Mount Palomar: Mother Nature at Its Best

Besides hiking Mount Woodson (a.k.a Potato Chip Rock) during the summer, the last time Roan and I have been in the mountains was when we an aerial tramway to Mount Jacinto, which is 8,000+ ft above sea-level. Since the weather in San Diego had been cooler these days, we thought of exploring Palomar Mountain. Following our trip to the Palomar Observatory, Roan and I drove about 10 miles worth of hairpin turns to Palomar Mountain State Park.

Palomar literally means “pigeon house,” and the mountain was named as such because it was known to be the home of band-tailed pigeons. Besides the Palomar ObservatoryPalomar Mountain (especially the state park) is home to oak and conifer trees such as large pines, cedar, and fir.

Mount Palomar is one of the popular campgrounds in San Diego. The weather in the mountains ranged between 40s and 50s, which gradually drops towards the night. Since it’s a campsite, it requires an entrance fee of $8 per vehicle. We failed to bring cash on our first trip there, so I made sure I carried enough loose change the second time around.

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

“We’re in the middle of a pretty cool forest,” I mumbled to myself upon getting off of our vehicle.

Roan and I tried to move as inconspicuously as possible so as not to try to disturb the campers nearby; however, I was startled by a resonating sound that was all too familiar. On a tree not too far from where we were standing was a red-headed woodpecker. Good thing I brought my telephoto lens with me; I was able to film it while it did what it does to survive—bore holes in trees to feed on insects.

Is it just me or you feel as if the trees close in on you as you walk deeper into the heart of the forest? The feeling is as incredible as it is frightening sometimes. It seems as if the trees do this to measure you up, whether you’re a good person or otherwise. That, or my imagination is simply messed up.

That little fellow of a squirrel may look cute and adorable, but we tried not to call its attention nor get too close to it. A couple of months back, Jan warned us about a plague that’s been detected in the West Coast since she knew that we loved going outdoors (i.e., hiking, geocaching). Some squirrels in higher elevations had been tested positive for the plague, so we must be cautious not to have close contact with them as much as possible.

We seldom get to take a decent photo together; glad I brought my mini tripod along, too!

Walking towards the pathway that led us to the campground, we found a tree that looked as if it were chopped diagonally because of its unusual hollow trunk; however, it may also be caused by a natural occurrence. Roan found an amphitheater and a fire pit not too far from the said tree, and we assumed that it’s where campers hold group meetings, day and night. Dude, it’s so medieval.

Looking at these photos, no one would even believe that fall/autumn is in full swing here in California. I know most people know that it doesn’t snow in California, but it actually does in certain parts, especially high up the mountains (i.e., Mount Jacinto in Palm Springs and Big Bear Lake). The next time you see a photo of mountains with snow caps from California, don’t be alarmed.

Since it gets dark quickly during these days, Roan and I made sure we were en route back to the city before sunset. On our way down, we chanced upon deers crossing the road! Fortunately, I still had my camera on my neck, so I was able to quickly snap photos of the animals before they scrambled back into the woods. It must have been my lucky day because one of them (yes, that’s one and the same deer) even posed for the camera! Roan slowly eased back onto the road to avoid startling the wildlife.

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