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.