Saturday, December 10, 2011

habitat ~ 12/10/11 ~ Los Padres Dam

Los Padres Dam

This hike was all about contrasts. The reservoir seemed fairly full, but the spillway was bone dry and the Carmel River was very low. Once past the dam, the Carmel River Trail hugs the hills, from sunny to shady, repeatedly. There were dry areas still recovering from the 2008 Basin Complex Fire and other areas which seemed extra lush and green for this time of year. One side of the trail could have chaparral yuccas, chamise, and dried grasses, while the other side could have newly sprouted fiesta flowers, ferns, grasses, and mushrooms. We went through stands of trees to open meadows. Evergreen oaks, madrones, CA bays, and toyon were mixed in with deciduous oaks, CA buckeyes, bigleaf maples, and CA sycamores. Buckwheats, CA fuchsias, CA goldenrods, cudweeds, telegraph weeds, and a variety of other Asteraceae were setting seed and showing fresh blooms. I saw very few insects or hummingbirds that could pollinate the flowers, but I did spot a couple bumblebees, a honkin' huge tachinid fly, other smaller flies, damselflies, and dragonflies. We thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors in December.

I may want visit Los Padres Dam again in January or February. We don't often go there, because it can get blazing hot by May (although the numerous river crossings are refreshing), the trails are not well maintained further in (with loads of poison-oak), and it takes an hour to travel the 25 miles inland (which is almost beyond my patience to drive for a hike). I've found very few nature-related sites about the Los Padres Dam area. It's a very popular access point for the northern area of the Los Padres National Forest, so most of my search results have been from hard-core hiking sites. To see what backpacking is like in the area, check out this fellow Tony's pictures.


Anonymous said...

What a trip!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Um, thanks, Anonymous. It was an unusual hike.

Jennifer said...

Hahaha, I had to come back to post a comment to let you know it was me who said that. I accidentally checked anonymous when I posted. At first I thought, just let it be it doesn't matter. But after seeing your response I decided to say hi, it's me! lol