Monday, January 2, 2012

habitat ~ 01/02/12 ~ Palo Corona Regional Park

Palo Corona Regional Park
January 2, 2012

For the new year, we wanted to do a new hike. Heading south past Carmel, this is the first big hill one sees from Highway 1 before reaching Point Lobos. In the spring, the green is quite spectacular. I've wanted to frolic around these hills for the past 8 years, ever since I used to work on this side of the Peninsula and take walks during lunch. Through a complicated partnership, Palo Corona was acquired back in 2004, but it was only opened to the public this past year and with advanced permit reservation. Hmph! As I've mentioned before I'm adverse to planning hikes or camping trips in advance due to my typical rain curse. However, this winter season has been particularly dry, and we had overcast conditions with no rain for our reserved hike. While not very far as the crow flies from home, it was markedly windier and colder than at home in the shelter of the Monterey Peninsula on the Monterey Bay side.

The official MPRPD site (linked below the pictures above) is impressive, but it doesn't offer a decent statement of how limited the publicly accessible areas currently are. I found better information on the Big Sur Land Trust site, a new blog I found, and a series of Flickr photos. It's obvious there has been a ton of money dumped into this property, especially compared to our increasingly neglected State Parks. The mere couple miles of trail to Animas Pond (shown in the 4th pic above) are lavish and disturbingly odd with thick, freshly laid DG (decomposed granite, a popular trail covering in our area), more fancy schmancy benches and picnic tables than you can shake a stick at (with only 21 permits allowed per day, why would they need so many every 100 yards or so?), and not to mention the numerous signs and gates stating "not open to the public" or with complicated handicap loopy locks. The views of Carmel Bay (extends from Pebble Beach to Point Lobos) and the chichi Quail Lodge Golf Club are prominent once you get up the hill away from the many cows, which we had the pleasure of watching get fed hay from the back of a truck. I look forward to when more trails are opened.

Oh, I also saw my second bobcat! It hurried away before I could get my camera out of my pocket. Didn't I say now that I've seen one, I will see them all the time?

ps 02/07/12 - For a great video of what the hike to Inspiration Point (0.6 mile before Animas Pond) looks like, check out Walkifornia.

monkeyflower ~ 01/02/12 ~ Palo Corona

Mimulus sp. (aka Diplacus sp.)
Phrymaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

Andy and I joke with each other regularly about how we're getting old. Despite his increasing amount of grey in his beard (and ear tufts... snicker) and my having gained a few extra pounds, we're mostly referring to our older mindset. I'm feeling more and more fixed in my opinions. This monkeyflower reminds me of this. I've never seen one so reddish-orange, and it was obviously purposely planted near the interpretive signs. The wild growing monkeyflowers on this same hike were the typical buttery orange color of Mimulus aurantiacus that I've come to expect to be blooming somewhere near here all year round.

I have some issue with planting "natives" when, in fact, they may not actually be native to a specific area. Town Mouse and Country Mouse had an interesting post recently making the distinction between native plants and native garden hybrids. With native planting so popular here in CA, I've often wondered how "native" is defined, especially when I spot plants in gardens that are obviously from SoCal (Santa Barbara south to San Diego), several hundred miles south of where I live. It might as well be in a different country, but we all know political and natural boundaries do not coincide.

I've tried my best to ID this particular plant and I'm at a loss, partially due to botanical names being changed left and right. I had to laugh when Las Pilitas Nursery stated, "The botanists over the years have called it all sorts of names, with no cross references, very confusing. Botanists need to get a life!" My best guess is that this is a cultivated hybrid. The closest visual matches I've found have been: CalPhotos 1 (most significant for the local cultivated description), CalPhotos 2 (showing how the experts can't seem to agree), San Diego Sunrise from Las Pilitas, and Sunset Monkeyflower from Camissonia's Corner (a garden blogger from SoCal).

miniature lupine ~ 01/02/12 ~ Palo Corona

miniature lupine
Lupinus bicolor


Phooey. Just a few minutes ago I posted this as sky lupine and commented on how it's the earliest in the season I've ever seen it in bloom since I usually see it from March to May. So, that got me wondering if my ID was correct. I now believe this is miniature lupine, aka annual lupine. I've found differing information to distinguish the 2 species - hairs or no hairs, that is the question. Does anyone have pointers about these 2 lupine spp.? Sigh, does it seem like an odd winter for you, too?