Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Swarms of yellow jackets on Copper Creek

I’m juggling with my needs for exercise and my kids needs to get ready to go back to school this week.  I left the house without breakfast so I could get a quick start so I could be back in time to do stuff for the kids.  I think I made it to the causeway at about 9am.  It felt a bit strange for me to wander off into the solitude and silence after living in the chaos of Panama City for 20 days.  I was a tiny bit creeped out, but I got over it quickly.

 I found that the washout near the trail head has been repaired and now crews are working on the washout at elk creek.  Copper Creek was completely dry at the trail head and at the bridges.  It was looking like I was going to be thirsty and I was thinking of turning back when I heard water.  Water emerges after the bridges but well before the trail heads up.

I made it to the top at about noon and spent about 20 minutes taking in the tiny view before I headed back down. 

On the way up and down I found baby Western Toads  (Anaxyrus boreas) where the trail runs next to the river.  There were many, many baby toads.  I’ve never seen this before.  Copper Creek must be the breeding area for Western Toads.

Anaxyrus boreas Two sitting on my hand and one in mid jump

I wished I had read the trail head register before I started so I would have known about the yellow jacket nest at the first bridge.  On the way up we had no problems with yellow jackets but on the way down we had serious yellow jacket trouble.

First I got stung, no big deal, I’ve been stung plenty of times and I felt a bit lucky to have only been stung once.  After I got stung I quickened our pace but at some point I stopped and noticed that Patches face was crawling with yellow jackets.  I was horrified.  My poor puppy!  I tried to brush them off her with my trekking poles but that did not work at all.  Next I tried to brush them off with a stick but they kept falling off and then landing on her face again.  So I started smashing them against Patches face with a stick. The smashed yellow jackets fell off and probably died.  That finished we resumed our hike, I could not tell if Patches had been stung or not, but I kept a close eye on her.  Then I noticed that Patches had a yellow jacket attached to her rear so I stopped and kill it. 

Then about ¼ of a mile later a yellow jacket tried to sting my shoulder but my shirt prevented it.  I still felt it try though.  I brushed that wasp off and thought it was all over. But then some large buzzing creature started to circle me.  It could have been a horsefly, but it also could have been a yellow jacket, so I swatted at it with some brush until it went away.

I still can’t tell if Patches got stung or not.  She never yelped and she seems fine now, so maybe her double coat of hair protected her.   I’m not sure what is worse, the swarms of people on Mount Rose with the Ellinor trail being closed, or the swarm of yellow jackets on Copper Creek.

I got home at 3pm and I feel pretty good, so I guess I did not lose too much of my conditioning while on vacation. 

6.5 miles 2,500 feet elevation gain with the added road walk thanks to the causeway bridge STILL being closed to the public after all these years..

Dyers Polypore

Car crash on 101 at Purdy Cutoff

Rhytidiopsis robustus

Start of route up Lightning Peak

My lunchtime SPOT spot

Others have been stung

Gas was $4.12 a gallon
Lake Cushman is still high
Simpson wood, or simpson road work?
Culvert repair, but why if they are going to leave the gate shut?

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