Αρχεία Ημερολογίου για Ιούλιος 2015

Ιούλιος 06, 2015

Crown Pass Field Trip 16-19 June 2015

My plans for this trip were far too ambitious. I planned to take a cross country route on day one but stayed on trail instead. I wanted to visit Upper Box and Lower Box in the Upper and Lower Box Watershed then go cross country to Old Pipe Lake. I made it to Old Pipe Lake all right, but didn't even make it to either box canyon. The country looked too rough, so on day two after descending toward Upper Box, I returned to Woodchuck Lake and took trail to Crown Pass. There I descended Nichols Canyon via abandoned trail and reached Old Pipe Lake. I expected my last day to be a simple trip home but saw much more than I expected. This was a trip of surprises and I really can't complain.

This summer, I'm trying to figure out how extensively Lewisia leeana grows in eastern Fresno County. Calflora, the comprehensive database for California flora, indicates it can be found in three isolated areas; in the Dinkey Lakes area, near Crown Pass, and on the flanks of Spanish Mountain. Two other observations can be found in CalPhotos, one on Eagle Peak near Dinkey Lakes and the other far to the east in the Blackcap Basin. My observations in the Woodchuck and Little Rancheria Creek watersheds are not yet in any database.

On the first day of the trip, I observed L. leeana south of the Woodchuck/Little Rancheria Creek divide. I took it as a good omen until I descended the trail toward Lacy Camp and didn't see any more. By the time I got to Lacy Camp, I figured I would probably make better time on trail than trying a cross country route. I managed to see a number of familiar plants and couple of new ones on my way to Woodchuck Lake. [http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/6/16]

The next morning, I slept in and didn't leave Woodchuck Lake until 10am. I headed north cross country and into the Upper and Lower Box Watershed. An hour later, I found L. leeana, the first time it's been observed in this watershed. I walked out on a point, looked down at Upper Box, looked over to the ridge separating it from Old Pipe Lake and had an immediate change in plans. The descent to Upper Box looked difficult and I figured it would be a very long day to go around the ridge to the lake, much less to hike over to Lower Box and back before that. I left the trip to Lower Box for another day and decided to head cross country east of Woodchuck Lake where I would hopefully find more L. leeana. I wasn't disappointed. I found plenty of L. leeana on my way to the trail and more on my way to Crown Pass. Finding the trail down Nichols Canyon to Old Pipe Lake was a different matter. I would guess it has been many years, probably over a decade, since the trail has been maintained and it showed few signs of use. Most blazes on trees had grown shut. A duck here and there showed where someone thought the trail might be. It was basically cross country down a steep canyon toward Old Pipe Lake. I found plenty of L. leeana, first observations in the Meadow Brook Watershed. Old Pipe Lake looked seldom visited and considering lack of trail, that is completely understandable, but it was not a disappointing day. [http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/6/17]

On day three, I was hopeful I might find some L. leeana north of Old Pipe Lake, but the area was dominated by pinemat manzanita and I couldn't find any. I headed up Nichols Canyon and parts of the old trail seemed a little easier to find than the day before. At Crown Pass, I decided to climb over the ridge instead of taking the trail I had used the day before. It turned out I followed trail anyway. The old, somewhat abandoned, but well ducked trail joins the new trail not too far from a small pond south of the main trail, and there I enjoyed lunch. After lunch I headed down one of the ridges that separates Woodchuck Lake from Marsh and Chimney Lakes. I saw plenty of L. leeana on the ridge and a number of other sightings, including a beautiful and unusual white Sierra shooting star, before making camp at Chimney Lake. [http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/6/18]

I convinced myself that final days are useful for returning to the trailhead and not meant for lots of observations. On day four, I was surprised at how much I found on the way back. I discoverd a new locality for pine fritillary south of the location where I made observations in 2012 and 2013 and I saw a few species new to me, also. [http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/6/19]

In all, it was a great trip with 141 observations, a couple of new watersheds visited, and a few more cross country transects completed.

Posted on Ιούλιος 06, 2015 0657 ΠΜ by sekihiker sekihiker | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Spanish Mountain Field Trip 24-26 June 2015

June is a busy month with an anniversary, a birthday, father's day, a long planned visit with friends and hopefully, some time enjoying the mountains and studying flowers. Somehow, I managed to squeeze in three trips, all out of the Rancheria Trailhead east of Wishon Reservoir. All of the trips were designed to hunt areas where Lewisia leeana might be present. It's disjunct population in Fresno County has become my study subject for the past couple of years.

On this three day trip, I returned to Crown Ridge above Chain Lakes. On my first trip of the year, I had been rained off the ridge. Day one took me to upper Chain Lake. On the way, I made several observations of L. leeana, starting on the moraine that dams middle Chain Lake to its west and including an observation within the blocky morainal debris that dams upper Chain Lake on its west. After a pleasant night's rest, I returned to where I had left off during my first trip. L. leeana was in full bloom and very abundant in granitic areas on the north slopes of high point 9900+ which is capped by volcanics. As I headed down the south facing slope, I searched in vain for L. leeana. I moved across a ridge to the east and still had no luck. The view to the south was not promising. Below was a prominence, 9774T, which looked to be entirely volcanic and almost entirely barren of understory. The ridge including point 9477T looked volcanic as well. I decided to descend the canyon north of this ridge instead of going to Crown Rock. There were plenty of flowers to be seen on the way down to the almost abandoned Chain Lakes Trail below. Lower parts of the canyon had excellent grazing so I saw lots of cattle. I picked my way south on faint trail littered with large deadfalls and reached the Crown Valley Trail a little before noon.

The second half of day two proved to be just as interesting as the first. The trail to Crown Valley is heavily used and easy to follow. The country it passes through is generally dry and even dryer during this drought year. Variety improved near the meadows and streams I passed, but I wasn't tempted to explore much. I kept my eye open for L. leeana, but didn't really expect to see any because of the low elevation. Finally, I reached the turnoff to Spanish Mountain at about 12:45. The trail looked seldom used but there was one set of horse tracks that helped me to locate it. Deadfalls were a real problem, sometimes involving many trees. I lost track of the horse prints more than once, only to find them on the other side of the downed trees. I became jealous. It appeared that the horse had levitated over them. The trail passed near or through several meadows where it disappeared and was difficult to find on the other side.

A little before 2:30, I arrived at a shallow, grass fringed lake and found a trail sign at its south end. The sign didn't mention it, but Spanish Lake was only a half mile to the west. It pointed the way to Geraldine Lakes where I wanted to spend the night. I turned east, spending much of the time going cross country but, now and then, encountering a blaze, a duck, or worn ground. Finally, the path turned more southerly and I ascended an unnamed drainage toward Geraldine Lakes. A little before four, I encountered my first L. leeana in the area, a large plant in full bloom. I continued up a broad granitic ramp to an overlook of lower Geraldine Lake, encountering many more L. leeana and other flowers on the way. The route down to the lake looked steep but possible, but I decided I wanted to stay at upper Geraldine Lake. I turned west and tried to find the trail to upper Geraldine Lake. I guessed the wrong direction and flailed around through forest, then swamp until I finally found what looked like the trail.

The ascent to upper Geraldine Lake seemed endless, but I encountered L. leeana again and again on the way up, including a first, one growing in dark metamorphics. Finally, at six o'clock on the dot, I arrived at upper Geraldine Lake. I decided the trip had been worthwhile, considering how many L. leeana I had seen on the way up. Not only that, but it was a pretty little lake where after a few minutes I found a pretty good campsite.

The next morning, I followed the trail which eventually led to lower Geraldine Lake where I found a huge campsite. I guess that's where most people stay when they come to this area. Faint trail led back up to where I had missed the turnoff the day before. I headed west, looking for more L. leeana and was not disappointed. I was not surprised that I found none on south-facing slopes. I didn't make it to the location reported by York and Shevock in 1995(JEPS96202). I figured I'd seen enough L. leeana in the area and I didn't doubt that there would be a lot more plants in the direction of their location.

I headed back to the trailhead. Staying high in an attempt to skirt deadfalls, I overshot the trail, the first of many missteps on the way back to the Crown Valley Trail. It was more difficult than the trip in. I got lost several times, especially in meadows and in areas with dense deadfalls. For a while, I was on a trail that connects the Spanish Lake trail with the Geraldine Lakes trail, that one that starts near the old ranger station. Finally, I made it to the Crown Lakes Trail and it was almost three o'clock. Well, at least I knew I wouldn't have a hard time finding my way back to the trailhead. On my way back, I ran into a couple of fishermen that had spent time fly fishing Crown Creek and we talked for 20 minutes or so. They said the trail deteriorated beyond Crown Valley and had lots of deadfalls across it. A few minutes later, on the banks of Cabin Creek, I made my fourth observation of this trip (third of the day) of mitrewort, this time a new species to me, alpine mitrewort or Pectiantia pentandra. Even though the flowers are almost impossible to see unless you look closely, the leaves call attention to the plant.

I arrived at the junction with the cutoff heading to Rancheria Trailhead and saw the sign I had missed on my first trip of the season. It was new and fresh and located in a place that is easily missed if headed toward Crown Valley. The trail to the Crown Valley Trailhead looked unused. I wonder how long the Crown Valley trailhead will be used to get to Crown Valley? I guess it's still used to get to Statham Meadow.

I descended down to Little Rancheria where I took a break at about six o'clock before finishing the day at the trailhead at about 7:30. It had been a big day and I saw a lot. My first impression of the Spanish Mountain area, a bad one, had been clouded by the difficult trip in from the Crown Valley trail and the hard climb to upper Geraldine Lake. My impression of the area started to change during the final day and by the time I started looking at the photos of the trip, I realized the area was worthy of many return trips (especially if I can find a better trail to Geraldine Lakes).

Posted on Ιούλιος 06, 2015 0719 ΜΜ by sekihiker sekihiker | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο