Monday, June 3, 2013

Photo Essay: Tejon Ranch, Through the Valley, into the Desert, and up a Mountain

I'd already made the two hour drive up north to Tejon Ranch once this spring, but I decided to go back.



And when I returned, I saw a decidedly different Tejon Ranch.



This time, most of the wildflowers - which had been abundant in March - were gone.



It turns out they hadn't lasted very long, and I'd seen them pretty much at their peak.



Also, this time, our main destination was Los Alamos Canyon, on the Antelope Valley side...



...known for its mixed oak woodlands...



...and of course many other species of flora and fauna, typical of the biodiversity that is characteristic of Tejon Ranch as a whole.



We happened upon a jawbone of...a wild boar?



Tejon Ranch is also famous for its feral pig population...



...which it tries to control via open hunting.



Despite the appearance of this brightly-colored insect commonly known as a "cow killer" (the Multillidae, a red, hairy, wingless wasp that resembles an ant)...



...we actually did spot some cattle, though far fewer than during our last trip.



Since most of the wildflowers were gone...



...we could focus on the fascinating varieties of trees that surrounded us...



...including the blue oak and Valley oak...



...as well as sycamores, cottonwoods, and stream-side willows.



We examined the inside of a gall, a cancer-like growth produced by parasitic wasps in oak trees...



...and, having finished our hike, set out to explore more of the ranch by car (as we had during my first visit).



Driving north out of the Antelope Valley into the Mojave Desert...



...we came across a different sort of woodland: a Joshua tree forest, the population of which is dense, and still growing.



This year, the Joshua trees of Tejon Ranch all bloomed and bore fruit more or less at the same time...



...a rarity amongst Joshua trees in the same forest.



The fruit they bear looks a bit like a cucumber on the inside, and apparently tastes like soap.



It's amazing that after such a short drive, the landscape can so quickly transition from chaparral to high desert...



...and then transition out again...



...showing the last few signs of wildflowers...







...including poppies!





And giant pine cones.

















And a hillside full of poppies!





Is this really all inside the bounds of one singular, privately-owned ranch?



Could this all possibly be the same place?



The next thing we knew, we were ascending the heights of Tejon Ranch...



...up high amongst the fir and cedar, reminding us that Tejon Ranch not only borders the Mojave Desert and the Great Central Valley, but also the Sierra Nevadas, Angeles National Forest, and Los Padres National Forest...



...as we looked down upon the desert valley below.

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Over the Ridges and Through the Creeks of Tejon Ranch

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