Sunday in the Back Country (9 photos)

Shuwen & I were up early last Sunday – we wanted to take a morning walk with Toni at Love Valley, accessible from Palomar Mountain’s East Grade Road. It’s outside of the State Park boundaries on Cleveland National Forest land so dogs are allowed there, and it’s a really lovely spot that is aptly named.

We usually take the longer but more scenic route through Poway up to Highway 67, then continue to Ramona (where 67 becomes 78) and drive further east to Santa Ysabel. The morning started with a heavy marine layer, through which we passed somewhere past Ramona, and Santa Ysabel was in the sun already. I sort of expected that and wasn’t actually disappointed. However, when we continued north on Highway 79 from Santa Ysabel I saw that the marine layer had pushed up and into the Lake Henshaw basin. That was an unexpected treat, as I got to photograph “that” Cottonwood tree in the fog! Three takes of that below.

After that first stop we continued up on East Grade Road to Love Valley as planned, and passed through the marine layer once again. We took our morning walk at Love Valley in the sun. Toni was super happy, going after squirrels and rabbits, roaming the pastures and enjoying some time off the leash and on her own (she always pays good attention to where we’re heading, and is never out of sight for very long).

I wanted to see Love Valley because I was curious whether the little pond had filled up after the rains of February 28th/March 1st (Palomar Mountain got about 8 inches of rain during this weekend), but to no avail – there was a small muddy spot in the middle of it but otherwise, nothing.

I couldn’t resist to try another take of the Engelmann Oak overlooking the Lake Henshaw basin – perhaps you remember it from my photo of the month series, the black & white photo “Across the Vale” was my pick for February 2014. It was nice with the blanket of fog covering the lake (see photo below).

We slowly made our way back to the car and as we drove back down on East Grade Road, the fog had almost entirely lifted from the Lake Henshaw basin, revealing a much greener valley than when I saw it last time. This was quite a treat for our drought-sore eyes.

We then drove down into the desert to pick up my prints from the Anza Borrego Foundation that hadn’t sold during the exhibition of the photo contest. After an early lunch with Mexican food and beer we drove into Coyote Canyon to Lower Willows, looking for some wildflowers, but except for a few cacti and lots of red Ocotillos, we didn’t see much. It was early afternoon and the sun was beating down on us so we returned home without spending much more time in the desert.

I can’t help but continue to be amazed by the diversity of the landscape in San Diego County. From the coast via the back country’s rolling hills, then over the mountains and into the desert, it’s all within just a 2-3 hour drive (depending on where you start, and where you go;-). I know that a 2-3 hour drive sounds like a lot to my friends back in Germany and Europe, but it’s not that much here, somehow. And I know fully well that, would I have to drive for 2-3 hours in Germany, I would think twice if I really wanted to do that. :)

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