Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hike to Tecate Cypress Forest in Fremont Cyn

This morning I went on a 10.5 mile hike with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy to the Tecate Cypress forest in Fremont Canyon. We began at the staging area at 7:30am, and the first few miles were uphill! After finally getting into our stride we came to the abandoned coal mine. The coal there was poor quality, so the mining was abandoned, but it's a pretty cool example of a strip mine.
Coal layer with sandstone above it

We continued on to the Fremont Weather Station, where some of the strongest winds in Orange County are routinely recorded. Evelyn and I were thrilled to spot some black-chinned sparrows up and about on the hillside, definitely a year bird for me. We then descended down into a little valley for a bit before heading back upwards toward the Tecate grove. As we neared the Tecate grove and the half-way point of our hike we were finding plenty of wildflowers including bedstraw, mariposa lilies, CA poppies, and a few lingering lupins.
Coast Spiny Lizard!

The Tecate cypress suffered huge casualties in the 2007 fires. There were a few remaining plants, but the population was greatly reduced from their pre-fire numbers. Tecate cypress are very rare, and only grow three places in the world, this stand in Orange County, the Otay Mountains, and Tecate, Mexico.
ID help?

I'm thinking GRRO tracks?

We finished our hike around 12:30pm, and not a moment too soon as the heat began to really make it's presence noticed. It was a wonderful hike, and I got to see some very cool critters, all in all, a great day.

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