Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blowin' in the Wind

Usually Point Reyes sees me on horseback in summer. But since horseback riding and photography don't mix too well, I always wanted to come back in spring, when the wildflowers are in bloom and the pastures are still lush. But how it often goes with good ideas, they take a while to come true....

This year, due to my friend Meggi's initiative, I finally went!

Meggi and I planned this weeks ahead and almost cancelled it due to the unstable weather, but luck was on our side and the day we had picked started out sunny and clear. Arriving in Point Reyes, we first checked in at the Bear Valley Visitor Center to get the newest tips and locations on wildflowers. A knowledgeable guide pointed out the best areas and wished us a great day. On the side he mentioned that it had been a bit windy at the lighthouse as he left it that morning. Now this was the understatement of the day as we discovered later.....

Our first stop was Abbotts Lagoon for the wild poppies

Windswept Yellow Poppies with Abbotts Lagoon in the background:

Macro photography was really challenging, but perseverance prevailed:

From there we worked our way up towards the Historic Pierce Point Ranch and Tule Elk Reserve at the North end of the park. On the way there, I captured my favorite image of the day, an images that characterizes Point Reyes how I see it:

And a bit down the road we then saw the more native grazers, the Tule Elk:

By the time we reached the historic Pierce Point Ranch, we were mighty hungry and decided to find a wind protected spot to enjoy our sandwiches. Freshly restored, we explored the ranch. Pierce Point Ranch was one of the most successful "butter rancho" in the Point Reyes area.
"The Pierce Point Ranch on Tomales Point ceased operations in 1973. Three years later, Congress authorized creation of the wilderness area incorporating that ranch as habitat for the reintroduction of tule elk. Beginning in 1980, NPS invested in the rehabilitation of the ranch core, citing it as the best example of a nineteenth century west Marin dairy ranch. Pierce Point Ranch was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, and was subsequently opened to the public as an interpretive site." from the website about Point Reyes

The ranch is the biggest surviving historic diary ranch complex in the Park:

New & Old:

The lichen speaks for itself:

After that interesting historic back flash, we went back on the road towards the lighthouse. In pursuit of more wildflowers we took a little side trip to North Beach, were we found these lovely iceplants. Since they are low to the ground, they were not impacted by the howling winds. But we learned that the iceplant is a very invasive non native species that not only inhibits native plant growth but also prevents a necessary natural dune movement:

Still hopeful to find a less windy area, we moved on to Chimney Rock, another wildflower area the ranger had pointed out. The sign on the entrance to the little trail looked promising:

We saw the Douglas Irises, Beach Strawberries, Mule Ears and many more, but the wind just made it impossible to get a decent photograph of them. Lying on my stomach, I managed to photograph these low growing Goldfields:

Nevertheless, the hike out there was great and the views worthwhile:

The best, and most Iconic view of Point Reyes, of course was from the lighthouse:

By now the wind was howling so loud, that we had to yell at each other and our ears started to ring. With a last glance towards this fantastic shore line we said good bye to Point Reyes and slowly wound our way home.

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