Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Field Trip to Hi Mt.

Hello all, Today, 6/2, I taught a course through Cuesta College Community Programs entitled ‘Condor Country”. The classroom meeting and Hi Mtn. Project powerpoint slide talk was attended by 12 enrolled participants, followed by a van field trip to Hi Mtn. Lookout. One couple was celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary today, and the husband had no idea what was going on until walking into the classroom with his wife, who made all the registration arrangements in advance but kept it a surprise. Another highlight was meeting and talking with 81 year-old James Barlow and his wife Pat. James worked one season for the Forest Service in 1954, on patrol duty in Lopez Canyon (before there was a dam and lake there!) and along the Arroyo Grande to Pozo road route. It has been more than 50 years since he last visited Hi Mtn Lookout! He remembers the old wooden structure that predated the existing metal tower.
After lunch and a tour of the lookout facilities, Marcelle Bakula (who was enrolled in the same class 2 years ago and has since become a dedicated volunteer) demonstrated radiotelemetry tracking - a Pinnacles condor signal was picked up to the north. The group took a walk along the ridgetop before heading back down the mountain.
The Pozo fire crew came driving up in a large USFS fire truck to take their lunch break and lounge on the outside deck. Hopefully they will be able to accomplish some fire fuels reduction and trail work for us again this summer season.
Flowering along Hi Mountain road the 1/4 mile between the gate and lookout: chamise, yerba santa, deerweed, woolly blue curls, yellow star thistle, mountain mahogany, golden yarrow, climbing penstemon, monkeyflower, hummingbird sage, pitchersage, chorizanthe. Also flowering along Hi Mtn. Road from the lookout to Pozo: Clarkia (farewell to spring), clematis, dudleya, penstemon, chaparral honeysuckle
The Yerba Santa shrubs are abundantly flowering and were visited by swarms of insects: numerous checkerspot, hairsrtreak, sulfur, fritillary and skipper butterflies, honey bees, bumblebees, wasps, bee flies, and flies. Swallowtail butterflies were ‘hilltopping’ in ascending spiralling flights near the lookout. June is always butterfly month at Hi Mtn.!
A western pond turtle was picked up and moved out of the way at the Salinas River crossing near Pozo.
It was a good day all in all to take a field trip to Hi Mountain, as always.
Steve Schubert