Cajon Pass March 2019
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Cajon Pass Road Trip
W.P. Armstrong, March 2019
Cameras Used On This Trip: Nikon D-3200, Sony HX-60, Sony T-10, iPhone 6
The purpose of this short road trip to Fontana, Claremont & Cajon Pass was exercise for my foot drop, anting & photography. The exercise included Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, the beautiful campus of Pomona College, & Cajon Pass to look for ants & photograph freight trains.
California Poppies Along I-15 Near Lake Elsinore

Approaching gridlock on I-15 North near Lake Elsinore. Note the massive bloom of California poppies on hills east of the freeway.

Monday (March 25) 1:00 PM: Caught in gridlock on I-15 near Lake Elsinore. I took these images through my car window. Literally thousands of people were parked along the freeway and hiking up into the masses of California poppies.

Satellite Image

Satellite image showing Walker Canyon hillsides (near Lake Elsinore) filled with California poppies in full bloom. Image slightly enhanced with Adobe Photoshop. (Satellite image Š2019 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company.)

5-Engine Freight Trains On Cajon Pass

These freight trains had 5 engines, each generating 5,000 to 6,000 horse power. Depending on the load, it takes 5-7 large 100 ton engines to pull a train with 100 cars up this 2.2 percent Cajon Pass grade. The trains are over a mile long and weigh thousands of tons! This area is along the San Andreas Fault. One track has a section with a 3 percent grade which is the limit for long freight trains.

Numerous very long freight trains with 120 cars or more go over Cajon Pass each day. Some trains have 7 large engines, 5 in front and 2 at the rear. With a conservative estimate of 5,000 horsepower per engine (large 6 axle engines may have 6,000 hp), each train generates at least 35,000 hp. With engines that weigh well over 100 tons each and freight cars with load capacities of over 100 tons, the trains have a potential total weight of almost 11,000 tons. I doubt if 35,000 horses could pull this load up the Cajon Pass grade! Note: The GE AC6000CW 6 axle locomotive that resembles the engines in some of my images generates 6,000 hp and weighs about 200 tons!

Common Field Ant On Cajon Pass

This ant has more bristly hairs on its body than Formica moki in coastal San Diego County. It appears to be F. francoeuri, another species of inland mountains in southern California.

Two different species of Formica in mortal combat. They apparently "smell" differently to each other (i.e. they give off different chemical scents). F. francoeuri (right) occurs on Cajon Pass. It has abundant, erect (bristly) hairs on all body parts. F. moki (left) occurs on Owens Peak in San Diego County. It is mostly glabrous on thorax, head and legs.

Common Harvester Ant In Cucamonga & Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex californicus) photographed with my old trusty Sony T-10 along Foothill Blvd in Cucamonga, CA. Other ants found in this area include the native fire ant (Solenopsis xyloni), the pyramid ant (Dorymyrmex insanus), and the ubiquitous Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). I could not find the honeypot ant nest (Myrmecocystus) that I found at this exact site four years ago. During my retirement years I have turned my biological concentration from plants to ants, my childhood passion.

My First Love Affair With Ants During The Early 1950s
  Honeypot Ant That I Found At This Exact Location in 2014  

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden In Full Bloom

Ceanothus cyaneus (Lakeside Ceanothus). Native to San Diego County, CA.

Fremontodendron californicum (California flannel bush). Also native to San Diego County.

Prunus andersonii (Desert peach). Kern & Inyo Counties.

Scrophularia peregrina (Nettle-Leaved Figwort): Previously unreported in North America, S. peregrina had become an established weed throughout the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden by 1996 (Ross and Boyd, Madroņo 43 (4): 436, July-Sept 1996), and has since spread to the Bernard Field Station. Native to Portugal and the Mediterranean region.

Compare Scropularia peregrina With Native S. californica On Owens Peak

Scrophularia californica (Bee Plant) on Owens Peak (1 April 2019). The flowers are similar to S. peregrina from Portugal, but the leaves and stature are much different.

Cucamonga Peak From Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Although these mountains overlook densely populated cities in Los Angeles & San Bernardino Counties, they actually support a small population of San Gabriel Mountains bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni). A survey in March 2018 recorded 39 of these magnificent animals. I once hiked to the summit of nearby Lookout Mountain and saw 7 bighorn sheep. At almost 7,000 ft. this rugged peak also has a population of the rare rock creek broomrape (Orobanche valida ssp. valida) which was once listed as "presumed extinct" until I rediscovered it in the late 1900s.

My Mountain Property On Angeles Crest Highway (Hwy 2)

My father, a Navy Seabee, built a 2-story quonset hut cabin on this 4 acre parcel in the 1950s. It was later destroyed by fire and it took almost 50 years for the pinyon woodland to fully recover. I finally found this old black & white print of our cabin before it was painted! Note: The white scar on distant mountain range is a large limestone quarry. There are limestone rocks on the property.

I placed a fragment of limestone from property in a container of vinegar (acetic acid). Under a dissecting microscope tiny bubbles of CO2 began rising from the rock surface.

Hwy 2 in distance. This road is a speedway and very dangerous to cross on a blind curve.

Memory Lane: Historic little restaurant near my mtn property. I ate here with my father about 50 years ago. The massive Blue Cut Fire spared this quaint restaurant & pinyon-chaparral.

Memory Lane: Old Richfield Gas Station On Hwy 66 in Cucamonga

Restored Richfield gas station along historic Hwy 66 in Cucamonga, CA. I drove past this station many times in my American Graffiti days and before. I have fond memories in my 48 Ford convertible and 1950 Ford 2-door sedan during my high school, junior college, & university days in the late 1950s & early 1960s.

Classic Cars I Drove When This Gas Station Was In Operation:

Remember When: I restored an old 1948 Ford convertible like the one in image during the 1950s while attending Arcadia High School. A similar black 1946 Ford was driven by Biff Tannen in the movie "Back To The Future." BTW, a yellow 1948 Ford convertible was used in the original "Karate Kid."

While attending California State University my car was a well-worn 1950 Ford 2 door sedan (upper left). As a young undergraduate student in 1963 my passion moved from classic cars to biology & photography. In fact, my 1st camera capable of macrophotography was a Sears Tower single lens reflex (Model 32A). Although it was completely manual with a silk focal plane shutter, this old camera took pretty good close-up images. Macrophotography Techniques

Ice-covered lodgepole pine on Mt. Baldy.