By Audrey F. Baker
One of the great pleasures of exploring Mission Trails in late spring is discovering the wildflowers that populate its landscapes. The variety of size, color and design is indicative of nature’s endless artistry.
Tidy tips, for example, have been described as sun bursts edged in white light. At the center, disc flowers represent the sun, while surrounding ray flowers portray streaming sunlight that neatly fades to white. Our grasslands and other flatlands areas host these delicately fragrant botanical gems.
For minimalists, Canchalagua is a delight. From an ultra-white throat, its five petals switch to brilliant pink, creating a small but dramatically impressive flower. Look for these in open sage and chaparral areas.
Common to the grasslands and throughout sage areas is blue-eyed grass. Showing the vivid blue color characteristic of the iris family, it also features an intensely hued taxi-yellow center, and, as its name suggests, bears grass-like leaves. Spanish settlers of early California used its roots to brew a tea intended to combat fever. It was popularly believed an individual could be sustained for days without other sustenance. Today, we celebrate it for its unique eye-catching beauty, charm and classic form.
More floral delights await you on your next trip to Mission Trails!
Our MTRP Trail Guide walks are an opportunity to learn more about natural Southern California, with its unique landscapes, habitats, local history, plant life and animal life. The walks are free, interesting, fact-filled and geared to all ages and interests. Grab sturdy shoes, that comfortable hat, water bottle and sunscreen and hit the trail!
Morning walks are offered every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. You’ll start from the park’s Visitor and Interpretive Center at 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail in San Carlos. From 8:30 to 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, visitors can take in views of the historic Old Mission Dam on a walk beginning from the Kumeyaay Lake Campground Entry Station at 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail, at the San Carlos-Santee border. This gives a different perspective of the park and its diverse habitats.
Wildlife Tracking reveals the secret lives of animals and brings insight into their survival techniques and habits. Tracking Team members assist in identifying and interpreting tracks, scat and habitats. Join us at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 6 in front of the Visitor Center, 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Carlos, for a two-hour tracking adventure.
Discovery Table: MTRP Rocks introduces you to common rocks found in the park and explains why, from pebble to boulder, “geology rocks!” Step up to our hands-on, Trail Guide-hosted science table in the Visitor Center lobby on Saturday, June 13 between 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and gain insights into the amazing geological world around you.
La Mesa Walk and Talk is a fun and informative stroll with your MTRP Trail Guide amid Lake Murray’s thriving environments. This month we’ll chat up the topic “health benefits of walking with a group” and take inspiration from the lake’s scenic charms. We meet at the Lake Murray boat docks (5540 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa) on Tuesday, June 16 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Bird the Loop with MTRP Birders Jeanne Raimond and Millie Basden for avian adventure along MTRP’s multi-habitat loop trail seeking typical species that make MTRP their home. We recommend binoculars and a bird book. See you at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 20 for a two-hour exploration. Meet in front of the Visitor Center, Mission Trails Regional Park, 1 Father Juniper Serra Trail, San Carlos.
Star Party Sites captivate. With the moon waxing in western skies, MTRP Resident Star Gazer George Varga tells us Saturn is well placed for viewing. Among other telescopic targets will be the Double Star Alcor/Mizar in Ursa Major and globular clusters including Hercules (M13). Rain cancels. Scheduled from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, we meet at the far end of the Kumeyaay Campground Day Use Parking Lot, Mission Trails Regional Park, 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail, Santee.
Birding Basics, the 90-minute class conducted by Mission Trails Bird Guide Winona Sollock, teaches five simple techniques to identify birds “at a glance!” You’ll also pick up tips on bird field guide use. (Bringing one is optional.) Class meets on Saturday, June 27 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. inside the Visitor Center.
Come on out and enjoy the park!
Visit www.mtrp.org for more information and our events calendar or call 619-668-3281. Special walks can be arranged for any club, group, business or school by contacting Ranger Chris Axtmann at 619-668-2746 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Audrey F. Baker is a Trail Guide at Mission Trails Regional Park.