Ranch, Pinnacles, or the Rec Trail.