On Sunday, we decided to stop bemoaning the lack of snow and get outside, although enjoying sixty-degree temperatures in January seems somewhat sacrilegious. Areas normally unaccessible in the winter by car are currently an easy drive away. And so it was that we ended up at the shoreline of Mountain Meadows Reservoir. Two years ago, we skied our way out here. As soon as we opened the truck doors, we could hear who was in the neighborhood — thousands of tundra swans, whose earnest, raucous honking overwhelmed the air. We walked around a small point; adults taking the easy path around the shore, girls climbing through dense willow patches and trying to remain unseen. It was warm enough to sprawl out on the grass for a picnic lunch of crackers, cheese and salami before we headed back home.
Tag Archives: Mountain Meadows Reservoir
Next Saturday (July 14th)I am helping to coordinate a Rare Plant Treasure Hunt with the California Native Plant Society and Mountain Meadows Conservancy. Our quarry? Brasenia schreberi (watershield), an aquatic plant that occurs across the northern United States but is rare in California. I am quite excited. Most rare plant surveys involve hiking, but for this one I get to dust off the kayak and paddle around Mountain Meadows Reservoir in search of a plant last documented here in 1955. Readers, please contact me if you are interested in joining us! We will be meeting up at 9:30 am at the Westwood Visitor Center, then driving to Indian Ole Dam to put in. I’ll have images of Brasenia on hand for reference, as well as aerial images of Mountain Meadows so that we can focus our search.
View a flyer for this excursion here.
Enough with writing about the promise of things to come — wildflower season has launched at last in our neck of the woods. We drove out past Round Mountain this morning to access the eastern shoreline of Mountain Meadows Reservoir. As we drove through Goodrich Meadows, we paused to see a few pairs of sandhill cranes, Canada geese, a great blue heron with a snake in its bill, an American kestrel, and dozens of red-winged blackbirds. We stopped in at Lone Pine, a place of particular significance to me because it is where my husband and I were wed. The usual spring suspects hugged the ground. Fritillaria pudica (yellow bells), Viola beckwithii (Beckwith’s violet), Potentilla millefolia (cut-leaved potentilla), a Lomatium species, the fleshy red leaves of western peonies (Paeonia brownii) not yet in bloom, and of course the ubiquitous dandelion, at home in nearly every habitat. M. went off in search of frog life, but alas they were heard and not seen.
We bundled up yesterday morning and made the quick drive to Mountain Meadows at Indian Ole Dam. Once across the dam, the roar of water faded away and we heard the ice. The sound of expansions and contractions where water as solid meets water as liquid. Deep, twangy ricochets and fluid bass echoes. It is not every outing that the girls are content to linger and explore. But the sun was rich overhead, and the girls found much worth their interest. They hucked rocks onto the ice and listened as they skittered away. Found tiny snail shells to pocket. Played hide and seek with Papa among the trees. Dissolved into giggles as they tried to walk on the ice at the very edge of the lake.
Of note for interested local readers: nordic skiing conditions are quite excellent at the Swain Mountain Snowmobile Park right now. Plenty of snow with just the right amount of give in the early afternoon.
I brought the girls out to the northwestern shoreline of Mountain Meadows Reservoir, a five minute drive from our house via Moonlight Road and a short network of dirt roads. Usually this time of year such a trip would require a ski in, but on this oddly green January morning the roads were clear. I hoped that we would see tundra swans, bald eagles, or any of the other charismatic avifauna that overwinter at Mountain Meadows. Didn’t catch a peep of a single bird on the wing, but M. soon busied herself looking for evidence of their presence. To her delight there were feathers aplenty here, which were stuck jauntily into our knit woolen hats and stuffed into pockets.