Reminiscing

It's been several weeks since we returned from Yosemite, but I still dream about the mountains, trees, and flowers. And I still haven't finished posting.

The next hike we had planned was along the John Muir Trail, starting at Tuolumne Meadows.


We stopped along the way, and I was delighted to find Mountain Heather (Phyllodoce breweri) in the shadow at the edge of a meadow. But it turned out that this was the only good flower picture I took that day. It was too early for flowers at that elevation.

That didn't mean there was nothing to see. As we walked, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery. When we rested, we looked out over the meadows and saw chipmunks, a marmot, and several deer. We only got a photo of this buck, but there was more wildlife on this trail than on any of the others we hiked.

And it seemed these animals were not so very afraid of humans, though they did keep their distance. But this trail was actually almost crowded with backpackers, so the animals had probably gotten used to us.

The part of the trail we hiked followed the Merced River, with many inviting pools and wonderfully sturdy bridges.
I have a history of stepping into streams when trying to cross on logs or jump rocks, so this was paradise in many ways.


We were sorry to turn around, it seemed tempting to just keep walking and put up a tent when tired. But we had no tent, so turn around we did, happy to return to our beautiful rented cottage and a nice meal.

On our last day, we'd planned a hike to Glacier Point, one of the best places for viewing Yosemite Valley. Because our car had a warning light complaining of tire pressure problems, we stopped at a gas station outside the park and Mr. Mouse set to work. We had lost a lot of pressure indeed, and while Mr. Mouse labored, I spent some time exploring the flowers next to the gas station. Here is California Coneflower (Rudbeckia californica) and Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum). The Rudbeckia was quite stunning, and I see that it's available from Annie's Annuals. Maybe I can put it on the list for next summer...


Full of air, we drove up to the starting point for the trail and were surprised by warning signs and fire trucks. A fire had been burning in the area since May, and it is allowed to continue burning. The burns help reduce the fuel load and prevent a truly catastrophic fire. It was an eerie feeling to look to the side of the road and see small fires right there. The smoke was also quite dense in some spots.

Fortunately, the air was fairly clear where we started our hike, and it was one of the best hikes for wildflowers. Several different species of Lupine in the forest. Here a small Lupine we found in the drier areas.


Then there were meadows of Indian Painbrush. I think we saw the Giant Red Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata). Interestingly, some white/yellowish paintbrush plants were in the middle of the sea of red.


It was truly an amazing sight, and I'm still hoping that one day I can have this beautiful plant in my own garden.

The Giant Red Paintbrush actually needs a bit of moisture, and while this was possibly the best hike for wildflowers, it was also the only hike where we had to get out the bug juice. The mosquitoes were just a bit too agressive. And in contrast to the Black Snow Mosquito, which had drown some blood the day before, this was a more aggressive mosquito and the bites kept itching for days.

Regardless, we had brought the strong stuff and the mosquitos ignored us completely after we'd smeared it over exposed body parts so we could enjoy the flowers in peace.

Here a beautiful larkspur probably Delphinium glaucum (Giant Mountain Larkspur).

There were large groups of these beautiful blue flowers, and we felt so lucky that we'd arrived at the time of their bloom.

We were also fortunate to see the smallest of the Calochortus. "Calochortus, in Greek, means "beautiful grass", a fitting name for these plants. Note that the leaves have parallel veins like grass blades. " (Laws Guide)

Here is Calochortus mimimus (Star Tulip), tucked away at the side of the road.


After we'd enjoyed the views -- we actually ended up at a different viewing point because the trail to Glacier Point was too smoky -- we turned around, sorry to leave. Back at the car we decided to drive up to Glacier Point to enjoy the view and a very welcome ice-cream. It was a bit too hazy for photos, but the waterfalls on the other side were running strongly and everyone had a good time on such a beautiful day.

The next day, we packed up and drove out. Of course, I had to stop for a few final photos.

Here's a very dainty Heuchera, probably Heuchera rubescens, which is found in dry areas. We saw many of these baby's breathy plants at the side of the road when we drove to Hetch Hetchy on our first day, but I'd never seen them on a hike, so I took my final chance for just one photo. Of course it doesn't quite do the plant justice...

Here, once more, Lupine and Madea (Tarweed). It was interesting how much the meadows changed in just one week, and I expect that by mid-July, the show was over. Or maybe something else brought a final flush of color?


Very close to the highway, I was surprised to find Asclepias speciosa (Showy milkweed). And showy it was. This gave me some hope. I have planted several Asclepias speciosa in my back garden, but they don't thrive. They stay smallish and sickly, they don't bloom, and they're dormant a lot. But maybe if I'm patient, they'll develop good roots and reward me with flowers and butterflies? There's only one way to find out, and I hope that in a year or two I'll be rewarded for my patience with flowers like these.

If not, maybe I'll just have to take another trip to Yosemite next year...

Comments

Tatyana said…
Wild flowers are amazing! And you know what else is amazing for me? The fact that you know almost all of them by name! The scenery is breathtaking!
AnneTanne said…
I hope I will be able to travel to the States once... and the National Parks are at the top of my 'must-visit' list.

(It's so amazing to discouver the native flora of foreign countries. We went to the Canary Islands last month, and that was beautiful as well...)
queerbychoice said…
What is this magical mosquito repellent you use?? I've never found any of them to have the slightest effect. However, to stop the bites from itching, I highly recommend Benadryl cream. It stops the allergic reaction to the mosquito saliva, causing the bites to not only stop itching but visually shrink drastically and in most cases, if you apply it right away, disappear entirely.

As for the pictures - I too would like to grow Indian paintbrush in my garden. No such luck so far, unfortunately.
Indian paintbrush is available through High Country Gardens. It is a difficult plant to cultivate due to the fact that it is actually an opportunistic parasite and if it does not have a host plant it will not thrive. Generally it likes things like bluestem grasses as a host, and if you are a meticulous gardener (like I am) you will tend to weed out unwanted grasses. Anyway, HCG grows and ships paintbrush cultivars along with their host plants and so they do fairly well. My method of dealing with the problem of their needing a host is I have planted them in my tiny prairie garden, where I want grasses.

Anyway, it is such a beautiful plant I can see why you want it. Good luck.
Michelle said…
Thanks for the wonderful wild flower photos! I went for a hike in the park today and was remembering the flowers that I had seen earlier this year - there were almost none to be seen now.
Town Mouse said…
Ah well, Tatyana, I look the flowers and mosquitos and trees and other things wild up in the book! And with some, like the Lupine, I'm not at all sure which one I see because there are so many. Thanks for the Benadryl advice. I don't like to use the repellent, it's got nasty chemicals in it, and I tolerate less than 10 bites but don't like that they keep itching.
Chari & Matt said…
always a fan when you post Yosemite pictures. The mountain in your first photo is probably Unicorn Peak, if I'm guessing correctly. The little tip of rock I can see on the right is likely Cathedral Peak, but might be Echo Peaks.

Re: skeeters. Sometimes you just tast good. I am lucky enough that they don't like me much, but when they are ferocious there is nothing that seems to work except DEET. Just like perfume (were I to wear any!) I dab a little on my wrists, some on my neck, and I'm good. Sweeter blooded people are often not so fortunate!
So nice to be reminded of Yosemite again. My last backpacking trip there was a July 4th weekend too many years ago. The high lakes and passes were still frozen over so unfortunately there weren't many flowers to see. It was just the beginning of mosquito season, which was the only reason I survived the trip because I seem to be one of their favorite foodsources!

Great flowers. That rudbeckia is tempting...
Brad B said…
Great pics from one of my favorite places on Earth. I didn't go last year (the first in several) and I'm itching to go this year. That field of paintbrush is amazing and not very common. I've never seen the white form. Ryan over at Drystonegarden put an Indian paintbrush in a garden I help maintain. The host plant is Artemisia californica I believe. It was really beautiful this spring and so great to see in a local garden.

For the mosquitoes, there is a lotion form of Off that doesn't have deet as far as I remember. It works like a charm (they like my sweet blood), but it's hard for me to find here. In other countries it's very common.
Pam/Digging said…
I am enjoying your Yosemite posts, TM. You saw so many beautiful wildflowers. Thanks for joining in the bloggers' celebration of national parks.