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First Tour - Lower Reaches Part Two

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To view these pictures, just scroll down the smaller images below, and click on any of them to see an enlarged version of the picture.

(Map) This series of pictures was taken flying downstream from Soap Lake via Chittenden Gap and Aromas to Watsonville.
Here we are flying west and just passing over the exit point of Soap Lake.
The Pajaro River enters the picture in the lower right corner. The Uvas enters the picture from just below the middle of the right-hand side of the image (Highway 101 just above it) and joins the Pajaro just beyond the body of open water. Tar creek can also be seen coming underneath the Highway 101 overpass to join the Uvas.
This picture was taken from roughly the same point but looking more toward the south. We are directly over the Pajaro River (which is seen entering from the bottom of the picture. From the body of open water, the Pajaro follows the darker band of foliage on this side of Highway 101 and eventually crosses under the highway as it makes its way south and west to Chittenden Gap.
Looking down Highway 101, we can see the dark band of foliage that marks the course of the river crossing the highway from left to right as it makes its way to Chittenden Gap. In the distance we can see where Highway 129 branches right off 101 and heads to Watsonville through the gap.
Let your eye follow Highway 101 where it goes toward the left of this picture. Just beyond where the highway disappears from view, you can see a valley going to the right and slanting up toward the top of the picture.
This is the Chittenden Gap through which all water from the Pajaro Watershed must pass on its way to the ocean.
Historically (in the geologic scale of things) and before the San Francisco Bay had an exit to the ocean through the Golden Gate, all the water from that watershed (including the major rivers that empty into the Bay via the delta) also made its way to the ocean through this gap.
This view is looking back upstream to where the Pajaro crossed under Highway 101. Gilroy can be seen in the upper-left.
Immediately after flying through the Chittenden Gap, the Pajaro River swings north-west (entering this picture at bottom-left. We see Soda Lake on the right (east) of the river, and the Logan quarry operation in the distance on the left.
A closer view of Soda Lake, now being filled with spoils from Logan Quarry. This lake occupies what used to be a meander of the Pajaro River which can just be seen lower left in this picture.
Here the Pajaro River is passing to the right of the quarry and then swings to the left over the top of the quarry and west towards Watsonville.
A more detailed view of part of the quarry. Note the height of the "cliffs" in the upper-left part of the picture. The Pajaro River is just beyond off the top of this picture.
At the top (northern) end of the quarry, the river and Highway 129 just beyond it, swing west again skirting the quarry on their way to Aromas.
A closer view of the quarry operations area, with the railroad and Highway 129 flanking the Pajaro River at this point.
Continuing towards Watsonville, the river (and Highway 129) curve round at the foot of the hills. At this point there are still no articial levees to constrain the river.
The river continues toward Watsonville, the last stretch before it becomes constrained by levees.
At this point the river is in its final few meanders before reaching Watsonville and we have reached the point where levees have become necessary to control flooding.
Another meander showing the river at a "normal" level flowing between flood benches with levees as outer protection.