Chapter 14: Winding Down

To continue with my trip, the remainder of the summer was spent in patrolling, keeping weather reports, heliographing and reporting fires. One day I reported seeing ten fires at one time. Only one was near enough to cause me any anxiety, and that happened near where I was picnicking with the ranger and his family. We ran to a nearby cabin -- long deserted -- and got shovels, rushed to the fire and found a man sitting by a huge bonfire which he had set to test our vigilance, and incidentally to place the ranger on the spot for not being at home to answer the phone call I should try to send. He wanted the ranger's job, but instead had to come and eat his picnic grub. The day this occurred was during a wet spell when there were no fires, and slight danger of them.

There were few birds there. The most common were "white crows" -- they were really Clark's Nutcrackers. White with black markings and a blackbird's voice. They seemed to live on pine seeds, etc.

Toward the end of my stay the ranger (Agnew), Gilroy and I ran a stadia traverse out along the ridge for some ten miles, so as to determine the grazing area available. I collected an herbarium of plants giving the percentage of each on the range, so as to determine how many cattle could be pastured there. I ran them down in my systematic botany. One plant I thought was wild celery by its smell turned out to be the poison hemlock that killed Socrates. Glad I didn't eat any, as I was tempted to do.

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