Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sand Canyon - Rodecker Flat

Map Track Link

Bird List

A couple of weeks ago Bob and I had the plan to head into Sand Canyon and visit Rodecker Flat, but instead we got distracted and went to the furthest reaches of the North Fork of Sand Canyon.  Needing an easy hike, we decided to try again today.

Plodding along the easy trail, our bird of the day was just inside the wilderness gate -- a Eurasian Collared-Dove.  Now, don't everyone get excited all at once.  This invasive species has been seen in several of the canyons associating with houses.  This one was blazing a new trail that cut people out of the loop.  Let's hope it doesn't succeed as I don't want them everywhere I hike.

The annual flowers in the lower canyon were done for the year, but the perennials were starting their show.  Flannel bush, desert peach, and Salvia dorrii were looking lovely and kept our minds off how dry everything else looked.

Flannel Bush

Desert Peach
Next we came to a very nice healthy stand of gray pines.

Gray Pines and Owen's Peak
And then we crested a hill and I saw a hillside of yellow.  It was a thousand feet higher than us and straight up.  I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame and immediately proposed it as our destination for the day.  Bob was incredulous, this being a supposedly an easy day, but game, so up we went.  I went from plodding along to the little engine who could.  Yep, I think I can, I think I can, and soon I was reveling in the midst of yellow loveliness.  Oh boy.  Bob then proposed that we should at least bag the top of hill on our way back to our regularly scheduled Rodecker Flat hike.  So, back into plodding mode I went.

My hillside of yellow with the peak we would bag looming above

When we got to the top, we found even better annual flowers, mainly Scale Bud and Coreopsis.  Not only were they beautiful to look at; they smelled great too.  So, with a flower display for me and mountains for Bob, we had our lunch break.  It was fabulous.

Bob the peak bagger

Flowers everywhere

Scale Bud and a Coreopsis
Owens Peak beyond the flowers
We dropped down the backside of our peak and wandered through the Joshua trees, oaks, and cottonwoods of Rodecker Flat.  While this area looks like prime bird habitat, I have never had much luck with birds there.  We eventually had a Cactus Wren and Ladder-backed Woodpecker which put us at 28 species for the day.

I expected the final dry part of the hike to be boring, but we found a couple of interesting reptiles - a Leopard Lizard, and then a Desert Tortoise at 3330'.  Both allowed their photos to be taken.  Very nice.

Desert Tortoise

Leopard Lizard

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