Place: South Warner Wilderness, Alturas, California
Coordinates: 41.362254, -120.243023
We had arrived at Pine Creek Basin with plenty of day time left. For a moment the idea came up to continue on to Patterson Lake but almost instantly it was struck down. We were to stay the night at the basin and use the time on our hands to relax and explore.
And so we dropped our packs by the trail and wandered off. Pappa Quail was off after a bird he'd seen flying into a group of trees ahead, the young chika went down to the creek, the elder chika walked to the shallow pond, and I looked around for flowers.
|Lupine, Lupinus sp.|
The Indian paintbrush was the dominant red on the slope and on any bit of land that was a little higher and drier.
|Wavyleaf Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja applegatei|
|Scarlet Gillia, Ipomopsis aggregata|
|Rufous Hummingbird, male|
|Lodgepole Pine, Pinus contorta|
|Lazuli Bunting, male|
|The spillway of the basin's pond|
|Eaton's Daisy, Erigeron eatonii|
|Monument Plant, Frasera speciosa|
|Monument Plant, Frasera speciosa|
|Brown's Peony, Paeonia brownii|
I also took the chance to look closer at the buttercups. And I wasn't the only one interested in them :-)
After fording the creek I verified that the trail indeed continued where I had seen the cairn. Then I went about looking for a suitable campsite. I found it in a nook behind a small land crest surrounded by some pine trees and large boulders. It was the perfect spot, and clearly well used previously as it had a fire ring of rocks, a makeshift bench of downed logs, and most importantly - a nice flat area of where to pitch a tent. It was distant enough from both creek and trail but not too far. I turned around and went to fetch the rest of my family.
I didn't hurry much, though. There were more wildflowers to appreciate on the way.
|Copeland's Owl's Clover, Orthocarpus cuspidatus ssp. copelandii|
At the campsite I cooked some lunch and Pappa Quail pitched the tent. Then we all split once again, Pappa Quail rested a bit, and then continued on with birding, the elder chika went down to the creek to the pond to look for fish, and I went further into the basin to explore, this time taking the younger chika along.
We didn't cross the creek this time. The creek however, curved its way through the meadow and wetlands, so we met it frequently during our scouting.
There were also plenty of little brooks criss-crossing the meadow on their way to merge with Pine Creek, and other flooded or muddy areas. Our progress was slow and careful, trying not to get our shoes too wet.
Looking down to avoid the bogs we found the little flowers, hiding in the taller grass.
|Toad Lily, Montia chamissoi|
|Sierra Bog Orchid, Plantathera dilatata|
|American bistorta, Bistorta bistortoides|
As my younger chika and me were making our way slowly back to the campsite I noticed something bright in the grass and frowned. I got closer and to my dismay I saw that my first guess was right - it was a stray mylar balloon, probably a party escapee that got carried away in the wind and deposited out in the wilderness. Such an ugly sight! We collected it of course, and tucked it away in our trash bag. It is some years now that I avoid using mylar balloons (and even rubber ones I hardly use) for that very reason. I had explained it in words too my chikas, but now she could see for herself the downside of these things.
|Willow, Salix sp.|
|Waiting for Gnats|
|Belding Ground Squirrel|