After our visit to Modoc NWR we went back to Alturas for a late lunch and some decision making. We had planned to camp for the two flowing nights at one of the South Warner Wilderness campgrounds, but the weather forecast wasn't looking very camping-friendly.
After a friendly discussion we had with our diner host we decided to change our plan slightly and go to hike and camp at Cedar Pass.
|Swainson's Hawk by the road side on the way to Cedar Pass|
The upper trailhead is at the small ski area of Cedar Pass. There's restrooms there, but little else. I found the trail information post and photographed it, as we didn't have any other trail map with us.
|Cedar Creek trail, photographed from a sign at the trailhead. Our hike is labeled yellow.|
But there is really no need for a trail map there. The trail is well marked and maintained, and there was no problem of following it. In a couple of spots it was still under snow, but nothing we couldn't deal with either by going around or by stepping carefully over.
|Sagebrush Buttercup (Ranunculus glaberrimus)|
|Ballhead Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum capitatum)|
The chikas, on the other hand, had a great time everytime we encountered a nearby snow patch.
|Lingering winter remnants|
|A Cedar Creek tributary|
There's no parking lot at the lower Cedar Creek trailhead, just a large pullout. No bathrooms either. The creek is about 40 feet below the road and the woods there are a bit more sparse than at the upper end of the trail. Not very surprising, considering that the lower end of the trail is located east of the mountain pass.
|Cedar Creek, a view from the road|
We could here the birds. Didn't see any, though. The flower situation wasn't much different. Buttercups in the shady areas, and in the sunny patches, caught my eye only two invasive weed species: the alyssum and the bluegrass.
|Alyssum simplex, non-native|
But they are beautiful :-)
|Bulbous Bluegrass (Poa bulbosa), non-native|
|A mix of evergreens and deciduous trees at various budding stages.|
|Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)|
The birds were hiding and the wind picked up considerably. It was also getting late and we still needed to find a campsite and cook dinner, so we turned about after less than a mile of strolling along the creek, and headed back to the road. Next time we visit Modoc I hope to hike the entire Cedar Creek trail.
The Modoc National Forest campgrounds in the area were open for use, but without any running water yet, so we were aiming for the Stough Reservoir campground, which is very close to the Upper Cedar Creek trailhead, meaning high near the pass.
We chose the site nearest to the water and were soon racing to get our tent up and cook dinner, because the wind was getting stronger and stronger by the minute. The moment Papa Quail and the chikas vanished inside the tent the flurries started. I finished cleaning the dinner table and entered the tent myself, expecting to wake up to a white scenery.
|Snow-capped peak overlooking Stough Reservoir|
I laid in my sleeping bag and listened to the passionate frogs calling their lungs out, and to the banging of the wind at the tent, which lasted well into the wee hours of the night. While I do not intentionally go camping when this kind of weather is expected, I do find that it enhances my nature experience.
Papa Quail does not share my view of camping in less than optimal weather, so our night at Stough Reservoir campground was to be our last night in Modoc County for this trip.
As it turned out, the wind died down half way through the night and there was no snow on the ground when we emerged from our tent in the morning. It was very cold, though, and after a quick breakfast near the campfire we were ready to break camp and leave, but not before hiking a short loop around the reservoir.
There were plenty of woodpeckers around, alright. None pileated, though.
|Sheathed Lomatium (Lomatium vaginatum)|
|Phlox (Phlox sp.)|
Many thanks to members of the California Native Plants Society for their help in identifying plants!