Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Sinks -- Detail

Detail of the rock wall at the eastern portion of The Sinks, June 11, 2014

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Track of The Cat

Track of the Cat

Mountain Lion Track, July 7, 2014

Few people walk the Edison Road except diehards like me who can face a walk back uphill from a dead end. Few people means many animal tracks.

So the other day I discovered a bonanza in the dust. The mule deer which had been absent for several months were back. Their double half moon footprints crowded the edges of the trail (for some reason they didn’t like walking down the middle). Throw in some coyote and the x-shaped tracks of a roadrunner plus a possible bobcat and it made for a good day for tracking. After I climbed the hill from the cul de sac and started on my way back down the other end, I saw them. The first impressions left me uncertain. The loosness of the dust plus the waffle stompers of another hiker had obscured them somewhat. But after rounding the bend beneath the first electrical tower, I found hard evidence. They were about the size of the palm of my hand and there was no mistaking the rounded, bean-shaped toe prints: A mountain lion had followed the deer. A new apex predator was in residence.

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Matilija Poppy, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park, June 8, 2014

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Strange Wilderness

One short spur trail makes all the difference in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. When I ascended the Wood Creek Trail to get a view of the canyon beyond, I saw that the trail climbed further and then cascaded down in a series of stairs that I thought would take me back to the main trail. Lynn would not be happy with this country, I realized, so I directed her to go back to the Wood Canyon Trail and wait for me at the first sign she found. The trail — marked “easy” on the maps — dropped into a live oak forest along the creek but where was the main route? The path jumped and swerved along the west bank of the creek — which was fed by water from adjacent housing tracts — over three or four bridges until it finally crossed back and rediscovered the road after about half a mile.

Orange County Parks rules by a strange definition of wilderness. There is no buffer between the suburban and the canyon landscapes. Houses encroach on the very fringes of its wilderness parks. The water on which the plants and wildlife depend comes from the runoff of residential irrigation systems. Concrete aprons permit easy fording of streams. Mountain bikers rocket by with the perennial cry of “On your left! On your left!” Rangers patrol in pickups. A dilapidated wooden corral holds the golden grass that the ranchers seeded to overwhelm the bunch grasses and sedges native to these fields.


Corral, June 6, 2014

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Bush Poppy

Bush Poppy, Holy Jim Trail, Cleveland National Forest, May 3, 2009

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The Old Mountain Biker

Cactus Hill Trail

Cactus Hill, March 9,2014

Voices alert me that someone is around the corner or beyond the trees. I heard them as I walked down the Concourse Park Road into Whiting on Monday. I rounded a corner and found two mountain bikers — a young Asian man and a white man who was perhaps a decade or more older than me — resting in the shade of some oaks. The elderly biker leaned over his handlebars and panted hard in obvious distress.

“Are you all right? I’ve got a cell phone.” I said as soon as I got close.

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Landscape with Toll Road

Landscape with Toll Road, Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve, May 6, 2014

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