March 11 2016

The Breathtaking Vernal Pools at Santa Rosa Plateau

Yesterday, Sam, our nanny Cindy and I took the boys to our favorite hiking spot, Santa Rosa Plateau. (See older post, here.) With all the rain that recently fell, we chose to hike to the vernal pools to see if they had any water in them. Because they’re usually dry, we don’t often see them teeming with life. Yesterday, however, there were ducks swimming and flying about, enjoying the pools that had now sprung to life. We all walked onto the boardwalk, bent down on our knees, and looked closely to see if we could see any fairy shrimp. According to Riverside County Parks, of the two species of fairy shrimp that live in these seasonal vernal pools, one is found only here and nowhere else on Earth.

For those unfamiliar with vernal pools, they’re shallow depressions in the soil which fill up with water during spring rains. Fairy shrimp and other minute crustaceans hatch during this time and lay eggs. These eggs remain dormant during the dry months until the next rainy season allows them to hatch.

Sam’s father, who used to own this land, told us that the water in the vernal pools could get as high as right under the boardwalk, completely covering the rocks all around us.

In addition to the waterfowl, on our hike, we spotted two coyotes. The kids were over-the-moon excited. While we were walking back to the car we experienced a beautiful sunset, all of us held our breath in amazement.

I got a chance to practice my photography a bit, capturing some photos I hope to add to my ongoing series “Appa.” I love how in the photo above all three of my boys are bent down and you can see a peek of Parker’s Ninja Turtles underwear and Logan’s diaper. Also, notice Sam’s tight grip on Logan. How much longer can they stay my babies? (That was a trick question. The answer is always.)

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