Sunday, August 18, 2013

August High Sierra Trip

 

Mr. Mouse and I were fortunate to win the High Sierra Camp lottery this year. The camps, which are open only for 3 months or so each year make it possible to hike the high sierras with a small pack because they provide food and lodging. Because we had hoped to do the 5-camp loop with two friends, we had requested August dates. Regrettably, they could not make it so it was just us.

It was a most amazing and memorable trip. The hikes, while short, were challenging. The scenery was breathtaking (as was the altitude--we started at 8000 feet and got up to over 10000). We were above the tree line for quite a bit of the time, or the trees were stunted.



I was very glad that I had trained for the hike, it would have been quite miserable otherwise. The paths had been laid for mules and were rocky. We were not so fond of the stairs but loved the ramp steps, shown below with yellowing corn lily leaves on the right.  


Sadly, the west is getting dryer, and 2013 has been an unusually dry spring in California. I will post on its effect on the garden soon. In the sierras, we primarily notices that the streams and lakes were low. On the southern exposures, we found a lot of tree die-off. One can only hope that these trees will be replaced by trees more adapted to getting less water.


In contrast to last year, where we hiked near Bear Valley, we saw fairly few wildflowers. But then, it made those flowers we did see especially precious.


Monkeyflowers were abundant along seeps. I saw two different species, one tiny and one regular sized but low growing. 


One of the more spectacular flowers was cirsium andersonii (Anderson's thistle) which surprised us during a steep downhill near Vogelsang pass.


Nearby, one of the many lupines.


Also fairly common was Epilobium angustifolium (fireweed) which I'd also seen last year.


The most special find was a gentian that we saw near Evelyn Lake. I believe this is Sierra gentian (Gentianopsis holopetala). We tried not to linger in the area for many photos because the habitat there is so fragile.


Now we're back, still dreaming of the butterflies, birds, and other critters we encountered during the trip, and feeling very lucky to have had the chance to enjoy such beauty.


2 comments:

Country Mouse said...

I can almost smell the high altitude!! I love your closing shot, and the stone ramp/stairs. So glad the trip was successful and you and Mr M. had fun!

Mamma Quail said...

Fantastic trip! I can't wait until my girls are old enough to go backpacking with me, but I can try my luck with the lottery. Meanwhile, it's only day hikes for me. Love your sunset photo!