Monday, June 5, 2023

Salt Point State Park


Edge of the Marine Terrace at Salt Point
(click to view larger)

It's been a tough spring to find even one relatively fog-free day to photograph wildflower landscapes along the coast. I've been eagerly watching the weather forecast (including wind and webcams), and yesterday seemed to offer the best, and possibly the last, opportunity I could expect to have at Salt Point State Park before the best of the bloom goes to seed. 

To get to Salt Point I usually take the 101 north to 116 west, then head up the coast highway at Jenner, but this time I let Google Maps guide me on a different route, even though it only promised to shave 10 minutes and 1.3 miles from my usual route. I got off the 101 at Railroad Ave.,  then took Roblar and Valley Ford to Bodega Bay. As I drove through the darkness and the patchy fog, I was glad my phone didn't lose contact with the "directions lady" since I had no idea where I was. A bright spot, both figuratively and literally, was having the full moon often in view, either right in front of me or out the side window, as it slowly sank toward the sea. 

There were three road construction areas between Jenner and the park (which Google Maps surprisingly didn't show), each of which involved several minutes of waiting for a green light to drive the single-lane stretch. Each stop had a sign warning of a possible 10-minute delay. The waits caused me to arrive a little later than I'd planned, but it was all good. I arrived at the Stump Beach parking lot after sunrise but well before the sun rose high enough to crest the forest east of the coastal plain.  

A hazy fog still hugged the shoreline, but the sun managed to push it away from the immediate coast until around 10 a.m. There was virtually no wind, the temperature was mild enough for shorts, the flowers were dewy, and there was a pretty decent swell adding drama to the ocean. It seemed like the wildflower peak might have been a couple of weeks ago, especially for the Sea Pink, but it was still an admirable landscape.

In addition to the wildflowers decorating the marine terrace, Salt Point is also a great place to explore compositions among the intriguing tafoni sandstone formations, and just north of Stump Beach is the Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve. The rhodies were still in bloom, but with the fog having just burned off (gorgeous forest sunbeams faded before I could get out my camera gear) I was drawn more to the candy-striped orchids and bright orange lilies on the forest floor. 

If I'd stayed at Kruse a little longer, I might have had another chance with the fog beams. As I headed south for home I checked out Gerstle Cove, where I asked the ranger if I could go in briefly without having to pay the $8 day use fee. I thought she would either say no or wave me through, but she actually printed out a free Courtesy Pass that I taped to my windshield. Unfortunately, the coast had become so socked in by fog that I didn't even get out of the car. 

Stump Beach in Black-and-White

Johnny-nip in Yellow (Castilleja ambigua)

Scarlet Paintbrush

Wildflower Garden Along Stump Beach Cove

Seaside Daisy, Lupine, and Sea Pink

Morning Sun Lights up the Lupines (Lupinus variicolor)

Sea Pink pokes its head above the bed of lupines.

View from Above

Land's End

Prickly Coast

Sea Pink (Armeria maritima ssp. californica) & Sandstone

June Coast

Tafoni #1

Tafoni #2

Tafoni #3

A Flow of Sandstone

Tafoni #4

An Exuberance of Life on the Marine Terrace

Scarlet Paintbrush in the Sun

Sun in the Mist

Coast Lily
(Lilium maritimum)

Pacific Coralroot #1
(Corallorhiza mertensiana)

Pacific Coralroot #2

Pacific Coralroot #3

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