Wednesday, May 13, 2015

15-18 Oct 2011 Klickitat County Expedition Part 3, Washington

Morning sun shining through fog near
Goldendale Observatory
Continuing the story from Part 1 and Part 2:  Knowing that Rod would need to wait for the morning dew to dry before sampling herbs, I made an early stop at Goldendale Observatory before heading back to Badger Gulch.  My second visit to the observatory's forest was just as magical as the first, thanks in no small part to the morning fog.

Returning to Badger Gulch, I was pleased to learn that Rod's night had been more peaceful than the previous, and that dew had been the worst of his atmospheric concerns.  Dew we can handle!

Mouth of Badger Gulch, Day 2
Now that is a lot of cones!
Being full of morning energy, I hiked into the mouth of Badger Gulch, which was across the road and uphill from my sampling site of the day before.  Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) in brilliant scarlet foliage and Garry oaks (Quercus garryana) were the gatekeepers here, but I quickly found dense accumulations of cones under a few giant ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa).  I tapped 17 spiders and 4 species from 90 cones.  One specimen was a male Dipoena daltoni (Theridiidae), exceedingly rare in the state.

Klickitat Co. site locations
(click to enlarge)
Pine cone microhabitat (and acorns) at
Klickitat Trail site
While Badger Gulch was part of the first major drainage system east of Goldendale (Rock Creek), our next stop was Klickitat Trail along the first major drainage system to Goldendale's west, the Klickitat River.  I found and tapped 52 fallen ponderosa cones amid the Garry oak leaf litter, and collected 34 spiders and 6 species.  Half of the specimens were Pholcophora americana (Pholcidae), the 2nd most numerous and 2nd most frequently occurring spider in eastern Washington ponderosa cones.

Zipping by the ponderosas on the
drive to Outlet Creek Campground
Autumn beauty was a fine distraction
Outlet Creek Campground, located on one of the headwaters of the Klickitat River, would be our final stop for the day.  As we made the long drive into the area, I realized the folly of my decision to spend another night in a hotel in Goldendale; I'd have to drive this beautiful but tiring route again this evening, then yet again the following morning to pick up Rod, and then still again as we headed downstream towards our final sampling site and then home.  But the die was cast, I just tried to enjoy the scenery and ignore the driving fatigue.

Stumps and slash: reminders
that this is a working forest
Although the ponderosas near the campground had been selectively cut, I still managed to find and tap 136 cones for 28 spiders and 6 species.  By far the most interesting were the male and female Disembolus (Linyphiidae) from an undescribed species rare in the state.

Before heading downstream to our next site, we refreshed our eyeballs with this gorgeous view of  Mt. Adams and the countryside.

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