The eye-catching colors of apple galls are like nothing else in chaparral and impossible to miss. These are on scrub oaks along the Stunt High Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The galls are chemically induced by the larva of the California gall wasp, which uses the gall for food, protection, and to pupate. The rose color appears to result from exposure of the gall to sunlight.
I was descending the Stunt High Trail after visiting Saddle Peak while doing the Topanga Ridge Loop. As in other parts of the Santa Monica Mountains in which I’ve run following Hilary’s deluge, the trails were somewhat more eroded than usual but in OK shape.
Some related posts: Scrub Oak Apple Gall, Looking for Snow on Topanga Lookout and Saddle Peak, Topanga Lookout Loop, Plus Saddle Peak
The photo above is of a rider on an e-dirt bike in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (aka Ahmanson Ranch). Based on a sequence of photos, no pedaling was required.
With the explosion of e-bikes, encounters such as this are inevitable. I’ve seen e-bikes and tracks in the most remote corners of the local mountains. Earlier this year, while running on a wilderness trail, I was passed by a motorcade of ten e-bikes.
Poaching of trails is commonplace. In one bike forum the question was asked, “Has anyone here actually received a ticket for riding an e-bike on a trail?” At that time — 2018 — the consensus was a resounding no. More recent posts suggest that not much has changed.
Yet another application for a much-evolved Rogallo wing.
This afternoon, while doing a meandering run in the Santa Susana Mountains, I was climbing one of the large rock formations in the area, when I spotted a blotch of ochre-red on its summit.
Not quite sure what I was seeing, I stopped mid-stride and stared at the creature. Blinking to clear my vision, it looked like it might be a large frog or toad.
Quietly moving closer, lest it launch itself from the top of the rock, I could see it was the rare Santa Susana Red-Backed Gliding Bullfrog.
A peculiar creature, its flight or fight response is to either leap from a high point and glide to safety, or to instantly lithify on-the-spot. While either action may prevent predation, lithification discourages virtually all predators.
Apparently, this animal had opted for the latter, and would be in this stone-like state for some time to come.
Fogbows form opposite the sun in a manner similar to rainbows, except the water droplets that create a fogbow are much smaller than raindrops. Because a fog droplet is so small, the physics of the interaction is different. The result is often a diffuse, primarily white bow.
The photograph of the fogbow was taken Sunday morning on an out and back run from Wendy Drive to Mugu Peak. The sun was about 14 degrees above the horizon. More about fogbows and other atmospheric phenomena can be found on Les Cowley’s Atmospheric Optics website.
Some related posts: Rainbow Colors in Cirrus Clouds Over Los Angeles, Out and Back Trail Run to Mugu Peak
As I neared the top of Topanga Lookout Ridge, I could hear music coming from the Lookout. It looked like there were people on top, but from my vantage point down on the ridge, it was hard to tell what was going on.
When I reached the isolated platform, I was surprised to find a couple dancing! Wearing masks, and with much of the San Fernando Valley as a backdrop, they had found a unique way to deal with the complications of the pandemic.
Some related posts: Topanga Lookout Ridge Loop; Malibu Canyon to Saddle Peak, Topanga Lookout, Calabasas Peak, and the Secret Trail