Masthead: Kaweah Range

Continued from:
Volunteer's Luck

Pete Clum

The next morning I again passed through Junction Meadow on my way to a nearby lake for the day. Enjoying the cold morning air and bright sun which had just cleared the peaks, I was brought to a full adrenaline alert by a loud and very close telltale buzz. I looked down and within inches of my right foot was a sizeable rattlesnake whose sunbath I obviously had disturbed. It is absolutely amazing how far a person can jump from a standing start. Like me, the snake was just enjoying the first warmth of the early morning sun. A ranger later told me he knew of only 2 snake bites in 30 years within Sequoia Kings Parks.

Blue Grouse hen.
Photo: © Benjamin R. Miller

Upon returning from the creek crossing, I suddenly heard a hissing type noise and looked in its direction just in time to see a female grouse spring in the air. She flew directly at my head. I raised my hiking sticks several times as she continued to fly at my head. As I hastily left the area, she walked after me for seventy-five feet or so, apparently to make sure I was leaving the area.

Although I didn't see it, I assume there was a nest nearby. Later in the Spring, the Blue Grouse can often be seen pecking around small open areas – their chicks never more than a few feet away. When surprised, she'll still explode out of the grass enough to startle – and distract – a possible predator, but will no longer attack an intruder.

The next day, I met up with one of the backcountry rangers to hike to some lakes. Just as we reached the upper lake (10,000 feet) we observed a bald eagle taking off from a tree.

That was all 5 years ago and I've been coming back each year since just to recapture such perfect days again.


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Hydromantes platycephalus

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Masthead Photo from:
Kaweahs From Trailcrest, Kings Canyon National Park
© 2009, Howard Weamer