Cleared for Take-off

posted Sep 19, 2012, 9:34 PM by Paul Wagner
The next morning, and this day was going to be a lazy easy hike to Lost Lake, then to Seville Lake.
Early morning at Ranger Lake, I left M back at camp and walked down to the lake.  I wanted to see if the fish were rising, and we needed to pump some water for the trail.
It was very quiet and still, but in the deep bowl of the lake, on the far side, I could see a large bird slowly rising into the air.  At first I thought it was an oprey, but as a I watched it fly slowly around, I could see it was something larger.  And the pointed beak was wrong for a raptor.  The bird flew in steady circles over the center of the lake, each turn taking it a bit higher into the air. 
I realized that it was a heron when it flew almost directly overhead. By that time it was nearly clear of the trees, and like a jumbo jet, it had circled the lake until it gained enough altitude to fly off to the south. No engine noise, but the huge bird then cleared the tops of the trees and sailed off into the sky beneath Silliman Pass.
That same day, in the evening, M and I went down to Seville Lake to enjoy the peace and quiet. And yes, to see if the fish were rising.  We watched as the shadows lengthened over the lake, and a few fish rose, far out in the middle of the lake. 
And then we saw the bats.  Two of them, like small fighter planes, swooping and diving around us.  Frequently they would dip and slap the water just like a fish, eating the mayflies that were hatching up into the sky.  It was like watching trout rise, only in reverse.  They spun by us time after time, diving onto the surface of the lake, eating voraciously from the bugs that were all around us.  And then they were gone, chasing off after more interesting prey.
Lots of air traffic in the High SIerra this time of year.