Archive for May 17th, 2010

Santa Rosa Plateau Fog Blog

Today the Santa Rosa Plateau (SRP) was covered with fog which occasionally reached down towards our home but remained mostly on the plateau.

I took the opportunity to visit the foggy plateau with the idea that I might be able to capture the fog burning off the plateau with my camera. Driving up to the plateau, only 5 minutes from our home, the fog became thicker the further west I traveled on the plateau and near the vernal pools the visibility was reduced to under 10 feet. I pulled into the vernal pools trail-head  parking lot, after carefully locating the parking lot entrance. Realizing that the fog was not going to lift for some time I decided to head back east to a lower part of the plateau where the visibility might be better.

I settled on the Hidden Valley trail-head parking lot to explore the plateau where the visibility was much better. The fog ebbed and flowed through the valleys and up the slopes creating dynamic soothing images. I had hoped that the sun would break through so I could capture some contrasting photos. The fog and overcast remained quite heavy and did not provide the best photo opportunities. I was able to capture a number of images that provide an accurate account of the changing fog conditions.

   

The Santa Rosa Plateau blanketed with fog – click on photo for a larger image.

  
 
 
TOP ROW: Common Mullein-not native (1,2), water droplets on grass, 
MIDDLE ROW: water droplets on spider web, Mariposa Lily, water droplets on foxtail grass 
BOTTOM ROW: , Elk thistle, water droplets on BIG spider’s web
CLICK on photo for a larger image.   

As the heavy fog begin to set in where I was located I decided to head up a trail that I hadn’t yet tried. I only intended on using the trail to gain some elevation so I would be in a position to watch the clearing fog over a larger vista. All I was doing however was moving into an area of denser fog. My camera equipment began to collect moisture looking more and more  like the water-droplet covered vegetation I had been photographing earlier. Realizing that there was going to be no fog burn-off today, I packed up the camera equipment to keep it dry. I continued on the same trail since I felt that I had already passed the half way point of the loop that would bring me back to the trail leading to the parking lot. I was now walking through a thick fog, well let’s face it, I was literally in the clouds. To be more accurate by western meterological terminology, I was actually, smack dab in the middle of  a marine layer that was coming off the Pacific Ocean and riding over the Santa Ana Mountains and lapping into the Temecula Valley.

Hiking on an unfamiliar trail in dense foggy conditions is an interesting experience. Intellectualy I knew I was going in the right direction and I was sure that the trail, well pretty sure, I was on connected to the trail that led back to the parking lot where I had left the car. The trail climbed a ridge adjacent to what appeared to be a deep ravine which was hidden from full view by the fog. Wrapping through oak woodlands the trail finally desended to a somewhat familiar area, but not entirely so. It appeared to be a portion of the Hidden Valley, but an area that I had not yet explored. While continuing on the trail in the fog covered valley the birds came vocally alive. The Acorn Woodpeckers cackled and laughed, while the Mourning Doves provided soothing coo’s. Other chips, chirps, and song were heard penetrating the thick fog. There were several sounds through the fog that did not sound of birds or amphibians. Having noticed a lot of  fresh scat and tracks of both bobcat and coyote along the trail, I wondered. . . . ? The trail did lead to the trail junction that led me back to the parking lot. 

I drove down from the plateau with the marine layer chasing my behind. I am looking forward to exploring this new trail once again when the visibility is better. I continue to be impressed by the many faces of the wonderful Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve.

The Adventure Continues  . . . . . .

Jim, Judy, and VELCRO