Field Trips Log
January 2005

Saturday, 15 January 2005 (Mt. Wilson Trail, San Gabriel Mts)

Not really a field trip, this was rather just a hike up the Mt. Wilson Trail as far as First Waters to determine what kind of shape the trail is in after the incredible rainfall we have had in December and January (about 33" at my house in Sierra Madre!) Surprisingly the trail is in pretty good shape. This trail has some dedicated volunteer caretakers, and it was clear that they had jumped on the problems that did exist as soon as dry weather resumed. In fact we passed several workers coming down with shovels over their shoulders.

Being a Saturday and not having been able to hike in several weeks, there were a lot of people going up and down this morning. There were a few muddy spots at the beginning, and some places where there had been some slope slippage and minor earth movements onto the trail, but these had been fixed already. There was a great deal of water pouring down the canyon, more than I've ever seen before, and it made a roaring noise as we ascended the trail. A couple of Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team vehicles had been parked down at the bottom, which made us worry, but when we did encounter the group with their litters and other equipment, it was apparent that they were just on a training exercise.

Still being early in the season, not a whole lot was blooming, but I did see wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpus), white nightshade (Solanum douglasii), chickweed (Stellaria media), small-seeded spurge (Chamaesyce polycarpa), a single stinging lupine (Lupinus hirsutissimus), California everlasting (Gnaphalium californicum), wishbone bush (Mirabilis californica), canyon sweetpea (Lathyrus vestitus), and some hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), along with some introduced sweet alyssum, redstem filaree and Bermuda buttercups.

16 January 2005 (Daley Ranch, San Diego County)

This was my first field trip of 2005, and to a place I had never been before, Daley Ranch in northern San Diego County. I planned to meet my friend Tom Chester, and we were joined by James Dillane, who I have hiked with before at Anza-Borrego and who is one of the Daley Ranch naturalists, Wayne Armstrong of Palomar College whose websites I have often consulted, and a friend of his, Steve Disparti. Several other people accompanied us including a docent at Torrey Pines whom I met down there last fall. Daley Ranch is a beautiful 3,058-acre parcel of natural vegetation including southern oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grasslands and riparian areas with miles of good hiking.

A website of the City of Escondido says that "The hills and valleys of Daley Ranch were once frequented by native Californians of the Kumeyaay and other local tribes. Evidence of their presence is found in the soot-stained ceilings of boulder caves which provided shelter and in the mortars ground into the boulder tops that were used for food preparation. In 1869, Robert Daley became the first European to settle in the valley, building a log cabin and later laying claim to the property in 1875. A number of ranch structures remain as a living history of early ranch operations, when the property was used as a dairy. The ranch is one of the best examples of a preserved historic ranch house with related outbuildings in their original setting anywhere in the County."

There were several specific things that Tom had on his plant guide that I was interested in seeing, but the species I was most eager to become acquainted with was the California adder's-tongue (Ophioglossum californicum), an uncommon member of the Ophioglossaceae family. Our original plan had been to botanize the Rock Ridge trail, but James informed us when he arrived that it was closed, so we decided to head toward the Ranch House and go north from there on the eastern side of the Jack Creek Meadow Loop to the beginning of the Hidden Springs trail and start a plant guide there. On the way, James knew of a couple of locations where we could look for the Ophioglossum. The first place was on another closed road, so we continued to a second location, and after some diligent searching we found some, although they were still tiny and had not developed very much. But James knew of yet another location, so I was still hopeful of getting a decent picture.

The trails (roads really) were quite muddy in many places, a residual effect of the recent storms, and we had to share the route with hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. The Ramona lilac or woollyleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus tomentosus) is showing a good bloom on many individual shrubs, and on the drier parts of the trail toward the beginning there was quite a bit of Cryptantha, although by the time we decided to try to key out its species, it had disappeared. Other things that were starting to bloom were some Parry's phacelia (Phacelia parryi), white-
flowering current (Ribes indecorum), four o'clock (Mirabilis californica), broom matchweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), and the red form of sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus). I also saw a couple of redmaids (Calandrinia ciliata). Two interesting things we saw which I would have overlooked unless they had been pointed out were two introduced species, gray hernieria (Hernieria hirsuta), blooming, and the so-called wild carnation or hairypink (Petrorhagia dubia), not blooming. We had some questions about the subspecies of the hernieria because it appeared to have characteristics of both subspecies. Tom observed two separate styles on one flower which fits ssp. cinerea, while Wayne and I noted a two-branched style which fits ssp. hirsuta. Wayne felt the hairs were clearly straight which fits ssp. hirsuta, while I saw definite hooked tips on many of the hairs, which fits ssp. cinerea. According to the Jepson Manual, only ssp. cinerea should be in the area, but this must be a fairly recent introduction because it is not even in Munz's Flora. So either both subspecies are present, or there is hybridization going on which implies that both species are present.

Once we started the trail guide, everyone except Margaret, James, Tom and I grew impatient at the slow pace and decided to continue on the loop on their own. I photographed some beautiful blooming ropevine (Clematis pauciflora), which was new to me, as well as mariposa rush (Juncus dubius) and ramona horkelia (Horkelia truncata). Finally we got to the last Ophioglossum locality, and now that we had a mental image of what to look for, we were able to find them at once. And these were much better developed, with the little spore-bearing stalk sticking up from one or sometimes a pair of sterile leaves. See photo here. It is a strange little plant, very un-
fernlike, with lanceolate green leaves only about an inch long emerging from the soil. There is another species in Northern California, but this is the only one here.

It turned out to be almost a 9-mile hike, and it was getting dark when we returned to our cars, but the company had been excellent, the day had been beautiful, and there had been botanical rewards aplenty.

29 January 2005 (Mission Creek Preserve/Pipes Canyon Preserve)

Ever since I was introduced to Ziziphus parryi (lotebush) several years ago on a field trip with Lorrae Fuentes of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, I have been trying to find it in bloom. We were at the Mission Creek Preserve in the Morongo Pass area, and it was late in the spring, so there was no evidence of either fruit or flowers. I went back the following year a little earlier in the season with the same result. Munz's Flora has Feb-Apr as its blooming period, so last year I went in March to find that it was already in fruit. So this year I decided that I would go in January and keep going until I found it in bloom.

The Mission Creek Preserve is owned by the Wildlands Conservancy and is located in a transitional zone between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, and between the San Bernardino Mts and the Little San Bernardinos. Mt. San Jacinto provides a massive backdrop to the south. Coming from Los Angeles, you exit the 10 on Rt. 62 going toward Yucca Valley and 29 Palms. Drive about 5.7 miles to Mission Creek Road (a dirt road), turn left, and proceed approximately 2-1/4 miles to the gated entrance and parking area. Later in the year, Mission Creek is usually dry, but with all the recent rains there was a good deal of water flowing down the wash today.

You have the option of either walking up the road or picking your way up the rocky wash, which is an easy thing to do but takes more time to get to where the lotebush is located. The road passes several empty stone buildings and continues for at least several miles. The lotebush is about a mile up the road and that is as far as I have gone. It was clear that the blooming season has begun here at the elevation of about 1500', and on the way in I saw many Fremont's pincushions (Chaenactis fremontii), numerous popcornflowers (Cryptantha sp.), desert dandelions (Malacothrix glabrata), California mustards (Guillenia lasiophylla), phacelias and bright yellow brittlebushes (Encelia farinosa). Near the gate itself there was bladderpod (Isomeris arborea)and desert-fir (Peucephyllum schottii), and walking up the road, I passed royal goldfields (Lasthenia coronaria) beginning to cover the ground, mustard evening primrose (Camissonia californica), green encelia (Encelia virginensis), chia (Salvia columbariae), common fiddlenecks (Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia), a single Coulter's lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus), and a lot of white fiesta flower (Pholistoma membranaceum), redstem filaree (Erodium cicutarium) and desert chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana).

There is a point where the road splits, following the wash if you take the left fork, and winding up around some small hills if you take the right. And it is along and on top of these hills that the lotebush is located. And Glory be! It was in bloom. The inflorescences are more or less umbellulate, and the greenish-yellow flowers have a hypanthium surrounding the base of the ovary, with five prominent sepals and five stamens. You have to look closely to perceive the five tiny petals that sort of hide behind and are not much bigger than the stamens. See pictures here. The twigs are thorn-tipped so be careful as you are handling it. It is a good-size shrub (to 10' or 12' tall) and there are a couple of them along the road on the left, and many more up on the hillside above. When I climbed up there, I also found some blooming desert asters (Xylorhiza tortifolia var. tortifolia).

The second part of my trip today was to investigate the Pipes Canyon Preserve, which is another piece of Wild-
lands Conservancy property. To get there, you continue 14.5 miles along Rt. 62 from Mission Creek Rd. to Yucca Valley, where you turn left on Pioneertown Rd., following it for 7-1/2 miles to Pipes Canyon Rd. (also dirt) where there is a sign. Approximately one mile up the road you come to a series of parking areas and a wooden Visitor Center. Here the main options are to walk up the Pipes Creek wash (the trail has been damaged in the recent rains and were it not for the trail posts it would be difficult to follow except that the wash itself is obvious) or to turn off to the left after about 1-1/2 miles and follow a loop around for 5-1/2 miles back to the parking area. If you continue up the wash itself, the road apparently goes for about 15 miles and comes out somewhere on Rt. 39 up in the San Bernardino Mts. It used to be a publicly accessible 4-wheel drive road until the Wildlands Conser-
vancy bought the property and gated it off, something that has apparently caused a great deal of bad feeling toward them.

In any case, it was clear that at around 4000', Pipes Canyon is still in the grip of winter, and the only flowers I saw were a few tiny Cryptanthas or Plagiobothryses, and some of the ubiquitous redstem filarees. I met a Ranger in Mission Creek last year, and he told me that Pipes Canyon is a really beautiful area for wildflowers, so I will return there later in the spring.