March 28th through the 30th, I was ever so eager to return to my study site. This time Joy England, a Master's student conducting a flora in the Upper Rock Creek Watershed, joined me in the field. I was glad that Joy agreed to assist me with collecting. She has a beautiful study site in the high Sierra with alpine plants and riparian splendors (including trout). Inhabiting the desert for a couple of days would be a new experience for her. It sure was quite the trip. We experienced some of the harshest obstacles the desert has to offer (gale force winds, cold nights, warm afternoons, nighttime rain). Despite all of that, the Wilderness gave us a lot to walk away with. I can't believe how well the Wilderness is doing. Each time I return, new fields of wildflowers cover the ground.
Friday, March 28th
Joy and I are not morning people. In fact we are very similar in many ways. We both work in the herbarium and we work well together. Waking up at 6:00 am is not easy us but we did it, for the sake of the Scodies. We jumped into the field vehicle and set off into the sun-rise towards the Wilderness.
I returned to Cow Haven Canyon to see if Phacelia was in flower. When we reached our destination I immediately noticed illegal tire tracks and a broken wilderness boundary signs. I'm getting tired of seeing this over and over again. It seems to be worse this year.
|Joy holding a broken Wilderness sign. Tire tracks|
within the wilderness boundary
|Can you spot the two species? I promise there are two different|
plants in this photo
|OMG. I have no words for this rare find|
|Diplacus aurantiacus. Weirdo blooming early|
|Crassula connata! I was excited to finally find this little one|
|What are you doing Cuscuta growing on Gilia!?|
|Phacelia fremontii in dense patches|
Saturday, March 29th
In the morning we packed up camp and headed to Horse Canyon. Horse Canyon is very large. There is a lot of territory that I have not yet covered. I've had my eye on Horse Canyon Spring since last year. I was glad that I finally had a reason to venture to it. We hiked up an old road and found even more in bloom.
|Parking at the wilderness boundary, Horse Canyon Spring here we come|
|How could this be a California desert?|
|Prunus andersonii in full flower|
|Joy taking a break on the job|
As the temperature dropped and the wind pummeled us to exhaustion, we decided to call it a day and setup camp.
I can usually sleep anywhere without a problem. However, this particular night will forever be known as the night I tried to sleep but never did. The wind beat against the tent all night. It never let down. I listened to the rainfly flap about in agony and all I could think about was sleep. Finally I said out load, "I can't sleep." In which Joy replied, "me too." I was shocked to hear her voice clear as day. And then it started to rain! Rain was falling! It was a strange mix of sleepless emotions. Hooray! Rain in the Scodies! Ugh, I'm so tired. Yay, rain! And then we felt water seep into the tent. That was our cue to pack up camp and sleep in the field vehicle…. at 2:00 am!
Sunday, March 30th
My plans to collect on Sunday were hampered by the weather. It was COLD and windy and COLD. The clouds hung over the Scodies in defiance. They weren't going anywhere but the rain had stopped. Joy and I started the vehicle at 6:15 a.m. and began our drive out of the Wilderness. Then we looked back into Horse Canyon and saw SNOW on the mountains! It was beautiful! I couldn't believe my eyes. Then a rainbow appeared! As if things couldn't get any better. The rainbow arched over the entire Wilderness. I wanted to yell, "WHOA. What does it mean?" In reference to the viral youtube video, Double Rainbow. (I can say that I totally understand his heartfelt emotions over a rainbow)
|Socked in snow capped Scodies. A nice light dusting|
|"What does it mean?"|
|A rainbow arched over the scodies|