Fourth of July in the Hills

June 30, 2017

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What harm could there be in having a little campfire?

Those who live in, or near, California’s fire-prone wildlands tend to get pretty jumpy around the Fourth of July. Many refuse to travel to town for parades and parties; preferring instead to stay at home re-checking water systems and sharpening chain saw blades. Their eyes crawl up to scan the sky for smoke so frequently it becomes a nervous tic. They sniff the air so often that they appear to be suffering from nasal congestion. They fly into a rage at the sight of anyone building campfires or using fireworks.
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Mud Creek Now Mud Point

May 23, 2017

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Punta Barro: Big Sur’s newest geographical feature (photo credit: Rock Knocker)

The Santa Lucia Mountains are very young. At just 5 million years old, they are still in the process of being born – punching upward out of the Pacific faster than the forces of wind, waves, rain, and gravity can wear them down. Their steep, unstable seaward wall, rising to over 5,000 feet at Cone Peak, is constantly eroding, sliding and collapsing into the sea.
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April Wildflowers

April 19, 2017

All that rain has really gotten the wildflowers going this month. Here are some highlights from the past few weeks:

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California goldfields (Lasthinia californica) and Gray’s clover (Trifolium grayi), share a meadow at The Indians in the upper Arroyo Seco watershed.
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Flashback! Julia Pfeiffer Burns in the 1960s

July 19, 2016

Just a few shots from the days before traffic jams and crowds…

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At the Waterfall House with my mother and sister in 1966. Notice how the waterfall drops directly into the ocean. The beach formed after a 1983 landslide put a huge amount of material into the ocean just to the north.

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Mom and Sis on the terrace.

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Leading Mom around the house (I think this photo is from 1963). To get there, we rode down from the Highway on the funicular car.


Steelhead Lose Again at Carmel River Mouth

January 11, 2016

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Slowly rising lagoon

A few days ago, everything was working out perfectly for the Carmel River’s remnant steelhead population. With the San Clemente Dam gone, the door was open for more young steelhead smolts to safely reach the lagoon, and eventually the sea, than had been possible for many years. Then, relatively gentle rains put enough flow in the river to provide easy fish passage from the higher elevation tributaries to the lagoon, but not enough to breach the high summer sandbar at the lagoon mouth. Behind the bar, the slowly filling lagoon was becoming an ideal habitat for young steelhead to undergo the rapid growth and physiological changes necessary to survive at sea. Read the rest of this entry »


November Surf in December

December 11, 2015

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A swell that peaked at 30 feet last night combined with a 6.5 foot high tide to bring ground-shaking waves ashore on Carmel Point this morning. Read the rest of this entry »


Coastal Commission to Weigh in on Carmel Beach Fires

December 8, 2015

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Carmel Beach

If you’re sitting at a city council meeting and hear the mayor proudly describe how he got the head of a government agency to write a letter threatening to take enforcement action against the city, you’re probably not really in Bizarro World or the Twilight Zone; you’re just in Carmel and the item on the agenda is beach fires. Read the rest of this entry »