Sunday, April 26, 2015

10-Jul-2011 Rimrock, Washington

Site locations
It was a bit difficult getting myself up, out the door and over to Rod Crawford's place this morning.  I was still tired after my previous day's solo collecting trip to Chiwawa River Valley.  But my love of exploration and discovery has always been a greater motivator than love of sleep, so by mid-morning we were in the car and on our way to the far side of Mt. Rainier.

As Rod describes in his trip narrative, our destination, Thunder Lake near Rimrock, was located in a more southerly portion of the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) belt than we'd sampled to that point.  It was about 90 miles south and 1000 feet higher in elevation than were my Chiwawa River Valley sites the previous day.

I didn't tap the toilet cones
Doused fire pit full of beer trash
Judging by the quantity of toilet paper in the grass and beer cans in the fire pit, Thunder Lake was a popular party spot.  That didn't surprise me since it's a beautiful place (if you ignore the trash).  What did surprise me was the discovery that someone had left a fire burning unattended in the fire pit.  Who does that, when lake water is just steps away?!  I spent quite some time hauling water to douse that fire before starting my cone tapping.

Thunder Lake
Lakeside cones
Thunder Lake was a bit grandly named, being hardly more than a pond, but it did offer two zones for cone tapping: riparian and upland.  Altogether, 120 tapped cones produced 28 spiders and 5 species.

Female E. formosa in cone
Spider with its exuvium in cone
Unsurprisingly, Euryopis formosa (Theridiidae) was the most numerous species I tapped from cones, and was present in both zones.  Also present were some rarities: the undescribed dictynid that I'd tapped from ponderosa cones on Table Mountain the month before, and an undescribed Dipoena sp. (Theridiidae) that had been collected only once before.

Ponderosa grove in Fish Flats
Unusual multi-stemmed pine
After a brief stop to hunt spiders around some nearby Forest Service cabins, we headed to a gorgeous place called Fish Flats.  Getting there required navigating Forest Service roads and a hike, but it was worth it just to see this wet meadow with its grove of open-grown ponderosas in the middle.   Tracks in the churned up mud beneath the trees indicated that an elk herd liked this spot too.

As beautiful as the area was, however, it didn't have much to offer in the way of cone spiders.  I got just one juvenile, a gnaphosid, from 50 tapped cones.  Too bad I wasn't collecting earwigs, since the cones were loaded with them.

Mt. Rainier at sunset

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