Inside Passage: Hike to Baird Glacier

The day after seeing humpbacks and orcas on our Inside Passage cruise, we saw fjords and ferns and hiked to Baird Glacier. Above, the Wilderness Explorer is anchored in a misty fjord in Thomas Bay.

Continue reading Inside Passage: Hike to Baird Glacier

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Still Life – Polypody

Two favorite photos from our chronicle of polypodium californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, California polypody.

I like this crop of from the polypody photo of July 1 for its abstract view of the dying fern fronds being drained of their color.

dying fronds of Polypodium californicum 'Sarah Lyman'
dying fronds of Polypodium californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’

And the rebirth in early September, emerging from the mulch of chopped-up fronds and oak leaves. The center stalk unfurls and then the side leaves also unfurl. The exposure is .6 seconds at f/22, to maximize depth of field.

polypody shoots, Sept. 4
polypody shoots, Sept. 4

Summer Dormancy and the Polypody

Some of our newly planted ferns turned brown last summer. They were pretty, and we didn’t know what we had done wrong.

We eventually learned that the fern, polypodium Californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, or California polypody fern, is summer dormant. Wikipedia says “In plant physiology, dormancy is a period of arrested plant growth. It is a survival strategy exhibited by many plant species, which enables them to survive in climates where part of the year is unsuitable for growth, such as winter or dry seasons.” California has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and very little rain for 6 months, a harsh climate for plants. The polypody adapted to our dry summers by going dormant.

This year we documented the polypody’s summer dormancy.

On May 30 the polypody is looking good. The fronds are 1′ tall, growing in the shade of a coast live oak tree, quercus agrifolia.

Polypodium californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, May 30
Polypodium californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, May 30

A month later, the polypody is fading fast.

Polypodium californicum 'Sarah Lyman', July 1
Polypodium californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, July 1

Two weeks later, the polypody is brown. We subsequently cut up the fronds and left them as mulch.

Polypodium californicum 'Sarah Lyman', July 14
Polypodium californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, July 14

But in late August, fronds begin to emerge from the leaf litter.

Polypodium californicum 'Sarah Lyman', Aug. 26
Polypodium californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, Aug. 26

And shoots continue to emerge two weeks later.

polypody shoots, Sept. 5
polypody shoots, Sept. 5

California has a tough climate for plants, with little rainfall during the warm summers, when plants need moisture the most. Some California native plants like the polypody have adapted by going dormant during the summer.

Nuuanu Trail Hike

My uncle led a hike up the Nuuanu Trail into the Koolau Range above Honolulu, with a 1200′ elevation gain. He’s run this trail with friends for years.

From downtown Honolulu, drive up the Pali Highway past Punchbowl, turn right on Nuuanu Pali Drive, and drive about a mile to the small brown trail sign on the right.

This is an upscale neighborhood. The photo below shows a backyard pond that takes advantage of Nuuanu Stream, which drains the Nuuanu Valley. Up the valley toward the Pali, rain obscures the mountains. George Clooney’s house in “The Descendants” is nearby. We saw the corner where Clooney ran to his friend’s house to ask about his wife’s affair.

backyard pond on Nuuanu Stream
backyard pond on Nuuanu Stream

From the trailhead, start up the Judd Trail, cross the Nuuanu Stream, and enter the grove of Norfolk Island pines. The trees grow a new ring of branches each year, an easy way to tell the age of a tree.

Norfolk Island pines
Norfolk Island pines

At the trail junction, take the Nuuanu Trail, which gets progressively steeper. From the top of the ridge, there are views of Honolulu and a tree to climb.

Honolulu airport
Honolulu airport
A tree to climb
A tree to climb

Ferns and moss grow from lava next to the trail.

ferns growing in lava
ferns growing in lava

On the way back we crossed Nuuanu Stream again, hopping from rock to rock. The Stream looks quiet now, but over the millennia it has carved a deep valley into the lava of the Koolau Range.

crossing Nuaanu Stream
crossing Nuaanu Stream

We saw only one other hiker during the 3-hour hike, and there were no mosquitos. A very nice hike to get grounded with nature, with views and interesting terrain, a few miles from downtown Honolulu.