I went to more trouble than anyone in the history of the world has ever gone to photograph skunk cabbage.
I love the look of skunk cabbage but I’m also thankful I have such a poor sense of smell — they don’t come by their name by accident. There is a small patch along the Oaks-to-Wetlands Trail at Ridgefield but it’s a bit overrun and despite my best efforts I’ve never been able to get a decent picture.
While hiking in the redwoods, I came across a couple of small patches of skunk cabbage when the trail approached a large meadow. One flower in particular caught my fancy and I knew I had my chance to finally get a decent picture. I took some pictures with the lenses I had with me but since the flower was away from the trail, I wanted to return the next day with the big lens.
After hiking throughout the following morning and into the afternooon, I had a short window to revisit the cabbage before heading down to hike to a small waterfall. The cabbage turned out to be near a trailhead so I took the short route up. But each turn of the bend revealed no cabbage, the patch farther away in reality than memory.
I nearly turned back with each disappointing bend in the trail, worried I wouldn’t have enough time for the next hike. With the heavy lens and the bright sun and the light breeze I wasn’t sure the cabbage would be worth the effort anyway, nevermind the nagging suspicion that there would be a lot of cabbage near the stream from the waterfall that would be better subjects than these.
I did continue on and find the particular patch and the particular flower I was looking for. The leaves had shifted so it made an even more compelling scene than my previous visit and the forest canopy kindly shaded my chosen flower. To top it off, even more of the flower was in bloom. The breeze was moving the plants around so I waited for those brief seconds when all was still.
As it turns out there was a bunch of skunk cabbage on the trail to the waterfall, sitting right beside the trail with no big lens required, but I never found another that was as photogenic as this one. To be honest part of me didn’t want to find one, after going to the trouble to photograph the other, but I looked just the same.
That might not sound like I went to a lot of trouble, and in truth I didn’t, but I’d wager it’s still more trouble than anyone has ever gone to photograph skunk cabbage.
And I’m glad I did.