Nature Notes

Volume V No. 3 - September, 1932

Facts, Fancies And Nebulous Thoughts
By Ranger Frank Solinsky

You have finished the geologist's explanation of the cave -- terse scientific facts as to its origin. But were you satisfied? Even the knowledge that the cave was comparable to a robber's den does not offset the disappointment of disillusionment. The majestic awe and mystery of Crater Lake is conducive to fantastic thoughts and leads to the contemplation of ancient Deities, terrifying and sinister in their Aladdin-like ability to manipulate the mighty forces of Nature. To start, rumblings and movements in the bowels of the earth which end only with the destruction of great mountains and the complete obliteration of towns, cities and even races.

Let your fancy run wild -- draw a picture in your mind of Dante's "Inferno" -- harken back to Vulcan. Possibly even now the bellows of his forge are breathing new life into this mountain and if we but murmur the magic words of Ala Baba, the rocks in the recesses of the cave will move and enable us to enter his workshop, far below the waters of the lake. Is this impossible? Does not this mountain exemplify vulcanism -- lava flows, great dikes, cinder cones, and an immense caldera? Do not our Greek Mythologists go into elaborate detail in describing the entrance to Hades and furnish a map that will guide us through the intricate passages of the nether regions until finally we arrive at the Elysian Fields?

Give your imagination complete control and after a fascinating flight, arrive exhausted on the rim of the lake where suddenly the beauty and charm of the cliffs and the blue water will soften the tremendous forces and you will truly enter these Elysian Fields.

By Ranger Naturalist E. W. Count


An absurd little beast is the Pika or Cony (Ochotona f. fumosa). In front, he looks like a small rat; behind, his bobtail proclaims him a rabbit. As a matter of fact, he is the small cousin of the rabbit, and is not a rodent at all. If you gave him long ears, instead of those odd, little, mouse-like funnels, a rabbit he would immediately appear to be.

There are many of him in the rocks that jumble together at the foot of the slide that frowns at the boat-landing. The funny, whistling little bleat often maddens you because it does not always proclaim the whereabouts of its author. For the Cony minds his own business, and, unlike the Ground Squirrels, refuses to come to terms with the two-legged giants that run, tramp, or stagger and puff on the trail from shore to rim.

And why should he? - The two-legged animals have nothing to offer. Peanuts are for squirrels, but not for the bona fide cousin of rabbits. A Cony feeds on plant bodies, not on seeds.

Ray Telford, the "Admiral of the Crater Lake Navy", reports that nothing can be more absurd than a Cony crouched comfortably, a long green stalk projecting far out from his mouth like the straw of the ruminating hill-billy, and the near end rapidly disappearing as those rabbit-cheeks munch solemnly. The stalk shrinks and disappears, leaving the Cony sitting there alone.

haymaker's haystack

One article of diet surprised me. A little fellow was engaged in eating the full blossoms of the Lewis' monkey flower. Earlier in the season a Cony was reported snipping off and rejecting the heads of sulfur flowers but cutting down and stacking the leaves and stems.

Under the rocks are the piles of hay. For this tiny buccolic engages in stacking the stems of many plants, that they may dry into hay in the crevices. On examining several such piles, I concluded that no kind of plant growing on the trail was rejected. There were, among others, fireweed, Lewis' monkey flower, (these two with the blossoms still on them), some species of Rubus, false solomon's seal, false hellebore, half an orange-skin, and even the black paper cup from a large chocolate cream!

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