Gary Valle's Photography on the Run
Images taken on trail runs, and other adventures, in the Open Space and Wilderness areas of California, and beyond. All content, including photography, is Copyright © 2006-2012 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.
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# Monday, June 18, 2012

Antenna farm on Mt. Wilson

The gate to Skyline Park on Mt. Wilson doesn't normally open until 10:00 a.m., so for Saturday's run we parked in a large turnout along the loop road downhill from the gate. A trailhead that accesses the Kenyon Devore Trail is just downhill from the turnout, and a few yards down the trail is the lateral trail to Skyline Park. The Rim Trail trailhead is in Skyline Park along the service road that leads to the observatory grounds. This Observatory Pamphlet (PDF) includes a map that shows its location.

So we're about to start the run, and I'm going through the routine of last minute checks. Everything looks good so I lock the car and -- nothing happens. Where's the familiar single beep? I try again... Nothing.

Ah technology! It doesn't take long to figure out that those giant transmitters towering above me are jamming my smart key. OK, I want to get running, but I also want to be sure I'm going to able to start the car when we get back. Fortunately, the key system has an emergency mechanical key to get in the car, and then there's a procedure to enable the car to detect the smart key. The procedure works, and after (mechanically) locking the car we're off and running.

The pattern of RF energy emitted near an antenna is complex and I imagine it is particularly so in the middle a large antenna farm such as on Mt. Wilson.

I've parked in Skyline Park several times without having a smart key problem; however a few years ago I did have a problem with a GPS watch getting a lock on satellites at the start of a Mt. Disappointment race. That hasn't happended with my current Garmin watch, which has much better satellite acquisition and sensitivity.

I guess whatever lobe of RF was interfering with the key changed shape or position, because when we got back to the car at the end of the run the smart key worked fine!

Monday, June 18, 2012 9:50:34 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Monday, May 28, 2012

Glistening in the morning sun, this 1.5" high piece of melting rime caught my eye as I was running along the PCT west of Mt. Hawkins. Fortunately no PCTers came bounding down the trail while I was sprawled across it taking this photograph!

The linear structure of the accreted ice can still be seen. Rime builds on the windward side of an object as wind-driven supercooled water droplets come in contact with a surface whose temperature is below freezing. This piece of rime had fallen from a tree.

From Sunday's run on the PCT between Islip Saddle and Mt. Baden-Powell.

Monday, May 28, 2012 7:27:27 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fallen rime around a white fir

As I ran across the ice my footfalls made a loud crunch, crunch, crunch. Nearby a barrage of rime cascaded from a white fir. Friday's cold system had rimed the trees along the crest, and now the ice was thawing, shedding from the branches and creating a patchwork of white beneath the trees. The ice wasn't dense but I still didn't want a large chunk falling on my head!

The cutoff upper level low that moved into Southern California Friday really cooled things down. The Big Pines RAWS (6917') recorded an overnight low of 26°F Friday night. It was even colder in the Sierra. A snow sensor at 11,400' in the Kern River headwaters recorded an overnight low of 12°F. Most of yesterday the temperature at Big Pines was in the 40s.

I was running on one of the most scenic segments of trail in the mountains of Southern California -- the Pacific Crest Trail between Mt. Hawkins and Mt. Baden-Powell. There are three trail runs I like to do that include this stretch: Inspiration Point to Islip Saddle on the PCT, the Islip Saddle - South Fork - Baden-Powell Loop, and the route I was doing today, the Out and Back to Mt. Baden-Powell from Islip Saddle.

Warmer weather was forecast today, but this morning it had been cool and blustery at Islip Saddle. The temperature in the sun-warmed -- but windy -- parking lot had been around 43°F. In the shade of Mt. Islip at the start of the run the temperature felt like it was in the 30s. It had taken a while to warm up chugging up the first long hill.

It was the first time this season I'd been on this stretch of trail and I wondered if any well-shaded patches of snow had managed to survive on the north side of the crest near Mt. Baden-Powell. I doubted it. The Mt. Waterman ski area never opened this year, and there had already been several periods of warm weather. There would probably be some remnants of snow on the north side of Mt. Baldy.

It was PCT season. Islip Saddle is at about the 386 mile mark on the Pacific Crest Trail and PCTers hiking the trail from the Mexican border to the Canadian border usually do this section of trail sometime in May. There were a number of PCTers on the trail, including a couple of guys that appeared to be fast-packing the PCT. Their packs looked light, and they were really booking on the downhill west of Mt. Hawkins. (For well done, downloadable PDF maps of the PCT -- with notes -- check out Halfmile's Pacific Crest Trail Maps and GPS Information.)

Although chilly at the start, the weather was near perfect for running and I had expected to see at least a couple of groups of runners training for the AC100. There were only about six or seven long run weekends remaining before this hundred miler. I did see one AC100 runner -- twice. He was on day two of a three day Memorial Day training stint that would total some 90 miles. Now that is serious training!

Sunday, May 27, 2012 3:27:18 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Friday, May 18, 2012

Sculpted rock at vernal pool on Rocky Peak

Sculpted rock at vernal pool on Rocky Peak.

From a run in April.

Friday, May 18, 2012 3:54:28 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Monday, May 07, 2012

The photograph above is of an example of a bizarre malformation in plants known as stem fasciation -- in this case in Turricula/Eriodictyon parryi (Poodle-dog bush). The normally round stem of the plant has been transformed into a thick ribbon-like structure, many times the size of a normal stem. The photo is from a recent trail run in an area burned by the 2009 Station Fire.

This is the second time I've found a plant with a fasciated stem in a burn area. The first was at Sage Ranch following the 2005 Topanga Fire. In this case the fasciated stem of a wreath plant (Stephanomeria) was a contorted spiral several feet tall.

There are many mechanisms which are reported to cause fasciation; among them a bacterium, stress, chemical or mechanical damage, and inheritance. It may or may not be coincidence that both of these examples were found in burn areas -- about two and a half years into recovery in the case of the Turricula, and a year in the case of the wreath plant.

Monday, May 07, 2012 10:58:19 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, August 27, 2011

Grinnell's beardtongue along the Pacifc Crest Trail, near Mt. Burnham, in the San Gabriel Mountains. This bulbous Penstemon can accommodate large pollinators such as bumblebees and carpenter bees.

From a run in July 2010.

Saturday, August 27, 2011 4:59:54 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Monday, August 22, 2011

Golden Gate Bridge and Fog

From Friday's run to Fort Point and the East Battery.

Monday, August 22, 2011 9:12:25 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, August 21, 2011

Presidio forest sculpture Wood Line by Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy's Presidio forest sculpture Wood Line.

Sunday, August 21, 2011 3:40:44 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, July 24, 2011

LARGE track of a draft horse on Calabasas Peak fire road.

From this morning's out & back run on the Secret Trail and Calabasas Peak fire road to the Stunt High Trail.

Sunday, July 24, 2011 7:37:03 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, May 28, 2011

Turricula Along the Silver Moccasin Trail at Shortcut Saddle
Turricula (Poodle-dog bush) Along the Silver Moccasin Trail at Shortcut Saddle

I knew Turricula (Poodle-dog bush)* was a common fire follower, but had never run or hiked through a burn area where it was abundant. Wow, it was everywhere on the Red Box - Bear Canyon - Gabrielino Loop last Saturday, and particularly dense on sections of the Gabrielino Trail between Switzers and Red Box. It appears to be one of the most common fire-followers in the Station Fire burn area, and likely plays an important role in the recovery process.

Gland-tipped hairs on the plant secrete a sticky substance that  causes a rash "like poison oak" in sensitized persons. There must be some threshold of exposure, because I have brushed against the leaves of Turricula many times before without reacting to it. This time my exposure was repeated, frequent, and prolonged; and the leaves were heavily coated with exudate. At the end of the loop my legs and forearms were coated with a thick layer of resinous brown gunk that would not wash off with water.

By the time I had finished the run, talked to some people at Red Box, and driven home, 2-3 hours had passed. Tecnu helped remove the resinous goo, but as I would discover a couple days later, it did not prevent me from getting the rash.

My reaction to Turricula was quite a bit different than what I've experienced with poison oak. A blotchy red rash developed on my arms and legs Monday, about 48 hours after exposure. After another 24 hours I thought the rash was going away, but it was actually morphing into a more widespread and uniform inflammation that was similar to bad sunburn -- a very itchy sunburn. There was some swelling and edema, particularly on my ankles. In the areas that had the most contact with the Turricula, primarily my shins and around my knees, there was some blistering. The blisters were small, perhaps 1/16 inch in diameter or less.

Most of the blisters were gone by Thursday afternoon, and since then the inflammation has been slowly subsiding. Although very itchy and annoying at times, it has not been debilitating. An equivalent exposure to poison oak would have been much more severe. However, in my case an underlying irritation or sensitivity has lingered for some time after the visible reaction dissipated. It seems like it will probably take a few more days for the reaction to completely resolve. We'll see!

Update July 12, 2011. My reaction to Turricula cleared after about two weeks. A running friend who recently did some trail work removing Turricula on the Kenyon Devore Trail sent this photograph of a blotchy red rash that developed on his forearm. He first noticed a reaction four days after doing the trail work, and the photograph was taken 10 days after exposure. As in my case, several hours later he commented that the blotchy rash had merged into a more general inflammation with swelling.

Research has found the dermatitic agents in the Turricula exudate are "phacelioids," hydroquinone based compounds structurally related to poison oak/ivy urushiols, but not as active. In one study the amount of the phacelioids in Turricula required to produce a qualified reaction was 100 times that required for a component of urushiol from poison ivy -- 170 µg vs 1.6 µg.

It is also noted that in place oxidation of hydroquinone based phacelioids is likely necessary to interact with the proteins of the skin and produce a reaction. This (and common sense) suggests that leaving the Turricula exudate on your skin for several hours (like I did) is probably a bad idea.

For more information see:

Prenylated Phenolics that Cause Contact Dermatitis from Glandular Trichomes of Turricula parryi. G. W. Reynolds, P. Proksch, E. Rodriguez, Planta Medica, 1985; 51(6): 494-498

Unusual contact allergens from plants in the family Hydrophyllaceae. G. W. Reynolds, W. L. Epstein, E. Rodriguez, Contact Dermatitis, 1986; 14:39-44

The book Poisonous plants of California by Thomas C. Fuller, Elizabeth May McClintock (1986) describes a 1941 incident in which hairs from old flowering stalks "easily broken from the stems" caused a rash, but flowering plants the previous year did not.

*The taxonomic name for Turricula parryi (Poodle-dog bush) has changed to Eriodictyon parryi. The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California, Second Edition (2012) has returned Turricula to the genus Eriodictyon, as originally described by Gray. According to the Wikipedia entry for Turricula (April 11, 2012), "... molecular phylogenetic analysis carried out by Ferguson (1998) confirms that Turricula should be treated as a separate genus within a clade (Ferguson does not use the term "subfamily") that includes Eriodictyon, and also the genera Nama and Wigandia; Eriodictyon is the genus to which Turricula is closest in molecular terms, and is its sister taxon." I use "Turricula" and "Poodle-dog bush" interchangeably as a common name.

Related post: Turricula Along Angeles Crest Highway and these additional posts.

Saturday, May 28, 2011 8:48:52 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Large poison oak leaves

Most chaparral plants thrive in years in which we have above average rainfall, including poison oak. This poison oak is on the Phantom Trail in Malibu Creek State Park.

From Sunday's trail run.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 3:51:53 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, May 08, 2011

A feather -- probably from a barn owl -- on the Modelo Trail between Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons.

A little further along the trail I was surprised to see the diminutive "Felix the Cat" like face of a long-tailed weasel briefly pop up from a burrow.

From today's run of the Modelo - Palo Comado Canyon - Cheeseboro Canyon loop. This Park Service PDF includes a map of the area, and this interactive Google Earth browser view shows a GPS trace of the run.

Sunday, May 08, 2011 8:08:11 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
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