June 15, 2012

First, Let's Get the Spooky Stuff Out of the Way

Camera Trap Spring (my name for it) is a tiny seasonal spring on some BLM land up and over a ridge behind our house — about a 40-minute scramble.

Teddy, why are you here?
It produces good scout-camera photos, but there is something spooky about the little bowl where it sits. Whether hunting, hiking, or whatever, I always feel a little on edge when walking up there.

Over the years, meanwhile, it has built up a wealth of associations. M. and I were walking back from there in 2011 when a forest fire blew up across the valley, forcing us to evacuate our home.

Today, the air smelled faintly smoky, probably from the Little Sand Fire.

In 2010, it was the scene of the "CSI: Camera Trap Spring" episode.

I put a camera up there earlier this spring, got a few images, then got busy in May and never switched out the data card or replaced the rechargeable C-cells, which are only good for two weeks at the most.

So we went back today. After the rattlesnake incident in May, we left Fisher the Chessie at home.

On the way up the ridge, M. spotted a foot. It looked like a house cat's front leg, actually. Whoever eats kitties — a fox? — often leaves the feet.

Then coming down into the bowl, I saw what looked like a brown furry pelt on the ground. I poked it with my walking stick, flipped it over — and it was a teddy bear.

Half a mile from the nearest house, thick brush and woods — how did it get there? Matted plush showed that it had been carried in slobbering jaws by the head and the back.

We started joking about Nearsighted Fox, who brought a plush toy home to her kits.

Approaching the spring, I tapped forcefully on the ground with my stick. Snake, watch out!

DIdn't see it.

The camera, meanwhile, was face-down on the ground. Someone ursine had smacked it hard enough to break the plastic brackets on the back, causing it to fall from its strap, which was still attached to a pine tree.

But I had brought another camera, which (a) I am not sentimentally attached to and (b) which uses eight alkaline D-cells, meaning that it will run for months and months.

There lay the camera on the ground.
Also I had brought a trowel to clear out the spring — but it had shrunk down to just a damp patch of soil under its overhanging rock. I decided to reach in and enlarge the tiny basin anyway.

About that time I heard a rustling in the dried oak leaves. I'm sure I said something eloquent like, "Shit, the snake!"

M. says I made a good jump backwards.

It was only four feet away — but it was on the move, not preparing to strike.

I must have looked right at it. Rattlesnake — the original digital camouflage. Why doesn't someone market that?

We finished the camera set up and came back. Teddy went into M's pack and has now been washed.

And there were lots of photos on the knocked-down camera, one of which made my day.

More to come.


otowi said...

You're going to leave us hanging? :)

Chas S. Clifton said...

More coming tomorrow and the next day!