Musings of a roaming nature nerd

Surveying in California

7 miles of pavement and stop lights… 19 miles of washboarded dirt… 8 miles of rocky, narrow, 4WD-required tracks… and then we were at our campsite in Picacho State Recreation Area in California!

Mosquitoes, a Great Horned Owl, Common Poorwills, coyotes, and a handful of the several dozen bat species of this region joined us at river’s edge. Evening silence and long shadows cast by a bright quarter moon were jostled and broken by the deafening drone of a Marine Sea-Knight helicopter performing night maneuvers. I felt every palpitation of those massive dual rotors as it pulsed past our site, lights low, 100m off the water. Within minutes it was gone, as were the coyotes and owls and poorwills, and silence took the night.

With the first hint of light in the sky at 430 this morning, we were up; Jason and Bob traversing back down those narrow, rocky miles of the day before, while I waited for just a little more light to slip my kayak into the water and venture over to my survey site across the river in Arizona. Arriving, I secured the boat and clambered up the huge craggy cliffs that made up 2/3 of my plot. Echoing from every rock like crazy vuvuzelas were the calls of wild burros. I joined in by singing my own song about how the calls of burros are kind of scary sounding in the dim morning light and that the burros shouldn’t stomp me if they find me. But burros aren’t bears and they don’t need songs sung to them out of vague nervousness, so I quieted my voice and listened for the birds I was there to track and map.

4 hours later, after seeing few birds but having discovered a cool old stone hut hidden away at the base of a cliff, I cursed my way back to the kayak through the tamarisk.  1.5 miles of beautiful open river led me to Jason and Bob, waiting down stream at their sites. From there the rocky narrow tracks, washboarded dirt, and pavement and stoplights led us home.

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4 Responses

  1. Astrid

    like like like

    May 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm

  2. Boy

    Spectacular! looks like a great spot to camp, too! it reminded me a little bit of our trip :)

    May 17, 2011 at 3:05 am

    • annie

      I kept thinking of you on the way and was wishing I could bring you out there! You and Brian and I can rent a jeep sometime and go camping there for a weekend :)

      May 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      • Boy

        Sounds great!

        May 18, 2011 at 5:59 am