- Torrey Pines Extension & Crest Canyon - Del Mar
DIFFICULTY: EASY to MODERATE 2-3 miles (or less) PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Novice +, Professionals always welcome! ACCESS: Open to all, no charge [RAIN CANCELS THIS EVENT!] This trip is a yearly treat, and the trail won't change much but the plants and flowers and knowledge will be for the better! For 2019, we've had an extraordinary amount of rain and that means an extraordinary amount of bloom. We'll do a three part trip, with opportunities to head out after the Red Ridge trail, or continue on down the Margaret Fleming Trail to the canyon below with a completely different vegetation community and plant types. Instead of calling it a day - there's a third portion where we'll rejoin after lunch at Crest Canyon Park (just to the north). Crest Canyon has many similar environments and species, but is not as covered. We'll be more focused on doing stronger documentation including iNaturalist and tagging species for possible collections. Our CNPS San Diego Rare Plant Botanist Fred Roberts will join us to help identify and document the rare plants in both areas. RED RIDGE TRAIL: 9AM - 10:30AM From the parking area, the Red Ridge heads out over a rocky expanse of mesa top that has many rare species such as Wart stemmed Ceanothus (C. tomentosus), the Del Mar Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp crassifolia), and the very imperiled and rare (in the wild) Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana ssp torreyana). Some of the common natives in bloom will be Celeveland sage (Salvia clevelandii), San Diego monkeyflower (Diplacus puniceus), Scarlet larkspur (Delphinium cardinale), Broomrose (Heliathemum scoparium), Bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida), and bulbs/corms like Blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum). The halfway point is the red ridge which looks out over Torrey Pines State Park and the Pacific beyond. MARGARET FLEMING TRAIL: 10:30AM - 12:30PM Further down the canyon trail, there's other species than come in along side us including the rare Coastal barrel cactus (Ferocactus viridescens) and Ashy spike moss (Selaginella cinerascens). Down the canyon, bloomers change to species like Wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpa), California bee plant (Scrophularia californica), SoCal milkvetch (Astragalus trichopdos var lonchus), Coast morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia), and many different "goldenbushes". Expect to see and hear many nesting birds like California gnatcatcher, mourning dove, warblers, quail, hummingbirds, wrens and cedar waxwings. I've seen San Diego horned lizard here too. CREST CANYON: 1:30PM - 3:30PM+ After a quick lunch break, we'll meet again at the north trailhead on Durango Dr., just across Del Mar Hts Rd. (Where it turns to Lozana Rd). This portion of the trip will focus on finding rares in Crest Canyon and uploading them to iNaturalist. We'll be identifying morphological characters and the pace will be much slower as we employ a scientific method of transects off trail, and along the trail. In addition, we'll be looking for the extremely rare Dudleya brevifolia, which can often only be found in new areas when in bloom (April to May only). Bring any gear, lunch, snacks, and water suited to your plans for the day. There will be a few times during the day when we'll be close to the cars to head out. CARPOOL: Carpool will be available for anyone who might find it convenient, especially anyone using public transit. Arrive between 8:20 and 8:30AM at the Fashion Valley Transit Center Parking Lot (West side parking area of the Fashion Valley Mall near Fashion Valley Rd). Look for a black Toyota Tundra. Spaces may fill up, so please be prepared to drive. Carpool participants will be part of all three trail trips and may not return until 4PM. Parking is free for 24 hrs and has roving security at Fashion Valley Transit Center, however risks are the same as parking anywhere on the street. Message the group for alternatives.
- CNPS 2019 Garden Tour - Poway Area
San Diego California Native Plant Society 2019 Garden Tour - Inviting Nature Home This is a paid event that emphasizes use of native plants and low water use species in landscaping and gardens, fit for Central San Diego County. This two day Garden Tour supports planning costs and contributes to other chapter programs like scholarships, rare plant surveys, restoration, and gardening education through the CNPS-SD chapter 501(c)(3). While I will be a docent at a few of the gardens, this is a self guided tour. I look forward to see you on one or both days! COST: $30 per person online, $35 during tour weekend All the details can be found here: https://www.cnpssd.org/events/gardentour2019 CARPOOL: None offered. However, coordinating with other attendees can help reduce gasoline / miles and make for an excellent day with people with similar interests in native plant use in our sub-urban landscape.
- Algodones Dunes Camping or Day Trip - Imperial County
DIFFICULTY: EASY to MODERATE < 4 miles PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Any on Saturday, Professionals & CNPS / SD Botanical Society fellows on Sunday ACCESS: Open to all, no charge [ALL WEATHER EVENT] For everyone that missed the Algodones Dunes trip last year, here is your chance to jump in on a great repeat, with the extraordinary additions of Steve Hartman the CNPS Board President. Early April will hopefully have a great bloom of Algodones Dunes sunflower (Helianthus niveus ssp tephrodes), Giant spanish needle (Palafoxia arida var gigantea), Pierson's milkvetch (Astragalus magdalenae var piersonii), Sand food (Pholisma sonorae), and Fairyduster (Calliandra eriophylla) among other rare species and extreme desert endemic species. For Saturday, we'll meet up at the ranger station for orientation and a quick look for the odd sand food if present, then head over to the Osbourne Overlook to check out the dune ecosystem there. We're looking for the plants that amazingly grow and thrive in rolling sand. Following this, we'll head over to the microphyll woodlands, where abundant water below the surface creates an open woodland of ironwood (Olneya tesota), palo verde (Parkinsonia florida), and mesquites (Prosopsis sps). We'll have lunch under the shade of these trees before exploring a little more around the area for anything of interest. Afterwards, anyone who wants to stay to camp or stay in lodging nearby will wish our friends safe travels. That evening, we plan to do overnight dry camping in the desert, with some of the best stargazing in the whole state. In addition, it'll be a new moon. Sunday, we'll meet up at the ranger station once more to get anyone who is coming out for the CNPS rare plant survey. Right now, our intended target is the Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) 2B.2 as a landmark species but in addition, interesting listed species in the Hwy 78 / Ninemile Wash area like Argus blazing star (Mentzelia puberula), Chocolate mtns Coldenia (Tiquilia canescens var. pulchella), and Sand Evening Primrose (Chylismia arenaria). We'll do iNaturalist and CalFlora observations and Herbaria collections where possible. This portion of the trip is aimed at botanists specifically. We hope to finish by 4PM to get back home before dark. The desert can be dangerous if you are not prepared. Bring plenty of water (2 gallons per person per day at least), sunscreen, and light fully covering clothes. Even in early April, expect the temperature to be above 90F (32 C). Also, if driving, make sure your vehicle can handle sand, meaning high clearance. 4x4 and all wheel drive is preferred, but not necessary. Also be aware that sand and fine dust is everywhere and will get into everything. DRY CAMPING: No services or facilities will be available at the camping location. All the food, water, etc you bring in will need to be packed out. Remember, dig the hole before! Lanterns &/or flashlights will be needed, along with good sleeping bags and tents as it gets very cold at night. The chance to encounter scorpions over night is high, but this is offset by the possibility of seeing kangaroo rats bounce across the campsite! CARPOOL: I will offer carpool in my truck to those who want to camp. Please PM me head of time. Look for a black Toyota Tundra (three extra seats), leaving from Fashion Valley Mall Transit Center parking area nearest Fashion Valley Rd (west end of the mall) from 6:45 to 7:00 AM. Of course, for anyone who will day trip on Saturday only, be prepared to drive and bring along other Meetup people. Parking at the Transit Center parking lot is free for 24 hrs and is occasionally patrolled by security. That being said, the same risks apply there as to regular street parking. Donations for gas are welcome, but not required. ($20 is suggested to cover gas)
- Top of the Morning - Elsinore Peak - Riv Cnty w CNPS-OC
DIFFICULTY: EASY to MODERATE ~ 2 miles PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Novice, Professionals always welcome! ACCESS: Open to all, no charge VEHICLES REQUIRE a USFS Adventure Pass [$30 Annual pass or $5 day pass] [SEVERE WEATHER CANCELS EVENT] This trip will be set in the backyard of Orange County and San Diego County atop the ridge of the Santa Ana Mtns on the far western edge of Riverside County. We're doing another joint trip with Ron Vanderhoff of Orange County CNPS, a great botanist who will help the group identify some of the extremely rare species we're hoping to find. There are locations on the mountain where good years produce Munz Onion (Allium munzii), Hammitt's claycress (Sibaropsis hammittii), and Paniculate tarplant (Deinandra paniculata). While we likely won't find all of those very rare species, there is very likely going to be a great bloom of Chocolate lilies (Fritillaria bicolor), Goldfields (Lasthenia sps), Clarkia sps), Onions (Allium sps), Monkeyflowers (Diplacus [prev. Mimulus] sps), Lupines (Lupinus sps), Peony (Paeonia californica), Sanicle (Sanicula sps), and much more! Elsinore Peak is the southern most of the Santa Ana Mountain peaks and offers an unusual habitat of grasslands with some coastal sage scrub and coastal chaparral. The area near the peak stands out for botanists due to its inland & coastal influence and unusual foundation of basalt rock like the nearby Santa Rosa Plateau. The specific stops for our visit will depend upon current conditions and the season’s always unpredictable bloom. We may explore the area just below the peak for spring wildflowers then visit the site along S. Main Divide Road of the 2013 “Falls” fire. Depending upon the group, there's a lot of diversions and trails in this area so let us know what you are most interested in! We may also get to see some of the many fire followers that take over the mountain in the years after a burn. Ron describes thousands of Fire poppies (Papaver californicum), rare Spineflowers (Chorizanthe sps), Larkspurs (Delphinium parishii), Penstemon sps, Wild cabbage (Caulanthus sps), Whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora), and others. Pack a lunch and suitable gear and clothing to handle either cold or heat. The temps shouldn't get above mid 80's, but there is the possibility of rain. Keep a cautious eye out for rattlesnakes, and know that the most dangerous thing we'll encounter will likely be slips / falls and ORVs. Come prepared with plenty of water. VEHICLES: The compacted earth road on the ridge area is fine for all vehicles, though rains may cause rutting so high clearance is recommended if possible. CARPOOL: TWO LOCATIONS I will provide my truck (black Toyota Tundra) with three seats from Fashion Valley Mall Transit Center parking area nearest Fashion Valley Rd (west end of the mall) from 7:20 to 7:30 AM. Be prepared to drive if space fills up. Parking at the Transit Center parking lot is free for 24 hrs and is occasionally patrolled by security. That being said, the same risks apply there as to regular street parking. Donations for gas are welcome, but not required. The roundtrip is about 160 miles. Expect to return to Fashion Valley after 3:30PM. Ron Vanderhoff will meet those closer to Orange County at Bravo Burgers, 31722 Rancho Viejo Rd., San Juan Capistrano (just off Hwy 74 near Int. 5) at 8AM. Mention the field trip and you're in!
- Valley of the Moon - Imperial County
DIFFICULTY: Easy to Moderate (Rocky Terrain) <2 miles PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Expert. Professionals always welcome! ACCESS: Free to All, No charge. 4x4 required unless carpooling. [EXTREME WEATHER CANCELS THIS EVENT] Just over the border into SW Imperial County, a small pocket of the California Floristic Province jumps over into the Jacumba Wilderness Area. This heavily rocky area is strewn with granitic boulders and sheer cliffs of stacked rocks, making it a great and relatively discrete location for rock climbing, bouldering, camping, and hiking. Valley of the Moon is also known for its sometimes sordid past (and present) with caves in the rocks called Smugglers Den. We'll be headed out to look for a variety of rare and common native plant species. With the great rains this winter, I expect we'll be in for quite a treat. If you're not excited by that, at least there's the Desert Tower nearby! This is a primary location to find the somewhat rare [4.3], but always striking, Wolf cholla (Cylindropuntia wolfii) and rarer [2B.3] Slenderleaf Isomopsis (Isomopsis tenuifolia), both just starting to bloom in March. There will hundreds of native plant species within this desert transition zone, some of which only are found around here unless you want to head down into Baja California. The main veg communities are desert scrub, grasslands, and juniper - pinyon woodland. Expect to see blooming Fremont's pincushion (Chaenactis fremontii), Whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora), Desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), Wild canterbury bells (Phacelia minor), chia sage (Salvia columbariae), and a host of tiny little blooming plants like Cryptanthas, goldfields (Lasthenia sps), lupines, gilias, comb burs (Pectocarya sps), and pholistomas. That's just a few of the annuals. The perennials and shrubs in bloom include dozens of more species in this area. Valley of the Moon can be difficult to access, so many people park at the trailhead and hike in. If we can get enough 4x4 vehicles (such as my truck), we'll be able to get all the way back into the valley. Expect some danger such as rattlesnakes and biting insects, but the main things to avoid are falling off rocks, messing with any of the stashed caches (see below), and dehydration. Come prepared for sun and maybe even a little heat. This meandering hike will last until the early afternoon at least so bring a lunch as well. There are no services away from the highway. We will run across Border Patrol agents doing their thing. We may come across migrants (though unlikely) and (more likely) stashes of water, food and provisions for their journey northwards. We also may come across military patrols doing... whatever they do, I guess. Please do not engage with any of the above except for a polite hello or short conversation. I recommend reading a bit about the area before going and that includes this very recent blog post by Fred Roberts, our CNPS-San Diego / Imperial County Rare Plant Guy: https://www.cnpssd.org/chapter-blog/2019/2/5/rare-plants-of-imperial-county CARPOOL: There will be at least one vehicle (Black Toyota Tundra 4x4) that can fit an additional two or three people (seating preference always given to mass transit riders) available from 7:30 to 7:45 AM at the Fashion Valley Transit Station parking lot (near Fashion Valley Rd). Parking in the transit area lot is free for 24 hrs and has an occasional security guard on circuit, but keep in mind there are the same risks to parking there as any public street. If the seats fill up, be prepared to drive. Roundtrip from Mission Valley is about 150 miles. Donations for gas are not necessary but are appreciated ($10 suggested). If anyone going has access to 4x4 vehicle, please let me know and we'll figure out an amenable course of action to improve the carpool situation. Thank you!
- Whale Peak and the Pictograph Trail Falls
DIFFICULTY: EASY 2.5 miles and/or HARD 8.5 miles PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Novice, Professionals always welcome! ACCESS: Open to all, no charge [SEVERE WEATHER CANCELS EVENT (Temps above 95F or storm/flood)] Last year, we made a great loop about Anza Borrego State Park's Little Blair Valley, also known as the Mohave Pocket for the wide array of Mohavean species that survive there separated from their kin to the far North. Now, we're headed back for a two part trip to the falls on Pictograph Trail to the falls overlook (the Easy part), and then for the adventurous - a strenuous climb up Whale Peak and back (the Hard part). Whale Peak is known for many odd desert species that grow there, some not known anywhere where else. The unique species for the area are Single leaved skunkbrush (Rhus aromatica var simplicifolia) and Borrego bedstraw (Galium angustifolium ssp borregoense). Other rare species we hope to catch in bloom will be Pygmy lotus (Acmispon haydonii), Desert ayenia (Ayenia compacta), Intermediate larkspur (delphinium parishii ssp subglobosum), Spearleaf (Matelea parvifolia), and Fairyduster (Calliandra eriophylla). The common species there are still interesting including the many cactus species like Opuntia basilaris, barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus), cholla (Cylindropuntia sps), Calico cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii), and the cute fish hook cactus (Mammilaria dioica) and dozens of others. For those that were present during the December Chapter Meeting for San Diego CNPS in Balboa Park (every 3rd Tuesday evening of the month), you might have heard Curator of Botany at the NAT Jon Rebman mention Whale Peak for some interesting ferns. We'll do our best to find the Viscid lace fern (Myriopteris viscida) and any other ferns that might be green in March. In any case, this trip is geared for anyone looking to see plants they've never seen before on a quick morning trip along a great trail filled with natural history AND for those looking to add to our collection of botanical knowledge in the State Park and San Diego County. For the rare plants, we'll be taking diagnostic photos and posting to iNaturalist as well as adding any new plants not on the known Plant Atlas list that may pop up from the excellent desert rains this year. Pack snacks and water for the short trip and a full lunch and suitable gear and clothing for the longer hike. The temperature could get hot even in March, or could be freezing cold with a stiff breeze, so keep an eye on the forecast. Keep a cautious eye out for rattlesnakes! The most dangerous thing we'll encounter will likely be cactus, falls, and the heat. For any desert trip, come prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and a good hat. VEHICLES: The road up into the trailhead at Pictograph Trail can be sandy, but I've seen low clearance vehicles park there too. High clearance with good tires is best. CARPOOL: I will provide my truck (black Toyota Tundra) with three seats from Fashion Valley Mall Transit Center parking area nearest Fashion Valley Rd (west end of the mall) from 6:45 to 7:00 AM. I will be gone for the whole time, so joining my carpool commits you to the whole day. Be prepared to drive if space fills up or you only intend to do the short hike. Parking at the Transit Center parking lot is free for 24 hrs and is occasionally patrolled by security. That being said, the same risks apply there as to regular street parking. Donations for gas are welcome, but not required. The roundtrip is about 160 miles. Expect to return to Fashion Valley about 6 PM, perhaps sooner.
- BORDER BIO BLITZ! Tijuana River Valley or Otay Mtn, & Otay Mesa Vernal Pools
DIFFICULTY: EASY to MODERATE ~ 2+ miles PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Novice to Professional ACCESS: Open to all, no charge [ALL WEATHER EVENT] UPDATE: Rain expected all day Saturday. Come prepared! Choose between a Coastal team meeting at the Tijuana Estuary Research Center at right OR an Otay Mountain Team meeting at Mountain Hawk Park (1475 Lake Crest Dr, Chula Vista, CA 91915) at 8am this Saturday 3/2/2019. Both teams will meet after lunch (2PM) for a very rare access to the Otay Mesa Vernal Pool Site. Please message me or the group to work out any confusion. Also, PLEASE HAVE iNATURALIST ON YOUR PHONE WITH A FULL BATTERY. Thanks, and see you Saturday morning OR afternoon. This Border Bioblitz is sponsored by Botanical Community Development Initiatives (BCDI) http://nextgensd.com/border/border-bioblitz-2019/ https://www.facebook.com/events/600536127054300/ In joint coordination with Ron Vanderhoff of CNPS - Orange County Chapter and Bianca Bonilla, Executive Director of BCDI we'll be headed out for a great opportunity to contribute to science in one of the most imperiled areas in our state, and perhaps even the country. Biologists representing the San Diego Natural History Museum will be leading two separate same-day trips. We're contributing heavily to an exciting citizen science program at one our country's most impacted and controversial development sites. At the Southern US Border with Mexico, the US has erected many different barriers (to variable degrees of intended success), pushing back against a dense crash of civilization from both sides. From the Tijuana River estuary and Border Field State Park south of Imperial Beach to San Ysidro and further east into Otay Mesa, an amazing and unique array of habitat that exist in a constant state of threat. The Bio Blitz program aims to identify and log as many species as possible along a team transect (area & path through that area). As we come across different species of plants, we'll take their picture and upload them to iNaturalist, a mobile app that contributes mightily to citizen driven data gathering. Whether the plant is known or not, the data we get will help to protect these sensitive and threatened environments from destruction in the future. After orientation, we'll head to a location near the border that will assigned based on our team size. This field trip will be geared towards gathering data with teams of dedicated people who are looking to both learn about the border area and the plants and wildlife that live within. The Border Bio-blitz portion will be in the morning until lunch and then afterwards, a great treat: we'll get a custom tour of a vernal pool complex engineered by one of most experienced environmental consultants in Southern California, Scott McMillan. Bring snacks and solid gear for any weather, including sunscreen and water. Please familiarize yourself with iNaturalist on your smart phone if you haven't used the app before. We'll upload all data to the San Diego Plant Atlas Project. If you have a good macro lens camera that can upload the pics to the internet, you can share the pics that way as well. We'll be meeting at one of two locations (above) for a brief orientation on methodology, survey boundaries, and team formation. We will likely then carpool to the BioBlitz locations. CARPOOL: I will provide my truck (black Toyota Tundra) with three (maybe 4) seats from Fashion Valley Mall Transit Center parking area nearest Fashion Valley Rd (west end of the mall) from 7:00 to 7:10 AM. Be prepared to drive if space fills up. Parking at the Transit Center parking lot is free for 24 hrs and is occasionally patrolled by security. That being said, the same risks apply there as to regular street parking. Donations for gas are welcome, but not required. The roundtrip is about 42 miles. Expect to return to Fashion Valley around 4 PM. We will be driving to the Estuary for the 8AM orientation.
- Lake Morena - Search for Ribes canthariforme
DIFFICULTY: MODERATE 3-4 miles PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Novice +, Professionals always welcome! ACCESS: Open to all, no charge [RAIN CANCELS THIS EVENT!] This trip will be our first technical event geared towards ID'ing and discovering historical populations of a rare plant. The Moreno Currant (Ribes canthariforme) is listed as a 1B.3 rare plant species by CNPS, partly due to it's narrow distribution (El Cajon Mtn to Lake Morena, and Dulzura to Descanso) and difficulty in distinguishing from more common species like Ribes indecorum and R. malvaceum. While I've pinned Lake Morena's dam area as the hot spot for historical populations, we may look nearby depending on trail access. Hopefully, we'll be working with the Forest Service on this one, targeting areas that may become developed in the future. If possible, we'll do collections for various herbariums and also placing data on CalFlora and iNaturalist. If the shut down persists that far into the year, we'll stick to environs about the Lake Morena County Park and that portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Please bring along any data collection equipment such as good macro cameras, hiking gear, and plenty of water. We should be done by lunchtime, but there's never any harm in bringing snacks! Please keep checking in on this one as details will change as the status of our permits and access will change over the next month. CARPOOL: I will provide my truck (black Toyota Tundra) with three (maybe 4) seats from Fashion Valley Mall Transit Center parking area nearest Fashion Valley Rd (west end of the mall) from 7:45 to 8:00 AM. Be prepared to drive if space fills up. Parking at the Transit Center parking lot is free for 24 hrs and is occasionally patrolled by security. That being said, the same risks apply there as to regular street parking. Donations for gas are welcome, but not required.
- Painted Gorge & Mtn Palm Springs (ABSP)
UPDATE 2/8/19: The trip is a go! The weather looks good in the forecast: mid 60's and partly cloudy over the area. Expect it to be breezy with cold winds for most of the morning. DIFFICULTY: MODERATE 4 miles PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Novice, Professionals always welcome! ACCESS: Open to all, no charge [ALL WEATHER EVENT] We'll be doing a two part trip on this winter Sunday, going from an area in Imperial County that is heavily disturbed by different types of human activities to a similar ecosystem that has had the benefit of restricted land use management under the umbrella of the State Park. It'll be a first hand account of both areas to compare and contrast different impacts and the resiliency of the desert ecosystem. After joining up as a group, we'll make our way past the windmills and mines of Ocotillo to the Painted Gorge of western Imperial County. Painted Gorge is a popular destination for geologists, fossil hunters, snowbirds, and off roaders. From the iron stained canyonsides, we'll poke around to mark the species and density of the life in the area, taking pictures and discussing the future of Imperial County and the Salton Sea. We'll add what we can to iNaturalist as this area is not very well documented. Next, a short drive away is Anza Borrego State Park and the extraordinarily different environments found in each canyon and valley floor. The Mtn Palm Springs holds records of the seldom seen Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla) and an abundance of desert life. I hope to time the hike just right so we have lunch in the shade of the palm oasis. On the the first known of the western visitors to the oasis was Frank Gander [masked]), one of the most prolific plant hunters in the history of San Diego. The desert has gotten a good bit of rain lately and is already blooming with a low carpet of annuals. I hope we'll see Parish's desert thorn (Lycium parishii), Velvet mallow (Horsfordia newberryi), maybe Hairy stickleaf (Mentzelia hirsutissima) and of course the Elephant tree for the rare species. As for the other natives, there will be plenty of cactus, microphyll trees, ocotillos, and creosote for that iconic Sonoran desert palette. There is always something new to find in places seldom trodden. Pack a lunch and suitable gear and clothing to handle both cold or heat. The temps shouldn't get above mid 70's, but there is the possibility of getting soaked in February. Keep a cautious eye out for rattlesnakes and sidewinders, and know that the most dangerous thing we'll encounter will likely be the cholla and dehydration. For any desert trip, come prepared with plenty of water. VEHICLES: We'll be driving on compacted sand roads which may or may not be graded when we go. I expect to encounter little to no serious issues, but try to carpool if your vehicle can't handle soft sand. CARPOOL: I will provide my truck (black Toyota Tundra) with three (maybe 4) seats from Fashion Valley Mall Transit Center parking area nearest Fashion Valley Rd (west end of the mall) from 7:20 to 7:30 AM. Be prepared to drive if space fills up. Parking at the Transit Center parking lot is free for 24 hrs and is occasionally patrolled by security. That being said, the same risks apply there as to regular street parking. Donations for gas are welcome, but not required. The roundtrip is about 240 miles. Expect to return to Fashion Valley after 3:30PM.
- Escondido Creek - Elfin Forest to Olivenhain Overlook
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Hard (Steep Terrain) 4 miles PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Expert. Professionals always welcome! ACCESS: Free to All, No charge. Donations to the Escondido Creek Conservancy provide valuable support for local native lands. [RAIN CANCELS THIS EVENT] This pocket of San Diego County is known locally for it's extraordinary beauty and history. If the Difficulty didn't already scare you off, the dangers are wildfire, rattlesnakes, falls, the vapors, mountain lions, and definitely poison oak. Only a few of those issues should be any concern this time, since we'll be headed up the trail in the San Diego winter (or summer-lite depending on where you are from). The area has a unique history, from the once thriving Harmony Grove spiritual center not far east to the Olivenhain Dam [built 20 years ago] and the ever expanding footprint of San Marcos and Escondido. I picked this location because late January is the blooming period for Mission Manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor), White coast ceanothus (Ceanothus veroccosus), Southern mtn misery (Chamaebatia australis) [Keir found one in 2013], and White currant (Ribes indecorum). Comarostaphylis diversifolia is also found along the way if we take a very quick detour off the main trail onto the loop trail. Encinitas baccharis (Baccharis vanessae) has been sighted near the top so we'll look for it if there is enough time. Once we can make it up to the reservoir overlook, there are a few rare habitats that contain not often seen annual plants (though it will be too early for most). Bring your usual gear and a picnic lunch as I hope to have a bite to eat before we head down from one of the rest stops with shade and tables. The trail is steep in parts so have excellent hiking shoes that you might not mind getting a little muddy. CARPOOL: There will be at least one vehicle (Black Toyota Tundra) that can fit an additional two people (seating preference always given to mass transit riders) available from 6:50 to 7:05 AM at the Fashion Valley Transit Station parking lot (near Fashion Valley Rd). Parking in the transit area lot is free for 24 hrs and has an occasional security guard on circuit, but keep in mind there are the same risks to parking there as any public street. If the seats fill up, be prepared to drive. Roundtrip from Mission Valley is about 60 miles. Donations for gas are not necessary but are appreciated ($5-10 per person). UPDATE: 01/09/19 - Due to a special use permit conflict, the attendance limit and start time have been affected. Apologies if this complicates your plans to attend. Only sign ups will be allowed to keep the group limit at or below 14. FINAL UPDATE: 01/18/19 - The trip is a go. The trail will be muddy so bring extra socks. The only carpool I am offering is from Mission Valley, unless you guys can figure out an independent alternative.