Mistfalls – Santa Cruz Mountains Fog and Mist

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The Santa Cruz Mountains of California, as seen from Russian Ridge in the fog and mist following a winter storm.

This view is from Russian Ridge Open Space, California, where the trail from Borel Hill meets Ancient Oaks Trail. When I rounded the bend and saw this scene, it immediately reminded me of the type of fjords that line the coasts of Alaska or Norway. You know, the ones with waterfall after waterfall, each one taller and taller than the last. So high that you wonder how on earth there’s enough precipitation above it to fuel it’s flow. While this peaceful valley of the Santa Cruz Mountains is quite modest in comparison, the patterns of the mist looked to me like giant waterfalls. I’m not exactly sure why the fog hung in the crevices like that. It could be that it was just barely cresting the ridge and flowing into the valley, making these literal mistfalls. But I’ve seen that process before – it’s fairly common – and it usually doesn’t take this pattern here. It could also be that the deluge of rain overnight awoke some streambeds, and the fog lingered above them. Or perhaps the valleys were just a few degrees colder, enough to condense the saturated air.

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