Desk-bound Nature Lover

My Blog: Occasional postings about the joys of birding, hiking, camping, and sightseeing.

My life: I spend most of my days in offices, looking at a computer screen, and waiting for those few weekends when I can get out and enjoy some remnant of our precious natural heritage. But, boy, do I live on those weekends!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Stuff I’ve been doing lately – Yosemite, Mount Diablo, Butano, and Ano Nuevo.

I’ve been too busy lately with this, that, and the other thing for internetting lately, and so I’m rather behind on posting. Here is a brief rundown of things I’ve been doing lately.

Yosemite National Park, May 5 to May 7.
I spent a weekend in May at Yosemite National Park. Since I am preparing to leave California, this will probably be that last time I will visit Yosemite in a long time. I had made camping reservations at a National Forest campground just outside of the El Portal entrance of the Park. The campground was called “Dirt Flat”. Not a particularly attractive name, but location is everything in such matters, and Dirt Flat is almost within walking distance of the park. The campsites are actually not bad. They are right on the bank of the Merced River, and were semi-shaded. A Western Kingbird was building a nest in a tree over my campsite. This was the first time I ever had to use bear boxes at a campsite. These are big metal boxes were you are required to put all your food and anything else with a scent (e.g. toothpaste). If you leave such things in your car, a hungry bear is liable to rip your car door off to get to it. However, the forest ranger I talked to says that bears are a lot less a hazard there then rattlesnakes. I got to the campsite rather late on Friday, so I didn’t have time to do much that night after setting up camp.

The next day my plan was to drive into Yosemite Valley, park at the Inspiration Point parking area, and hike as far up the south rim of the valley as I could by nightfall, and then hike back down by flashlight. However, by the time I had hiked up a few hours, I encountered snow, and eventually the trail was lost in the snow. So, I walked back down to my car, drove into Yosemite Village, and considered what to do next. From Yosemite Village, I ended up hiking up to Mirror Lake, which is right at the foot of Half Dome. It was getting dark by the time I reached the lake, and I hiked back to my car in the moonlight.

The last day I basically spent doing the touristy things around Yosemite Village, and then headed back to the SF area. I stopped at various scenic spots along the way out of the park, including at a gas station at a place called Crane Flat, which was suppose to be a good place a Hammond’s Flycatcher, a life-list bird for me. I found the Flycatcher, which was the third life-list bird I got that weekend. (Bullock’s Oriole and Calliope Hummingbird were the other two.)

Chain-o-Lakes State Park, May 20 and May 27.
Back home with the family in Lake County, Illinois, I made two visits to Chain-o-Lakes State Park, which I described at length in an earlier post. One Saturday I went canoeing with my son, and the next Saturday I went horseback riding with my son and daughter.

Mount Diablo State Park, May 30.
I made a Memorial Day trip to Mount Diablo State Park, a short trip from San Mateo. (Mount Diablo is visible from my workplace in South San Francisco on clear days.) The purpose for this trip was pure birding. I was aiming to pick up three life-list birds: the Black-chinned Sparrow, the Sage Sparrow, and the Rock Wren. Wonder of wonders, I found all three. The air was wonderfully clear that day, and from the summit of Mount Diablo I saw all the way across the San Joaquin Valley to the foothills of the Sierras.

Butano State Park and Ano Nuevo State Park, June 2 to June 4.
This may be my last chance ever to camp in California, so I chose to spend it camping under my beloved Redwoods at Butano State Park. I camped there from Friday evening to Sunday morning. The campground there is nice, although the campsites are a little close together for my taste. On Saturday, I took a side trip over to Ano Nuevo State Park, which is right next to Butano. Ano Nuevo is great for seeing marine wildlife. At this time of the year, seals were lying up on the beach molting. I spent about half the day there, before going back to Butano to spend the rest of the day hiking. Sunday, I had some things to do to prepare for my move back to Illinois, so I only stayed long enough to eat breakfast and pack up my stuff.


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