By Audrey F. Baker, Trail Guide
Flowers tell stories. A favorite spring botanical is the Fiesta Flower. Its downward-positioned 1-inch blooms and violet hues suggest sweet modesty. Petals transition from medium lavender to pale lilac at their base, then boast deep-purple stamens.
Found in shaded slopes of chaparral, these floral gems are reminders of Alta California, and the days of the rancheros. Spanish maidens adorned party dresses by attaching floral sprays of Fiesta Flower. Velcro-like prickly surfaces of the plant performed “fairy magic” holding flower against fabric.
The clustered, half-opened lobes of Blue Dick (Wild Hyacinth) have their own tales. They invite visitation by the nectar-seeking Sara Orangetip butterfly, and their corms, the thick underground stems called grass nuts, were enjoyed by the Kumeyaay and settlers alike.
Our MTRP Trail Guide walks are an opportunity to learn more about natural Southern California, with its unique landscapes, habitats, local history and plant 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, 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Carlos. The walk beginning from the Kumeyaay Lake Campground Entry Station, 2 Father Junipero Serra Trail, at the San Carlos-Santee border, gives a different perspective of the park and its diverse habitats. These walks are offered from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, and take in historic Old Mission Dam.
Wildlife Tracking reveals the secret life 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., Saturday, April 4 in front of the Visitor Center for a two-hour tracking adventure.
Discovery Table: Bird Nests affords a close look at “avian architecture.” We showcase the variety of shapes, sizes and nest designs, and illustrate how each best serves its occupants. Try your skill at matching the right egg to its nest and gather fun facts from Trail Guides. Stop by our hands-on science table in the Visitor Center lobby on Saturday, April 11 between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. for fun with basic plant physiology.
Bird Old Mission Dam with MTRP Birders Jeanne Raimond and Millie Basden for avian adventure at the scenic and inspiring “Padre Dam.” The popular bird habitat is further energized with mating and nesting activity, and our feathered friends are engaged in full song. Binoculars and bird book are recommended. See you at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 18 at the parking lot of Old Mission Dam, Mission Trails Regional Park, 2 Father Juniper Serra Trail, Santee for a two-hour exploration.
Star Party shines on as MTRP Resident Star Gazer George Varga “focuses up” for solar exploration. George tells us that with a new moon against darkened skies, Jupiter will be observed west of the meridian and close to the Beehive Cluster. He’ll also scope Venus over the Fortuna Range and Ursa Major, whose high position will allow viewing the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) and possibly M81 and M82 galaxies. Come see real star power from 7 – 10 p.m. Saturday, April 18. Meet at the far end of the Kumeyaay Campground Day Use Parking Lot.
Murray Walk and Talk is a fun stroll with your MTRP trail guide amid Lake Murray’s picturesque shores. We’ll chat up today’s topic, “When Is Spring in San Diego” and explore how our seasonal calendar differs from traditional “back East” timetables, and how our resourceful plants adapt to their distinctive schedule. Meet us Tuesday, April 21 at Lake Murray’s boat docks, 5540 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa, 9 – 10:30 a.m.
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 pick up tips on bird field guide use. (Bringing one is optional.) Class meets on Saturday, April 25 from 1 – 2:30 p.m. inside the Visitor Center.
Family Discovery Walk, our essential “family time” experience, connects your little ones to nature. This interactive outing for parents and their children focuses on childhood enrichment and fun along the trail! Meet inside the Visitor Center, Sunday, April 26, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, come on out and enjoy the park!
Visit 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.