Trip Report: White Mountains or Bust! (California /Nevada, USA) Day 4

Longest day, distance-wise. Wander up, following creek part of the way. Find some Claytonia. Top off our water at a snow pack near the top of the slope. It is late enough that we can divert enough flow to fill our bottles relatively quickly.

Editors note: the posts in this series are excerpts from Jason’s field notes.

Day 4 – 20180730: Longest day, distance-wise. We wander up, following a creek part of the way. We top off our water at a snow pack near the top of the slope. It is late enough that we can divert enough flow to fill our bottles relatively quickly. The trick seems to be inserting a relatively large rock with a bit of a channel in the upperside into one of the meltwater rivulets. Soon as the water runs clear again, we have a usable spout to fill our bottles under. We fill one bottle over and over, pouring it into all the others, this way only one bottle gets any gravel in it.

We see another herd of 9 or 10 mule deer running off up ahead of us. We stop very briefly on top of Mount Dubois and read a bit of the register. Only a couple people have been up here this year, but a dozen or so last year. We notice one entry is a botanist doing plant plots who we’ve been in correspondence with about collection permits for our alpine lichen inventories nearby!

Clouds are starting to become threatening as we continue toward the “Jumpoff”. There is a snowbank at the top on the north side of the Jumpoff peak. We see a lone bighorn sheep ahead of us shortly afterward. He scampers off and we see him several more times, apparently leading the way. This gives Nastassja a great deal of confidence on what is otherwise a very rocky and soon rather scary ridge as storm clouds are looming and rain is starting to fall. The descent is very steep and loose near the end, and I get a little too far ahead for Nastassja’s comfort of mind. We reach the saddle between the Jumpoff and Montgomery Peak near sunset. The view of the ridge to Montgomery is extremely daunting. The photos don’t begin to capture the full scale and presence of it. There is a small flattened-off ledge in the lea of the pass, but it has filled in a bit with gravel and plants, so we take 15 minutes to scrape it clear and flatten it again.

Just before sunset I search the nearby north-facing granite outcrop and right on cue find a population of a Lecanora apparently related to L. subcavicola that I’ve been working on. Sunset is obscured yet again by fire. Clouds suddenly come in from the east and rain threatens. Apparently it even sprinkles briefly at least once during the night. We see a nighthawk zoom by just over our heads at sunset. Some other birds (also nighthawks?) zoom all around us after dark. Very unsettling, but I guess they can see fine, even if we can’t.

Up Next: Trip Report: White Mountains or Bust! (California /Nevada, USA) Day 5

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