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.