Monday, May 11, 2015

The Winter That Never Started, Then Wouldn't End

Is it really May?!
We headed north this weekend knowing there was a winter storm in the forecast. After a winter with record low snow pack and early springlike temperatures February through April, a real winter storm in May was very unusual. Three inches fell overnight on Thursday and continued most of the day on Friday. Not wanting to stay inside all day, we headed out into the teeth of the storm Friday for a stroll through Aspendell down to Intake 2 and returning cross country up through the meadow.  Many breeding bird species are in by this time of the year and migrants are moving through.  It is fascinating to see a willow tree in the middle of a snow storm dotted with Wilson's Warblers.  As we walked along a slow motion yellow bird caught our attention.  It was a MacGillivray's Warbler trying his best to find something to eat.  Calliope hummingbirds time their arrival at this elevation with the emergence of flowers on Currant Bushes.  We saw several doing their thing, not seeming to care much that the snow was coming down.  In all we recorded over 40 species on the 4 mile walk.

The neighborhood herd

Bishop Creek

Table Mountain

An unhappy tree

View northeast of Aspendell

Intake 2

Snow covered Mountain Mahogany

While Saturday was much improved, the sky threatened on and off throughout the day.  Our goal for this day was a hike up the trail west of Aspendell to North Lake, then on to Grass Lake at 9,800 feet elevation.  We've done this 8+ mile hike many times before, a winter favorite for snowshoes when there is real snow on the ground.  With a starting temperature slightly above freezing, the few inches of Friday snow was wet and mushy which made for sloppy hiking. By the time we returned shortly after noon the snow below 9,000 feet was mostly gone. Even with the somewhat winter-like conditions, bird activity was good.  Sooty Grouse called from the forested slopes.  Numerous Red-breasted Sapsuckers were active in the aspen groves, still sorting out the pairings and territories for the season.  The star bird of the day was a Common Yellowthroat at Grass Lake, seeming far out of place at such a high elevation poking around the willow bushes just above the snow covered ground.  Looking out across Grass Lake at all the snow, it's hard to believe that it won't be long until it will require the sacrifice of a pint of blood to the mosquitoes to visit this spot...

The view back toward Aspendell from the trail
Grass Lake

Mt. Emerson and Piute Crags
Grass Lake

Bird Lists:

Aspendell vicinity (Friday - Sunday)
North Lake
Lamarck trail
Grass Lake and trail

Hiking Maps:


1 comment:

  1. Wow! Wish that had been one of my weekends up there with you. Absolutely gorgeous!
    Glad you enjoyed the outdoors and endless scenery that snow makes even more bee-u-ti-ful.