Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Camp Trail - Honey Bees and Mustard Flowers

Written by Cindy Nunn

On Friday our plans to hike the Brea Canyon area were stymied due to difficult access, so we changed plans and headed for the Happy Camp Trail, located in the hills about 3 miles north east of the little town of Moorpark, which is bordered by Simi Valley. Although not a particularly strenuous hike it was n enjoyable one. Unlike other canyons and trails in the area Happy Camp is fairly tame and level, with only a few gentle rising grades. The area is alive with Western Fence lizards, birds, squirrels and bees, LOTS of bees! Most of the flora consists of various types of sage, like white, button and blackball, as well as sumac, greasewood and wild buckwheat. The most prolific plant is the bright yellow flowered mustard plant. All of these plants together display a gorgeous riot of color to the wild landscape.

In 1890 Ninetta Eames visited the area and wrote an article about her impressions in Overland monthly and Out West magazine, entitling it Autumn Days in Ventura. She specifically mentions the thirteen hundred stands of bees at Happy Camp, and also shares with us the fact that the honey from the Simi Valley apiaries was considerest "the clearest and best honey in the world."

Is it any wonder that our hike on this trail was accompanied by the constant drone of bees busily working away at collecting honey? These, no doubt, are the descendants of those original bees mentioned in the article more than 120 years ago.

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