Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Long Walk on a Short Trail -- 2

We continue our walk on Cypress Grove Trail in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, located just south of Carmel, CA.

This 0.8 mile trail is one of about a dozen trails through the 400-acre park and one of the most popular. Most of the trail is clear, providing an easy walk; other areas call for close attention being paid to the path, so at segments like that shown here, our slower pace allowed us to stop and become immersed in the surroundings.

Each year about 300,000 people visit this crown jewel of California's state park system. We would hope that every visitor has the opportunity to see the park cloaked in fog for a portion of their walk. From a photogra-
pher's point of view, the fog highlights parts of a scene, hides some extraneous segments, and adds a different, i.e., softer, lighting to a scene.

But these fog-shrouded headlands of the park are essential for the life of the grove. The proximity of the ocean breezes and the salt spray may be major factors in the Monterey cypresses' resistance to disease in their native habitat.

The Cypress Grove Trail winds through one of the two naturally growing stands of Monterey cypress trees remaining on Earth. (The other grove is across Carmel Bay at Cypress Point.)

As scientists and foresters studied the Monterey Cypress trees growing at Point Lobos and at Cypress Point on the north side of Carmel Bay, they realized these trees do not grow naturally anywhere else in the world. The occurrence of the Monterey cypress in just these two localities has led to its listing by the State of California as a Category 1 Rare and Endangered species.

Midway on our hike, we met another hiker with several bags. It turns out he was an artist who had just completed covering all his supplies due to the heavy mist of the fog.

After a couple of minutes of conversation about the fog, we each continued our efforts at capturing the beauty of the scenery as the sun broke through and the fog disappeared.

On the northern side of the cypress grove, we found trees covered with Spanish moss and algae. The moss cast a wintery appearance to the trees.

The orange, velvety "stuff" is green algae. Its orange color comes from carotene, a pigment which also occurs in carrots. The plant does not harm the trees (pt-lobos.

Once we got past the question of what the stuff was, we could focus on the brilliant color against the tree bark.

We look forward to traveling the other trails in this outstanding park someday.

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