Had a busy week here at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Haven’t been able to post the rest of my Parashant Trip. I’ve been entertaining our new supervisor, Charles.
I’ve also been presenting a geology talk. Can you believe that you are looking at limestone with only different amounts of Iron and Manganese oxide?! This week another ranger and I discovered a few new trails leading to some very beautiful ivory-looking layers of limestone. It could be one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.
Over the past week a few new ponds were discovered here at Cedar Breaks and, more interestingly, one of them has frogs! Cedar Breaks has never been known to have frogs; mostly because of the altitude. Anyways, it was my job to go out and try and capture a picture of the frogs. No one as of yet has actually seen them, we only hear them.
I was able to capture a minute of two frog community member’s dialogue. The Zion National Park Research Center said that they should be able to identify the frogs from this audio snippet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WT1j1Bsbww
The wildflowers are slowing starting to appear. This week I was introduced to Kitten Tail (Synthris missourica var stellata), Marsh Marigold (Caltha leptosepala), Cushion Phlox (Phlox pulvinata), Aspen Bluebell (Mertensia arizonica), and the list goes on!
Ok, back to the Parashant. So from Tuweep we headed to Mt. Trumbull, an old volcano with a flourishing ponderosa forest.
After the first mile or so of the hike we were able to see the terrain around us and could even see some of the Grand Canyon! I hiked back down that night and slept among the wisping trees. The next morning I woke up early and scouted out the groups trip to the lava flows (called Mal Pais meaning bad place or bad land) and hidden ancient Paiute escape routes. On the six mile hike I encountered two eagles and a hawk each perched at the very top of their own tree. All three seemed to be mothers; they all had nests. I’m not sure what the three of them were talking or squawking about, maybe they were catching up with each other or gossiping about the latest arrivals to their perfect suburban Grand Canyon neighborhood: “What do you think those students are up to?” one of them says. “Oh my, I surely don’t know” the other responds; both frightened and at the same time bored of life away from the Grand Canyon, away from all the drama and action.
A little further I encountered a creature that I truly didn’t believe to exist: The Kaibab Squirrel, one of the rarest mammals in the National Park system! I’m pretty sure this little guy came straight out of a Pokemon deck. This morning walk was the only time I went without my camera on the whole trip, so I went ahead and borrowed this photo.
The group opted to drive to the Mal Pais. What a contrasting landscape! The lava rock is so harsh and sharp that neither plants or animals will attempt to cross it. The Ancient Paiutes created secret paths that can’t be seen from any real distance so they could quickly escape their enemies. They also built hidden dwellings in the Mal Pais. The ruins of these dwellings still remain. Here are some pics see if you can see them.
There is plenty more from this trip to discuss, but I am off again. I have an afternoon appointment with Hancock Peak!