Travis loaded his backpack with 14 liters and I carried in 9 liters. I should have carried in 12 liters but I did not think my back would be able to handle the weight without breaking. Travis carried something like eight pounds of food and I packed the bare minimum, enough for one person. Plus, I had all of the collecting supplies.
The night before we embarked on our adventure I had the worst time trying to sleep. I think I only got about 2-3 hours of sleep. The problem was, I was so excited to get back out to the Scodies. It was that kind of excitement kids get when they find out that they are going to Disneyland. The Scodies are kind of like my Disneyland. I get to hike around, explore, collect, and camp What is there not to be excited about?!
Day 1I picked up the field vehicle and Travis, bright and early on Friday. The first thing Travis says is, "my pack originally weighed 64 pounds, so I got it down to 57 pounds." Whoa! Seriously! I thought my pack was heavy! Come to find out, Travis also had a difficult time getting sleep too. He was just as excited to get outdoors and try out his new backpacking gear.
The drive up highway 395 was was smooth sailing. We drove up Sage Canyon and parked at the end of the canyon. We geared up, put our boots on and placed our heavy packs on our backs. We then cross-county hiked up the decomposed granitic slopes of the canyon in search of plants.
|Can you see the truck? Center of picture, at base of slope, in front of trees|
|Skull of a former Scodie resident|
|I love the rock formations here!|
|The view looking southeast down Sage Canyon|
|Hey there Keck!|
After pressing the specimens we headed yet again, uphill. As we were going up, Travis noticed that we were hot-on fresh bear tracks. The bear tracks were huge! Fortunately, we didn't get a glimpse of the massive animal. We eventually reached a drainage that had signs of being cooler and wet. Juncus, Carex and Salix were there as well as Potentilla, Stachys, and Rumex. This spot was a treasure trove. We were losing day-light and Travis suggested we comeback to the spot in the morning to collect. We agreed and headed upslope a bit and found the perfect camping spot.
|Probably one of the best places I have spent the night. Such an amazing view of the valley below|
In the morning we headed down to the amazing treasure trove drainage. The Fremontadendron were beaming in full flower and the drainage looked even better in the morning light.
|Good Morning, Travis and Erika!|
As we were exploring the drainage Travis was telling me about rattlesnakes and their behaviors. Right then he says calmly and cooly, "oh look, a rattlesnake." I'm thinking in my head, "WHAT? WHERE! WHAT!" He motioned for to me go around him to get a good look at it. Travis then said, "Wow, that is one of the largest ones I have seen." He then proceeds with, "Get a picture of it." I gather my cool (I didn't freak out) and my camera and begin to snap away. The rattlesnake was really large and it wasn't even bothered by us. It was just taking its morning stroll through the wash. What a beauty.
|4 ft. long Panamint rattlesnake, Crotalus stephensi|
|Probably my favorite rock so far|
|Collecting at the base of the giant rock|
We were nearing the plateau and our packs were getting lighter from drinking our water rations. And all of a sudden it happened. We were walking on F...L...A...T ground! I couldn't believe it, it took us a day and a half to reach the plateay and it was covered by a thigh-high scrubby thick stand of Ceanothus. Is was clear that the plateau experienced a massive wildfire in the late 1990s and the major plant to take over after the fire was this Ceanothus. Fortunately for us, the Ceanothus was not armed with thorns.
|Flat Ground! On the plateau. Post-fire succession|
|Toiletpaper land to the right. Allium land in the wash|
|Interesting geology near McIver's Cabin|
Day 3In the morning the birds were chirping and a deer visited the spring. We made tons of collections in the spring. We were also visited by a PCT hiker who was on his way to Canada. I could not believe how many grasses, sedges, and rushes were in the spring. Thankfully I was with Travis, a Poaceae expert! If he was not there I would missed the grass diversity. He was the major contribution to my success on this trip. After rounding up the collecting in the spring we hiked up a peak near the cabin and explored it. We found a mining claim, which must have been McIver's mine. Not much was happening botanically on the peak but as we descended the peak along drainage we did find quite a bit of interesting plants. We decided it was time to head back to the truck down a steep long hike in Sage Canyon. Travis lead the way and we followed a narrow steep slot canyon. It was a very interesting hike out, but also a bit scary due to some spots being a little "sketchy". We found an amazing seep coming out from the side of the canyon wall. Then we stumbled up little pools of water, some 2-3 feet deep, with water trickling. It was spectacular, we found Typha at this location. Next year I will need to dedicate more time to this spot.
|Pool of fresh spring water in Sage Canyon|
|Travis leading the way out|
|Back at the truck before twilight|