Saturday, March 12, 2011
Worth Tromping Through Mud
The weather forecast said we're in for another solid week of rain and snow. That is, after a brief period of partly cloudy this morning. To take advantage of that, we hiked a back road on Mt. Hough in search of more signs of spring. The walk was mostly unappealing as it was cloudy, cold, windy, and muddy. The road was made a mess by over-sized truck and 4WD tires cutting through the remaining snow. No bugs or wildflowers yet, and as we searched for a windbreak in order to eat our lunches, I grumbled "This is like a redneck autobahn." I did manage to get a few scenic views out over Quincy and of sunny Spanish Peak toward the West. And a close-up of deer droppings. As we crawled our way back up to the dirt road, I passed into a relatively sunny spot littered with pancake-sized pieces of shale. These often absorb enough UV, even on cloudy days, that they'll be relatively warm underneath and provide hideouts for the critters I seek. Surely enough, the first one I tipped over revealed a beautiful, active juvenile Western Skink with a bright blue tail. This is Eumeces skiltonianus to us amateur herpetologists. Seeing this fellow made the entire walk worthwhile. Well, the exercise and my wife's company were good, too.