Massive canyon oak (Quercus chrysolepis) on the slopes of Devil’s Peak
The Ventana Double Cone, The Window, and Kandlbinder Peak.
A little snow still lingers from last week’s storms
The brushy summit of Mt. Carmel
The Monterey Peninsula and Monterey Bay as seen from Mt. Carmel
Palo Corona as viewed from Mt. Carmel. A corridor of public land now stretches from Mt. Carmel across Palo Corona and all the way to the mouth of the Carmel River. How long will we have to wait for a trail linking Garrapata State Park and Palo Corona Regional Park to the Ventana Wilderness?
Heading for Pine Creek
Sirxinta, the black oak (Quercus kelloggii). For how many seasons has this veteran stood watch over the Little Sur basin?
A large shelf fungus fruits on a broken limb
Edge of the forest
Yellowing big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) leaves shine brightly in the shadowy forest along Pine Creek
An old campsite, complete with fire ring and rock wall. This would be a nicer place to camp than the official Pine Creek Camp, except that it’s too far upstream for water to be reliable.
There isn’t a pine woods along Pine Creek, but huge ponderosas (Pinus ponderosa) are scattered about in the hardwood forest. We were surprised to see large healthy stands of old tanbark oaks (Notholithocarpus densiflorus – that’s right, they’ve been moved to a new genus. Just weren’t closely enough related to the other Lithocarpuses, or something). Thanks to Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) infestation, healthy tanbark forests are now a rare sight in the Santa Lucia Mountains.
The fire grate at the official Pine Creek Camp was crushed long ago by a falling madroño.
It’s been replaced by this fire ring, but Pine Creek Camp is far too dark and dank to be an attractive place to camp this time of year. It might be nicer in late spring or summer.
Downstream from Pine Creek Camp we began to encounter dead and dying tanbark oaks. It looks like Sudden Oak Death is working its way up toward the big tanbark woods around the headwaters. Better go and see them soon.
The trail soon leaves the creek and climbs to the top of Ponciano Ridge. The ridge is too heavily forested to provide much view, but this sign still survives in the gap. It’s only 3 miles out to the Robinson Canyon Rd. at White Rock from here, but the White Rock people shut down public access ages ago and are known to be quite unwelcoming to confused hikers who wander out of the Wilderness along this trail.
Returning over Devil’s Peak
Skinner Ridge madroños (Arbutus menziesii) at sunset
The trail to Bottcher’s Gap
Click here to see this territory during wildflower season