I wanted to go for a walk again after being “down” because of leg pain, but was actually in a lot of pain even as I headed out toEffie Yeaw Nature Preserveagain. I chose that location because it’s close and I know all of the trails there – and where the benches are. Despite that, I barely made a single loop of the main trail, the nerve pain in my left leg was so horrific.
I had to sit wherever I could and got to the point where I was shaking and sweating, and felt like I was going to faint. I leaned over on one of the trail signs — and vomited. Then I stayed there, hanging onto the sign until I felt I could walk a little further. I made it to the picnic tables in front of the nature center, but was feeling pretty fragile. Fainting can wreak havoc on my blood sugar level, so I found one of my glucose tablets in my bag and sat at the table for about 15 minutes until I felt the fainting symptoms resolve. Then it took me several minutes more to get myself up and over to the car in the parking lot. Gad!
Despite the agony, I DID get to see several deer, including a 4-point buck. There was one group that included the 4-pointer, some younger spike bucks, a single doe, and another doe with a fawn. The big buck followed the females, sniffing the air, to see if they were in season yet. Neither one seemed interested in him and just focused on eating.
Later, one of the spike bucks challenged the 4-pointer. It was a hugely unbalanced fight; the 4-pointer was physically larger than the younger bucks, and had a more deadly rack of antlers. It looked to me like the 4-pointer was playing with the smaller buck; they fake-jousted for a few minutes, then ran back and forth chasing one another. Buck zoomies!
I don’t use my left leg to drive, so I was able to get back to the house without too much difficulty. Still, I spent the rest of the day in bed. I just can’t seem to get ahead of the pain…It’s so frustrating.
As an aside:
Just FYI. Because the cancer is rearing its head again, and I have a calendar full of doctor’s appointments, chemo classes and lab work, it may be a while before I post again…and posts may be fewer and far between. I’m still around — unless you hear otherwise — just not at my laptop or in the field.
I got up at 5:00 AM, so I could be ready to go to the Cosumnes River Preservewith my friend Roxanne around 6:00 AM. We were looking for galls on the valley oaks trees that populate that area, and went first down Bruceville and Desmond Roads.
We stopped to look at some milkweed plants and wild rose bushes along Bruceville Road, and while we were moving around in the tall-ish grass, my right foot dropped into a hole covered by the grass and I toppled over. I tweaked out my already hurting left hip; and the fall also caused by left foot and ankle to bend backwards, the wrong way, so my toes were buzzing with nerve pain. Gad! Once I fall, I can’t get back up – bad hip, no strength in my arms or legs to speak of – so I was VERY grateful that Roxanne was with me.
We tried various ways to lift me from the ground but none of them were working, so I suggested that Rox bring the car around and I’d try to pull myself up into that. She got the passenger side of the car as close to me as she could and opened the door. Laboring on my hands and knees, I got to the car, grabbed into the front seat and, with Roxanne’s help, finally, after two tries, was able to pull myself up enough to get my feet under me and stand up. Sheesh! If Roxanne hadn’t been with me, I would have had to call 911 for assistance. [Yes, I’m one of those “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” people. But I can’t afford the Life Alert system.]
It was physically and emotionally painful, and embarrassing and humiliating. This getting old stuff sucks. I took an extra pain pill before we continued on with the rest of our outing. There was one tree on Bruceville Road that, at first, we thought was a Valley Oak based on its leaves, but the acorns were all “wrong”: too large and too rounded to be Valley. Based on some research ,I thought maybe it was a Gambel’s Oak, but Rox and I settled on the probability that it was an Oregon Oak. We’ll see if we get any pushback from people on iNaturalist.
We stopped along Desmond Road to check out the trees there, and while we were there We saw a pair of fledgling Ash-Throated Flycatchers. They’re such pretty little birds. We didn’t see a lot of birds on this trip. Of course, we looking for them. We caught glimpses of Brewers Blackbirds, some sparrows, a couple of very dark morph Red-Tails, a Black Phoebe, some Greater Yellowlegs and Black Necked Stilts (at a distance), and three Great Egrets that were feeding in the pond by the boardwalk entrance.
Among the galls, I was especially looking for Disc Galls and Woollybears, and was very happy to have found them both. Yay!
On the oak trees we found Club Galls (some very tiny), Yellow Wigs, Spined Turbans, and Red Cones among others, like the Flat-Topped Honeydew galls that were dripping with honeydew.
We also found galls on the ash trees, and on the willows we found some Pinecone galls, stem galls, and beaked twig galls.
It was a fruitful excursion even though I had to stop at about 3-1/2 hours because my hip and leg were hurting. This was hike #47 in my #52HikeChallenge for the year.
Aphid, Giant Willow Aphid, Tuberolachnus salignus
Ash Flower Gall Mite, Aceria fraxiniflora
Ash Leaf Curl Aphid, Prociphilus fraxinifolii
Ash, Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia
Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Myiarchus cinerascens
Bee, Tripartite Sweat Bee, Halictus tripartitus
Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
Black-Necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus
Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides
Canada Goose, Branta canadensis [flyover]
Checkered White Butterfly, Pontia protodice
Chicory, Cichorium intybus
Club Gall Wasp, Atrusca clavuloides
Cobweb Spider, Phylloneta sp.
Common Sunburst Lichen, Golden Shield Lichen, Xanthoria parietina [yellow-orange, on wood/trees]
Disc Gall Wasp, Andricus parmula [round flat, “spangle gall”]
Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
I got up around 7:00 this morning, fed Esteban his breakfast, and then took him with me on a drive up Highway 16 Westto look for wildflowers. I only drove between Woodland and the turnouts at the old Camp Haswell, but found lots of spots where there tons of wildflowers in groupings here and there.
On the way, I stopped off at Road 53 in Guinda to see if there was anything to see on the roadside there. Nothing. And at the gate to the trail I couldn’t open the windows or get out of the car because there was a bee hive right there, and the bees kept banging on the car. Yikes!
Along the side of the highway, I saw a flock of Wild Turkeys. The males were showing off and strutting for the females. But they ventured too far out onto the road and were almost hit by a car that sped past me. Luckily, none of the birds were hurt, and they all decided to stick with the field for their stomping ground instead of the road.
I found large stands of lupine, Purple Owl’s Clover, Yerba Santa, Sweetclover, Redbud trees, and Indian Paintbrush. There were also Virgin Bower vines in bloom on top of some of the shorter trees, and pretty little clover tucked in on the ground between other flowers.
I also saw quite a few Acmon Blue butterflies, lots of California Pipevine Swallowtails, some Sulphurs and some Buckeyes. But they wouldn’t sit still and pretty for me. Dang it. I managed to get some side views of the Buckeyes, but nothing else.
I stopped to let Esteban go potty and have a snack at the pull out at Camp Haswell (an old Boy Scout Camp is ideally situated right next to Cache Creek). I parked in the shade where we could see the creek (which didn’t seem to be moving much) and eat our snacks.
As I was leaving, I tried closing the front passenger side window, and it only went up about a quarter of the way, then stopped. So, I lowered it, and tried closing it again, and the whole window fell down into the door. I don’t know if it shattered in there or if the lift-mechanism had given way, but I couldn’t get the window up at all after that. So, we spent the rest of the trip with that window wide open. *Sigh*
I then headed back home, down the same route I’d taken on the way up. Besides getting a bit windblown from the open window, we did okay – even on the freeway (I5).
Acmon Blue Butterfly, Icaricia acmon
Bee, European Honeybee, Western Honeybee, Apis mellifera
Blessed Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
Blow Wives, Achyrachaena mollis
Blue Dicks, Depterostemon capitatus
Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
Bur Clover, Medicago polymorpha
California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
Clematis, Western Virgin’s Bower, Clematis ligusticifolia
Clouded Sulphur Butterfly, Colias philodice
Clover, Tomcat Clover, Trifolium willdenovii
Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
Fiddleneck, Common Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii
Grasses, Wild Oat, Avena fatua
Gray Buckeye Butterfly, Junonia grisea
Ithuriel’s Spear, Triteleia laxa
Jointed Charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum
Lupine, Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus
Lupine, Chick Lupine, Lupinus microcarpus [white or yellow]
Lupine, Miniature Lupine, Lupinus bicolor
Manroot, California Manroot, Bigroot, Marah fabaceus
I got up around 5:30 this morning, so I could head out with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne to go into the South Yuba River State Park in the Penn Valley area of Nevada County. We were interested in hiking the Buttermilk Bend Trail. It was partly cloudy, slightly breezy and cool all day. A lovely day for a nature walk.
It took about 2 hours to get to the park, including stops for gas, coffee and a potty break. We got there via highways 70, 49 and 20 to Pleasant Valley Road. For the most part, there was a lot to see on the drive, especially as we got closer to the park. Some of the roadside embankments were covered in white Globe Lilies, irises, yellow Pretty Face, blue Ithuriel’s Spears, and French broom. Pretty!
We went past the historic barn and the covered bridge(which is undergoing a complete overhaul), and pulled into the main parking lot near the head of the trail. We attacked the trail from near the kiosk and had to climb a steep incline to get to the trail itself. Next time, we’ll enter the trail from the end of the parking lot where there’s a shallower incline and several small bridges that lead up onto the trail. After that initial incline, the rest of the trail was VERY easy to walk, and provided beautiful views of flowers, the river, and acres of a wide variety of trees.
All the while we were walking, we were lulled by the sounds of the river.
Between the views, the research we were able to do, the company, and the weather, it was a great hike.
We could smell and see smoke in some spots on the other side of the river, and figured that they were controlled burns. Cal Fire was out there — and that turned out to be a good thing for me. I’ll tell you more about that later.
There were several different kinds of oak trees in the area: coast live, interior live, blue, valley and black oaks. So, we got to see quite a few galls including some folded leaf galls, some old Gray Mid-Rib Galls, Round Leaf Galls, spring generation galls of the Live Oak Gall Wasp (that look like funnels with a cap on them), and lots of spring generation galls of the Two-Horned Gall Wasp (that look like shiny brown beaks).
We were surprised to find galls on some of the wild lupine, and some examples of “witches’ broom” on a toyon bush. The broom is caused by a fungus that creates “…an abnormal brush-like cluster of dwarfed weak shoots arising at or near the same point…” Very cool-looking. I’d seen photos of them, but had never seen a live one before.
Also on toyon, was found some wrinkled leaf effects created by woolly aphids. There was one leaf that was so full of the little guys that the honeydew they produced literally poured out onto our hands making everything sticky.
We got to see quite a few butterflies including Pipevine Swallowtails, a Tiger Swallowtail, several beautiful Checkerspots, and some Cabbage Whites. We also saw some species of Blood Bees, mason bees, a camel cricket, and caterpillars.
As I mentioned before, the flowers were just lovely. We saw one of my favorites: the Twining Snake Lily. They have a spray of dark pink florets at the end of a long stem that twines its way through the trees, bushes and undergrowth to find the sunlight. One of them was growing over our head and came down from the side of the hill and into the tree branches above us.
New-to-me flowers included the White Globe Lilies, Linear-Lobed Owl’s-Clover, Blue Head Gilia and Ookow. The Ookow were so intensely purple-blue they really stood out.
We saw a couple of squirrels and could hear a few different species of birds, including Lesser Goldfinches. They were eating the seeds and tufts from the plants along the trail.
On some of the rocks along the trail, we came across a handful of Western Fence Lizards (the “blue belly” lizard that do push-ups), including one that had splayed itself over the warm surface of the rock, stretching its legs out in all directions so it could flatten its belly on the stone. On another rock, we found a VERY pregnant female. She had to lift herself up on her front legs to keep her belly from dragging on the ground. Poor baby.
We walked for a little over four hours, which is usually past my strength and pain threshold, but we were seeing so many thing, and the weather was so beautiful, I didn’t stop when I should have. Just as we got close to the parking lot, I “hit the wall”. I was dizzy, suddenly completely exhausted, and couldn’t walk. Even the feel of the camera and my carry bag around my neck and shoulders was too much. I found a fence post and leaned over it for support while Roxanne went to get the car and bring it closer to me.
As fate would have it, that was the same time the firefighters were returning to their vehicles after working on the controlled burns. I wasn’t going to bother them, but as the seconds went by, I was feeling worse and worse, so I called out with a very weak voice. Thankfully, some of them heard me and two came right over to see if I was okay. Those two firefighters ushered me back to the car while another one ran to get me a bottle of water.
I felt I was hydrated well enough, but I hadn’t stopped anywhere along the four hours to get something to eat, so I think my glucose levels had just crashed. The firefighters made sure I was safe in the car with Rox and hung around until I ate something. A few minutes later, after some rest and something to eat I was fine. [[THANK YOU to Rox, the Universe, and the guys from Cal Fire @CALFIRENEU]]
It was a long day, but one of my favorite outings in a long time. I was so happy we were told about this trail.
Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus
American Robin, Turdus migratorius
Arabesque Orbweaver Spider, Neoscona arabesca
Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis
Bark Rim Lichen, Lecanora chlarotera [looks like Whitewash Lichen but has apothecia]