Wednesday, September 18, 2013

3.) Mt. Hutton

      The morning after we reached Disappointment Lake, we geared up with little more than enough water and collecting gear for insects (leaving the rest at base camp), then began our final stretch to the peak of Mt. Hutton. I have divided this post into two categories: One, reviewing an anomalous encounter with a beetle. Two, a collection of the best photographs depicting our adventure of almost reaching the top of the mountain from day three.

I mention that we "almost reached the top of the mountain" because as it turns out, there is no safe passage to the peak of Mt. Hutton from the north side without climbing gear (which non of us had). At least, there was no passage we were going to risk. So with a bit of reluctance we started back toward base camp. It was hard to be upset though, with the amazing scenery. We had seen just about as much as we would another few hundred feet higher. We were already close to 12,000.

As we were hiking down the slopes of the mountain, I noticed a tiger beetle, which didn't seem like it belonged on that particularly steep mountain slope. I immediately stopped walking toward it, as I was only a few feet away at that time, and got on all fours and cupped it with my hands before it took flight. The thought of risking a photograph was out of the question with an instance like this one. This tiger definitely wasn't one of the Cicindela oregona that I had seen at Long Meadows, it looked too different. And the difference in habitat was even more stark. After is was mounted I ran it through a key and reached the conclusion that it was the Sierra Nevadan subspecies of C. longilabris; Cicindela longilabrus perviridis.

Cicindela longilabrus perviridis Schaupp

 The individual was found exactly between the grass clumps and
the granite ridge just below the center of the photograph.
Also note that the lake  in the upper left is several hundred feet below
where I took the photograph and is well over one mile wide.

General area of where the individual was found on our decent.

Just as I was considering the chances of it being swept up there by a wind current, I noticed a larval burrow several more steps down the mountain side. While the individual I collected is in fact the Boreal Long-Lipped Tiger Beetle, the occurrence of the Dispirited Tiger Beetle (C. depressula) in this area isn't out of the question. Both are among highest occurring tiger beetles elevation wise and can be found in the month of July. The Dispirited Tiger Beetle is usually found at elevations of 12,000 m and up, and adults have also been collected from areas formed by melting snow(1), which could be any given ridge on this mountain side. The larval burrow was found in that form of habitat, so weather or not it belongs to C. depressula remains unknown to me.

 Larva burrow for either C. longilabrus perviridis or C. depressula

A habitat and apparently sufficient landscape for C. longilabrus perviridis and possibly Cicindela depressula.

Here are most of the remaining photographs of the trip. I don't plan on doing a post for our fourth day, since is was only a full day of hiking out of the wilderness to our truck. But I will probably post other creatures we found once I gather more information on them.

Larry and Sam braving the hike ahead of them

A few lakes including Hell For Sure Lake

Mt. Hutton's summit to the right.

Sam and Chad taking a breather along with myself and my camera.

MacClane walking along the LeConte Divide

Mountain Man Michael enjoying the view.

Mt. Hutton's peak just out of reach by a dangerous drop on the mountain's saddle.

Top to Bottom: Chad, McClane and Michael

Left to Right: Larry, Michael, Chad and McClane

A geek listening to a The Lord of the Rings soundtrack looking at our destination.

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