Soberanes Canyon Trail Reopens!

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A Lorquin’s Admiral near the mouth of the Soberanes Canyon Trail.

Soberanes Canyon Trail, shut for nearly two years after a forest fire devastated over 312,000 acres in the Big Sur area, is now open. This is one of my favorite places to hike, ford streams and be among old growth redwoods. My sister from Southern Illinois joined me in what was often parade-like as we “marched” past wildflowers and butterflies. I spotted an Lorquin’s Admiral just ten minutes into the walk. Good to be back.

On a more sober note. The person(s) responsible for the illegal campfire that triggered the blaze has never been found. Some Big Sur trails are still closed. The local economic loss has been staggering. We lost wildlife and its habitat, ancient redwoods as well as one human life taken during the recovery.

What’s Been Eating Our Nasturtiums?

DSC_0010We have quail, small birds and a gopher or two in our front yard, but that wasn’t fully explaining what was chewing the nasturtiums to the nub. Found the answer yesterday. A wild rabbit,white tail and all, is scoping out the neighborhood for food.  It’s a jungle out there. A few days ago a coyote was spotted down the street.

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When River Meets Ocean…

DSC_0091.JPGWith the assistance of bulldozers during the rainy winter season, the Carmel River Lagoon flows into the Pacific Ocean at Carmel River State Beach.  Without this man-made beaching, nearby homes would be subject to flooding. This year’s breach seems premature as it hasn’t rained much. I don’t understand why homes were built on the edge of a lagoon. Politics? Money? Well, the sandbag business is brisk. The beach, meanwhile, is severed in half. As shown in this photo, the current from the lagoon is too strong to allow foot traffic to get to the other side of the beach. Other issues include the effect of breaching on steelhead trout. In prior years the breaching “meandered” to slow down the current for spawning fish. This year’s effort appears to be a straight shot. Water, too much or too little and its cost, is always an issue here.

A Fire’s Aftermath

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Stripped ridge line outside of the town of Big Sur.

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Standing on Highway One, I took a shot of the burnt hills outside of Big Sur.

We drove south to Big Sur (the town) yesterday for the first time since the devastating man-triggered forest fire that killed wildlife and stripped the hills and valleys of vegetation last July. Highway One remains closed a short distance after Big Sur. Businesses in the town are open, but the economy has been hit hard by the loss of traffic from the Los Angeles area.

Monday’s Path: The TSE

 

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A practice eclipse photo taken yesterday.

Today a 67 mile wide path of daytime darkness–a total solar eclipse– will cut across the United States. I’ll be in California, south of the path, and will only get a 78 percent eclipse–my sister in Southern Illinois will get the full package, in fact, she’ll have more darkness time-wise than in any other part of the country.

I have several nearby friends who have driven hundreds of miles to get a better view of an event that hasn’t happened since 1918. To clarify, the last total solar eclipse to travel across the entire country was 99 years ago. I witnessed one in 1979 that could only be seen in a northwest area of the United States. It was a memorable moment, enough so that 78 percent today will suffice.

I practiced taking TSE shots yesterday. Don’t expect I’ll do that well today, but I will be out there with my tripod in the middle of a field, hoping to get a partial without ruining my camera or my eyesight.

Short Term Fire…

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A few days ago I walked out of Starbucks in Prunedale, California at 10:50 a.m.  As I walked to my car, I noticed a handful of people looking up at the sky. Smoke was rising quickly. Then I saw two planes flying overhead and a flash of red. Explosion? Fire retardant? Ultimately, the forest fire was out with less than one acre burned–hats off to the firefighters.

This is a very strange place for me. The Taco Bell in the photo–it’s next to Starbucks–was the site of a murder a few years ago–I was part of the jury selection process for a the felony murder trial. I didn’t get selected but I did learn more about the crime. This shopping area has been upgraded to erase, in part, the memory of a bad moment. It hasn’t erased mine.

 

Dramatic Water Runoff Has a Price

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Garrapata State Park marks the start of the rocky coastline called Big Sur. The inland portion of the park remains closed due to fire/water damage. As shown in the photo, the ocean side is getting a heavy flow of mountain water. I took this photo yesterday–in past years the runoff was a trickle.

(Last year a forest fire triggered by careless campers stripped the hills and valleys of vegetation in the Big Sur area. Winter rains contributed to unstable soil conditions. A massive landslide has cut off the only road connecting the town of Big Sur with surrounding areas. It may be more than a year and certainly millions of dollars before Highway One is restored, so for now it is California’s most scenic dead end roadway.)