Forestry Friday … Lodgepole Pine – En Plein Air


One advantage to having a truck for an office, is to take a few minutes in the woods during lunch to engage in a bit of en plein air sketching. En plein air is a french term meaning “in the open air.” It refers to painting or sketching in the outdoors.

logepole pine, cone, pine cone, pen and ink, drawing, sketch, plein air

En plein air pen and ink of a lodgepole pine cone.

Here is some of our local lodgepole pine.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Forestry Friday … Fire From The Sky!


In this year of drought, our forests are a tinder box waiting for a spark. That spark came from the sky on the last day of July. It reached 108 F in the valley. A major lightning storm rolled across the North State and left numerous forest fires in its wake.

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Looking east toward Burney. On the right is smoke from the Day Fire and on the right is the Bald Mountain Fire.

Bald Mountain Fire

Bald Mountain.

A huge thundercloud forms about The Bald Mountain Fire.

A huge thundercloud forms above the Bald Mountain Fire. Burney Mountain on the right, has a fire lookout on its peak.

The cloud above the fire continued to grow all day.

The cloud above the fire continued to grow all day as the fire exploded in size. These clouds create erratic winds that cause the fire to spot.

The air tankers bombed the fire throughout the daylight hours.

The air tankers bombed the fires throughout the daylight hours. This S2 is on its way to the Coffee Fire.

To the west another group of fires was burning.

More fires were burning to the west. This column was from the Coffee Creek Fire.

Eiler Fire

A new fire called the Eiler Fire took off on the second day. It’s was close to the Bald Mountain Fire. The two fires were threatening the town of Burney. From the valley in Anderson, we could see at least six major smoke columns in all directions.

The beginning of the week brought us a rare and very wet cold front. The rain helped the firefighter get a handle on many of the fires.

The beginning of the week brought us a rare and very wet cold front. The rain helped the firefighters get a handle on many of the fires. The same storm created flash floods and mud slides in Southern California.

Wildfire Sunsets are a silver lining.

Wildfire sunsets are a silver lining.

Most of the east side fires are under control now, but several fires in the Klamath Mountains are still burning. We still have a long way to go to reach the end of fire season.

Fine With Phoebe


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The Black Phoebe in pen and ink.

Every year we have an addition built on our home. We don’t build it ourselves. The black phoebe families build their mud and twig nests under our western roof peaks when they come to stay.

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This beautifully beak crafted addition to our home is a classic phoebe nest.

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At a different roof peak, another phoebe family built their new nest on top of last seasons nest. I think this addition was built by the Picasso of the Phoebe world.

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These little flycatchers strike fear in the hearts of mosquitoes! They’re always welcome moving in with us. Besides, I don’t mind a little mud.

“It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.”
 Aesop

Forestry Friday … Big Stumps Talkin’


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A managed redwood forest.

Last week, I was in the redwood country of our coastal mountains. However, I wasn’t down in the parks with the gigantic and ancient trees. As you might imagine, I was in young, working redwood forests.

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Wild Foxglove

It’s beautiful country and full of surprises. One of the surprises you’ll find in these forests are the old stumps of the ancient forest giants that were logged over a hundred years ago.

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A giant redwood stump.

These old stumps tell a story of the past. The stump pictured above looks like it has two eyes. The “eye” on the left is a spring-board hole. Way back when, the timber fallers would cut a notch in the tree up above the butt swell. They then wedged a board into the notch. They stood on the board, called a spring-board, to cut the tree down. Two man teams with double bit axes and cross-cut saws fell these trees. The spring boards elevated the fallers up the tree where it wasn’t as thick, making it easier to cut. That’s why these stumps are so tall.

Many of these stumps are charred on the outside. The fires that caused this may have been intentional. It was a common practice of the time, to burn the logging site after the trees were felled. They did this to eliminate slash. After the big trees were cut the slash was so deep it was difficult for a man to get through it. The fire solved this problem and left burned stumps behind.

This redwood stump is fifteen feet across.

This redwood stump is fifteen feet across.

spring board

A spring board hole cut into the stump.

Looking west from the Coast Range toward Humboldt Bay and the Pacific.

Looking west from the Coast Range toward Humboldt Bay and the Pacific.

I did a watercolor of a logger bucking a log with a cross-cut saw, which is showing in my post Misery Whip – The Final. Timber fallers on spring-board would be a good subject for an illustration. I might have to work on that.  Happy Friday.

 

Wildfire Weekend


wildfire, forest fire

A wildfire broke out west of town Friday afternoon.

Last Friday I posted Storm Clouds Brewing and talked about lightning and wildfire. Then Friday afternoon an aggressive wildfire broke out west of town. However, this fire wasn’t caused by lightning, it was caused because of an illegal marijuana grow.

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It formed a huge column and began building it’s own thunder cloud.

air tanker, fire fighting, wildfire, forest fire

The fire crews were scrambled and the air-tankers took to the air.

The thing is, Mary and I were planning a weekend away camping in our trailer at our favorite spot. The problem was, the fire was less then five miles from our camp where we had already staged our trailer. We made the decision to retrieve our trail while the fire was relatively small, only 300 acres.

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As we approached camp the sky became angrier.

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After reaching camp, we packed everything, hooked up the trailer and pulled out. The smoke made it very dark.

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Looking to the sky from camp.

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The fire was two ridges away when we hauled out.

We got the trailer safely home and by the time we went to bed the fire had grown to 2,800 acres.

Saturday was a new day and the fire had not advance too much over night. It was reported at 2,930 acres. We decided to head back up to camp to pick the last of our equipment. Sailor and Kinta came with us this time.

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Sailor and Kinta are ready for an adventure.

 

It was still very smoky up near camp.

It was still very smoky up near camp. An inversion had settled the smoke into the canyons.

By the time we finished the truck was covered in ash.

By the time we finished the truck was covered in ash. Clearly the fire was still actively burning.

We had our remaining equipment loaded and beat a hasty retreat.

We had our remaining equipment loaded and beat a hasty retreat.

Sailor and Kinta find this whole adventure thing quite exhausting.

Sailor and Kinta found this whole adventure thing quite exhausting.

By the time we returned home the fire was still at 2,930 acres. Unfortunately, high winds hit Saturday night/Sunday morning and by Sunday morning it was up to 3,700 acres. The terrain is very steep and it is extremely brushy. Spot fires have been tormenting the firefighters. Just when they seem to getting a handle on it, another slop over occurs. It is now Tuesday night and the fire is reported at 8,100 acres. Today was overcast and calm. Hopefully, they made good progress containing it. The fire is now 1 3/4 miles from camp. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

 

Forestry Friday… Storm Clouds Brewing


thunderstorm, lightning, wildfire, forestry

A late afternoon thunderstorm builds over the Trinity Alps.

Billowing thunderclouds built up over the Trinity Alps last Wednesday. It was an ominous teaser of desperately needed rain. Our summer thunderstorms are the double-edged sword of rain and lightning. What will it be, soothing rain for parched earth or forest fires? These storms usually cause more grief than relief. I think we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s not as if we get to choose what we get anyway.

Today the monsoonal moisture has returned. We’re already hearing thunder to the south. It could be an interesting day today.

The Blackberry Foxes


Along the road to our home are blackberry brambles. In one bramble patch is the den of a family of gray foxes. Some mornings I glimpse the foxes hanging out on the road. The foxes have lived in the area for years. They’re attracted to the area for the cottontail rabbits that also live in the blackberries. They appeared in my earlier post The Fox and The Song

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“The Vixen”    pen and ink.

The other morning, I was on my way to work. I came around the corner and surprised the fox family. There were four kits and the vixen playing in the road. When they saw me coming they scattered. Foxes were darting here and there diving into the blackberry bushes. I grabbed my camera to get a picture of the group, but they had scampered away. When I stopped in front of their blackberry patch, two of the little kits were peeking out. Before I could focus my camera they disappeared.

This brave little fox graciously pose for me.

The gray fox kit.

However, a couple of days later, I was fortunate to have one brave fox kit sitting out in front of their thicket. This little one posed graciously while I snapped a few pictures. It is always a treat to see the fox family. I just hope they stay far away from our chicken house.