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Author Topic: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California  (Read 95865 times)

Robert

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #765 on: January 03, 2017, 04:13:21 AM »


Not only was there a renewal of the tree and shrub species, but the annual and perennial species were also benefiting from the release of nutrients and increased light created by the loss of the tree canopy. Pictured is the lush new growth of Cynoglossum grande.



On shady north facing banks there were many colonies of Primula (Dodecatheon) hendersonii.



Everywhere there were the dried flower stalks of a full spectrum of different Themidaceae species.



A lousy photograph, but a reminder of the many large drifts of dried Calochortus pods I saw. There were at least three different species growing in this area. All of this was very exciting and it will be a pleasure to return repeatedly as the blooming season unfolds.



For me it was quite surprising to find Erysimum capitatum var. capitatum growing in this habitat and elevation. The trailhead started at 1,004 feet (306 meters) and the highest point I reached was only 1,414 feet (431 meters). I do encounter this species in the Sierra Nevada Mountains but generally at a higher elevation and also in a much different type of habitat.

Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #766 on: January 03, 2017, 04:50:53 AM »


A little surprising too was to find some of the Erysimum in bloom.



Although the temperature this day was average for this time of year, late in the afternoon there was still ice and frozen areas in the densely shaded north facing ravines. I'm not sure what was prompting the Erysimum into bloom so early in the season. Maybe some sort of micro-climate along the ridge.



It was getting late in the day and I was needing to return to the Outback and home before it got too dark. I was hoping to reach the ridge crest and get a peak over the other side, but there was not enough time. At least from this vantage point there where some good views of the surrounding countryside.



Another view off to the southeast.



This last photograph was taken well off the trail on rise slightly below the main ridge crest. It shows the countryside off to the north. The view was okay but the great find for me at this site were the signs of elk - everywhere. Very fresh tracks and droppings - I must have just missed them!  :'(  Elk where once plentiful in California but not any more. I will keep an eye out for them on my next visit to this area.

When I first arrive at this site I thought it might turn out a "disaster" - a complete waste of my time. Instead this area showed the potential to be rich in plant species and interesting wildlife. This was a thrilling way to end the 2016 season and a wonderful end to a very productive day.

In a few weeks I will be off to start the 2017 season.

Until then.......
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #767 on: January 03, 2017, 09:31:23 PM »
Robert,

Once more you have showed us beautiful landscape and exciting plants! Thank you :)

Is the chaparral a climax community or is it a transient state that will end as a forest?
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #768 on: January 04, 2017, 03:55:30 PM »
Robert,

Is the chaparral a climax community or is it a transient state that will end as a forest?

Trond,

This is an excellent question. In many cases chaparral appears to be a climax plant community. Under these conditions, the soil type and other factors may not support a climax oak - pine woodland. I have spent time pondering this question. Our original ecosystems have been altered by humans in may ways, first by Native Americans, then by immigrants. It is very difficult for me to arrive at a conclusion based on my observations or reading historical descriptions of past conditions. I have observed evidence, in a very few cases, where a plant community could over time transition from chaparral to oak - pine woodland, however the bottom line is that I do not know. I actually like such perplexing questions, so mange takk for asking.  :)
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #769 on: January 04, 2017, 10:10:31 PM »
Robert,

I suppose the heathland we have here is what is most similar to your chaparral. The heathland is artificial but a very old plant community. It has been maintained by fire for several thousand years. Now the practice of putting fire to the heath every 15th year has ended and trees are spreading rapidly. This process has only been going on for about 80 years but already heathland is becoming rare.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #770 on: January 08, 2017, 01:50:55 PM »
Trond,

It is very surprising how quickly the heath land becomes forest when fire is no longer a factor. Our coniferous forests in the Sierra Nevada become choked with too many trees when fire is suppressed. If the forest is not thinned a forest fire can destroy the whole forest. Now, we see this all the time in California.  :'(

We are prepared for the heavy rains now. Flooding and periods of heavy rain are excepted for most of the week. Right now the wind is howling and it poured rain all night. When it is light I will check the ditches and make sure they are clear of debris. It is far to dangerous to hike and travel back roads now - falling trees, mudslides, and flooding. No outings until the weather calms.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

ArnoldT

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #771 on: January 08, 2017, 09:27:49 PM »
Robert:

Good move staying put.

I can imagine the hazards hiking in the areas I've seen you explore.

We have 17F with 4 inches of snow here.  Going to 50 on Wednesday!
Arnold Trachtenberg
Leonia, New Jersey

johnralphcarpenter

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #772 on: January 09, 2017, 12:05:59 AM »
50F or 50 inches?
Ralph Carpenter near Ashford, Kent, UK. USDA Zone 8 (9 in a good year)

GordonT

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #773 on: January 09, 2017, 12:13:14 AM »
Battening down the hatches on both coasts! Stay safe, Robert.  I hope this wet weather will help undo some of the damage from California's drought of the past several years. Snow started here  last night, and hasn't stopped since... about 15 inches  down so far. When I woke this morning at quarter of six, someone was stuck in the dark- couldn't see where they were going.... why anyone would be out there, driving on uncleared roads, in whiteout conditions, baffles me!
« Last Edit: January 09, 2017, 10:35:17 AM by GordonT »
Southwestern Nova Scotia,
Zone 6B or above , depending on the year.

Robert

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #774 on: January 09, 2017, 06:05:24 AM »
So far the worst of the storm has passed to the north and south of us. Our precipitation total of 3" (76mm) for the last 24 hours is a common occurrence at the farm - at least during an "average" winter and is far less than the 10"-15" predicted. Additional good news is that the snow levels are lowering. Heavy rain on the snow pack today has created some flooding in other parts of California, but even this has been relatively minor - so far.

This is the good news.

Right now there is still a hard rain falling and very gusty winds. Heavy rain is still in the forecast for tonight and Tuesday - only light rain on Monday. The 'flood watch" has expired and now there is a 'flood warning" (i.e. flooding is occurring or will be occurring shortly) for the next 72 hours. At this time our properties have not flooded or suffered any major damage. I plan on sticking around with a shovel in hand  - to keep the drainage ditches flowing.  :)
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

ArnoldT

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #775 on: January 09, 2017, 11:31:30 AM »
RALPH:

Sorry 50 F.

Arnold Trachtenberg
Leonia, New Jersey

Robert

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #776 on: January 09, 2017, 02:17:17 PM »
An update on our weather:

Here it is Monday 5:30 am. The rain and wind have stopped. It did storm for a good part of the night, but nothing out of the ordinary.

At this point I am not sure why everyone in the local news media is getting so worked up over the weather. Maybe they have a short memory, maybe they think the public has a short memory? Maybe they need to "sell" the news? What was it like before the drought started? Here are a few extremes that put things in perspective. The following are precipitations extremes at the farm:

21.87" (555.5mm) for February 1986. So far we have only 6" (152.4mm) for January 2017. At this rate we could exceed February 1986, but at this point it does not seem likely. There was major flooding and levee breaks in 1986. If it keeps raining this could happen again, but we are not there yet.

4.86" (123.44mm) was the recorded 24 hour precipitation total on the 17th of February 1986. 4.60" (116.84) was recorded on the 31st of December 2005 (before the drought started). There was major flooding in February 1986 and December 2005/January 2006. Our 3", 24 hour rain total yesterday is a lot, but certainly not extreme.

More heavy rain is expected in the next few days. At this point all the rain is welcome and no communities in California have suffered any major flooding.  :)
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #777 on: January 10, 2017, 04:59:41 PM »
Robert,

I am glad you get some water over there! The spring should be very nice hen time comes. Hope you don't have too much damage before the winter ends. I just read that The Pioneer Cabin Tree broke in the storm.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: 2016 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #778 on: January 12, 2017, 04:16:46 AM »
Robert,

I am glad you get some water over there! The spring should be very nice hen time comes. Hope you don't have too much damage before the winter ends. I just read that The Pioneer Cabin Tree broke in the storm.

Trond,

After too many years of drought and warm winters we are finally getting a "normal" (i.e. cold and wet) winter. The last storm that pasted through last night did cause some damage. A levee on the Mokelomne River failed. Fortunately, only farmland was flooded. Locally, the usual roads and streams flooded, however this is not unusual when we finally get some rain in our area. What we need to keep an eye on is the next set of storms that are forecast to arrive sometime next week. This set of storms will be tapping subtropical moisture too. As of today there is 1 to 3+ meters of heavy, wet snow in the Sierra Nevada. Even with 5-6 days of dry weather, if there are high snow levels and heavy rains with the next series of storms we are more likely to have major widespread flooding issues. I do not know that type of news reaches Europe, but scenes of the Russian River flooding are boring. Guerneville, on the Russian River, has flooded so many times I am surprised they have not moved to higher ground. Scenes of Guerneville flooding seem to always make our U.S.A. national news. I guess it makes a good story.

Ah yes! The Pioneer Cabin Tree, a Sequoiadendron giganteum, did fall. RIP!  :) The tree is in Calaveras Big Trees State Park and will hopefully be kept safe from the souvenir hunters (vandals). The park officials are going to leave it as is and move the hiking trails around it. Calaveras Big Trees State Park is on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada on the Highway to Ebbetts Pass. This is the most northern grove of Sequoiadendron, except for the tiny grove in Placer County near our farm.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2017, 04:19:35 AM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

 


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