Gas station without pumps

2021 November 11

Secret Walks: Natural Bridges

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:51
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On Saturday 6 November, my wife and I did the Natural Bridges loop from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover, but we  rotated the walk to start at the closest point to us (the Delaware Avenue entrance to Natural Bridges State Beach).  The walk in the book is only 2.3 miles, and our getting to and from it added 4.1 miles making a total of 6.4 miles.  Natural Bridges State Beach has quite a variety of different habitats for such a small area, so the pictures are mainly of flora and fauna (and I’ve spared you a lot of them).


On the way there, we noticed that the “No Graffiti!” sign was not very effective, having been covered by both graffitists and anti-graffitists.


This tree is in the fairly open space near Delaware Ave.


The path down to the creek has rather young trees, and there is clearly some erosion from water flowing down the path.


Some of the trees have horizontal branches low over the path.


The willows must need frequent trimming to keep them from blocking the path entirely.


The path crosses Moore Creek on a slightly bouncy foot bridge.


At the end of the creek path, there is a marshy area and a lagoon, with nice views across the lagoon of the one remaining natural bridge after which the state beach is named.


Pickle weed grows in the salt marsh and concentrates the salt, giving it a very salty taste.


We saw a snowy egret in the lagoon at the mouth of Moore Creek, but once again my camera does not have enough zoom to get a really clear picture. If I want to take pictures of birds, I’m going to need more than a 5× zoom.


After retracing the creek path, we went down to the beach, where no one ventured into the water, because the waves were pretty big.


There are not many places in Santa Cruz where you see this much moss hanging from the trees.


The twisty roots down the steep sides of the ravine are impressive.


Here is a view of the lagoon and the salt marsh from the other side of Moore Creek than the earlier pictures. While we were there, the lagoon was being filled with salt water (the creek running backwards from the beach). I’m not sure whether the tide was coming in, or whether it was high tide and the flow was being driven by waves breaking over the bar at the mouth of the lagoon.


Here is a view of the beach from the handicap-accessible viewing platform near the entrance.


The view across the beach shows the rocks that have tide pools at low tide and the gazebo for the manufactured-home park, which we visited on the Long Marine Lab/Antonelli Pond walk.


Pelicans rest on the top of the remnants of the natural bridge that collapsed in a 1980 storm. Only the central of the 3 original bridges remains.


Gulls and an egret wading in the seafoam.


This gull looks very watchful, and seems to be trying to keep his feet from getting wet.


Yet another of the weird-looking trees.


Something (squirrels? wood rats? raccoons?) seems to really like pine nuts—this natural grouping of a before-and-after pine cone shows how much of the cone gets stripped away to get access to the pine nuts.


This bumpy willow log has fallen over, but lots of shoots are growing out of the side.


Another willow trunk with a lot of bumps.

2021 Nov 11: We walked through the Monarch Grove as part of the walk, but there are very few monarch butterflies this year—maybe a couple hundred. It was a warm day, so they were flying, not clustered on the branches. We probably saw more people than butterflies on the trail.


On the way home, we passed a big leaf maple that had started to drop its leaves (I don’t have small feet).


I’m not sure what this shrub is with the polka-dot bark.


This weird plant was easy to find with a Google image search. Wikipedia says “Gomphocarpus physocarpus, commonly known as hairy balls, balloonplant, balloon cotton-bush, bishop’s balls, nailhead, or swan plant, is a species of milkweed.” I think I like “bishop’s balls” best as a name. The plant is a native of southeast Africa.


This flower looks a little like a morning glory, but the leaves are all wrong. I can’t seem to get Google to do an image search for it though, without Google insisting on limiting the search to include the words “morning glory”, negating the value of the search.

1 Comment »

  1. […] showed this industrial building in an earlier post—the graffiti has been added to since […]

    Pingback by Secret Walks: Wilder Ranch | Gas station without pumps — 2021 December 23 @ 16:41 | Reply

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