Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hiking in the Rain

woodThe last time we went hiking up our hiking hill, it was the day before Father's Day, and one of our heaviest rainstorms of the barely pre-summer season was in progress. The sky poured and drizzled water on us while we hiked. The ground was soft, not quite muddy. As per usual, I took a few photos, even though photography was hampered some by the rain and dripping trees.
tree Yes, we have trees in the part of the intermountain west commonly known as the Great Basin, which is also part of the larger Basin and Range. The tree above is a piñon pine tree, an old one. Many of the old ones on the trail up to Squaw Peak were burned by some long-ago brushfire. Their bark is black, their shapes are twisted, their needles are plentiful.
raindrop The sky was everywhere gray, misty, and obscure. Raindrops glistened and sparkled, suspended from fire-black and rain-darkened branches. Each raindrop contained a small green world.
flowers The rain intensified colors. The greens of sagebrush, rabbitbrush, piñon, juniper, and bitterbrush became greener. The umbers and ochres of fallen needles became deeper. Flowers almost glowed.
purple I'm not sure what this flowering plant is, also seen in the previous photo, possibly it's Mirabilis multiflora. I don't recall seeing it last year, but I might have missed it. It was usually smaller than this particular example, and was often hiding at the base of bushes or beneath trees on south- and west-facing slopes, from about 6760 feet to at least 7320 feet.
tiny2 I was lucky to spot these small, delicate tulip-like flowers; I have been unable to identify them. They were growing in a broadly flat area at about 6700 feet. UPDATE: These plants appear to be some variety of Calochortus, some varieties of which are called mariposa lily.
cactusflower Prickly pear, Opuntia, was wonderfully in bloom at the lower elevations of 6700 to 6900 feet. The flowers were pale orange to yellow with rose-like petals. Red or magenta prickly pear had already bloomed earlier in the year and higher on the mountain.
Sagebrush, sea-green with wet, dark-brown woody branches, grows in clumps around a larger plant that has already bloomed and is going to seed.
The tall seedy plant is probably Atriplex canescens, commonly known as fourwing saltbush. I was surprised to it growing at such a high elevation, at the low end of the piñon-juniper zone (6700 feet). There were only a few Atriplex bushes. They were two to four feet in height, and had few leaves. I first suspected Grayia (hopsage), which is usually a low-elevation plant, also, but the leaves weren't right.
Another unknown: this stalk is more than three feet tall, most were one to two feet in height.

Beautiful small white to pink flowers were growing in clumps at about 6600 feet.
We got wet, even with rain-protective clothing. We got cold coming back down from 7400 feet, even though we were fairly well bundled. It was a beautiful day.

This post is a submission to the Carnival of the Arid #5, which is hosted at Coyote Crossing by Chris Clarke.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Carnival of the Arid call for submissions is up

A call for submissions for the next Carnival of the Arid, #5, has gone up over at Coytote Crossing. Deadline is July 1. If you haven't checked out this carnival before - on deserts anywhere in the world - please do! Submit a blog post and pass the word around, to anyone who might be interested.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garden Status at Two Three Weeks

Now that it's finally summer, our garden is getting a little sun. In comparison to two three weeks ago, the tomatoes still look very similar in height with slightly larger fruit, and everything else shows definite growth, especially the red kale. Also, some rockhound has added a few rocks at the west east edge of the garden to prevent runoff.

Oh, and there are little tiny swellings where the tomato flowers were! MOH discovered that just now.

Date and time of photo: June 22, 2009, at 9:00 am.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Two Years Ago Today: Wrens Nesting

Two years ago today, I had just arrived at our lake home after my first full month of working in eastern Nevada. It was spring, and a pair of wrens were nesting in a bird house in our backyard.
First, they would get close and carefully eye the nest and everything around, while hiding in nearby bushes or trees. This wren has a small grub or something in its beak.
They built an unusual-looking nest, one with twigs sticking out of the hole. The twigs tightened up the entryway, protecting the nestlings from anything larger than a wren.

Part of the action is not just to bring food in for the baby birds, but to take out the trash. Somewhat neater than messy diapers, I think.
Both the male and female wren were involved in the feeding and trash-taking-out operations, dividing their chores evenly as far as I could tell.
While watching the wrens, I caught this patient birder taking pictures of them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Field Photos: Tarn It!

A tarn is a special kind of lake, and on our recent visit to Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Monument, we hiked up to two of them: Teresa Lake and Stella Lake.

We came first to Teresa Lake, pictured in the above three photos, after hiking up from the Wheeler Peak campground. Teresa Lake is at about 10,280 feet in elevation, or somewhat just below 3150 meters.
Between Teresa Lake and Stella Lake, we hiked over snow patches...
...and across a lateral moraine separating the two lakes. While we hiked, it snowed lightly.
Ah, our first glimpse of Stella Lake, with probable Precambrian meta-pelite littering the ground. Stella Lake is at an elevation of about 10,400 feet, or somewhat just below 3200 meters.
Hike, hike, hike - now we're probably on a terminal moraine below Stella Lake.
We found a great view of Stella Lake here, looking about due south across one of the lateral moraines separating the two lakes, toward the cirque headwall above Teresa Lake.
Spring flowers on an outcrop of probable Precambrian quartzite along the shore of Stella Lake, during a light snow storm: Precambrian and Quaternary in one view. The quartzite might be the Stella Lake Quartztite of Misch, now considered part of the Precambrian McCoy Creek Group.

Hose, R. K., Blake, M. C., and Smith, R. M., 1976, Geology and mineral resources of White Pine County, Nevada: Nevada Bur. Mines and Geol. Bulletin 85, 105 p.

Other references at these two Wheeler Peak posts.

Various Identities

Digital Electronic Technician Assembled for Ceaseless Harm, Masterful Exploration and Nocturnal Troubleshooting

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Synthetic Intelligent Lifeform Viable for Exploration, Rational Fighting and Online Xenocide

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Synthetic Functional Observation and Xenocide Xenomorph

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Person Optimized for Worldwide Exploration and Rational Sabotage

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Notice the keywords of "exploration" and "observation."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wheeler Peak Photo Sets, Spring and Summer 2006-2009

These comparison pictures taken of and on Wheeler Peak, Nevada, are organized by a monthly progression from late May — early June (2006) to mid June (2009) to late June — early July (2008). I organized them by month rather than by year, because they show a spring to summer progression of snow melt (possibly) and the spring to summer development of aspen leaves (for sure) more than they necessarily show a yearly change. The 2009 photos are somewhat anomalous, nonetheless, in that they were taken during a rain and snow storm, during this recent month of unusually wet and cool weather. All photos are from about 10,000 feet in elevation.
May 31, 2006, at 7:17 pm.

June 10, 2009, at 10:58 am.

July 1, 2008, at 10:00 am.
The first set of photos, above, generally shows less snow through the monthly progression, though the amount of snow on May 31, 2006, and on June 10, 2009, is fairly similar, and in fact there is more snow in places in the June 10th photo, and more in other places in the May 31st photo. Snow had fallen immediately prior to shooting the June 10th photo, and more snow fell after the photo was taken. Wheeler Peak itself is hidden by clouds in the June 10, 2009, photo.
June 1, 2006, at 9:01 am.

June 10, 2009, at 11:46 am.

June 28, 2008, at 12:45 pm.
The angle of the above three photos varies, although the angle of the first and third are nearly identical. Comparison of the first and second photo is difficult because so much of the mountain was under fog or cloud cover on June 10th, 2009, but snow amount in the first two is quite similar. I'd say there is slightly less in the June 10th photo and quite a bit less in the June 28th photo.
June 1, 2006, at 5:58 am.

June 10, 2009, at 2:12 pm.

July 2, 2008, at 6:32 am.
Aspen trees near 10,000 feet elevation at and just above the Wheeler Peak campground.
June 1, 2006, at 8:06 am.

June 10, 2009, at 2:10 pm.

July 2, 2008, at 6:36 am.
More aspen trees, again at similar locations in and just above the Wheeler Peak campground. I love aspen trees.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Things You Find in the Field: Leadfield

While out wandering around in the field - whether for fun, for work, or for both - it is common to come across all kinds of miscellaneous old relics, sometimes including partial to entire ghost towns. Here, I'll just show a few pictures from Leadfield, California, which is in Titus Canyon, on the downhill side of Red Pass, in Death Valley National Monument.
sign I won't go into the history of the Leadfield mining district in Titus Canyon, CA, except to say that the sign does not give the entire history, and that real copper and lead discoveries were made there in the early 1900's. See links below.
town A photo overview of part of the Leadfield town, with colorful grey to pale orange mine dump. I didn't knock around on this dump, so I don't know what was being brought out of the ground, but the grey matches the color of the local limestone.
A window through a door.
Rust and paint.
The view from one of the cabin windows.
In between.
blocked adit
An attempt to keep people out of one of the historic mine adits.
Sun on a rusty wall.
roof and window
Window and wall.

Death Valley Ghost Towns: National Park Service
Leadfield, California: Ghost Town Explorers
Leadfield, California: Wikipedia
Leadfield Ghost Town: