Redwood Spring

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, California, mid-May. The trail climbs from dense secondary redwood forest, to wet mixed conifer forest (redwood, Douglas fir, and hemlock), to sun-dappled oak trees, and finally sunny chaparral. The understory flowers also shift, from shade-tolerant violets and irises, to sun-loving lupines. The loop trail then returns along the creek back to redwood forest.

Past Snapshots: Merced Wildlife Refuge

Another stop on my travels through my photo drive archives is Merced National Wildlife Refuge. We stopped there in January 2012, on the way to Yosemite. The refuge is host to an incredible variety of birds, including many migratory birds that overwinter there. We saw Ross’s geese, sandhill cranes, blackbirds, herons, and many other waterbirds. The refuge also uses cattle crazing to control invasive weeds and keep varied grass heights to support all the different species’ needs.

Mushroom hunting

We visited Henry Cowell state park on a gray, drizzly day, and laughingly said that it would be a perfect day for hunting mushrooms. Looking down at the leaf litter and logs turned into a very fruitful hunt indeed, with some absolutely stunning finds. From enormous to tiny and in all sorts of colors and textures, the fungus truly put on a show for us.

(As always, click on any thumbnail for a full slideshow)

Treasures on the Shore

It’s no secret that Point Lobos is one of my favorite state parks. The same way that Yosemite calls me to the mountains, Point Lobos draws me back to the coast time after time for days of discovery and exploration. Busy tidepools. Vibrant sunsets. High surf days with 20-foot waves. Opportunities to play with new equipment and ideas.

This winter’s visit did not disappoint. A recent storm had washed all sorts of marine creatures onto the small beaches, decorating the shore with everything from glistening abalone shells to variegated sea weeds and even bleached white bones. Sea lion cubs played hide and seek with the waves, and we even caught a hint of a sunset before the clouds rolled in.

Ladybug Love

In the fall and winter months, ladybugs congregate for communal hibernation. Thousands of ladybugs cluster together in a ten meter area in grasses, under leaf litter, and on trees. This form of hibernation, called diapause in insects, also helps them save energy by becoming mostly inactive in the cold.