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2016-04-23 Saturday Carson City to Tule Lake

Thamnophis elegans biscutatus

I learned yesterday that the flu that was being passed around in my nephew’s house has abated. I was purposefully progressing at a snail’s pace to give it time to run its course and clear out. Now I’m still four or five days from arrival in Medford. There are places I still want to visit. Some of these locations I remember from a family vacation we took in 1959. That trip was some journey. We caravanned with our neighbors up through the Sierras and the southern Cascades, then we crossed over to the coast along the Trinity River. Two weeks later we returned home via Coast Highway 1. It’s the northeastern quadrant of California that I’m interested in for the next couple of days. The lake country that borders California and Oregon is also on my radar.

I left my Walmart ‘campsite’ early, found breakfast and began my march north. Carson City and Reno had little to offer me on this day, so I made a hasty retreat using the fastest route available. I set my navigation system to lead me to Susanville California. Highway 395 had been my pathway on this journey. North of Reno most of the country was giant sage, but further north the sage mixed with pine and juniper. Most of the valley habitat has been turned to ranching. By the time I reached Susanville, I felt the need to depart from Highway 395. The terrain seemed unchanging. Its course was leading me away from the country I wanted to see. I chose to travel California Highway 139 to the Oregon border. This road would take me close to Eagle Lake, and ancient natural lake I remembered camping at as a kid. Just outside of Susanville the road began a steep climb that offered great views of Susanville in the valley below. Turning north, the road led through Ponderosa and juniper forests interspersed with mile-high marshy ponds.

I had my heart set on seeing Tule Lake near the California-Oregon border. Silly me! I assumed there would be a lake. Instead, I learned that this marshy wetland was drained in the early 1900’s so the land could be ‘settled’. Now a small corner of what was once the lake has been reclaimed as a marsh. It is called “Discovery Marsh” and it seems to have taken much effort to rebuild the wetland.

Today’s drive was long and tiring, but I was rewarded early with roadside Swainson’s Hawks, and late by Discovery Marsh. Images from this day can be viewed below:

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