Santa Rosa Plateau – Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Coyote Trail – Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve – Late Summer

Realizing that the next several days would be creeping towards three-digit temperatures, I decided to head to the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve (SRP) yesterday morning since the temperature was still reasonable.

It was 68 degrees at 8:00 AM when I headed towards the SRP.  During the five minute drive, YES it is nice to live so close to the SRP, I passed the fire station going up the hill to the plateau – Fire Conditions Warning sign read, “HIGH!” 

I had decided to hike a nice 3-mile loop in the center of the preserve which I last hiked in early June. I pulled in to the Hidden Valley parking lot and headed out on the Coyote trail. This was my first summer visit to the SRP and the bunchgrass prairie was very dry reinforcing the message on the Fire Conditions sign. Rounding a corner in a shady spot on the trail I encountered a wonderful creature just off the trail. Judy and I had learned several weeks ago from one of the SRP rangers that the tarantulas were quite active on the plateau during the night (SRP is only open to the public from dawn till dusk). I didn’t expect to encounter one of these wonderful creatures during the day, but there it was. Not the most handsome hairy creature allowed me to photograph him at will. I left him undisturbed and we parted our ways as I went on.  At the junction of the Coyote trail and the Trans-reserve trail I continued my hike on the Trans-reserve trail.

The Trans-reserve trail runs through a beautiful riparian oak woodlands ravine. It is a beautiful stretch of trail with lots of vegetation. The Poison Oak leaves were displaying their fall colors and the Holly-leaf Redberry were showing off as well. This is also a spot where signs of wildlife abound. Animal tracks, scat, scratching, bedding areas, and animal trails are everywhere – watch your step! This surely is one of the preserves major watering holes for wildlife. Now in late summer the water source is dry. I plan to come back to this area to just sit (inconspicuously) with hopes of observing the wildlife activity. I suspect the best time will be spring to early summer when there is an adequate water supply in non-drought years.

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Climbing out of the beautiful ravine the trail rises back up to bunchgrass prairie and leads to a trail junction. The Historical Adobes can be seen only .5 miles away from that junction. I continued on the Trans-preserve trail passing one of my favorite scenic spots – the wooden trail bridge in the bunchgrass prairie. At the junction of the Trans-reserve trail and Hidden Valley Road I took Hidden Valley Road back towards the parking lot.

Prairie Bunchgrass wooden bridge – Spring and late Summer

The change of seasons in Southern California is certainly different and much more subtle from what we were used to in SE Pennsylvania. I am finding however that they are just as impressive if you take the time to take notice and observe. Unfortunately, most people do not take the time to enjoy and learn from their immediate surroundings.

I arrived back at the car a little after 10 AM and it was getting warm. In just two hours the temperature had risen from 70 degrees to 85 degrees. I took the time to read the EXCESSIVE HEAT warning at the trail head, it would probably have been better if I read it before I started my hike. However, I was carrying the suggested amount of water (1 liter for short hikes, 1 gallon for longer hikes) for my hike and headed home feeling refreshed and happy. Oh, it is so nice that my therapy is only 5 minutes away from home – We are blessed!


SRP WILDFIRE VIDEO  – Time-lapse video, CHECK it out – Watch out for the hummingbirds!

While preparing to pay bills, a task that I thought was supposed to end when you retired, I was working on the computer and casually listening to the news. I heard a newscaster thanking an individual for sending photos of the “WILDFIRE ON THE SANTA ROSA PLATEAU!” “What,” I thought and immediately recalled the FIRE CONDITIONS WARNING sign at the fire station earlier in the day.

I jumped up from the computer and ran to the family room where I saw smoke billowing from the plateau. I thought, “OH NO,” the beautiful place I had visited earlier in the day was now going up in flames.

As it turned out the fire was actually across the road from the SRP.  It burned 85 acres and was put out quickly. The fire suppression response to these wildfires is very impressive. The response to this fire brought: 2 Helicopters (still working today), 1 Air Attack, 6 Air Tankers, 10 Fire Crews (280 fire fighters), 4 Water Tenders, 2 Bulldozers, 33 Engines, and 6 Overhead Personnel – Source: Riverside County Fire Department Incident Report.

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Clinton Keith Road is the main access road to the SRP and has been closed since the fire began yesterday (local escorted traffic only) while they continue to do the clean-up work.  This is a simple sacrifice to deal with while allowing our wonderful public servants protect those things that our precious to us.

The CA Settlers
Jim, Judy, and VELCRO

Travel is fatal to bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and prejudice! 
Mark Twain

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