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Monday, February 24, 2014


 I drove into the rugged high country encompassing the northern third of Lake County. The headwaters of the Eel River rise here, dammed at Lake Pillsbury. Herds of hundreds of elk graze on the oak flats near the diminished reservoir. It is a kind of lost world, where few people from the lower valleys venture. The vast wildness of the country finds expression in the presence of the elk.

The primordial scene, so exceedingly rare in the US, rivals Yellowstone, and even Africa.

Pacific chorus frogs piped from vernal pools in the elk meadows. 

As I stalked elk on foot I remembered walks in Africa. The wind was not in my favor as more than thirty elk streaked away toward the lake flats.

Spoor of elk.

 Mixed forests of fir, pine, oak, madrone, and bay dominate Mendocino National Forest.

A pool of the Eel River, where buffleheads flushed.

Oak Flat campground, Mendocino National Forest. The managers of Lake Pillsbury Resort told me they saw a cougar bounding across the track last week.