There were rumors of a shrine in the woods. There were tales of hikers coming upon candles and crystals, clustered together amid an anomalous outcrop of blue limestone along a trail near the San Andreas Fault. This shrine was said to be a meditation spot, a place to find inner peace and oneness with the universe, situated at the junction between two tectonic plates known to part ways with extreme violence from time to time. There was even word of a Buddha at the site, sitting in repose in a rock crevice amongst the oaks and bays, riding out the occasional earth tremor with an equanimity stemming from a profound state of detachment and enlightenment.
A Buddha? In the woods, near the faultline? This we had to go see for ourselves. So we did, on Saturday. These are the pics I took along the way.
We begin with the microcosm of lichen on a wooden fence along the road.
The surrounding hills are tinder-dry at the end of summer.
California poppy, the official state flower.
Before too long we see a fault trace along the trail, the low area on the left that looks a little like a stream bed (but isn't).
In the deep woods, the bay trees tower overhead.
Snowberries are an important wintertime food for birds, being high in fat and one of the few berries still on the branches then. They like to grow in moist places.
Poison oak is beginning to turn color for autumn.
A fallen bigleaf maple leaf rests on a bed of moss.
North Pole, South Pole, Zero Pole (Null Pole?). A remnant from the ranching days, deep in the woods.
A modern high-tension power line strides across the hills within sight of the abandoned wooden pole.
This is an old ranch road now being used as a trail.
War on Centaurea solstitialis!
California cudweed, or everlasting.
This red-tailed hawk is almost too fast for me to capture in a photograph.
Hillside with walnut tree, another remnant from a ranching-era orchard.
Another look at the big power line. Because I can't resist taking pics of power lines.
The gods must be crazy!
Our search for the Buddha takes us closer to the San Andreas Fault.
There's a trail here?! Where?? The low area is the fault, not a trail.
These trail arrows echo the opposite movements of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.
We see several feathers in the woods, including wild turkey tail feathers.
Another fault trace.
A woods of bay trees.
This spider web becomes a basket for fallen bay leaves.
Is there any doubt we are near the San Andreas Fault? This chasm is about 15' deep and 30' to 40' across.
We continue our search for the Buddha, passing a grassy hill and another lone walnut.
A northern checkerspot butterfly.
Fallen barricade, or lizard day spa?
We pass beneath a couple of 400-year-old canyon oaks, enormous giants whose presence is impossible to capture in a photograph.
The Bench For Sitting And Waiting For Earthquakes. We rest here awhile.
This fence is another remnant from the ranching days, and it got split apart during the 1906 earthquake when the fault broke and splintered.
There are edumacational stations along the trail here. Among other things, we learn all about how earthquake faults create springs, pressure ridges and sag ponds; how far the earth moved in 1906; and that trees toppled by major quakes can adapt to grow sideways by allowing large limbs to grow vertically as pseudo-trunks (provided there remains enough root contact with the ground).
Next to a spring at post no. 5, we see abandoned ranch equipment rusting deep in the underbrush.
The San Andreas Fault Trail parallels the 1906 fault break.
Dried fern frond.
This post is one of several marking the main fault break from the 1906 earthquake.
Autumn is on its way.
Western fence lizard.
Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming.
Autumn foliage is not the only thing being shed.
The trail wends into the woods, and around a bend we see an outcrop of limestone -- and the shrine?
We round the outcrop and find a way up into it . . .
We have found the Buddha of Los Trancos.
The Buddha sits in repose in this rock crevice amongst the oaks and bays.
The Buddha contemplates the true nature of reality and meditates to achieve enlightenment.
The Buddha's face.
The Buddha's hands.
The Buddha abides.