Thursday, May 28, 2020

Argus Mountains

The Argus Mountains are little loved, well, I guess except by us in the winter.  We have found it to often be 10 degrees warmer than the lower Sierra in the winter making for very pleasant hiking.  We do tend to avoid the area when it heats up, as that bonus 10 degrees makes it an oven.  We have created standard routes, but recently have expanded into exploring new areas.  The rock formations are lovely, and the occasional flowers is an added bonus.

Beavertail Cactus
Bob is trying to figure out how to get up a ridge.
One of the thistles
I love the standing rocks.

An arch.
Rock Nettle

This monolith is something we have viewed from afar for years.  It sits well below one of our favorite donkey trails.  Yes donkey trails.  Donkeys created and maintain the Argus Mountain trail system.  They even include switchbacks.  Very nice.  We decided to finally go have a close look at the rock and it is a beast.  I have another loop in mind that will include the beast as the high point  Next fall we will see if my chosen drainage to complete the loop goes, or if we are foiled by dry waterfalls.

Donkeys, three of our little trail builders.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Bambi Trail of Death

Several years ago I decided to do a bit of exploring, which is usually how these things start.  I climbed to a ridge and saw a faint deer trail, and dot sized houses in the valley below.  Figuring that bambi are usually fairly trustworthy with their routes, I followed.  There was a bit of bush whacking and a tricky rock bit or two, but eventually I made my way over another pass and hooked up with my usual route.  A loop.  Nice.  And it needed a name -- The Bambi Trail of Death.  Makes it sound dangerous doesn't it.

This day we took friends Gina and Shawn along for some social distance hiking.  And we didn't kill Gina, maybe a pika squeak or two on some of the tricky rock sections, but that was it.

Nolina.  This is about as far north as this species grows.
Gina and Shawn
Bush Lupine

Tidy tips and coreopsis

A few distant poppies

I did mention a tricky bit or two, right?
A bonus -- Watching China Lake Search and Rescue practice.

Indian Paintbrush

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Greenhorn Mountains

We visited the Greenhorn Mountains a couple times, mostly to try and find a couple of flowers that I have never seen, but also to spend a fabulous morning with world renown artist, feather expert, and all around great guy John Schmitt.  Our morning with John got us great looks at Pileated Woodpecker, and then we all headed down to look for Purple Fairy Lantern, Calochortus amoenus, and Greenhorn Fritillary, Fritillaria brandegeei.  John was intrigued to see the fairy lanterns.  He had seen the White Fairy Lanterns along the coast and wanted to compare.  We found several groups of Purple Fairy Lantern, and they were lovely.  Greenhorn Fritillary on the other hand, remained elusive, maybe next year.

Ithuriel's spear
Prettyface or Golden star, Triteleia ixioides

Yellow violet, Viola glabella
The star of the day, Purple Fairy Lantern!

Valley Tassels, Castilleja attenuata

After great views of our first species, we headed off to find our second flower species.  The oak woodlands were lovely and flower filled, but devoid of Greenhorn Fritillary.

Lupine and Popcorn Flower

Bonha Peak, maybe we will climb that one day.
California Poppies

Phacilia sp
Oak woodland strolling

Common Madia

And more Purple Fairy Lanterns

Chinese Lanterns

Dogwoods!  Another personal favorite.
Our second attempt at Greenhorn Fritillary greatness involved fog!  Lots of fog.  And like all the other fog I've endured, it was cold.  Brrr.  We also had another goal in mind if the fritillary didn't work out, Owl's Clover.  I had spotted a couple distant patches, and we were going to get a close up look.

Our path is a closed forest service road.

Finally we are starting to get close up looks at the Owl's Clover.

And I am very, very happy!  And cold too.

Did I mention the owl's clover were on a really steep hillside.

Owl's clover and Globe Gilia

Now the sun tries to shine after I've eaten lunch in the fog.

I think oaks and flowers are a lovely combination.

Acorn Woodpecker holes in the bark of a downed tree.