The rewards of running in the wind
The Santa Ana winds came up late this morning, and by the time I got to Santiago Oaks Regional Park around 1 pm they were gusting away–20-30 mph, maybe some bigger gusts on the top of ridge (strong enough to sort of push me sideways on the trail up there).
Big winds = fewer folks out enjoying the trails . . . and the fast-moving air also makes it difficult for animals upwind to sense my presence. That’s how I ended up trotting around a curve in the Bumblebee Trail and surprising a pretty healthy-looking coyote. He gave a startled sideways jump (so did I!) and then loped off the trail up a brushy gully to an open patch on the side of the hill, where he stood for a bit to check me out.
Here’s the same photo, cropped to focus on the coyote. My little pocket camera can only zoom so far . . .
Anther notable sighting along the trail was this intensely purple nightshade:
Most of my photos are of the native beauty I find on my wanders, but today I thought that it would be more honest if I also included shots of non-native invasives. One particulary pervasive species is star thistle. At this time of year it is dead and gray and dry and ready to ignite, even though we just had a nice soaking rain last weekend. That’s one of the reasons there’s a red-flag fire warning this weekend: the dead annual invasive weeds from last year are tinder dry.
Other “truth-in-photography” images from recent hikes:
This is what belongs on the side of the trail: fungi!
To cool off, I dunked my toes in a tributary to Santiago Creek. Hmmm . . . now what could be feeding this year-round rivulet? Not the over-watered landscapes from the nearby housing developments, I hope . . .
Going out in nature is a two-edged-sword-kind-of-thing sometimes: I love and appreciate the natural beauty, but get a little irate at the degradation.