Category Archives: Wildlife

Bergman’s recount Arctic trip at Rotary

On December 1, Patricia and Bruce Bergman told the Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River about their trip to the Arctic during the summer.

Bruce showing people where they went on a globe

Bruce showing people where they went on a globe

The talk was illustrated with beautiful slides of photos that they had taken on their journey.

Patricia and Bruce Bergman in the Arctic

Patricia and Bruce Bergman in the Arctic

Figure from the Vigeland Sculpture Park

Statue in  the Vigeland Sculpture Park

The Bergmans began their trip in Oslo, the capital and most populous city in the Kingdom of Norway. King Harald V of the Dano-German House of Glücksburg  is the current monarch.  They said that the Norwegian people pay a 50 percent tax rate but benefit from free healthcare and other services and seem quite happy and contented.

While in Oslo, they visited a number of interesting sites. One of them was the Vigeland Sculpture Park featuring  212 bronze and granite sculptures all designed by Gustav Vigeland.

Another place they visited was the Norwegian Nobel Institute. The Nobel Peace Prize is one of five prizes established by Alfred Nobel. Each year, a recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The award is presented in the Oslo City Hall.

Nobel Peace Center in Norway

Nobel Peace Center in Norway

From Oslo, the Bergmans traveled by cruise ship to the Svalbad archipelago, halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole.

Cruising through the ce

Cruising through the ice

Because it was summer, there was no night.

Daylight 24-7

Daylight 24/7

The Bergman’s love wildlife. Patricia said that one of the main reasons they took this trip was to see Polar Bears. They were not disappointed.

Polar Bear lying in the snow

Polar Bear lying in the snow

Polar bears live in the Arctic Circle and surrounding areas. It is estimated that there are about 20-30,000 polar bears. Their main food is ringed and bearded seals. They can swim long distances in the Arctic waters.

Polar Bears swimming in the arctic waters

Polar Bears swimming in the arctic waters

Polar bears are currently classified as a vulnerable species. The Bergman’s said that in some areas polar bears have begun to seek more sources of food on land and some have begun to mate with grizzly bears producing an interesting yellowish colored bear.

Polar bear on land

Polar bear on land

The also saw walruses,

Walruses

Walruses

and a Muskox,

Musk ox

Muskox

auks,

Auks

Auks

as well as whales and lots of other species of birds. One of the species was the Arctic Tern that migrates 44,000 miles from the Arctic to Antarctica each year.

In addition, they had pictures of beautiful arctic flowers.

Arctic flowers

Arctic flowers

and of course, icebergs.

An iceberg

An iceberg

International seed storage

Entrance to the global seed vault

One of the interesting sites they visited was the  Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the island of Spitsbergen. The vault, established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, contains seeds from plants throughout the world so that species can be replenished if they perish due to ecological or geopolitical causes. The first transfer of seeds was authorized in 2015 to Beirut due to difficulties incurred by the Syrian Civil War.

After visiting Svalbard, the Bergmans cruised to Greenland, the world’s largest non-continental  island.

Greenland

Greenland

Inuit mother and child

Inuit mother and child

Three-quarters of Greenland is covered by a permanent ice sheet. Greenland is an autonomous country within the Danish Realm. It has a population of just over 56,000 people. The capitol is Nuuk with a population of about 17,ooo.

The majority of people are Inuit, whose ancestors migrated from the Canadian mainland beginning in the 13th century.

Most of the population is concentrated along the west coast.

Animals living in Greenland include the polar bear, arctic fox, reindeer, arctic hare, musk ox, collared lemming, ermine, and arctic wolf.

Mrs. Bergman showed a picture of an arctic fox as well as photos of the icy land and seascape and local fauna including a local mushroom. (Her daughter likes mushrooms.)

Arctic Fox

Arctic Fox

The final destination on their journey was Iceland. Iceland has about 330.000 people and 600,000 sheep. Also sturdy Icelandic horses.

Iceland sits at the meeting point of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans. It also rests on the Iceland hotspot and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. There is a lot of geothermal activity, with active volcanoes. Ms. Bergman said that hydroelectric power there is very inexpensive. So inexpensive that aluminum ore is imported from all the way from Australia to be processed.

There are many species of birds in Iceland, one of which is the Puffin.

Puppin in Iceland

Puffin in Iceland

Although heavily forested when settlement by Norwegians began in 874, there are not a lot of trees today. Ms. Bergman said they have a saying “If you get lost in the forest in Iceland, just stand up because the trees are not very tall.”

While in Iceland, they visited some Troll Rocks.

One of the Troll Rocks

One of the Troll Rocks

At the conclusion of their Arctic tour, the Bergmans flew home from the Icelandic capital, Reykjavík.

Thank you very much Patricia and Bruce Bergman for sharing your wonder-filled journey.

Thanks again to the Rotary for providing such interesting and informative speakers at your weekly meeting.

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Filed under Burney, Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River, Wildlife

Pit River Country – Beauty in the Spring

Just want to share a few pictures Linda and I took driving through Burney Falls State Park and out Clark Creek Road.

After visiting the Intermountain Teen Center for their “Bring a Friend Barbecue,” Linda and I decided to go on a short photo-shoot.

Because there was construction between Burney and Johnson Park, we headed up Black Ranch Road.

Ranch off Black Ranch Road

Ranch off Black Ranch Road

We turned on Clark Creek Road and drove at a slow pace through the park, pulling over to let speeding vehicles pass. Then we stopped for awhile by the dam. Because we have had a lot of rain, everything is lush. It’s flowering time and the lilacs by the lake were in bloom.

Lilacs by the lake

Lilacs by the lake

This oak tree had some interesting growths.

Strange growth on an oak tree

Strange growth on an oak tree

We drove up to four corners and headed down to the Old Ferry Crossing.

Lake Britton from the Old Ferry Crossing 2

Lake Britton from the Old Ferry Crossing

There were some interesting tracks in the mud.

animal track

animal track

We sat in silence for five minutes. A butterfly was flitting across the beach.

Butterfly by Lake Britton

Butterfly by Lake Britton

The wild roses were in bloom.

wild rose

wild rose

We continued up Clark’s Creek Road to 89. On the way we saw five deer.

Deer in the woods

Deer in the woods

Then we headed back to Burney. The construction was done. The road was clear. A refreshing drive. Some might say, “Nothing special,”

But I think that in this beautiful area, everything is special.

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Filed under Burney, Lake Britton, Wildlife

Thanksgiving Eve drive to Baum Lake

Thanksgiving is upon us and this year we can give thanks that more snow has been added in the higher elevations around Burney. Snow began just after 11 a.m. on Tuesday and continued on and off into Wednesday morning. Burney got 1-2 inches, enough that when I woke up, we had a beautiful wintry landscape.

Metal skiers enjoying the snow

Metal skiers enjoying the snow

Linda and I decided to take a drive out to Baum Lake. As we headed away from Burney past 4 corners there was a little bit less snow, but turning on to Cassel Road the ponderosas were still laden with snow.

Giraffe in the woods

Giraffe in the woods

The first place we stopped was at Packway. I always love to bring friends who visit Burney to see the collection of metal sculptures displayed beside the road. People are usually amazed to see such creatures out in the middle of the woods.

What is this?

What is this?

After shooting some pictures, we continued on to Baum Lake.

View of Crystal Lake Hatchery across Baum Lake

View of Crystal Lake Hatchery across Baum Lake

On Monday, I stopped into Burney Sporting Goods to see what was going on in outdoor activity. Not much. Waterfall season is still open, but there wasn’t a lot to report. Turkey and quail season are open. Shawn Lewis said that one person had gotten a hen, but that others had reported that they hadn’t seen many wild turkeys. There are pheasants in the Fall River area, but mostly on private ranches where they can’t be hunted.

Picnic Table at Baum Lake

Picnic Table at Baum Lake

As for fishing, most of the areas are closed. Lake Britton is pretty dead. Baum Lake is one area still open. Crystal Lake Hatchery usually stocks it around Thanksgiving but Lewis doesn’t think that they have done so yet this year. The Hatchery is closed to the public for improvements to the water supply.

Road to PGE campground in Cassel

Road to PGE campground in Cassel

Outdoor activities in Burney thrive from the beginning of fishing season into early November. As the weather gets colder the area teams with craft shows and bake sales.

But, as Robert Frost said, when the snow falls, the “woods are lovely, dark and deep.” Lovely for snowshoes, cross-country skiers, hikers, and just plain day-trippers like Linda and me.

We decided to take the road from Baum Lake over the hill to the PGE campground by Cassel. There were some beautiful views of the newly fallen snow across the countryside.

View from campground road

View from campground road

I got out to take a few shots of West Hat Creek by Cassel. There was still a lot of orange autumn foliage mixed in with the snow-laced evergreen.

Cassel forebay

Cassel forebay

When we left Cassel to follow Cassel Road back around to Highway 89, I said a little prayer that we might get a good picture of a deer. But our first encounter was with some friendly horses.

Friendly horses

Friendly horses

Linda had fun taking pictures of the horses. Look for some of her shots on her photocards.

Metal skiers enjoying the snow

Linda having fun

Then as we passed Rising River Ranch, I caught a glimpse of my deer out of the corner of my eye. My little prayer was answered. A nice buck in the woods.

Deer on Rising River Ranch

Deer on Rising River Ranch

Satisfied, we crossed rising river and headed home.

Ranch on rising river

Ranch on rising river

We need more snow. We can be grateful that this year we have already had as much snow as we got all of last year. More is expected next week and we still haven’t really begun winter yet so we can be hopeful that we get a good snowpack this year.

In any case, it is wonderful to be in a place where so much natural beauty surrounds us. Each time I go out to shoot photos with Linda is another day in paradise.

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Filed under Baum Lake, Burney, Cassell, Wildlife

Roy Carver on fishing and old times

Roy asked me over again to talk some about fishing and how things have changed. He fixed a nice peach cobbler to share with Linda and I. After a while sitting in the kitchen, we moved to the living room for our conversation.

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Filed under Burney, Fishing, Pit River, Pit River Area History, Wildlife

A delightful day along Hat Creek

On Monday August 25, my wife Linda and I needed to go to the Inter-Mountain Fairgrounds in McArthur to submit our photography, poetry, and art exhibits for the upcoming fair. My daughter HanaLyn and her friend Jamie Barrows are visiting from Maryland, so they came along to see some of the beautiful Pit River Country.

After taking care of the business with the helpful Inter-Mountain fair staff, we stopped at the Frosty in Fall River to pick up some sandwiches and drinks. We then headed to Hat Creek Park on Hwy 299 for a picnic on our way home.

As we were walking to the picnic table, I spied a heron standing in the middle of the creek. HanaLyn headed down to the bank. Linda hastily pulled out her camera.  I raced back to my car to get mine, hoping that the heron wouldn’t fly away before I could get a picture.

Hana Lyn and the Heron

HanaLyn and the Heron

The heron wasn’t even phased by us. He simply dipped his beak into the water and came up with a frog.

Catching the frog

Catching the frog

He got a good grip and then down the gullet it went. Then he strutted a bit in satisfaction.

Satisfied after a meal

Satisfied after a meal

After watching Mr. Heron enjoy his lunch, we decided to sit down and enjoy ours. However, before we could even open the bag, we were swarmed by yellow jackets. Jamie is allergic to bee stings, so we hastily retreated back to the car and headed over to Baum Lake and the Crystal Lake hatchery to enjoy our lunch at the picnic table there.

We met a friendly couple from Redding at the picnic table. They were enjoying a cool ride on their motorcycle through the beautiful country making a loop up 299 through Burney, heading down Baum Lake Road to Cassel, then continuing  down Hwy 89 to Lassen Park, and finally riding back down through Shingletown to Redding.

After lunch, HanaLyn and Jamie had fun photographing some of the albino Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout. Each year, out of the millions of eggs hatched at Crystal Lake Hatchery a few albino mutations occur. The hatchery does their best to nurture and raise these albinos. Some of them are now also on display at the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding.

Pointing out the albinos

Pointing out the albinos

Linda had some photos to give to the staff at the fish hatchery so we stopped in for a brief visit to drop them off and then crossed over to Baum Lake. White pelicans were swimming in the lake. Ospreys were flying overhead.

American Pelicans on Baum Lake

American Pelicans on Baum Lake

Also, a fisherman, Michael Hurdle from Richmond, Texas had just arrived. Hurdle was traveling from Sacramento to Likely, California, a town of 99 people south of Alturas to visit his sister. He saw a sign for a fishing lake on the highway so he detoured to enjoy a brief respite fishing.

“Well, you’ve just come to one of the best fishing lakes in the country.” I said. The pelicans patiently feeding from the lake and the ospreys overhead testified to the veracity of my statement.

Michael Hurdle from Houston

Michael Hurdle from Texas

While in Sacramento, Hurdle had spent some time fishing the American River. He said that the water was low and mentioned that a portion of the Merced River had been closed due to the drought.

I told him that the waters here were fairly normal because Hat Creek and Fall River were fed from a giant aquifer, a honeycomb of underground lava tubes that gave rise to many springs in the area. I also told him that the hatchery across the road regularly stocked the lake, though I wasn’t sure when they had stocked it last.

Hurdle did another cast with his fly rod, taking measure of the wind and current in the lake. He smiled and said he wasn’t overly concerned whether he caught a fish or not.

“What better way is there to enjoy an hour break before I continue on my way?” he asked with a blissful smile.

I wished him luck and went down to the boat launch area to rejoin Linda and our guests. I heard a truck pull up and looked to see Kristen Idema, a friend of Linda and mine from Redding. We hadn’t seen her for several months and hooped with joy at our surprise meeting.

After hugs, I introduced her to my daughter and Jamie and she introduce us to her friend from Michigan, Deborah, that she had known since she was in the fourth grade. Deborah and her husband had come for a week of camping at one of the campgrounds on Hat Creek. Kristen had driven up from Redding to spend the day with them. They had just visited Burney Falls.

Relaxing by the lake

Rendezvous by the lake

Deborah let her two beautiful labs out of the truck to enjoy a swim, while Kristen and I caught up on the past few months.

 Labs going for the ball

Deborah and her dogs

Finally, we drove back to Burney via Cassel Road so we could show Hana Lyn and Jamie the Rising River. As we sat around the pool enjoying salsa and guacamole and discussing the pros and cons of cilantro, I thought,

“There are so many delightful things to see and do in this area. It just blows my mind!”

 

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Filed under Baum Lake, Burney, Crystal Lake, Fall River Mills, Fishing, Hat Creek, Intermountain Fair, MacArthur, Wildlife

Crystal Lake Fish Planting Going Well

Article by Alex Colvin photos by LACE photography

Entrance to Crystal Lake Hatchery

Entrance to Crystal Lake Hatchery

Counties served by Crystal Lake

Counties served by Crystal Lake

This year The Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery will stock 1.8 million trout. In addition to the 16 counties in California which they normally supply, they are also supplying fish to the Darrah Springs Trout Hatchery east of Redding and the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery, both of which were quarantined in June because of infection by whirling disease.

On Thursday August 13, my wife Linda and I visited the Crystal Lake Hatchery. I had an appointment for an interview with Shane Overton, the manager. As well as learning about the general functions and processes of the hatchery, I also wanted to get information on planting this year, the effects of the drought, and impact of the whirling disease.

Shane Overton, MaShane Overton, Mary Elizondo, and Debbyry Elizondo, and Debby

Shane Overton, Mary Elizondo, and Debby

Shane Overton, his assistant manager, Francisco Cabral, and their staff were all very friendly and helpful. As we entered the grounds we met Mary Elizondo who oversees the hatching and early development of the trout. She directed us to the office where we were greeted by Overton and his secretary, Debby.

Moose head on the wall 2

Moosehead on the wall

Overton ushered us into the meeting room, where we had an hour long discussion on this year’s operation of the hatchery.  The walls of the meeting room are lined with a remarkable display of wildlife taxidermy including a moose head, a wild turkey, an American Pelican, a buck, and a wide assortment of local birds.

The drought has had some effect on planting. In areas such as Modoc and Lassen Counties, where streams and lakes rely on snowmelt for water, the hatchery planted the waters earlier. In April, they planted 20 percent of their stock.

Menagerie in the meeiting room

Menagerie in the meeiting room

No fewer trout were planted this year, but because of temperature and water conditions, the earlier plants contained fish that were smaller. As the year has progressed and the fish at the hatchery have matured, the size of fish being planted has returned to normal.

Trout Raised at Crystal Lake

Trout Raised at Crystal Lake

The waters in Eastern Shasta County have not been so affected by the drought. In Fall River Valley and Hat Creek the waters are fed by springs coming from underground lava tubes in addition to snowmelt, so even in drought the water levels have remained relatively consistent.

Concerning the whirling disease, there has been no trace of the disease in the Crystal Lake Hatchery or the waters planted by them. Trucks from the Darrah Springs and Mount Shasta hatcheries regularly come to be loaded with fish. Before they enter the hatchery they are decontaminated to ensure that there are no bacteria.

Darrah Springs and Mount Shasta hatcheries are both still under quarantine. Overton said that the cause of the infection was not yet certain but it is suspected that an otter infected with spores got into a stream which supplied water. The hatcheries are still being decontaminated and it is hoped that they will reopen sometime next year.

In the meeting room

In the meeting room

The entire interview was very pleasant. Overton has worked at the plant for 20 years. His father also worked for Fish and Game. When he was a boy he would often go out with his father to plant fish. He and Elizondo are knowledgeable about hatchery operations not only at Crystal Lake but throughout the state. Toward the end of our conversation, we were joined by assistant manager Cabral who also added his insight.

Everybody obviously enjoyed and took pride in their work. Overton said that he was happy to “serve the licensed fishing public” and explained that most of the funding for the hatcheries comes from the sale of fishing licenses.

California State Fish Hatcheries

California State Fish Hatcheries

There are 22 state fish hatcheries. Eight of them are anadromous Salmon and Steelhead hatcheries and 14 of them are Trout. In addition to receipts from licenses, some hatcheries are mitigated by funding from various agencies and corporations. The Crystal Lake Hatchery receives some funding from PG&E to compensate for stocking certain waters where normal fish migration has been affected by PG&E development.

Overton also ridded me of a myth that I had picked up from an angler on Burney Creek. After an employee of Crystal Lake Hatchery had just poured a bucket of fish into the stream and left, the fisherman told me that those fish wouldn’t bite for awhile because they were “drugged.”

Overton laughed and said that that story had been going around since he was a child. He and Elizondo assured me that they do not anesthetize the fish before they are transported for planting.

Grounds of the fish hatchery

Grounds of the fish hatchery

After the interview was over, Linda and I thanked everybody for their hospitality and help and went out to take pictures of the facility. We were in for a special treat.

Elizondo followed us out and asked if we would like a tour of the hatching process.

Eagle Lake Trout

Eagle Lake Trout

Elizondo has earned the nickname “Mama.” In addition to other responsibilities, she raises millions of Eagle Lake Trout from egg to catchable fish. Beginning in 1959 from 16 fish, the Eagle Lake Trout program has become one of the hatchery’s major success stories. The program allows the restocking of Eagle Lake with this unique native species. It also enables the planting of Eagle Lake Trout in other selected waters of the Pit River basin. As with planting of other trout species, this not only provides a catch for fishermen but also helps to maintain the survival of native wild trout that would otherwise be depleted by overfishing.

She took us through two buildings explaining the process. The eggs are incubated in trays until the eye develops. Then a machine separates the healthy eggs from those that did not survive. Next she transfers the eggs to a trough where they develop through the larval stage.

Elizondo explaining to Linda Colvin about fry

Elizondo explaining to Linda Colvin about fry

When juvenile fish have developed, they are transferred to deep water tanks where they grow as fry and finger fish. Once they reach sufficient size they are transferred to the outdoor tanks. There the fish continue to mature into small catchable trout, large catchable trout and the very large trout that grow to over 14 inches in length.

Inside the hatchery

Inside the hatchery

It takes about 18 months for a trout to develop from egg to a trout that can be planted in a stream. As mentioned before, the hatchery this year will provide 1.8 million trout to be harvested by the licensed fishing public. This week alone more that a hundred thousand pounds of fish will be planted in Lake Alomar.

Albino Rainbow Trout in the Fish Tank

Albino Rainbow Trout in the Fish Tank

After our informative tour, Linda and I took a few more photos, rested a bit in the pleasant picnic area provided by the hatchery, and then headed home reflecting on how delightful it is to visit the Crystal Lake Hatchery.

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Filed under Crystal Lake, Fishing, PG&E, Wildlife

Burney is friendly to PCT Hikers

On Tuesday, August 4, I was sitting at the computer checking my Email when I got a call from Nancy Bobo. Nancy manages several motels for Burney Falls Lodging. She also has been assisting hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for more than five years.

Nancy has a list of “angel’s” to call if hikers need a ride to or from the trail. If they need a place to camp or stay in town, she helps to arrange that. She also provides a drop box for hikers who want to leave something for others hikers to pick up later. Numerous volunteers in Burney enjoy meeting the people who hike the trail and assisting them.

Nancy Bobo with Sky Eyes

Nancy Bobo with Sky Eyes

I’m on Nancy’s angel list.  She was calling to ask if I could give a hiker a ride. I told her I would be happy to and went over to the motel where Sky Eyes from Ashland, Oregon was waiting for a ride to Burney Falls State Park. The trail passes through the park right near Burney Falls.

Sky Eyes is his trail name. When hikers hike the trail they adopt a trail name that they use for the duration of the hike. When I showed one hiker a pictures of others I had met at Baum Lake, he said he recognized them, but he didn’t recognize their names because they had given me the names that they used in their normal life.

Pacific Crest Trail Sign in Burney Falls State Park

Pacific Crest Trail Sign in Burney Falls State Park

Over the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with a dozen or so hikers and have given a number of them rides to parts of the trail and directions to various places. The ones I’ve met have come from Arizona, New York, Oregon, Washington, San Diego and New York.

The picture that emerges from my conversations is different than the idea I had of a long solitary trek through the woods. One hiker told me that there are an estimated 14,000 hikers on the PCT this year, three times more than normal. He had met people not only from the United States but from all over the world, particularly Europe.

Rock Creek Falls

PCT bridge at Rock Creek Falls

“When you hike the trail, you become a part of the Pacific Crest Trail family,” he said. “You meet different people from all over the world. You hike together with some of them. You camp together. You share food. Relationships are deeper than in normal life because you’re free from all of the business of the world. Everybody has the same needs.”

A lot of hikers also enjoy visiting the small rural towns along the trail. Many of the towns have “angels.” People post messages on the trail with helpful information. Burney is a particularly convenient place because it has a Safeway store, a Laundromat, a health food store, and a well-stocked sporting goods store. Two of the hikers I gave a ride to I met at the McDonald’s. Several others were happy to hear that there was a pizza parlor.

Most hikers set a daily pace of 22 to 25 miles a day and plan on five months to hike the entire trail. A “zero” is a day that a person adds no miles. A “nero” is a day that a person logs half or less miles than his normal pace. There are designated camping areas, but one hiker told me that “all you really need is a flat space near the trail.”

Egret over Baum Lake near PCT

Egret over Baum Lake near PCT

Hikers also encounter a lot of wildlife on their 2650 mile trek through the wilderness. One hiker told me his encounters were primarily with deer, but he had met several hikers who came across a bear on the trail.

One of the reasons more people are hiking the trail this year is the December 2014 release of the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon in December 2014. The movie is based on the 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed that reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Strayed was a section hiker in 1995. She hiked 1,100 miles from the Mojave desert to the Bridge of the Gods crossing into Washington. Most of the hikers I’ve met this year are hiking the whole trail Mexico to Canada. The trail begins at the wall that divides Mexico from the United States.

As I gave Sky Eyes a ride to Burney Falls, he told me that he hadn’t actually been able to touch the wall. He said that to do so you have to hop a fence about thirty feet from the wall. When he began his journey on May 25, there was a border patrolman guarding the wall.

Sky Eyes in Burney Falls Park

Sky Eyes in Burney Falls Park

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Filed under Burney, Hiking, Pacific Crest Trail, Wildlife