By: Wendy Langhans
Last weekend I decided to take a break and do a bit of exploring. So I grabbed my camera, headed south on San Fernando Road and parked where it dead-ends at Hwy 14. This is the entrance to the open spaces at Whitney Canyon and… as of August 30...Elsmere Canyon.
What a view! To the north I had a bird’s-eye perspective and could see across the entire Santa Clarita Valley. But as I walked along the trail, my attention turned towards a few small white flowers dancing in the breeze. I spotted blossoms from a Cliff Aster, a 1-3 foot tall perennial with 1-¼” diameter flowers that commonly blooms from March to September (but can be found blooming year round).
From a human perspective, even a “vertically-challenged” human like me, the plant was below my line of sight and did not stand out against a backdrop of brown, dry foliage and beige dirt. It was the plant’s movement that caught my eye. But image how this flower would look from the perspective of a ground dwelling beetle or a low-flying bee. The flowers would appear above the line of sight and stand out in contrast to a blue sky, where the flower’s white color and movement would quickly catch an insect’s attention.
If you take a closer look at the flower, you will find a surprise. The backside of the flower displays rosy stripes, all leading towards the center of the flower. Just imagine, to us it’s like the backside of a billboard being more colorful than the front.
But to that ground-dwelling beetle climbing up the stem, the backside of the flower is what he sees first. After all, it’s a matter of perspective.
We can see that same principle of perspective at work when we drive along the I-5 through the Newhall Pass. We don’t see development up on the ridgelines, above our line of sight. One reason we don’t is because the City of Santa Clarita had the foresight to pass a Ridgeline ordinance in 1991. Another reason is that the City and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy had the foresight to preserve the open space to the west of the pass, creating the Santa Clarita Woodlands Park.
But the job of protecting our ridgelines is not finished. The good news is that we will have bond monies from the Open Space Preservation District to put to work. Let’s hope we have the perspective to use it wisely.
Our next Bird Hike is scheduled at Towsley Canyon on Saturday, October 20 from 8:00-10:00 AM. Towsley Canyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com .
To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to www.hometownstation.com/or  tune in to AM 1220.