Sunday, January 13, 2013

weekend hike: vasquez rocks

This weekend, I went out to Vasquez Rocks, an area about 30 minutes away. It's named after a bandit who hid out this area, but the real reason to go are the rocks:

The rocks exposed here show  an important event in the geologic history of Southern California: the first time the two plates (North American and Pacific) met each other. The sedimentary rocks are up to 25 million years old.

And they look like alien worlds... the Gorn lives in that cave up there:
Yes, I am a dork
 A part of the Pacific Crest Trail goes through this area, as helpfully marked by these poles:

Trail marker and Yucca
 There was a fire here about five years ago, and you can still see the tree skeletons:
The one on the right is extra creepy
 The trees and general late-winter starkness make the place a little spooky, complete with ravens flying around the cliffs:

The trail goes around and through some of the rock formations:
Panoramic - note the low bushes, and some trees, but not many. This area is very dry.

I liked this picture with the purple beam - the aliens are coming!

Various rock formations in the park.
 This area is a lot less lush than the hike from last week - this area is a lot dryer. There were some cool plants that I found though:
The Optunia (sp?) was one of my favorite finds, but it was on the other side of the freeway
 This California Juniper (Juniperus californica) had a ton of berries:
A little bit of plant color in the landscape
 After about a 2 mile hike, I got to the tunnel. There is a freeway above this tunnel, and the Pacific Crest Trail goes through this:
The freeway is probably a 100 feet above the tunnel
 On the other side, there's a strange structure by the entrance, for some reason:
If that's supposed to be a shade pavilion - they're doing it wrong.
 The trail continues, but there are no cool rocks on this side (well, in this area, anyway). I'll have to come back and continue another day.
PCT continuing south
 I did find this really pretty succulent on the other side of the freeway, growing out of a rock. I have no idea what it is, but I didn't see very many of them.
Perfect drainage, and I don't know if the powdery stuff is supposed to be there or if its from the cold weather...
Seeing this little specimen growing on this rock gave me some ideas for more projects in my garden - maybe a mounded area of big rocks with succulents/agave, or a crevice garden... (I don't need any more projects!)

Here's a panoramic from the other side. You can just see the top of the rocks just right of center. The straight part on the right is the freeway.
A complete different landscape - no Gorn here!
I'll have to come back in early or late spring, when the creek is running, and the trees have leafed out. It should look totally different then!


  1. Thanks for sharing this walk with us! The Gorn - hehe.

    1. I have to admit, I always like looking for Vasques in various movies and star trek episodes... Thanks for your comment!

  2. Excellent adventure! I think your fabulous little succulent might be a Dudleya.

    1. Thanks for the maybe-ID. I wonder if this particular one is available in cultivation... the rosette was so pretty!

  3. Isn't the desert SW amazing? Great rocks, plant groups, and bandits! With few exceptions (a few Calif species), everything could be somewhere in NM, UT, far W TX. Your cactus is Beavertail / Opuntia basilaris.

    I'll forward your succulent / Dudleya to an ex-So Cal desert plant friend for his ID.

    1. Thanks for the ID on the Optunia. I want to go back later to see it bloom! And yes, the desert SW is amazing!

      If your friend happens to have an ID for that little succulent, I'd love to know. I've been researching what it could be, but I have a lot more to learn.


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