Across California: Woods Mountains
We arrived at the National Park Service campground and visitors center at Hole in the Wall before noon today after skirting the north slopes of the Woods Mountains, going in and out of federal wilderness. We're taking the afternoon off -- even had a beer.
I saw ample signs of cattle. Yes, grazing is allowed in federal wilderness, a big concession that helped pass the Wilderness Act years ago.
We have gained elevation. Pinyon dot the slopes of the Woods Mountains and Table Mesa to the north. Creosote bushes have disappeared, but Mojave yucca, cholla cactus, and cheese bush continue. That's a Mojave yucca behind me in the photo. Indigo bushes Turpentine bush brightened the gray, green, and tan color scheme.
We saw a Northern Harrier this morning, swooping and circling, a surprising sight in this dry environment, although there are plenty of cottontails and quail. Yesterday's Red Tail has been the only other raptor, unless you count ravens of which I have seen at least ten. They are becoming common in the Mojave, feeding on garbage and even the young of desert tortoises, an endangered species. Spencer, the sharpest eye among the four of us has counted eleven dead adult tortoises and no living ones. What killed them is beyond me. It may be too early or cold for the living adults to emerge from their burrows, where they overwinter.
-- Calvin French
Cal, 74, a member of the Sierra Club for 42 years, is trekking 530 miles to highlight the threatened natural corridors between the Colorado River and the Pacific Ocean. Cal sits on the Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter Board, represents the Chapter to the national organization, and serves as a spokesperson for the Chapter on the Carrizo Plain National Monument.