“People often ask me how it is that I seem to be so much at peace. There is a primary reason — and it is available to all who wish to have it. Here’s a simple prerequisite to attaining peace at that level. I invite you to observe the beasts, birds and fish and let them teach you. Let this be a daily routine and life, as you know it, will never be the same.”
– Eddie Bo

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Day 164 - Big Pine Mountain Adventure

Sometimes things do not go as planned.

I have just returned from an epic journey to Bluff Camp, which is close to Big Pine Mountain but not quite there.

I departed from home as planned on Thursday AM, and made an uneventful ride up over San Marcos Pass arriving near Upper Oso Campground around noon.  After resting during the heat of the afternoon I set out towards Big Pine Mountain hoping to make some headway so that the entire ride would not need to be made in a single day.  I made a difficult 4 miles of progress, climbing 2000' in the process.

On Friday morning I hit the road early hoping to make some distance before the heat of the day arrived.  This was a good move as the first 4-5 miles were still quite uphill.  There were some birds around here and there, about 10 miles into the ride I found a pair of Lawrence's Goldfinches feeding by the side of the road.  This is a new species for the year, so that helped to raise my spirits.  The scenery was pretty nice too:

View looking West, Santa Ynez Valley in the distance.

The last weather report I had before departure was 20% chance of rain.  At the last point of phone reception, I got a text stating a flash flood watch was in effect for the area I was heading to.  Hmmm.  Late in the morning a few clouds began building over the mountains and I was glad for the shade.  At this point I was running low on water and food so made a decision to stop and wait for the rest of the team (who were driving) when I was down to 1/2 bottle of water.

Right about this time the team was being informed by the Forest Service that they would not be permitted to make the trip due to the threatening weather.  Peter called and left a message on my phone, but of course there was no reception to be found so I did not get it until the next day.

I arrived at Bluff Camp around noon with my 1/2 bottle of water and 1 remaining energy bar.  This seemed like an ideal place to wait since it actually had the one and only building along the entire road to Big Pine Mountain.  As the clouds and thunder built overhead I wandered the property checking out the birds and flowers.  I found a large water tank with the label "Non-Potable Water" but the water actually seemed clear and clean.  There were also some very nice flowers around, which I believe to be a type of Mariposa Lily:

Shortly thereafter it began to rain.  Then it began to hail.  Then it began to REALLY rain, the likes of which I have not seen in quite some time.  The hail covered the ground, except in those areas where it was being swept away by moving water.  And lucky me was standing high and dry in the porch of the only building for many miles in any direction.  Running out of water turned out to be the best thing that happened to me that day.  I took advantage of the rain and collected some rainwater from the roof to drink.  It tasted a little leafy but otherwise good.  I thought I'd save the "Non-Potable" water for when I really need it.

Forest Service building at Bluff Camp - Shelter From The Storm

When the rest of the group failed to arrive late in the afternoon I figured the road may not be passable.  I decided to spend the night and head back the next morning, holding onto my energy bar for the next day.  After the storm passed a beautiful evening ensued.  The local birds came out to play, including a very chatty Phainopepla with quite a vocabulary.

I arose early the next morning and hit the road after filling my water containers with the "Non-Potable" water.  At the first switchback above the camp I had a close encounter with 6 Mountain Quail, a bird that had to this point managed to avoid me in Santa Barbra County.  Another bird for the year and a good start! 

For the next 2.5 hours I made steady progress towards civilization, nibbling on my energy bar along the way.  I was not really paying much attention to the birds, just trying to keep focus and make steady progress.  When I reached a point with cellphone reception I called home and requested a pickup near the Upper Oso Campground (and bring food!).  Having spent 24 hours with little food and limited water I thought it would not be prudent to attempt to ride the rest of the way home.  I also checked in with Peter to let him know I was on the way and all was well.  The rest of the ride was pleasantly downhill!  Overall this was probably the most difficult ride I have ever done.

So the two birds I saw do not technically meet the requirements of my Green Big Year since I got a ride part of the way home.  But for now anyway, I am counting them.  I EARNED those birds!

After the addition of these 2 species, the year's total stands at 231.

On this excursion I rode a total of 66.2 miles

More later,

1 comment:

  1. Respect. That's some epic birding Glenn. I'm glad that you made it home safely.