San Marcos Pass is one of the highest rainfall areas in the county during winter rains. As the pressure between air molecules decreases as they move up and over the mountain, the air cools and water vapor carried along condenses and falls more abundantly at higher elevations. One of just three routes out of Santa Barbara that cross the Santa Ynez Mountains, San Marcos Pass and old San Marcos Pass Road can be hit hard during major storms, as shown in the photos in the report below – click on image to access report.
And, Kinevan Road, just off San Marcos Pass Road, is one of the wetter locations in the San Marcos Pass area. Kinevan Road runs along the edge of the San Jose Creek. San Jose Creek then makes its way down the Santa Ynez mountains towards Goleta, before entering the Pacific Ocean. To lessen the flooding in Goleta caused by overflowing banks in heavy rain years, the lower portion of San Jose creek has seen significant construction in the last few years as it was widened to handle major storms. Heavy rain events affect areas at the source, middle and end of creek, as it flows from the mountains to the oceans.
Far away from the noisy construction, up along the relatively quiet narrow Kinevan Road at the top of the Pass, there was much vegetation to see and photograph. Moist soils support many trees, and there were at least ten native species along Kinevan Road – together with mosses, liverworts, ferns and other moisture loving-plants. Deciduous trees such as Bigleaf Maple and Sycamore had dropped most of their leaves, and Kinevan Road was edged with red and gold leaf litter.
For the most part, the Santa Ynez mountains are blanketed with chaparral plants, except for wetland areas. The vegetation difference between these areas can be quite distinct, as was the case when walking from the chaparral-clad turn-off to Kinevan Road toward the riverine area of Kinevan Road.
The Santa Ynez Mountain ridge is also somewhat of a dividing line for some species of fauna and flora. After driving down Stagecoach Road after the outing, I photographed Sugarbush on the north-facing slopes. When returning to Santa Barbara via old San Marcos Pass Road, Lemonadeberry was photographed on south-facing slopes. These two shrubs, similar in appearance, can be distinguished via leaf shape. Sugarbush has thinner, longer, curved leaves, shaped much like a sugar scoop; Lemonadeberry has flat, thick leaves. Lemonadeberry grows mostly south of the Santa Ynez Mountains ridge, as does Bigpod Ceanothus. Bigpod Ceanothus and possibly Lemonadeberry, should start flowering in the next month or so.
The trip discussion was not without geology information; this time about the Coldwater Sandstone formation. The name, “Coldwater”, comes from the Coldwater Canyon near Fillmore where the sandstone geology unit was first described. This sandstone formation was then mapped 40 miles from Fillmore into the Santa Ynez Mountains. From Wikipedia: “Being exceptionally resistant to erosion, outcrops of the Coldwater form some of the most dramatic terrain on the south slope of the Santa Ynez Mountains, with immense white sculpted slabs forming peaks, hogback ridges, and sheer cliff faces.”.
These peaks were visually described with Google landsat images in a blog about a geology field trip in 2012. Clicking on any of the images, opens a slideshow of larger images. I tried to recreate slide 7 of 9, in Google Earth, but failed.
No photo slideshow this time – need to investigate using something different than Flickr – and I have tons of stuff on my plate until the end of the year. Thanks to the SYVNHM leaders Tim and Larry, Laura, the carpoolers and everyone else.
Corrections are always welcomed.