(Mountain Short-horned Lizard above, Rainbow Grasshoppers below)
After the incident the night before, I was out of the tent by 0630, right at sunrise. I took my camera and some water and hiked down the trail for an hour or so, really quite happy to be alive and kickin.' I was hoping there'd be some nice morning light, but the cloud cover was pushing 100 percent. Still pretty awesome either way. You can see a whole lot of the desert from up there. Good stuff. (Rock Rattlesnake..I think..below)
I got back to my tent and packed it up. It was pretty gross. Since it got flooded the night before, it was caked with mud and dirt and still soaking wet. That was a little lame, I never like packing a wet tent.
Decided to drop the pack and take a detour down another trail. Found a Mountain Short-horned Lizard just off the trail. Ahh! I love these little fellows, and don't get to see them nearly enough. Also tons of the crazy Rainbow Grasshoppers all over the place. I've never seen so many grasshoppers. Everywhere!There were a couple really big Warbler Flocks, saw a few Grace's Warblers (nice).
Started the hike down Bear Canyon, the steepest trail in the park. Pretty steep stuff, uh huh. 3.5 miles of straight downhill. I got to a tight, rocky spot in the canyon and had that feeling that something was there. Yup, a mountain lion. Turned his butt on me and took off, he was about 60 feet away. Pretty close. But given the night before, this cat didn't phase me. I did the thing you're supposed to do when you see a cougar- clapped and acted all big and tough, but he was gone even before I had a chance to do that.
That's the 4th mountain lion encounter I've had. Kind of badass. Not a lot of people get to see those guys in the wild. And I've run into them four times. Four really close times, like one jump and they'd be all over me. It's a pretty thrilling experience. I guess when you're outside all the time like I am, in a lot of really remote places, it happens. Anyway, that was pretty spectacular, but I was actually kind of thinking I'd run into one there. Such a perfect spot for them. So it wasn't all that surprising, oddly enough. I thought maybe this one would be standing on a rock outcrop or something after he bolted, checking me out, but I didn't see him again.
When we got back to the car, ate a bunch of food and attempted to put my tent out to dry a little bit. On my way to the bathroom, I heard a rattle. I look down and there is a coiled Rock Rattlesnake about a half inch from my sandal-clad foot. That one kinda took me by surprise. He was all coiled and rattling and had his head out like he wasn't digging my being there so close. Eh! Nature Notes
Obviously I ran back to the car and grabbed the camera. He had gone under some trees by that point and wasn't in the best position for a photo, but I got a couple of him. Nice! That was the ONLY snake the entire trip. I'm kinda surprised, since I run into snakes pretty often, so I was happy this guy made an appearance.
Oh yeah, while packing the car and drying the tent and stuff, there were a bunch of juvie Canyon Towhees hanging around. They are pretty approachable birds but they were acting all House Sparrow-y, jumping on the table and checking out my food and stuff. How goofy of them! Camera Critters
(where I thought I was going to die the night before, above. Yucca fruit below)