Spring has been kind to the lands of El Rancho de Los Chimineas. And that's a good thing, because the last 3 years of drought had hit some areas hard. Dry, dryer, dryest is fine for martinis, but it's tough on open grasslands and runoff-dependent riparian habitats.
But that's how California rolls. Up and down - hot, hotter, too hot, cool, wet, hot, wetter, too wet... In 1862 the El Niño was so drenching that the telegraph poles in Sacramento were under water and down for 3 months. San Francisco saw 37" of rain before January 31st. And, the entire Central Valley became a 250-mile lake that didn't dry until summer.
Fortunately, this year's El Niño was a baby in comparison.
We definitely enjoyed the benefits of the wet spring during our mid-May stay on the ranch. The weather was mild and the "April showers brings May flowers" show a daily performance. The previously-seen sweeps of goldfields, blue dicks, lupines, shooting stars, owl's clover and tidy tips had given way to the "farewell-to-spring" crowd: the clarkias, mariposas, buckwheats, asters and larkspurs now flecked the fields, creeks and canyons.
However, the edge of imminent heat was in the air. The oaks were easing into summer waxy greens, and the grasses prepping to audition as amber waves.
We explored a variety of seasonal waterways and happily found that nearly all still had moving water - and several were ripe for a little camera trapping.
But, you'll have to wait for the Codger for results. Ain't no better teller of trapper's tales than he.
This photo-hike is to show the landscapes of Chimineas Ranch in May, and to set the stage for the fair May-days flora that you'll see in more detail, shortly.
The rolling oak savannahs of mid-May on Chimineas Ranch
Old snags on the rocks
Scruffy San Andreas -twisted strata
Sandstone and chaparral
Browning grasses, but green bushes and trees (and wildflowers!)
Just-dry seasonal waterfall and thriving cottonwoods
Guys scoping for cam trap locations
Our trusty trail scout
San Juan Creek still flowing
Chief water inspector
Broken Dam lake full up
Camera trapper's flat - a siesta under the juniper
Along the Cuyuma River
The Codger scripts a river-side set: "the critters will walk through there..."
A trap on the Cuyuma
Amigos in the arrow weed
Crags, clarkia, yarrow and juniper
Lower Saltos Canyon
Yucca, sage & buckwheat rocklands
Upper Saltos Canyon
Canyon "beach" in setting sun
Listed larkspur with a canyon view and private beach
And while it might not be obvious in all these shots, there were many May flowers here, there and everywhere. We'll get down on the ground and take a gaze at them next.