It had been almost one month since I last slept in my tent when I received an intriguing email. The California State Parks Foundation in conjunction with the Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park were having an invasive species removal effort on Sunday November 18th and were looking for volunteers. The offender - the evil Mullein. No, it's not the tree, it's the stalks in the foreground.
Free camping on Saturday was a bonus so I enthusiastically signed up.
The weather was looking ominous as I headed out on Saturday morning. After cresting CA 74 (Ortega Highway) I took this photo overlooking Lake Elsinore.
80 miles later I was heading up Palomar Mountain.
And then entered the clouds.
Luckily the campground was just below the cloud level so I could see while setting up camp.
Eight of us risked the weather to spend the night and were rewarded with free firewood and no rain. The next morning we met up with the other volunteers, park rangers, and people from California State Parks Foundation and Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park.
There were over 30 volunteers so we split up into small groups and went to work.
The day started off cloudy but ended up vacillating between sunny and cloudy and the fall colors were brilliant.
The goal was to uproot and bag the seed carrying adult plants as well as uproot the babies which look like this:
Invasive plants wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. The native insects cannot deal with them so they die off, which affects the birds that eat them and so on up the food chain. Not good. Speaking of food, I saw some wild turkeys. Since it was so close to Thanksgiving they were understandably skittish.
Our group ended up hiking several miles in pursuit of the evil Mullein.
Lunch was offered when we were done, but since I was going to keep camping for a few more days in the Laguna Mountain area I split.
Hey, when you are coming off a 5 month camping trip one night doesn't cut it. Plus, there were campgrounds in the area that I wanted to photograph.
If you would like to volunteer in California State Parks go to this link:
www.calparks.org Phoebe Oelheim is the SoCal coordinator.
To help out at Palomar in particular, Rick Barclay has this website:
Even though California found over $50 million of State Park funds in the sock drawer, it is not enough. It never is. So go volunteer. You will be glad that you did.
Regards, Park Ranger