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 © 2006-2014 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.
# Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina) on white fir

Given its vibrant chartreuse color, it isn't surprising that wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina) has been used by various indigenous groups to make a dye. Perhaps more of a curiosity is that it is toxic, and has reportedly been used as a poison, and medicinal remedy.

From Sunday's trail run in the Chumash Wilderness on the Vincent Tumamait Trail.

Some related trail runs: Fresh Air Traverse, Mt. Pinos - Mt. Abel Out & Back

Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:40:54 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Friday, June 04, 2010

Variable checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona) on golden yarrow.

I found this and several other variable checkerspots (Euphydryas chalcedona) flittering about and feeding on golden yarrow along the Garapito Trail, on a recent run in the Santa Monica Mountains.

A closer look revealed an outlandish creature with black-spotted orange ladybug eyes, a bright orange spiked hairstyle, and a substantial spiraled trunk.

Variable checkerspots (Euphydryas chalcedona) The "hair spikes" are part of the butterfly's sophisticated scent sensing system. They are probably used in combination with the antennae to provide a three dimensional olfactory picture of the butterfly's surroundings. This would help guide the butterfly to food or potential mates.

Butterflies are masters of low speed flight, and exploit several unusual mechanisms to generate aerodynamic lift. They are also opportunistic, and will take advantage of thermals and variations in the windfield to move from one place to another.

Several times when I've encountered a butterfly on a run, it has flown along with me for a surprising distance. I know that butterflies can be attracted by color, that's happened in my bright yellow kayak. But in this case I don't think it's color or coincidence. It seems to me the butterfly is surfing the wave of air pushed around me as I run, similar to the way a porpoise surfs the bow wave of boat.

Related posts: Sylvan Hairstreak, Western Tiger Swallowtail

Friday, June 04, 2010 8:30:47 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mt. Baldy from the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell
Mt. Baldy fron the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell

Yesterday, Woodland Hills topped the 90° mark for the first time this year. But somebody forgot to tell the local mountains about the warmup. This morning, I was about a mile into an out and back trail run from Islip Saddle to Mt. Baden-Powell, and with the wind chill, it felt like the temp was in the 40's.

Sunday, May 30, 2010 8:46:05 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, May 29, 2010

In November 2009 NASA used its Predator B remotely piloted aircraft "Ikhana" to collect post-burn assessments of the Piute Fire in Kern County and the Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest. This interactive Google Earth browser view shows the area of the San Gabriel Mountains burned in the Station Fire, with an overlay of the Ikhana Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) image. (Image courtesy of NASA Dryden and NASA Ames.)

According to NASA, the various purple hues are indicative of the differences in burn severity. The view can be panned, zoomed and tilted (help info) in order to get an idea of the burn severity along a particular trail, or in a particular area. This can be used with other assessment data and on the ground observations to evaluate burn severity. Here is the BAER Station Fire Soil Burn Severity Map (1.1MB PDF) from the Forest Service. Additional BAER information can be found on the Angeles National Forest Station Fire BAER page.

Earlier this week Angeles National Forest reopened some areas of the forest closed by the Station Fire, and issued Forest Order 01-10-02, redefining the boundary of the Station Fire Closure Area. The magenta line in the previous view, and in this Google Earth browser view without the burn severity overlay, is the approximate boundary of the Station Fire Closure Area as derived from Angeles National Forest Order No. 01-10-02, Exhibit A and Exhibit B. The boundary, as depicted, is intended to provide a general overview of the closed area -- not an exact rendering. Please contact Angeles National Forest to determine whether a particular resource is open or closed. Note, for example, that a road may be open or closed depending upon which edge of the road is the boundary.

One of the reasons for putting this information together was to check the status of several peaks and trails. With so much of the forest closed it is essential that every trail and area that is in reasonable condition be opened to the public. For example, the north approach and summit of Twin Peaks is outside the burn area, but remains closed. The trail from Buckhorn to Twin Peaks Saddle and up to the peak should be open, and if the short section of trail burned near Three Points is OK, trail 10W04 from Three Points to Mt. Waterman and Twin Peaks should be opened.

GPS traces of some trail runs inside and outside the Station Fire area have been added to both Google Earth views, along with links to related photos and stories. Trail runs that fall partially or entirely inside the closure area have a red label. Click on the green hiker icon for additional info. Some placenames have also been added --the locations should be considered approximate.

The views also include a partial track of the Pacific Crest Trail (2009 ver. 1) from the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail web site. Note that the PCT is closed in the Station Fire Closure area and the northbound PCT has been rerouted at Islip Saddle. See the Pacific Crest Trail Association web site for more info.

Saturday, May 29, 2010 2:04:22 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eagle Rock From Eagle Springs Fire Road
Eagle Rock From Eagle Springs Fire Road

Is it May or March? With all the blustery weather systems that have been moving through Southern California, it's been hard to tell.

Today I had planned to head back to the high country of the San Gabriels, but instead decided to take advantage of the spectacular weather and do a rambling 24 mile run in the Santa Monica Mountains.

It was a good choice. Early in the run growing mountains of silver-lined cumulus towered above the Hub, and a brisk wind tempted me to pull the sleeves from the pack. Wildflowers lined the trails, and the chaparral teemed with color, sound and scent. It was a long run kind of day.

Note: Later in the day I talked to a runner who had been at Lake Arrowhead early in the morning. He said it had been snowing down to 3000 ft! According to the NWS, record low temperatures for today were set at Lancaster (41°), San Luis Obispo (38°), and Sandberg (28°).

Sunday, May 23, 2010 9:59:08 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, May 22, 2010

Davidson's Phacelia (Phacelia davidsonii) near Cooper Canyon trail camp, in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Davidson's Phacelia (Phacelia davidsonii) near Cooper Canyon trail camp, in the San Gabriel Mountains. From last Sunday's run.

Washoe phacelia (Phacelia curvipesa) is similar, but it's blossom is not as large.

Saturday, May 22, 2010 10:32:40 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Friday, May 21, 2010

Spanish Bayonet

A closer look at one of several developing yucca stalks found on the warm, south-facing slopes of the Burkhart Trail.

From last Sunday's run on the PCT and Burkhart Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Friday, May 21, 2010 9:02:01 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Snow plant in the San Gabriel Mountains, near Los Angeles.

Snow plant emerging from pine needles and other detritus on the forest floor.

From Sunday's run through Cooper Canyon.

Related post: Snow Plant

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 7:38:47 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cooper Canyon Cascade and Falls

From today's out and back run from Cloudburst Summit (7018') to Burkhart Saddle (6959') in the San Gabriel Mountains, near Los Angeles.

The running was excellent, and except for a few fallen trees the trails were in good shape. Thanks to the runoff from a good Winter's snowpack there was plenty of water in Little Rock Creek, and even the smaller side streams were flowing. Most of the snow below 7000' was history, but there was still a lot of white on the north facing slopes at the higher elevations.

Incense Cedars in Cooper Canyon The trailhead for this run is on Highway 2 at the boundary of the area closed by the Station Fire Recovery Order. The run follows the southbound Pacific Crest Trail, and northbound Burkhart Trail, which define the eastern boundary of the closure area north of Highway 2.

Update May 29, 2010. Angeles National Forest has issued Forest Order 01-10-02 redefining the Station Fire closure area. The southbound Pacific Crest Trail, and northbound Burkhart Trail no longer define the boundary. See the Angeles National Forest web site and this May 29, 2010 post for more info.

From Cloudburst Summit, the southbound PCT winds down into Cooper Canyon, and eventually joins the Burkhart Trail, just west of Cooper Canyon Falls. In about a quarter-mile, the trail crosses Little Rock Creek. Here, the northbound Burkhart Trail forks left from the (closed) PCT, and continues 3.75 miles to Burkhart Saddle.

Here is an HD video snapshot of Cooper Canyon Cascade and Falls.

Note: The PCT northbound has been rerouted at Islip Saddle. See the Pacific Crest Trail Association web site for more info. Also, the PCT trail segment between the Burkhart Trail and Eagle's Roost is within the area closed by the Williamson Rock Closure Order.

Some related posts: Cooper Canyon Falls, Cool Running in Southern California, Pleasant View Ridge Snow

Sunday, May 16, 2010 9:24:43 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Winter vetch (Vicia villosa ssp. varia) border=0 src=

Winter vetch is a vining legume you'll see in patches along trails in lower elevation chaparral in Southern California. It's flowers are an unusal purple, and a closer look reveals various shades of violet, purple and rose.

Its capability to add nitrogen to soil gives it value in crop rotation and no-tillage farming. It is an invasive plant, not native to California.

From today's run in the Simi Hills.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 7:53:19 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Monday, May 10, 2010

Rock formations in the Simi Hills, near Los Angeles

We've had some great running weather in Southern California this Spring, with more than our usual share of cool days and postcard skies. Remarkably, the highest temperature recorded at Downtown Los Angeles so far this year was in the final few days of Winter, when the temperature hit 88 on March 16.

The title photograph is from a recent run in the Simi Hills.

Monday, May 10, 2010 1:28:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, May 01, 2010

Crags below the Backbone Trail

The great view confirmed it -- we had run uphill. The new section of the Backbone Trail was so well-graded that the 850 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead at Encinal Canyon Rd. seemed almost effortless. For the next 14 miles, we would run through one of the most scenic areas of the Santa Monica Mountains; a rough and rugged highland with a character that might put it halfway around the world, rather than 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Mariposas On this May Day morning, the canyons were cool, the sun warm, and the skies clear. From the craggy heights views extended from Catalina to the Channel Islands; and from Topa Topa to the San Gabriel Mountains. Winter rains had produced a profusion of wildflowers, accenting the trails with the whites, blues, yellows and reds of Spring.

It was an extraordinary day in which mile after mile of trail would pass underfoot with surprising ease. It was the best kind of training -- a run in which the training was an afterthought, and the focus was on the experience, rather than the logbook.

Here's an interactive Google Earth view of the 23 mile route from Encinal Canyon Rd. to PCH at Sycamore Canyon. The elevation gain on the run was about 2500 ft., and elevation loss about 3800 ft. Continuing to the Ray Miller trailhead by way of the Wood Vista, Overlook and Ray Miller trails would add about 3 miles and another 1000 ft. of gain. Another option would be to run through Serrano Valley to Sycamore Canyon. The Fireline Trail is a short distance down canyon from the Serrano Valley Trail, and could also be used to link to the Overlook and Ray Miller trails.

And here's a photo of the Yerba Buena segment of the Backbone Trail when it was under construction in 2003.

Related post: Boney Mountain Crags

Saturday, May 01, 2010 4:14:05 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #