Abundant Wildflowers

Much to my surprise in this dry desert of California, there are a great many beautiful wildflowers. In the hot valley, not so much, but in the higher elevations they are quite amazing. I’ve been spending a few minutes here and there identifying, but not finding everything, so not all the photos are labeled. I traveled early in the spring to Santa Rosa Plateau near Murrieta, CA with my friend Carol who knows all the names of the flowers and trees. So Carol, feel free to email me with names I’m missing – as many are hard to distinguish one from the other in the identification books, and being a flatlander from the East Coast, they’re all new to me.

The Westguard Pass (7,000′) to Deep Springs Valley (5,000′) has been a source of beauty, as has the Ancient Bristlecone Forest (13,000′). In the higher elevation, the flowers are tiny, stems are short, leaves are hairy (as are most wildflowers leaves in the desert-slows evaporation). North Lake and South Lake (9,000′) west of Bishop are close by and a run up the mountain (in my poor little car – chugga-chugga) has usually produced a new species to figure out. Fish Slough in the Volcanic Tablelands has been a surprise source since it’s on the valley floor. Mammouth Mountain (9,000′) is somewhat north, so the flower bloom is a little behind that of the area around Bishop.

I’ve been staggered several times by the high altitude. I’ve always been a little short of breath (UGH-smoking years ago), but in the mountains I feel just like my poor car – chugga-chugga; often having to stop completely and get my breathing stabilized and slow down my pitter-pat heart! Of course, I’m also packing my camera gear: tripod, several lenses, camera body, pack. And ALWAYS, water. Due to the constant bear and cougar warnings, I try not to carry food with me. So traipsing about can be a challenge! But on the up side, I was hiking at 9,500′ the other evening and didn’t have to stop once (mainly because I was in a high mountain meadow and not bouldering ;-)), but hey, it felt good.

Another challenge is the wind. There is nearly always a 20 mph wind blowing – higher in the mountains it gusts quite a lot. So getting a crisp shot when the flower stems are not waving to and fro takes some patience. I included two shots of the Mountain Paintbrush. The first one single stem was from Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (the highest elevation I’ve gone). Very short, not too showy at all. The other is from Mammoth Mountain – more rain I think. But, look at the different soils in the photos. Back East, we baby our flowers and if anything, they die from too much water! Here, they survive despite the dry, windy, harsh conditions.

Next month, I’m traveling to Yosemite with friends Laurie and Kevin – woo-hoo!

I whittled these choices down from 125 photos all with star ratings, I hope you have a fast internet connection or, go get a cup of coffee or tea while the photos load. I’m still working on the ID process for the flowers.

Santa Rosa Plateau, California State Flower: California Poppy
Santa Rosa Plateau, California State Flower: California Poppy
Santa Rosa Plateau, Wild Cucumber - the coyotes open these to get to the seeds inside.
Santa Rosa Plateau, Wild Cucumber – the coyotes open these to get to the seeds inside.
Santa Rosa Plateau
Santa Rosa Plateau
Santa Rosa Plateau
Santa Rosa Plateau
Santa Rosa Plateau
Santa Rosa Plateau’ Miner’s Lettuce
Santa Rosa Plateau. Wild Onion. I went back the next morning just because it was fogged in - so beautiful.
Santa Rosa Plateau. Wild Onion. I went back the next morning just because it was fogged in – so beautiful.
Westguard Pass
Westguard Pass
Westguard Pass, Brittlebrush
Westguard Pass, Brittlebrush
Deep Springs Valley, Prince's Plume
Deep Springs Valley, Prince’s Plume
Westguard Pass
Westguard Pass
Westguard Pass, Prickly Poppy
Westguard Pass, Prickly Poppy
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Nuttall's Linanthastrum (Phlox)
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Nuttall’s Linanthastrum (Phlox)
Westguard Pass, Apricot Mallow
Westguard Pass, Apricot Mallow
Fish Slough, Yerba Mansa
Fish Slough, Yerba Mansa
Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain, Desert Paintbrush and Sulfur Flower?
Mammoth Mountain, Desert Paintbrush and Sulfur Flower?
Mammoth Mountain, Giant Red Paintbrush
Mammoth Mountain, Giant Red Paintbrush
North Lake, Lupine, Yarrow, Spreading Fleabane
North Lake, Lupine, Yarrow, Spreading Fleabane
North Lake
North Lake
North Lake, Ranger's Button
North Lake, Ranger’s Button
North Lake, Arrowleaf Groundsel
North Lake, Arrowleaf Groundsel

12 Comments

  1. Incredibly beautiful photos — I’m sure that if a cougar is hungry, or injured, you would still be a target with, or without additional food. Perhaps a black bear would stay away. Be safe. Glo

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  2. The flowers and flower pictures are just beautiful. My favorites are the Giant Red Paintbrush and the Ranger’s Button. The flower with the collar in the Santa Rosa Plateau is really unusual.

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    1. It truly is a challenge, as you well know having been out in this wind too. I have one favorite of a pink paintbrush growing amongst grey sage, but it’s more like a watercolor because it was in a pass and the wind didn’t stop for an hour!

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  3. OH! The places you’ve been and the sights you’ve seen. Your dream has come true. I’m so happy for you! and yes, slightly jealous 🙂

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  4. I am awed, Barb. I often stop to take a picture of something that “wows” me in nature – beautiful stuff – thinking I can take it home (via photo) and enjoy it more later “when there’s time” (as if). But its never the same…I’d just begun to figure no picture can re-capture that beauty when you’re there. But yours do! I doubt I’ll get to trek the same territory you’re covering anytime soon…so thank you for letting me be there. And I’ll go back and enjoy them more again – “when there’s time”. Enjoy! Love to you….W

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    1. Thanks Wendy. If I’d sit down more often in front of the computer, you’d see more of my travels. Today I went to the library to use their wifi – oops – no wifi here, and ancient PC’s that you can only use for half an hour. So I sat for two hours in a coffee shop using their wifi because I keep running out of my data plan. So far, that’s the only frustration of being out here. See you soon!

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