Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Poppy Quest Thursday

This is Lake Tabeaub in Amador Co.
It's a small lake and reservoir in the foothills of the Central Sierra Mountains of California. The Prospector and I drove up on Thursday looking for a way to access the Mokelumne River Canyon above Electra Power Plant. We were on a poppy quest. We drove as far as we thought we should on a road called Ponderosa Way, which appeared to be mostly private property and "no trespassing" signs. We always respect these signs and private roads because we live on one too and have had trouble with people who don't.
So, we drove to the lake and took a short hike down a path beside a water channel.
I found some information about these ditches. They were built to divert water over to Pine Grove.  The development of all of these ditches and canals extended from around 1850 until the turn of the century.
During the early settlement of the Amador County, the major industries were gold mining, timber, and cattle raising.  These early settlers, in order to obtain water for domestic, municipal and agricultural uses, diverted  the water from larger rivers and streams.
 When demand increased for power, the Upper Standard Canal was built and water was diverted a half mile upstream from the present PGand E Tiger Creek Powerhouse.  The Upper Standard Canal followed the same course as an earlier canal but remained at a higher elevation.  This water was subsequently released into Tabeaud Reservoir and then could be released into the Amador Canal. It appears that this is still the case.
It's a beautiful canal. From the parking lot to the pump area is a short walk.
This photo shows the pipe that carries the water up out of the lake to the canal.
And this sign tells you that you had better not mess with any of it.
Pacific, Gas and Electric can sound very official in some really beautiful places, but they have had power grids blown up (here in California) so they don't mess around.
We walked back up to the canal and watched the water fall to a different level as it flowed back toward the road.
I had to laugh at the sign on the side of the pump house.
It said, NO SWIMMING. There were tiny, planted trout and a lot of algae in that water. I can't imagine anyone wanting to swim in there anyway.
That was when I realized we were not alone. I turned around and saw a dog... in the water. Guess he didn't read the sign.
His owner pulled him out of the shallow water and stopped to talk for a minute. We said we were trying to find a road that would get us over to the river canyon. He gave us detailed directions about how to do this. We thanked him and he and his dog walked on down the road.
We walked back to the car, drove around the edges of the lake and a few miles later, we found the trail head... right where the man had told us it was. Another car was parked there too. This reminded me of Geocaching only this time we were trying to find flowers, not hidden treasure.
It didn't look very official, but we took all of my camera equipment and hiked up onto the trail.
This was one of those beautiful California Sunshine Days that you heard about in the songs... you know... The Mamas and the Papas dreaming about California sunshine on a dreary, winter's day.
or Waylon Jennings....
...They say those California girls are fine
They know how to really walk your mind
Well, one of you get ready 'cause you're mine
I'm headin' for that California sunshine."
And, of course... The Beach Boys singing about beaches and bikinis, wishing all girls "...could be California girls."
It was a magic word back then... California. I'm sure these songs were written about a day like this one. Blue skies, warm breezes, sunshine........flowers in my hair.
Oh, man. Sorry! I got caught up in the 60's for a moment.

The Prospector and I walked to the top of the ridge.
The view was amazing and so beautiful.... but I didn't see any poppies.
My favorite river, the Mokelumne, is down in that canyon, somewhere.

There was a lot of green grass, small white flowers (California fairy poppies or meconella) and Fiddleneck (Amsinckia retrorsa).

And this... a fiddleneck unfurled.
And one that the Prospector showed me (without picking it).
I believe this is called  Common Brodiaea  or Blue dick, desert hyacinth?..(this certainly isn't the desert.)... or even more likely, a different Brodiaea, called a Twining Brodiaea  or twining snakelily. This wildflower did have a twining stem.
The only poppies we saw were a few miles west on another hillside.
There they were... in all their orangeluminous beauty. I was beginning to think I should stop the madness and just go back to the small display of poppies on my own property, put my macro lens on, and do some 1:1 close-ups of the flowers near my house.
I was a bit disappointed, but I still had some other options. I had directions from another Facebook "poppy lover", who had taken pity on me and given me very good directions to the area off of Ponderosa Way. Should I come up here again? Should I obsess until I find the gold at the end of the rainbow?
Well, at that moment, I had to get the Prospector off the ridge area before I lost him to what he thought was an old tertiary river bed with some very interesting rocks in it.
He was getting that gleam in his eyes.
These rocks were very heavy... with lot's of crystallization in them.
 I might have lost him forever if I didn't make him start back to the car with me. The rock was an interesting lode type rock that could have started a serious dry-washing project... so it was time to move on.

(Why is this being written in orange? Because I went on another Poppy quest today and found what I was looking for. Wait until you see the beautiful photos tomorrow.
 I found Poppy Heaven on Electra Rd.... That sounds like the title of a good song doesn't it? Stay tuned.)


  1. ah at least you were rewarded with beautiful views....and ha, you never know you could have found something in the rocks....smiles...we had beautiful weather yesterday as well...got a bit pink...

  2. What a great post. The pictures are fantastic. I love see my home state in your pictures and hearing about the different place the way you describe them.. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  3. What an interesting and beautiful trek !
    That first photo had me wanting to sit there for a spell , such a pretty spot.

  4. I can't wait to see more poppies. I love ours and feel so blessed to just look out the door and behold them. They add another dimension to the golden corridor. Tina

  5. I guess you are feeling better, able to hike so far. I loved seeing that water and the cute dog....but the gold gleam...I could get a serious case of the fever myself.....and I love poppies....red ones mostly in Door County Wisc...but I like your yellow ones too
    can's wait to see them

  6. What fun to go along with you on your poppy quest. You photographed beautiful country. So green. Such pretty wild flowers. Now I'm anxious to see the poppies you discovered.


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