My May 2021 Photo of the Month is PMSP52, taken in San Diego County’s Palomar Mountain State Park.
Another month has come and gone.
This beautiful oak was photographed along the Thunder Gulch trail in Palomar Mountain State Park. I have always enjoyed this trail. Most springs, the North-facing hillside is covered with ferns in the shade. At around 5,000 feet, this is a mixed forest where these stately oaks give way to pines. This is also one of the very few old-growth forests in Southern California.
May is the month to see the Dogwoods growing in the canyons (see my friend Alex’s post on them). Famous in Yosemite along the Merced River, they can be found in a couple locations in San Diego County, with Palomar Mountain being the most consistent. But I found myself mesmerized by the canopy forest. One of the few areas to escape clear-cutting logging in the 19th and early 20th century, one is both taken with the stately quality of these quiet giants, while lamenting the other 95% of old growth forest that will never return in our lifetimes. And with climate change a reality, likely any lifetime measurable by the human psyche.
Some of the pines must have reached 200 feet – I can’t figure out online what the tallest in the park are. When comparing to second-growth forest, the difference is stark. However the oaks, in their gnarled and twisted forms, always catch my attention and study. I am not sure if this is two trees that fused together, or if it is a single root system that for some reason created two trunks, but the tree is a beautiful find.
May 2021 is the month I received my second Moderna vaccine for COVID-19. I had no side effects from either shot, other than a sore arm that was a little challenging for a side-sleeper. Working from home is soon coming to an end, unfortunately. But I don’t find myself yearning for much of pre-pandemic life. I have had a number of people ask me what I am going to do now that the world is opened up. I don’t want to open up. Staying under my rock has probably been better for me.
As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the image.
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.