Mile: 669.5 to 689.2
New trip bird: Mountain Bluebird
New Tulare County bird: Scott's Oriole
You never know what you will learn. We left camp in Spanish Needle Creek canyon and started a big ascent back to the crest at 7000 feet. As we're climbing Susan shows me a new life plant - Spanish Needle Onion. Our friend Alison, keeper of all that is Kern County natural history (http://www.natureali.org/), told Susan to be in the lookout for this highly localized endemic to the mountain we were climbing. And we found some! It is a rare and beautiful little plant. Read more about it at:
Once we finished the climb we traversed along the crest with several looks to the east above Sand Canyon, a favorite hiking destination of ours. The wildflowers all day were some of the best of the trip. Miles and acres of gilia, popcorn flower, coreopsis, phacelia, sand blossom, and many others.
Then it was down, down, down to Chimney Peak Campground, across the road and up to Fox Mill Spring. When I started this blog over 13 months ago the first story I wrote was from a training hike we did to Fox Mill and beyond to the crest. And here we are a year later doing it for real.
We made the crest and looked down on Rock House Basin in the Domelands Wilderness. We'll be there tomorrow. Even though we will only skirt the edge of Rock House it's an area I've never been and I'm excited to see it close up.
After 10 days walking in Kern County we crossed the Tulare County line this morning. At Fox Mill Spring Susan got a hard to get Tulare bird, a Scott's Oriole. She was pretty fired up about that one! And as we climbed to the crest in the afternoon we saw our first Mountain Bluebirds of the trip at near 8000 feet elevation in an old burn. It was a good day all around.