Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter in the Los Padres National Forest: Horn Canyon, Ojai, California






Subtleties characterize winter in Southern California: a little rain, cooler temperatures, maybe even a frost snap.

The cottonwood and sycamore trees are the first to change color and lose their leaves, owing to their preference for creek bottoms, where the coldest air sits in dense pockets before sunrise.

Native succulents, dormant during the summer months, plump up with the rain and reveal their hiding places high on shale cliffs (a bit of rock climbing was necessary to get these photos). Whereas mushrooms emerge on the shaded side of boulders sustained by a trickle from the creek.

It can seem dry, woody and bare, but the chaparral is full of color and surprises.