Friday, July 29, 2011

Back from Alaska

As some of you may know, we were gone somewhat more than a week (north to Alaska), getting back just a few days ago. Our trip had a strong family orientation (timing and purpose were entirely based on a major family get together), and although it was a small gathering, it was good and fun. I'll not report on it here.

Instead, I hope to run through a few highlights from the several days of the trip, starting with a hike out in central Nevada while we were on our way to meet a plane.
About a month and a half after this hike, we started back up the same trail to the the Cold Springs Pony Express Station. I was inclined to go about half way, until we came to water running across the lower part of the trail, something I haven't seen in several years of visiting the area. The water inspired me to make the entire three-mile round trip. I've been plagued off and on with "runner's knee" — more properly known as ITBS, a syndrome not limited to those who run — ever since hiking to 12,350 feet on Wheeler Peak two years ago, so decisions like these don't come lightly.
Water in Pony Canyon creek at about 5520 feet, low on the alluvial fan.
Up at the station, the water was still flowing fast, as it was in late May, but there seemed to be less of it, or it wasn't spread out as wide, possibly not ponding as much as it had just above the station, although this earlier photo isn't strictly comparable.
Just below the station, the water definitely wasn't ponding as much as in late May, but was otherwise flowing well. This last time, the grass was taller, the green swath next to the creek was not as wide, and lupines were blooming near the bend in the creek (barely visible below the distant juniper if you enlarge the photo).
Walking back down the trail, this Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) was hanging out in the middle of the trail, probably at about 5600 to 5800 feet, not far below its reported upper elevation range of 6000 feet.
It's the females that show these bright orange spots. Here she is up close, still keeping an eye on us. Beware if you manage to catch one: they are known to bite.


Julia said...

She's a cute little thing! I'd probably still have tried to catch her...

Dana Hunter said...

Water in the desert, woot! Also love the lizard. Brings to mind all the hilarious times with biting lizards as a kid. I learned from a friend: never kiss a horny toad (minds out of the gutter, people) on the lips (now, I MEAN IT!) unless you want it dangling from said lip.

D said...

Oooh I love the lizard pictures! I've never seen one like that before!

Silver Fox said...

@Julia - I *know* you would have. They do run fast, though!

@Dana One report I read said a leopard lizard dangling from a finger (after the bite) was an easy lizard to photograph. So go for it!

@D Thanks! I don't think I've gotten a picture of one before - and it posed ever so nicely for us, and then stayed on the trail as we carefully walked around it through the sagebrush.