Saturday, June 27, 2020

Calochortus Dreamin'

Calochortus are my favorite flower genus, well ok, I will always look at anything in the liliaceae family.  Many interesting shapes, colors, and what is with the hair on some of the calochortus?  Fascinating.  We arranged a day with friends Tom and Liga to look for calochortus weedii var. intermedius.  We were not disappointed.  Tom had done some scouting and had two different areas with flowers.  They were magnificent.  The subtle color variation between flowers was fascinating. 

We also did a bit of birding and I added seven species to my Orange County list leaving me four more to go to my goal of 250.  

We left ourselves enough time to try for another calochortus on the way home, calochortus plummerae.  And we found them!  A two calochortus day.  The plummerae were past peak, and the wind was howling, so photography was challenging.

Calochortus weedii var. intermedius

Calochortus plummerae

There were a few other nice flowers about including San Diego bush monkey flower, dudleya, scarlet larkspur, and bush poppy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Glacier Divide

Sierra Wave over the crest

Early season in the alpine Sierra can be tricky, but this past winter the snow was mild, so in we went. This trip got us up and over Piute Pass for a cross-country exploration of the north side of the Glacier Divide. There are many hanging valleys with lake basins along this divide, most of which we'd never seen.

Day 1 was up and over Piute Pass, down the west side to Golden Trout Lakes, then over a ridge to the Packsaddle Lake basin. After we passed Golden Trout we wouldn't see another trail until returning to Piute Pass three days later. Since snow is just melting out at these elevations (mostly above 10,500 feet), flowers and birds were in short supply. But the remaining snow added to the challenge and scenic wonders. A passing cold front made for breezy and cool conditions at the start, but it was supposed to improve!

Piute Pass (11,400 feet) in the low saddle

Piute Pass with its last remnants of snow

It's been cold!

West from Piute Pass

The trail is a bit wet in places

Glacier Divide

Golden Trout Lake


Packsaddle Lake on a blustery afternoon

On day 2 we did a relatively short day hike to check out Lobe Lakes and another small basin of unnamed lakes further west. Route-finding was a little tricky but that only adds to the fun.

A bluebird day!

Traversing to Lobe Lakes, looking down into Piute Canyon

Lobe Lakes basin

Large lake in Lobe Lakes basin

The unnamed lakes west of Lobe Lakes, with Pilot Knob and Piute Canyon beyond

Back at Packsaddle Lake for the evening, and a nice evening it was

Day 3 had us moving camp and traveling back to the east toward the pass. But we stayed high, way above the trail in the valley below. Leaving Packsaddle lake we climbed a steep talus slope to get up to Paine Lake just below the Divide, well above treeline. From there we navigated a tricky route over to Wahoo Lakes by early afternoon. Unexpectedly the wind returned and we spent an afternoon in camp hiding from it. A bonus was the sunset "Sierra Wave" that appeared over the Sierra Crest. We've seen this famous lenticular cloud formation many times from the east side as it comes over the crest. But this would be our first time looking at it from the west, just a couple miles from the crest. Wow!

Starting our scramble to Paine Lake

Packsaddle Lake, where we camped the previous two evenings

Approaching Paine Lake

Paine Lake at 11,200 feet

Paine Lake panorama

Moving on toward Wahoo Lakes. We traversed a lot of snowfields.

Not your typical "hiking"

Getting closer to Wahoo Lakes. Mt Humphreys in the distance on the far left

One of the Wahoo Lakes

Mt Humphreys view from camp

As sunset approaches, the Sierra Wave starts to form over Mt Humphreys and Piute Pass

Mt Humphreys

Day 4 was get out day, but there's no use making it easy. We continued high, stringing together a route to Goethe Lakes and on to Muriel Lake, just west of Piute Pass. From there it was an easy jaunt to the pass, and a quick 5 miles down the hill to the trailhead.

Leaving Wahoo Lakes basin

One of the few alpine bloomers right now, Granite draba

More snow to cross

Goethe Lakes basin

Muriel Lake

Mt Humphreys

Saying goodbye to the west side, for this trip