Sunday, July 5, 2009

I woke up early this morning and drove up the Pacific Crest Highway to Devil's Canyon. I bought Fleet Foxes first album a couple of months ago and find the music fitting while driving the windy mountain road. I was blessed again with another cloudless, blue sky.
The hike seemed non-eventful at first. The landscape looked similar to previous hikes. It was very warm today, and I was worried about another sunburn. Once I reached the small creek towards the end of the trail, my luck began to change. Just as I was about to turn around and start the three miles back to my car, I saw a large animal out of the corner of my eye crash through the creek and bolt into the forest. I immediately heard the snorting sounds of what I'm pretty sure was another black bear. The sound is similar to that of a horse. It was the same sound I heard when I encountered a bear three weeks ago. Anyways, I ducked down behind a log and waited about five minutes to see if the bear would come out into the open so I could get a picture. No luck. I kept thinking about that Far Side comic where it shows the last pictures of an outdoorsman getting attacked by a bear.

After eating lunch in a shaded area next to the creek, I watched a small water snake hunt for food for a while. Then I saw a beautifully colored bird land on a rock across the creek. It had a bright orange head and yellow chest. It's called a Western Tanager according to my Audubon Field Guide. A mile or so up the trail, I was hiking along when I heard a quick high pitch rattle. Unless I was hiking alone, I'm sure I would have missed the sound. When I turned around, sure enough, there was a young rattlesnake climbing up the rocks a few feet away. His rattle was very high pitched and not very strong. As nasty as these serpents can be, I am thankful that they have been very courteous to warn me of their passing. In fact, they seem to be reluctant to strike unless seriously threatened. Let's hope it stays that way. After finishing the hike, I stopped by a visitor's center a mile down the road. After talking to one of the rangers, he confirmed for me that there are Sequoias in these forests. They are not native to the area and probably won't grow nearly as large as the ones up north according to the ranger.

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