The entire gang from high school was finally able to spend a weekend together. We rented a sweet cabin in Truckee and took a nice stroll to Stampede Reservoir along Sagehen Creek. The trail 5.2mile round trip trail was a bit icy in spots and muddy in the sun, but the worst snow pack in recorded history made this trek doable in February! It was great to see Aric, Steve, Dave, Jon, Alex, Gaska & Web all in the same place at the same time. Memories galore.
Zephyr and I headed out on an adventure to the coast range to let Laura concentrate on her studies. We were investigating whether or not the cold storms had dusted the hills with snow, and although it was very nippy out, there was no snow to be had. However, on our return to Turlock we were treated to a grand show of thousands of geese flying overhead. I managed to snap a few photos and a video too. Z was very impressed and wanted to know why the geese flew in the shapes they did. He's a budding little scientist!
Laura had to stay home and study for her masters program, so to give her some study time I took Z to Yosemite with Grandma H to have a fun day throwing rocks in the Merced River and being mesmerized by a brief rainbow-bright version of Yosemite Falls. I'm very lucky that such grandeur is a mere two hour drive from Turlock!
Laura, Zephyr and I set out to take advantage of the 65 degree late-December weather at the oft-overlooked San Luis National Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos. It's the best time of year to go! We saw many migratory birds, elk, deer, owl pellets, and squirrels. We also got to hear the coyotes yipping as the sun was setting. Great day!
A quick note of thanks to the GSA for hosting such an amazing conference in Seattle this year! The positive response to my Immersive Virtual Field Experience was beyond my wildest dreams. Below I've posted all the materials needed to implement the experience in your class! Enjoy.
I guess there were many lessons from today's attempted presentation of my Immersive Virtual Field Experience. Both classroom lessons and life lessons! It was quite an experience and I greatly appreciate everyone's willingness to make lemonade out of lemons.
Here's the list of resources I promised. Please feel free to shoot me questions via twitter (@phaneritic) or email once you get to use the IVFE over good internet.
Our October 2017 schedule was brimming with school activities and commitments. When we realized that the first weekend of the month was open on our calendar we promptly filled-it by heading to the Eastern Sierra’s to check out the early fall colors. Specifically, we headed to Sagehen Meadow off HWY 120, east of Mono Lake. After seeing a few of my preliminary photos of the area on twitter, my students declared that the hills looked like they were covered in Cheetos dust. I quite agreed. We took some family photos and enjoyed the afternoon before heading into Mammoth for glamping at the Shilo Inn.
On Sunday morning we headed down to Devils Post Pile National Monument for a short 1.5 mile hike with Zephyr to see the amazing columnar basalt that was glacially carved and polished about 15,000 years ago! It was a refreshing quick trip that has our minds cleared and ready to tackle the next month of craziness!
With two weeks of school in the books and an impending heat wave for Turlock we decided to head for the Eastern Sierra to stay cool and try to catch some fish. Since we wanted to maximize fishing and exploration time (as well as time out of the car for Zephyr), we “roughed-it” at the Toiyabe Motel in Walker, CA along HWY 395. The main objective of the trip was to scout the fishing & autumn foliage possibilities at Lobdell Lake in the Sweetwater Mountains. Laura and I had been telling one another “we need to get into those mountains someday” for nearly 15 years. This trip finally made it happen. We also spent some time fishing the West Walker River and finished with lunch at Leavitt Creek.
While Laura was in Upstate NY visiting relatives, I decided to end our summer vacation by camping with Zephyr, Grandma & Grandpa H. Our target was the newly opened Webber Lake campground, a property of the Truckee Donner Land Trust. The lake had been a private ranch and trophy trout lake since the 1870's until it was acquired by the TDLT in 2012 . After much planning and infrastructure improvements, the ranch area near the lake was converted into a campground that opened August 1st of this year. We were some of the first people to camp here!
Long story short, I never got to fish the lake because of massive thunderstorms that were unrelenting until just before dinner. We went to several other lakes in the area hoping to fish, but the storms kept chasing us. We stayed in the truck so we wouldn't get soaked and waited for a dry spell that would allow us to make dinner.
The morning brought beautiful skies (for our tents to dry) and the chance to hike Lacey Meadows. No trout in Lacey Creek, so we packed-up and headed to the Little Truckee River hoping to get a trout for Z. You'll see that he did!
After bringing home a paltry 130lbs of salmon/halibut fillets last season, we didn't quite know what to expect this year. The seas were still warm around Angoon (Chatham Strait) and the fishing report had been mixed. To make sure I wouldn't be too disappointed by the fishing, I rented a 400mm zoom lens for my camera in the hopes of capturing some great wildlife shots. I especially wanted to target humpbacks, so I kept my fingers crossed that there would be enough herring in the area to lure the gigantic mammals into our fishing area.
As you can see, the trip was a bonanza on multiple accounts. We had three separate pods of humpbacks near our boat for parts of each day. I was able to take over 500 photographs capturing their bubble-net feeding from start to finish. We also brought home 230lbs of salmon, halibut and black cod fillets. I love Alaska!
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.