Archivos de diario de abril 2019

08 de abril de 2019

Misadventures Near the Mule Mountains

I am always trying to get to places where the species have not been recorded on iNaturalist. As the number of users in Southern California have increased that has become progressively more difficult. There are still a few patches though. One such patch is the Mule Mountains, about thirty miles southwest of Blythe. While there are a couple observations near the edges of the mountains the site has yet to have extensive documentation. Even related sites such as Calflora do not show much about the site.

With this in mind, I headed to Coon Hollow Campground dragging along my 4 and 6 year old boys. Being ten or more miles down a dirt road and in an area with very few observations, this campground seemed a good starting point for some adventures. So I set up my tent, ate a bit then headed for the Mule Mountains.

Before heading on this trip I had scouted the site as well as I could on Google. There was a little road called Bradshaw Trail which looked like it was in good shape up until the edge of the Mule Mountains. It was pretty clear my Prius wasn't up for a crossing of the mountains, but the road looked good on Google up until the edge of the mountains.

When I reached this road, it was clear there was a problem with my plan. About fifty feet down the road there was a warning that it was only 4 wheel drive accessible. This should have stopped me cold, but the road was in such good condition! I reasoned that with how good the road looked at the four wheel drive sign I should be able to go slowly until I was obviously out of my league then turn back.

So I drove about a half mile. Then I hit the sand. I continued through the sand and was on solid road again. That knocked my senses into me. I decided to turn around. The road was pretty small though and I wasn't sure I could do a u-turn without getting stuck. Also, I was only one patch of sand away from good road. I elected to back through the sand and turn around when I got to the cross street. This probably would have worked. However I was of the opinion that I needed to go quickly or I would get stuck in the sand. So I went faster than I should have. I ended up getting too close to the edge of the road and got solidly stuck in the much deeper sand there.

After a half hour of trying to dig myself out with some friendly motorcyclists which stopped to help (people are so much nicer when you are with kids), I realized I remarkably had cell phone service. So I just paid the exorbitant fees tow truck companies charge to pull someone out of the situation like that.

So I spent the next two hours waiting for the tow truck photographing plants and insects as I was really quite in the middle of nowhere. The kids played in the sand.

Luckily once towed out, the car still worked. So I returned to camp vowing not to start the car up again until it was time to go home. The area around the campground was pretty much undocumented, and it seemed like I could easily walk to the Mule Mountains a mile or so east of the campground.

The next morning I woke up to a small mantis near my head in the tent! Great! I had seen one of those the night before at an improvised bug attracting light but my kids stepped on it before I could get a picture. So I took a few photos.

Then I smelled smoke! Smoke? I realized it was coming from either my flash or my camera. I am pretty sure one of the capacitors had previously failed on the flash so I figured it was finally dying for real.

After breakfast we started east toward the Mule Mountains. The kids seemed excited enough and in the morning cool it was the perfect time to walk a couple miles.

Perhaps half way to the edge of the mountains the older one starts complaining about his feet. He says his shoes are hurting his feet. I look at his feet. It seemed like something got through the holes in his crocks and made his feet itch. Ugh, why did I let him bring crocs? I gave up on the Mule Mountains and started to carry him back to camp. Luckily about half way back he stopped complaining and started walking, but at that point I wasn't going to be able to motivate him to turn back towards the mountains.

So we spent the rest of the day playing games and searching the dry stream bed. Luckily my flash was still working apparently normally. The camera had been starting to act a little funny though. At about 6 PM while I was taking a photo of a beetle the camera said "Camera Error Turn power off then on." Turning it off did nothing at all. So I pulled the battery. Same problem. Pulled off the lens to find that the shutter was stuck closed. The Sony a6300 camera had survived three years and 267,331 shutter actuations but it was finally good and dead. This is the last photo that camera is likely to take:

Luckily the camera had survived three quarters of the trip. However the last night and the drive back I was stuck with my cell phone. The camera seems like it could be repaired but to do so would not be cheap. I ended up purchasing a new A7III as a replacement.

Could have done without the towing bill and dead camera, but other than that was a pretty good trip. Managed to get 359 observations in a really obscure and lightly documented part of the desert. Kids seemed to hold up well to camping in primitive conditions so I may have to try a similar place next spring.

Publicado el abril 8, 2019 05:13 MAÑANA por glmory glmory | 20 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

21 de abril de 2019

Devil’s Punchbowl Bioblitz

Due to a Sunday flight into Toronto and a busy work schedule that week I will have little involvement in the City Nature Challenge this year. I will be attending the Devil’s Punchbowl Bioblitz though.

Publicado el abril 21, 2019 04:01 TARDE por glmory glmory | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario