For the camera trapper who has forgotten that creeks flood and that dirt roads can turn into quagmires, or believes that engineered wetlands maintain a constant water level, or thinks he walks under a lucky star . . . well folks, this is what can happen.
Welcome to the Sacramento Valley in December -- December 2, to be exact.
That's when the story began, when yours truly and Random Truth staked Camera U at the edge of a riparian wetland.
I had great expectations. The place was crawling with wildlife.
And sure enough, otters and raccoons left 12 images the very first night.
That's right, river otters -- my first camera-trapped otters on the first night!
The place was hot.
During the next four days Cam U snapped another 19 images.
The raccoons kept coming, and there was the tail-end of an egret and black-tailed deer.
On December 6 the water started to rise, and the promise of set 444 faded rapidly.
In three minutes the water level rose another 4 inches, and at 45 minutes past noon Cam U went under.
Under water it shorted and snapped 50 blurry photos in 3 minutes.
And that was it.
Camera U was finito.
A couple days ago I removed the precious memory stick and cleaned the sludge from the contacts.
It still worked, and that's why there is more to this story than the two photos at the beginning and end.
At the moment Camera U is lying in state on my work bench.
When dry it will join other casualties in the camera trap catacombs, which is just a box in the closet.