Almost 30 individuals joined this visit to one of Southern California's most floristically and geologically diverse and unique areas. As evidence of the botanical diversity here, we recorded a whopping 175 plant species, probably a record for a OCCNPS field trip!
After meeting at the Visitor's Center we headed out onto a portion of the Granite Loop Trail, then onto Waterline Road and looped back to the Visitor's Center via the Vista Grande Trail. Wonderful views of oak woodlands, grasslands, some chaparral and riparian plant communities.
We then drove two or three miles further up the road to the Vernal Pool Trailhead. We loaded our sandwiches and snacks and started off on the beautiful Vernal Pool Trail. Very quickly we were entertained by interesting plants and lovely views of the vernal pools, including a couple of very cooperative aquatic garter snakes in the water. A few meter further along the trail we discovered two species of Brodiaea in bloom - quite a treat.
We are always fortunate on our trips to have so much knowledge and expertise within the group. Today was no exception, as were were joined by biologists Ted and Linda St. John of Menifee who shared numerous insights about the ecology, geology and plant and animal life on the plateau.
After we concluded the official trip, five carloads of us took the long way home and drove the backroads of Tenaja Road to South Main Divide Road, passing through some of the wildest portions of The Santa Ana Mountains. We stopped briefly in the bottom of Los Alamos Canyon to enjoy the tenajas in the creek and view the rare western spleenwort fern (Asplenium vespertinum) and California saxifrage (Micranthes californica). All in all a wonderful day.