Nearly all of my best friends from high school and their families spent a very fun weekend hanging out and watching our kids play on the hammocks at the newly established Webber Lake Campground.
Our entire group took a lovely hike through Lacey Meadow and got to play in Lacey Creek where several other families of young children were already playing. Along the way we spotted 12 different species of wildflowers!
And, while I have no photographic evidence, Dave, Lucas, Zephyr and I were witness to a bizarre display of animal interactions while on an sunset canoe across the lake. We were skunked fishing, but what we saw really made up for the lack of fish. We witnessed a young black tail deer, no more than a year old, antagonize two sandhill cranes and a huge gaggle of geese. I had heard the cranes chatting-up a storm, so we tried to canoe around the inlet delta's willows to take a peek. As we stealthily paddled to within several hundred yards we could see the young deer put its tail up and head down as it ran towards the cranes. The cranes leapt out of the way each time and gave the dear an earful. But the dear was undeterred, and much like a bullfight, the dear circled round and made about eight more passes at the crane, sometimes chasing it into water about 18" deep.
With the cranes fully pissed-off, the deer shifted its attention to a gaggle of three-dozen Canadian geese that were sitting on the marshy shore minding their own business. Like an impetuous human toddler, the deer again raised it's tail and, with a 35-meter run-up made a beeline for the gaggle of geese. The deer was like a bowling ball plowing through the geese. The geese flew-off just in the nick of time, tumbling out like bowling pins and all the while probably wondering what in the hell they ever did to the deer to deserve this kind of treatment. To cap-off the evening's events a bald eagle swooped down about 20' above our heads and landed in some trees on the north shore of the lake. The sun was setting and we raced back across the lake so that I could take the picture below.
I'm lucky to have such awesome friends! We'll be returning to Webber Lake next year.
Since Laura had to spend a week in Monterey for an AP Environmental Science professional development conference, I thought it would be fun to spend a father-son-grandma day hiking in the Sierras. Our goal was to reach Grouse Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness, but we knew the relatively gently 3.5miles to the lake might push Zephyr’s limits. While the trail was relatively gradual in its topography, the volcanic breccia made the trail quite uneven in places and slowed us down (as did a crazy-stubborn 5yr old that had a hard time remembering not to jump on or off rocks).
In the end we made it to Pine Valley and Lily Creek, which Grandma Hollister and I decided would make a great place to hang out before turning around. After a dip in the creek Zephyr was refreshed which aided in the increased rate at which we were able to hike back. I think Grouse Lake would take me about 1.5hrs to reach if traveling solo.
The road to Pine Valley Horse camp was SEVERELY degraded during this winter’s RAIN storms. What used to be an excellent graded road is now only suitable for 4WD. I hope they get the road fixed soon.
Big news! I've spent several days manually migrating all of my 2004 to 2014 adventure photo journals to a brand new Esri Storymap. You can find the newly revised "Hikes and Adventures" page in the navigation bar above. The tabs are pretty self-explanatory and are color-coded by category such as "Day Hikes", "Backpacking", etc. I've tried to give an honest description of each hike and adventure, including a fishing rating for those so inclined to fish.
As the weeks go on I'll do my best to backfill all of my hikes from 2014 to present that were never added to the map. Hopefully before September I'll be all caught up!
I had the privilege of chaperoning over 320 Turlock High seniors at Disney's GradNite on Tuesday. My partner in crime for the night was Mr. Kamp, our physics teacher. So, like any good scientist would do, we brought along my Pocket Lab Voyager to quantify our fun. The stellar data set of the evening was made on the Gaurdians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout! ride. It's a vertical drop ride that has some killer acceleration and weightless moments.
Having been on the ride in its past iteration as the Tower of Terror, I really wanted to know if what I was experiencing was indeed free fall or if the ride accelerated us downward faster than gravity. I also was curious about how long each drop was in terms of distance and time and just how quickly we were accelerating. I always had a suspicion that the zooming gates in front of our cage were partly an engineered optical illusion, so I thought maybe some data could help prove/disprove that notion.
Thanks to the PocketLab, we now have some amazing data. What patterns do you see in the data? I've also posted a video of a reporter on the ride for context. It's pretty amazing.
Laura, Z Julie, Jill, Ellen, Hika and I got to explore a part of California that none of us had ever been to. Our Subaru Forester blew its head gaskets on the way down, so we got to drive a brand new Forester while exploring the wilds of the southern California desert. Palm Springs Subaru is great, BTW and made the pain of $3500 feel like only $1000. Enjoy the nearly 200 photos!
Laura said she'd like to be surprised for Mothers Day this year, so Zephyr and I hatched a plan to show her just how deep our love for her ran- by adventuring deep into the Earth at California Caverns near the Calaveras County town of San Andreas. The majority of the cave was still flooded from winter rains and elevated groundwater tables, which abbreviated our tour... but the good news is that water is what helps the caverns grow! It's pretty amazing to think that the carbonate minerals in these caves use to be tropical shoals several hundred million years ago. It's even more amazing to think about how subducting ocean crust scraped these deposits-off and accreted them to California. Awesome!
My colleagues and I were lucky enough to bring 47 AWESOME students from the THS Newcomers Academy to Yosemite for a cultural experience they won't soon forget. Our trip had originally been planned for late-March, but had to be postponed thanks to an epic atmospheric river storm that delivered over seven inches of rain to the foothills and washed out several roads near Yosemite.
The postponement was very much worth the wait. The students got to experience Yosemite at its grandest. Clear blue skies, torrents of water leaping off of every cliff, chutes of supple green grass filling-in the valleys and... squirrels. Except for the five students who are in our WildLink club, this was *everyone's* first time in Yosemite. If smiles on kids' faces make you happy, you'll definitely want to scroll through the pics in the album!
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!
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.