Forest Bathing with Lupines and Paintbrushes

As summer inevitably approaches, the forested higher elevations of San Diego County still offer respite for our already green-deprived eyes and spirits. May is generally a wonderful time to hike in the Laguna Mountains and Saturday afternoon Shuwen, Tracy and I went for a little bit of “Shinrin-yoku” there.

I had picked a route that none of us had done before, more out of curiosity than anything else, and we were pleasantly surprised by the lush green and flowers that we saw along the route in just under four miles. The temperature was definitely on the fresh side, between 50°F and 60°F — very nice for hiking but with what little effort the route took, we kept our jackets and fleeces on, especially in the shade and breeze of the deeper ravines.

The most abundant flowers were Lupines and Indian paintbrushes, and there’s quite a number of different ones of both growing in the Laguna Mountains. While I normally aim for as much precision as possible, I made absolutely no attempts to try and identify them — it was more important to enjoy the experience as a whole than getting down to the species level of a pretty flower. :)

The Lupines were the star on the first part of the hike. They seem to prefer the more open forest and open patches with plenty of sunlight.

The third photo below is one of those where, for a change, using the diffuser did not result in a better image* — there was no way to shade the background, and it seems to me that the little bit of light on the lupine helps to balance it all better.

On the second part of the hike, in the shade of a deeper ravine, the Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja species) delighted us with the sheer intensity of their color, which looks especially nice when a little bit of sunlight hits them directly.

Senses and spirits refreshed by the sights and sounds of the beautiful forest, we went home and treated ourselves to a nice dinner — probably more than compensating for what little calories we may have burned on our relaxed afternoon stroll… ;)


*) even though I did not use the photo in the end, credit where credit is due: in the absence of his daughter, who would normally be my assistant for these tasks (she helped with this photo), Tracy held the diffuser without complaining. ;)


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7 thoughts on “Forest Bathing with Lupines and Paintbrushes”

  1. It can be so refreshing spending days like this. Glad the weather was nice for the hike and that you had some good company. Sometime hikes alone are great, but so are those with some good friends and family. I very much like the second photo of the path seemingly leading you straight to the cluster of lupines.

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  2. Another late comment – your Castillejas are beautiful! We have them here, scattered about in dry forest areas, but they don’t tend to look this colorful and full. This year I took a few photos looking straight down on them, noticing the way the petals curve around – it’s such a nice pattern, isn’t it? The lupines beckoning at the end of the path – that’s wonderful! I like seeing them with your beautiful oaks. Your comment about deciding to just enjoy and not tease apart the species made me laugh.

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