Age 11, Summer 1971, With Aunt, Uncle, Brother, Cousin, and Dog

Portal, Arizona
The night got pretty cold. My sleeping bag wasn’t zipped up and I had to roll up like a cocoon. We went for an early walk and saw a black-throated gray warbler, a brown creeper and a Cassin’s kingbird. Plus a mystery hummingbird. … We saw a blue-throated hummingbird around our feeder a lot. He was the only one who could figure out how to get the sugar water out of the test-tube….We all started out on a birding trip up a mountain. It was 13 new birds! This road was a fun road. The view was fantastic! We climbed up to nearly 8,000 feet. …We saw a lot of broadtail hummingbirds, Mexican juncos and a pygmy nuthatch. We were going to go up to Barefoot Lookout, but when we found out we had to walk uphill a half a mile we forgot it mighty quickly.

Ramsey Canyon, Arizona
I was awakened by a wet lick across the face as Cricket (Editor’s Note: the dog), tail going 90 m.p.h. jumped up in my bunk. She didn’t go down after she woke me up, though, but just went to sleep right there perfectly content where she was. … Then we were off to Patagonia, that famed birding paradise. We drove up to the rest area, where everyone said to look up to the top of the tree for the thick-billed kingbird. Sure enough, we looked up and there he was. … Happy about that, we followed our other directions to find a rose-throated becard, a varied bunting, and a five-striped sparrow. We crossed a barbed-wire fence, forded a stream and wailed about a half-mile on an old rail bed. We looked in a large sycamore, and there was the becard’s nest! It wasn’t long ‘til Mr. and Mrs. Becard came along. The male was gorgeous, and he was sitting to show off his rose throat at the best advantage. Then we walked back on the other side of the path in hopes of the five-striped sparrow. … My brother spotted it—it just sat up in the bush and sang its head off. You could see the five stripes, too. Although we didn’t see either the varied bunting or the black hawk, we were happy enough with our sparrow.

Mt. Pinos, California
I was awakened by a chickadee’s song piercing the still early morning. … It was a beautiful day out with the sky so blue you could hardly believe it, and not a cloud in the sky. …We went up to the Mt. Pinos summit in hopes of condors. My aunt called that she had seen something big in the sky hardly visible to the naked eye. … I raced back to her and got a glimpse of it, a great black bird before it disappeared behind the hill. … Disappointed, we were walking down the hill when my cousin spotted three birds soaring high in the sky. We watched them and guessed turkey vultures; the thing was, they had flat profiles. … At the moment the word CONDOR rang in our ears. Down further, you could see the white in the wings. Condors at last! As I watched them soar gracefully in a kind of dance, I wondered how anybody would want to kill those royal birds of the sky. … Once they came quite close and one flashed his white perfectly. I shall never forget how he looked in that one instant.

Clearwater River, Idaho
Awakened by large log trucks roaring by, I woke to a beautiful morning. I was thinking about getting up when my aunt, out for an early walk, appeared in the door and said very quietly that she had just seen a dipper. A DIPPER! After that, I had no trouble getting up. I raced out there until I approached my aunt and the boys, and then I crept up. Sure enough, a small gray bird was sitting on rocks very close to us…We decided it was an immature—streaky breast, white around the head, pink legs, small size and no visible eye ring. However, slaty, grey color, bobbing action, habitat, and short tail cinched the identification. … The boys and I took our inner tubes up the river aways to try the rapids. The water was cold, but it felt good since it was a hot day. We got in the current for the first rapid. It was a lot of fun! It is impossible to describe the fun of the up and down motion as you float over the waves. The first rapids were longer than the second. Between the two was a long, quiet stretch of calm water. … Soon, we began to go faster and faster as we approached the second rapids. We passed what we called the “place of no return” and then we were in them. They were much like the first rapids until crash! A huge wave at the end soaked you from head to toe! Then we were out of them and we had to paddle hard to get out of the slipstream. We walked back and by the time we got to our starting point, we were warm and dry and ready to go again. It was just as fun the second time as the first!

Idaho Primitive Area
We woke up earlier than yesterday—a bright, clear cold morning. Cricket, as usual, jumped around saying good morning as though you had been away for a week…We started for Big Creek. Even in late July, large snow patches could be seen on the nearby mountains. Beautiful pine forest surrounded us. In the midst of it all, there was a patch of sagebrush desert…Went on to Big Creek, a thriving little town on the edge of the wilderness. … Saw three olive-sided flycatchers, a mama and two babies. … Went up a road deep into the Idaho Primitive Area. Followed scenic Big Creek all the way. Followed the road to the end, over a few log bridges “that mostly weren’t there.” On the return…the road was very narrow, following up and down between a rock and the river. Few turnouts. At the top of a hill, we met a pick-up truck. The driver backed a half-mile down the mountainside and pulled off at the bottom to let us pass. At the same time, Uncle had pulled into a small clearing just large enough for a small car. After you, my friend. One would back, the other pull up in a vehicular square dance. After several passes, they reversed course and headed out toward Big Creek with us behind them.