Sierra Buttes, not far from the camera traps
I made a quick trip this week to San Francisco State University's Sierra Nevada Field Campus, and knew I was almost there when Sierra Buttes popped into view.
Purpose? . . . to set camera traps for the upcoming workshop.
Left at 6:15, sans Fred (no dogs allowed at the field campus) and arrived at the field station at 9:00.
The ride had its distractions -- like the profusion of bush monkey flower in the Feather River Canyon.
Near Graeagle I stopped to photograph a field of lupine, and the perfume almost moved me to poetry.
At destination I barged into the alder thickets looking for Aplodon.
A demographic event has reduced the once thriving colony to a ghost town with one active burrow.
I set a cam at the single burrow and made two additional sets in the area.
Next I scouted logging roads for additional sites, but snow blocked my old Honda.
Then up to Yuba Pass where I pondered my next move over a sandwich -- decided to head for Deadman scree.
The problem was the Yuba River.
This codger wasn't up to rock hopping, long jumping, or pole vaulting the white water to reach the other side.
I drove back and forth looking for fallen logs, and found one that was safe to cross. It led to a boggy flood plain and an obstacle course of windblown limbs and fallen logs.
I set two more cameras with bear guards, one on a creek I had worked last year -- or so I thought.
Then I struck out for the home of pikas and bushy-tailed woodrats -- that vast expanse of scree that glares through the trees on Rt 49.
Having studied the quad the night before, I was relatively sure of my position.
Stumbling upon ancient patches of talus in the old red fir forest reinforced my confidence that I was on the right track.
The scree was southwest of me.
I had to be getting closer, but the expected opening in the trees didn't appear.
Unfortunately, talus slopes aren't shown on my GPS's topo map, and after crossing several drainages I realized that the various creeks flowing from the vicinity of Deadman Lake all look alike.
The scree was in the other direction.
I decided to cut my losses high on the slope and set the sixth cam.
It was close to 4:00.
I looped back and headed downhill until the slope became a bit treacherous.
But there was a shortcut -- a very large red fir that had fallen steeply across the Yuba.
I crossed it in slow motion, tippy-toed through a campsite, and found my car a a half mile up the road.
Six cams are set for the workshop.