Hollenbeck Canyon In April
The California Chaparral is overlooked throughout Southern and Central California, but it is a unique plant community and ecosystem only found in this area of the world. Adapted to a mild and dry climate, many of the brushes and woodlands are unique.
The main goal this morning was simply to hike and get outdoors. We started our hike at 7 AM just as the sun was hitting the higher nearby points like Otay Mountain. It was cool, in the low 40s, but it was very good hiking weather. The trail begins at a parking lot off Honey Springs Road and climbs a small hill before dropping into Hollenbeck Canyon.
Our destination was a grove of oaks that Alex has photographed many times. Indeed, it was a beautify and shady grove, and was a nice way to get out of the sun as it moved overhead. One highlight was getting to use Alex’s Rokinon tilt-shift lens. It makes perfect panoramic images with no parallax. I might need to get me one!
Leaving the grove, we took an outer loop that took us back to the parking lot. There was a lot of evidence of its ranching past, from a corral to miles of fence line. It was too late for good Spring images. Despite the 2015 – 2016 El Nino season, much of Southern California did not get nearly as much rain as hoped.
Alex has trained with the Chaparral Institute, and he pointed out that the incredible frequency of human-created wildfire has taken a huge toll on the chaparral environment accustomed to 30 – 100 years between major wildfires. There was also a lot of invasive mustard along the trails, undoubtedly carried by human traffic. Finally, he pointed out that we know of these chaparral grasses are actually invasives that have out-competed native California grasslands.
I am looking forward to visiting Hollenbeck Canyon more (when it is cool), especially next Winter when our Spring wildflowers get started a little early in February.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the images!
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.