Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Where Taco Died

These are my photographs of the campground where we lost Taco. I have no pictures of Taco himself there.

These are some old logs in our campsite. You can see a bit of our tent in the background.

This plant is called mountain misery (Chamaebatia foliolosa). I don't know why it's called that, but our campsite was completely surrounded by this stuff on all sides - which, in retrospect, seems unfortunately appropriate. I actually picked out this campsite specifically because it was surrounded by mountain misery - since all the other campsites were surrounded by poison oak instead, and also had poison oak growing all over the ground in the middle of the campsites too. Ours had a bit of poison oak in the middle and a bit more around the edges, but much less than the others. We had more mountain misery instead.

We also had many young madrone trees (Arbutus menziesii) in our campsite. I was trying to photograph this one (the shrub in the right foreground) when Boston decided that she wanted to pose next to it. The trees shown are redwood (Sequoia gigantea) at left, interior live oak (Quercus wislizenii) in the background, and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) at right.

Even though it's a bit blurry, I really love this picture of Boston running gleefully through our campsite early Saturday morning. (That's a whole grove of young madrones she was running through.)

These are Mexican pinks (Silene laciniata) that I saw along the road when I took Boston for a walk on the trail Saturday morning, while Susan and Taco were napping in the tent.

This is the creek that the trail crossed over. This is also where I had to return to the campsite for new camera batteries.

This is the same creek, facing downstream instead. By this point I had come back with Susan, and we had left Taco behind.

These flowers are called Pacific bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) - another eerily appropriate plant name. They were growing everywhere along the road to the campground, and I kept hoping to see them up close after we arrived. We finally found them along the trail. Shortly after we found them, we turned back the way we had come.

When we crossed back over that same creek, I noticed tiny shooting stars (Dodecatheon clevelandii) growing next to the creek. They were so tiny that it was impossible to get a good photograph of them. If you can see three pale lavender blurs on the end of a tall red stem toward the left . . . those are them.

While I was trying to photograph the shooting stars, Boston was posing expectantly in the creek.

Then we reached the start of the trail again and discovered that Taco was missing. We spent all afternoon searching for him, and much of the evening, so I took no more pictures that day.

On Sunday morning I suddenly noticed moose horn violets (Viola lobata) all along the road. I had walked past here many times before without noticing them.

We returned to the trailhead area to search for Taco one more time. This is the trailhead. The trail went up along that diagonal log in the distance and over the ridge. Taco followed us over the ridge, but hardly any farther than that at all.

This exposed cliff was across the road from the trailhead, in the direction of our campsite. The steepness and especially the total absence of vegetation on the sides of it indicate that it didn't erode that way naturally; it was damaged by hydraulic mining during the gold rush. Hydraulic mining methods poisoned cliffsides by concentrating toxic heavy metals, and hard-rock mining further poisoned them by using arsenic or mercury to leach gold from solid rock. As a result, no plants can grow in the poisoned areas.

This dead tree was down the road, behind the campsite of the last people who saw Taco. They said he went in this general direction.

So we went the same direction. Beyond the dead tree was a pile of mine tailings, further evidence of the lingering environmental destruction wrought by the Gold Rush.

Beyond the mine tailings was a pond surrounded by more dead trees. An old tire was floating in the pond.

It seemed like an appropriate place to die, surrounded by so much devastation.

Somewhere around here, Taco must have walked off into the underbrush and never come out again.

The last photograph I took was of the flowers growing near where Taco disappeared. These are buckbrush flowers (Ceanothus cuneatus).

Tags: native plants, photographs, susan
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