The Torrey Story

Torrey pines are critically endangered, and some of the rarest pine trees in the world. There are only two locations remaining of wild Torrey pines: Torrey Pine State Reserve near San Diego, and Santa Rosa Island. Development was the first thing that threatened the trees. An invasion of the five-spined engraver beetle, droughts, fire, and air pollution have all contributed to the decline in the tree’s population. There are only a few thousand trees left in the wild.

After a long day flying from Florida, Torrey Pines were the first endangered tree on my list. Luckily, Torrey Pine State Reserve was only a half hour from our lodging. It was a gorgeous place on the ocean with trails in abundance. We wandered for hours taking many photos. We returned the next evening hoping to capture the trees in the most favorable golden light.

A subspecies of the Torrey Pine, specific only to Santa Rosa Island, required a long boat ride to access. The ride was a bit rough and we had to quell nausea with a steady eye on the horizon plus a patch behind our ears, and wrist bands . We were so fortunate to see a large pod of dolphins with assorted seabirds attending. With a stop to let people off at Santa Cruz, the purported 2.5 hour boat ride became 3.5 hours, and the time allotted on the island shrank accordingly. When we arrived, I asked ranger Dylan if it would be possible to make the Torrey Pines 7.5 mile loop in the given time. He said if you walk with intent and an eye on the clock, you will reach the base of the grove in 2.5 miles.

We did our best speed walk. There were a few brief climbs on the way, but as we approached the base of the grove there was an absolutely monumental pine towering in the distance, and I wondered if we would be able to get close to it.
A narrow path branched off and up, so I scrambled in the direction of the massive tree. Luckily, the path wound its way to its base, and I was able to get a few decent shots. The rest of the climb showed absolutely magnificent views of the Pacific against the gold of the meadows, dotted with a bit of evergreen flora and a few tiny oaks. At the top of the loop there was a gnarled oak clinging to the cliff face. I took aim as best I could, and felt fairly certain it was Quercus Pacifica, another endangered tree of the Channel Islands. The Torrey Pines varied in shape from low thick limbs draped across the rocky ground, to tall, upright, and formidable. Not wanting to miss the boat back, we left much earlier than I would have liked and ran back. The air on the island felt crisp and cool, the sky was a clear sparkling blue and with water ranging from turquoise to emerald to stony blue, it was a spectacular day, and I so wish to return.

2 thoughts on “The Torrey Story

  1. I love this. Thank you so much 💗🌳💗



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