Monday, November 4, 2013

Arc-sites Galore

August, 7th through the 9th, Jennifer Pilapil and I visited the Kiavah Wilderness. For being August, it was slightly on the cooler side. I was really glad the weather reports were indicating that it was would be in the mid 80s. As it turned out the weather was fantastic. Not too hot and the breeze was just right. Expect for the nighttime winds, which I am now conditioned to sleep right through. For new people, camping in the Kiavah Wilderness, it can be quite a challenge, especially if they are light sleepers. Jennifer was woken up a couple of times by the wind and various animals visiting our site in the middle of the night. Despite the wind and cold nights we had a good outdoor adventure that will be hard to forget.

Getting to the Wilderness on the first day was met by a couple of set-backs. On our way up highway 395 we would realize we were forgetting essential items, such as batteries. We thought we would find our special batteries in Inyokern, but as it turned out, we had to travel over to Ridgecrest to gather our bounty.
After many tiny stops we finally arrived in Horse Canyon and ascended the road to the 4x4 McIver's Spring road.
Jennifer was pretty impressed by the crazy long hardcore road. We finally got to the cabin and set up camp. We took a nice stroll east of the cabin and that is when I made a terrible discovery. I found a weedy species, Lactuca serriola AND TIRE TRACKS! Oh boy, OHV's are driving off trail and into the Wilderness. What a major bummer. I took photos and then we continued our stroll.
Illegal OHV tracks in the Wilderness
As we were getting pummeled by the wind, we decided to turn around and go back to camp. The rock formations are always calling me over. As we were heading back to camp I decided to checkout an interesting outcrop. That is when Jen pointed out, "it's an Arc site!" It sure was. There were mortars and some kind of interesting etching in the rock, maybe even a rock sculpture. Time to do some Native American rock research.
Jennifer and the mortar
After exploring the arc-site and walking down a wash we stumbled upon poodle-dog bush, Eriodictyon parryi. We carefully collected it and finally reached our camp. This was the first time out with my new boots. I love these boots! I had previously bought a different brand but they didn't work so well with my feet.

My favorite boots! 
Day 2
For the past couple of months I have been obsessed with hiking to a spring in the Wilderness which is off the beaten path. I found it on Google Earth and entered the coordinates in my GPS.
The hike to the spring was pretty tough. Lots of bush whacking and climbing over downed trees, as well as navigating though  a ticket of baby conifers.
I am pretty used to this type of hiking but poor Jennifer has been out of commission from hiking since she started her fancy public health job. I tried to take it slow and look for the path of least resistance, but that was pretty difficult to do. I'm so glad it was not scorching hot.
We made it to the spring and collected the few species that were there. We found Cirsium vulgar
and other species that were also at McIver's spring.

Tons of little conifers
Jennifer collecting in the spring
A view of the spring from afar
After we collected in the spring we explored a canyon just north of the spring and stumbled upon a pretty red Penstemon sp.  After we collected a couple of plants we decided that the rest of the canyon was too dry to carry on. Plus we were running out of time. We jumped into the truck and headed back. I decided that we had time to check out a site that I have had my eye on for a while. We ventured over there only to find that the plants were no longer flowering in the region. BUT we did find TONS of archeological site artifacts. I mean tons! It was overwhelming how many mortars we came across. If I were a Native American I too would have picked this spot to live. It was beautiful. This is a site on my list that I want to visit next spring.

Mortars galore!

Reenacting ancient motions
When the sun was setting, we headed back to camp, to make dinner and press my specimens. Upon returning to camp, the subtle light made illegal tire tracks in the spring very obvious. I was seriously shocked. How could I have walked through the spring and not notice them? I was disappointed to find them. I photo documented the destruction and continued on.

Tire tracks through the spring
Vandals! Broken Wilderness sign :(