We often think of winter as desolate and empty, but Nature Rhythms’ winter walk in Trione-Annadel State Park (aka Annadel State Park) felt anything but that. Instead, it felt ripe with a different kind of beauty than what stirs us in the springtime. You could more easily see moss-covered limbs or distinct designs on tree branches that had lost their leaves; or you could spot the birds flitting around those barren limbs; or identify lichens of various colors as they decorated tree trunks and branches disguised during other seasons.
You could also walk on shade-covered paths where winter bloomers like bay trees stood. Manzanitas boasted their tiny white bell-shaped flowers, waiting for hummers and butterflies to come pollinate them. Bay trees, which also keep their leaves year-round hung out their yellow flowers.
Did you know that you can tell which oaks will lose their leaves by their names? A coast live oak or a canyon live oak are not deciduous, whereas a valley oak and a blue oak will lose their leaves in winter. The use of “live” in the name is the key.
Mistletoe stood out on several trees. It sucks water and minerals from tree branches. Mistletoe is considered hemi-parasitic (not completely dependent on the host) because it can also photosynthesize. It won’t usually kill a strong tree but if it proliferates on a younger or weak tree, it could have a devastating impact.
If you want to see the redwoods at Annadel, stay on Channel Drive after the visitor center and head to the more southeastern entrance. They’re more prevalent on Steve’s “S” trail and the Warren Richardson trail than on the Spring Creek trail.