Many feel that Pine Valley in the Ventana Wilderness feels more like the Sierra Nevadas than the Coast Ranges. This is probably because of the stands of Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) that give the valley its name. The gentle north-facing slope supports dense stands of pines with a creek running through, transitioning to a meadow dotted with rushes and solitary pines. The hot-dry, southern-facing slopes of the valley are made up of buff-colored, Eocene-age sandstones of the Church Creek formation. After the 2016 Soberanes fire swept through the area we were eager to find out how our beloved valley fared. It was a sunny day after winter rains and we were happy to see that the trees were fine even though much of the surrounding landscape had burned. Ponderosa pines have an inseparable relationship with cycles of fire and are considered to be the most fire-resistant conifers in the west. They are deeply rooted, have a branching canopy, and are able to self-prune by shedding lower branches. The thick, platy bark can flake off when burning, transferring heat away from the inner cambial cells.
This print is based on a watercolor I made on that first post-fire trip to Pine Valley.