Siskiyou Pass

Date Posted:
Oct 15, 2022, 12:31 AM
Siskiyou Pass

In the book Butterfly Trees (published in 1914), Lucia Shepardson describes what the Western monarch migration looked like at that time. She references the exact location of this waystation:

There is one place where they may be seen each autumn on the wing… in a pass of the Siskiyou mountains about a hundred miles west of the railroad. A long stream of them travel down through the hills from the north — the forest rangers see them every year. A thin fluttering band of about 50 ft wide. Their progress is steady and unwavering, and they keep to an unerring course. (Shepardson 1914 p. 29-30)

As I biked through these mountains, I imagined a stream of monarchs in the empty blue sky. Their absence here is a specter that haunts this landscape. The Western monarchs are rarely seen migrating in such large groups anymore. Most make the trip in solitude like me.

Riding into California today. “Steady now, Alejandro… on to the last leg of the journey!”