|Image Number||Image (Click to Enlarge)||Caption||Image Viewed|
The Light Family
Kenny and I went to northern California (Silicon Valley area) in June 2012 to visit our son, daughter-in-law and 5-mo. old granddaughter in late June. While we were there we visited a few local parks.
|2||Our granddaughter Now that we have a new family member in California, we will be going out there a lot more often. Our granddaughter was 5 months old at the time of this trip.||1117|
|3||Our son with his daughter||1012|
|4||Palo Alto Baylands Since we are on Eastern Time in our part to Tennessee, Kenny and I often wake up at 4 AM the first few days when we visit California, which is 3 hours earlier. One morning we crept out of the house and went to see the shore birds at the Palo Alto Baylands. We hit it at low tide, perfect timing!||1100|
Nycticorax nycticorax I was delighted to watch this Night Heron as it stalked the shallow water for fish at the Palo Alto Baylands. I had never been able to get so close to one of these birds before. It is amazing how still these birds can stand while they wait for fish to swim by! It did not move a muscle for several minutes. I like the long white plume on its head.
Recurvirostra americana It was fun to watch these American Avocets as they waded through the water swishing their beaks back and forth as they hunted for food.
I like to watch these funny wading birds as they swish their long beaks in the water in search of food. I thought the reflection of this bird was interesting.
|8||Rancho San Antonio Open Space Despite the fact that the San Francisco Bay / Silicon Valley area is highly populated, there are numerous parks and open spaces scattered about. This Open Space is a large former ranch, it has a working farm with several different farm animals. It has miles of walking trails, but since we had our granddaughter in her stroller, we didn't go too far.||1129|
|9||Park sign It is a bit unnerving to read some of the warning signs in the open areas in the Bay Area! Even though the nearby communities are highly populated, there are still wild animals in the open space parks. Fortunately, we didn't see a mountain lion, but we did see California Quail, Acorn Woodpeckers and wild turkeys.||1123|
Rancho San Antonio Wild Turkey
Meleagris gallopavo We saw a flock of male wild turkeys as we walked on the trail at Rancho San Antonio.
California Quail - male
Callipepla californica Finally, after several years of trying to photograph one of these shy, elusive birds, I got my opportunity at the open space park. The male has a curved, black topknot (unfortunately, I would have to photograph it against a black background so it didn't show up well!). I also saw the female and several chicks nearby.
|12||Female California Quail and chick This is the female California Quail with one of her many chicks. The chicks are very well-camouflaged.||1192|
Punica granatum I love eating pomegranates, so I was excited to see the flower that they come from. They are not native to the United States, but lots of them are grown in California. clr: 4-o
June 25, 2012 This beautiful, large yellow flower grows on a shrub. We see these shrubs along the bike trail in Mountain View. I was happy to finally find it in a wildflower book. clr: 5-y
|15||Coyote Hills Park Coyote Hills Regional Park is another nice open space in the lower San Francisco Bay area. Our daughter-in-law and granddaughter enjoyed a walk along one of the paved paths. Grandpa Kenny was delighted to carry his grandbaby too! Even though it was late June, the weather was quite cool and breezy. The hills are golden brown during the during the dry season from May until November. Some day I want to see the hills of California cloaked in green.||1101|
|16||Coyote Hills Park This beautiful regional park is located on the southeast shore of San Francisco Bay. It has several miles of hiking trails that follow the tops of the hills, through the meadows, and into the wetlands. This is a wonderful area to enjoy seeing many different kinds of birds. We have seen herons, ducks, coots, barn swallows, various hawks, and Scrub Jays. There is a lovely butterfly garden next to the visitor center where hummingbirds are often seen.||1065|
Aphelocoma coerulescens This Scrub Jay joined us at our picnic on the grounds of Coyote Hills Park.
Anemopsis californica This is an aquatic plant that I found growing along a lake shore at a city park in Mountain View. clr: 1-w
|19||Stanford University Kenny and I enjoyed visiting Stanford University at Palo Alto. The grounds are beautiful.||1040|
Sciurus carolinensis These squirrels are a melanistic subspecies of the common gray squirrel. They are common in Mountain View.
|21||Wind turbines It is not unusual to see hundreds (sometimes nearly a thousand) of wind turbines on the hillsides and tops in California. The strong prevailing winds from the Bay keep them spinning. We saw these as we were driving east on our way to Yosemite National Park.||1037|
|22||California Gold The golden hills and pale blue sky of California gave the University of Southern California (USC) their team colors. The trees are spread out due to the dry conditions.||1069|
|23||The highway to Yosemite National Park The road to Yosemite got very interesting as we began to climb the foothills of the Sierras. This curvy, narrow highway would be very bad for people prone to carsickness! Fortunately, we don't have that problem! This photo was shot from the car window, there was not a place to pull over and stop to get a better shot.||1094|
Gilia congesta var. crebrifolia
June 28, 2012 I found this plant blooming at a rest area near Mammoth Lakes, CA. I never pass up a chance to look for wildflowers! clr: 1-w
|25||Mammoth Mountain Ski Area The second week of the trip we stayed at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in Mammoth Lakes, California. We stayed in a nice suite and had a great view of the mountain. During the summer the mountain is open for hiking and mountain biking. The gondola runs for visitors who want to go to the summit. I finally found out the night before we left why it is called Mammoth Mountain; if you look at the rock formation on the side of the mountain at the right angle, there is a "mammoth" figure visible. I outlined it in red in this photo.||1107|
|26||Mammoth on mountain If you use your imagination, you can make out the outline of a mammoth with a long trunk and short legs. The building on the top of the mountain is the gondola station and restaurant at the ski resort. Mammoth Mountain, like many of the other mountains nearby, is an ancient volcano. Much of the rock in the area is pumice from early eruptions.||1111|
|27||Sierra moonset I am NOT an early morning person, so I was a bit peeved when Kenny woke me at 5:00 one morning when we were staying at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. I guess it was my fault, the night before we had gone up the road above the ski resort to see the sunset on the mountain range called the Minarets. I was not as impressed as I thought would be after having read that was a "must-do" activity. The light was at a bad angle and I mentioned that it would be much more impressive at sunrise. When we got to the overlook I gasped when I saw the full moon slowly sinking behind the jagged mountains. When I saw that spectacular sight and the sunrise that followed, I was glad he woke me!||1005|
|28||Sierra sunrise Just before the sun rose above the horizon, there was a lovely blue and pink hue over the mountains.||1066|
|29||Minarets with alpineglow Minutes later the sunrise painted the Minarets pink with lovely alpineglow.||1090|
|30||Devils Postpile National Monument Kenny and I enjoyed seeing the spectacular columns at Devils Postpile. I had heard of this park for many years and looked forward to seeing it. We were surprised to learn that the park had reopened the day we went (July 3), it had been closed since the previous November due to a freak windstorm that felled many acres of trees there and in Yosemite.||1134|
Devils Postpile National Monument,
Mammoth Lakes, California Devils Postpile National Monument is located in Mammoth Lakes, California. Visitors must ride a bus from Mammoth Mountain ski resort during much of the year to avoid having to drive on the long, narrow, steep mountain roads. The highlight of the park is the fascinating hexagonal basalt columns.
|32||Devils Postpile National Monument The top of the basalt columns at Devils Postpile is fascinating! During the Ice Ages, glaciers scoured the columns and smoothed them off leaving patterns that look like the surface of a soccer ball!||1169|
Pride of the Mountain Penstemon
Penstemon newberryi This pretty bright pink wildflower is very common in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I liked how these were blooming amid the basalt columns at Devils Postpile National Monument.
June 29, 2012 I spotted this pretty pink flower growing along the trail near the base of the Devils Postpile columns. It is related to Forget-Me-Not. clr: 3-p
June 30, 2012 This flower looks a bit like Queen Anne's Lace, it is in the same family. It is a fairly common western wildflower. I found this flower blooming in Yosemite. clr: 1-w
June 29, 2012 I found this plant blooming at the Devils Postpile National Monument. clr: 1-w
June 29, 2012 This Larkspur was seen at Devils Postpile National Monument. clr: 8-v
June 29, 2012 This Alumroot was growing on a cliff along the steps that went to the base of Rainbow Falls. clr: 1-w
|39||Fire damage We were amazed when we read the trail sign that told about the damage we saw as we hiked from Devils Postpile to Rainbow Falls. The fire that damaged the trees ahead of us had burned in 1992! This shows how long it takes for many western forests to recover from a major fire. In 20 years, only a few small evergreens had begun to grow.||1212|
June 29, 2012 Dusty Maidens grow well in the pumice soil of the Mammoth Lakes area. The tiny flowers are almost the same color as the pumice. clr: 1-w
June 29, 2012 I found this plant blooming along the trail to Rainbow Falls at Devils Postpile National Monument.
June 29, 2012 This plant was blooming along the trail to Rainbow Falls in Devils Postpile National Monument. clr: 1-w
June 29, 2012 Mountain Pennyroyal is in the Mint Family and has a very strong, distinctive aroma. I found this plant growing at Devils Postpile National Monument. clr: 8-v
June 29, 2012 Mule Ears get their common name from the large, pointed leaves. This plant is seen in in mountainous regions of many western states. clr: 5-y
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Callospermophilus lateralis These cute little animals look like chipmunks, but they are squirrels that live in burrows in the ground. They often beg for food at heavily visited areas. Feeding wild rodents is dangerous for both the animals and people. Often the squirrels take food back to their burrow, much of the human food that they stored for winter will decay causing the animals to starve to death. Some ground squirrels carry the deadly bubonic plague bacterium, if the fleas that have fed on them bite people, they can spread the disease.
|46||Rainbow Falls If you arrive at Rainbow Falls at the right time of day, it is easy to see how it got its name. The spray from the 101-foot waterfall refracts the sunlight into a beautiful rainbow. A 2-mile hike is required to reach the waterfall from the Devils Postpile National Monument ranger station.||1059|
|47||Rainbow Falls steps There were lots and lots of steep steps on the trail to the bottom of Rainbow Falls. It was worth the effort of going up and down to see the beautiful view!||1034|
|48||The base of Rainbow Falls||1095|
June 29, 2012 I kept thinking this was a type of Forget-Me-Not, so I had trouble identifying it. This plant is in the same family. clr: 7-b
June 29, 2012 I found this shrub blooming at the riverside below Rainbow Falls at Devils Postpile National Monument. clr: 9-m
False Solomons Seal
Smilacina racemosaJune 29, 2012 This is another wildflower that I saw blooming along the steps to the base of Rainbow Falls.
June 29, 2012 This plant was growing in dense shade on the cliff near the trail that led to the base of Rainbow Falls. clr: 9-m
Leichtlin's Mariposa Lily
June 29, 2012 I squealed with delight when I spotted this beautiful lily blooming along the trail as we were hiking to Rainbow Falls! It was one of my "target plants", a flower that I had wanted to see for many years. I was surprised to see it quite often in the Sierras after that day. clr: 1-w
|54||Kris with a Mariposa Lily I was so happy to see this flower, I had Kenny take a photograph of me with it!||1135|
|55||Ohlmsted Point erratics in Yosemite National Park Kenny and I had been to Yosemite in October 2003. This trip was much better because there was water in all of the waterfalls in the valley and there were LOTS of different wildflowers in bloom. Ohlmsted Point is one of the famous overlooks at Yosemite National Park. It is interesting to see the lone granite boulders called "erratics", huge stones left behind by receding glaciers. Half Dome can be seen far in the distance in the center of the photo.||1083|
June 30, 2012 I found this plant growing at Ohlmsted Point in Yosemite. It is amazing how some of the plants are happy growing in the cracks in granite. clr: 3-p
|57||Granite cracks Granite is very hard rock, but it can crack and "peel" like layers of an onion. Rockfalls are not uncommon in Yosemite.||1051|
|58||Glacier-smoothed granite Glaciers smoothed this granite tens of thousands of years ago. The ice contained lots of sand, pebbles and rock dust that it picked up as the glacier moved along the solid rock. It worked much like sandpaper. In some areas the rock is shiny and often has marks (stripes) that indicate the direction the glacier was moving.||1107|
June 30, 2012 I love the name of this interesting little wildflower! The common name comes from the long, thin, round leaves. It is perfectly happy growing in the thin soil between the blocks of granite. clr: 1-w
Penstemon newberryi These beautiful bright pink Penstemons bloom in cracks in the rocks in the Sierras.
|61||Tuolomne Meadows fog Crazy as it sounds, we went to Yosemite on the 4th of July. We got an early start and arrived in the park not long after sunrise. The fog over Tuolomne Meadows was so pretty. I shot this from the car as we drove to the Valley.||1061|
Asclepias speciosa This was the first wildflower I saw when we drove into the Yosemite Valley. I couldn't wait to stop and see it. clr: 3-p
Asclepias speciosa These are large milkweed flowers.
|64||Upper Yosemite Falls We were thrilled to see the waterfalls this time, when we were in Yosemite in October 2003 all but one were dry.||957|
|65||Upper Yosemite Falls Upper Yosemite Falls is 1,430 feet high, the water plunges to the Middle Cascades before falling again to the Lower Falls.||1009|
|66||Lower Yosemite Falls Seeing the 320-foot Lower Yosemite Falls requires a short, easy walk through the woods.||1144|
Collinsia tinctoria It is a pretty good walk from the parking lot to Lower Yosemite Falls. I was on the lookout for wildflowers along the way when I spotted this one. clr: 1-w
|68||Yosemite Valley This is one of the iconic images of Yosemite National Park, with a spectacular view of Bridal Veil Falls (right) and El Capitan (left) in Yosemite Valley.||1052|
|69||El Capitan climbers The massive granite El Capitan is popular for rock climbers. Visitors to Yosemite often stop along the valley road and watch as the climbers scale it. This photo was taken with a 500mm telephoto lens and it is still difficult to see the climbers.||1095|
|70||Bridal Veil Falls This is another of the spectacular waterfalls in Yosemite Valley. It is 620 feet high.||1047|
Melanerpes formicivorus These are such comical-looking birds with their white eyes, black "beard" and red skull caps! These woodpeckers chisel out holes in trees or utility poles to store acorns in for the winter.
July 4, 2012 I spotted this wildflower as we were walking on the trail to Vernal Falls in Yosemite.
|73||Vernal Falls trail crowd We knew the park would be crowded when we went to Yosemite on July 4th, but we were still amazed at the amount of people were on the trail! We have never seen that many people on a trail in the Smokies!||998|
|74||Vernal Falls Vernal Falls is 317 feet tall. It is a very popular waterfall that requires a 1.3 mile hike (one way) to enjoy the view.||1069|
Otospermophilus beecheyi These little squirrels were pesky little panhandlers near Vernal Falls in Yosemite.
|77||Foxglove Digitalis purpurea Foxglove is a non-native plant. The heart drug digitalis is made from the leaves of this plant. I found this one blooming in Yosemite Valley.||1189|
Brodiaea lutea scabra
June 30, 2012 Yosemite National Park is a treasure trove of wildflowers. I saw nearly 60 flowers that were new to me, they helped bump up my lifelist! We were in the park the first week of July and learned the flowers had just begun to bloom in the higher elevations. clr: 5-y
Small Leopard Lily
June 30, 2012 I was excited to find this beautiful orange lily blooming along the creek below Yosemite Falls. clr: 4-o
June 30, 2012 This unusual plant is a saprophyte, it contains no chlorophyll so it must get its nutrients from decaying plant material in the soil. I found it growing in the woods along the trail to Lower Yosemite Falls.
June 30, 2012 This beautiful blue wildflower was one of those nice surprises that I found when I was looking for another one. I am so fortunate to have a very patient husband who will (usually) stop the car so I can get out and look for wildflowers. clr: 7-b
June 30, 2012 This was another nice surprise when I was tromping around in the woods near a wet meadow. clr: 1-w
June 30, 2012 This was blooming in the woods in Yosemite. clr: 3-p
June 29, 2012 I found this wildflower at Devils Postpile National Monument. clr: 1-w
June 30, 2012 This was a common roadside wildflower in Yosemite. clr: 1-w
June 30, 2012 This was another nice "side-of-the-road surprise". The flowers range from a pale orange to white depending on their age. clr: 4-o
Ribes roezlii I found these spiky gooseberries near the Visitor Center in Yosemite Valley.
July 3, 2012 This flower grows in the high elevations of the Sierras. clr: 1-w
June 30, 2012 This plant was growing along the trail in Tuolomne Meadows at Yosemite. clr: 5-y
June 30, 2012 There are many different species of lupines in the western states, some can be very difficult to identify. clr: 8-v
June 29, 2012 I found this flower blooming at Devils Postpile. clr: 8-v
June 30, 2012> One sniff of this plant and you will quickly find out how it got its common name! If the leaves are crushed, they give off a very foul odor. Unfortunate hikers who step on the plants will carry the odor on their boots or clothes.
July 1, 2012 This was a very common wildflower in the Mammoth Lakes region. It has large, pretty blue flowers. clr: 7-b
July 1, 2012 I found these flowers blooming in the woods near Mammoth Lakes. clr: 5-y
Hairy Owls Clover
This little yellow flower was blooming along the trail to Rainbow Falls at Devils Postpile. clr: 5-y
June 30, 2012 This plant was blooming in Yosemite. clr: 5-y
June 28, 2012 The common name is very fitting for these puffy-looking flowers! These were the first wildflowers I photographed in Yosemite on this trip. clr: 3-p
June 29, 2012 I found these pretty bright red flowers blooming in Devils Postpile National Monument. At first glance, it can be easy to confuse them with Scarlet Gilia.
June 30, 2012 This penstemon was growing in Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite. clr: 8-v
Monument Plant; Deer's Tongue
June 30, 2012 I was excited to find this plant growing near the soda springs in Tuolumne Meadows. I had seen it blooming in Yellowstone NP when we were there in 1993. clr: 6-g
Monument Plant; Deer's Tongue
Swertia radiata This is a close-up of the flowers.
|102||Soda Springs in Yosemite National Park The carbonated soda springs bubble up from the ground at the edge of Tuolumne Meadows. Unlike the springs in Yellowstone NP, the soda springs are not hot.||1121|
|103||Soda Springs log enclosure It is easy to see the white soda encrusted on the edges of the rocks. This little log enclosure was built around a large part of the springs.||1157|
June 30, 2012 This lovely pink Paintbrush was blooming in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite NP. clr: 3-p
|105||Fly Fisherman in Yosemite||1120|
June 30, 2012 In a few weeks, these little white flowers will produce sweet, juicy berries. I found them growing in the woods near the Tuolumne Meadows visitor center. clr: 1-w
June 30, 2012 There are several different species of yellow-flowered buckwheat. This species grows low to the ground and has silvery leaves. clr: 5-y
June 30, 2012 This shrub was growing near the Park Headquarters in Yosemite Valley. clr: 9-m
Tinkers Penny; Bog St. Johnswort
June 29, 2012 I found this little plant growing along a lake bank in Devils Postpile National Monument.
June 28, 2012 I was happy to find this pretty pink flower blooming in the parking area of one of the first stops we made in Yosemite. clr: 3-p
July 1, 2012 This shrub was blooming near the Obsidian Dome. It is a common shrub in the Mammoth Lakes area. clr: 1-w
June 30, 2012 clr: 5-y
July 1, 2012 Mountain Whitethorn grows above 5500 feet, Chaparral Whitethorn grows below 5500' in elevation. clr: 1-w
|115||June Lake June Lake is one of the three beautiful Mammoth Lakes (the other 2 are Silver Lake and Grant Lake). June Lake is also a small community, the other lakes are not developed. It is fed by the snowmelt from the nearby Sierra mountains.||1055|
July 1, 2012 I found this unusual clover blooming along the shore of Silver Lake, the middle of the three lakes. clr: 1-w
July 1, 2012 This wildflower was blooming on the shore of Silver Lake. clr: 5-y
California Wild Rose
July 1, 2012 This native wild rose was blooming along the shore of Silver Lake.
Machaeranthera canescens canescens
July 1, 2012 I found this aster blooming on the bank of June Lake. clr: 8-v
|120||Silver Lake Each of the three lakes have their own characteristics. Silver Lake has a very large meadow of rushes.||1150|
|121||A view of Silver Lake||1119|
Star-flowered Solomons Seal
July 1, 2012 This flower was growing along the trail that runs along Silver Lake.
|123||Grant Lake Grant Lake is the last, and largest, of the three on the June Lake Loop road. I didn't think it was as pretty as the other two, it did not have trees along the bank. I shot this photo from the car. The mountains in the background are extinct volcano craters.||1050|
Western Blue Flag Iris
July 1, 2012/ This was one of the last irises to bloom. I found many with seed pods along the lake bank. clr: 8-v
|125||Sheep We spotted this large herd of sheep as we were driving to Bodie State Historic Park. They had stripped this pasture of grass, when we left and drove by them a few hours later, they had been moved to a greener field.||1012|
|126||Bodie SHP This view was taken from the hill near the stamp mill where the ore was crushed. Due to 2 devastating early fires, only 5% of the original town exists today.||1056|
|127||Bodie State Historic Park This was the old dump where people threw their old cans. It is against the law to remove any artifacts from the park (even if it was once trash!). The large gray building in the background is the stamp mill where the ore was crushed.||971|
|128||The Schoolhouse at Bodie SHP Bodie State Historic Park is an authentic gold mining ghost town. The buildings are in "arrested decay", they are not being maintained, they are being left to the whims of the elements. Only 5% of the original buildings still remain due to 2 devastating fires.The town dates from the mid-1800's and was finally abandoned in the 1940's. It is interesting to peek through the windows of the buildings and see how people lived in the past. This is the town's school building.||999|
|129||Inside the schoolhouse||918|
|130||A kitchen scene Bodie State Park One house is open to the public (although the side rooms are roped off). It was eerie to see the peeling wallpaper and floor coverings along with dinnerware still sitting on the dusty table.||1119|
July 1, 2012 I was surprised to see this iris blooming at Bodie State Park due to how high (elevation 8375') and dry the area is. These plants were growing near a spring. The buildings in the background include the undertaker's house and visitor center. clr: 8-v
|132||The mortician's house at Bodie State Park I was surprised when I peered through the windows of this house! It was kind of creepy to see empty coffins! Many of them had viewing holes in the lid. The mortician kept busy between murders and deaths of the gold miners. Since mercury was used to separate the gold from the ore, miners often died prematurely. The cemeteries were on the hill above the town.||1114|
|133||Bodie General store||1063|
|134||The Methodist church at Bodie State Park Only a couple of the buildings in the park are open to public access, the inside of the church can only be seen from the doorway.||1111|
|135||Sheep dog When we left the park, the sheep had been moved to a lower pasture. Knowing there are coyotes in the area, we wondered what type of protection the sheep had. I finally spotted this Great Pyrenees dog lounging in the grass near by.||1053|
|136||Flock of Sheep The sheep we saw earlier in the day had been moved to greener pastures we left the park. We have seen flocks of sheep in other areas of California.||1002|
|137||Bristlecone Pine forest sign I have wanted to see the ancient Bristlecone Pines on our western trips for many years. Because they grow in such high elevations and in such isolated areas, we had never gone to see them. We were only a couple of hours away from this forest, so I was determined to see them on this trip. The forest is located at 10,000 feet in elevation up a long, winding road.||989|
|138||Bristlecone Pine forest It is very easy to tell where the Bristlecone Pine forest begins and ends. The patch of darker trees are the ancient trees. They grow only in very specific conditions.||939|
|139||A Bristlecone pine Many of the Bristlecone Pines look like they are dead, but upon closer inspection, a few branches have green needles. Some of these trees are 3000 - 4000 years old and are quite gnarled. There are 2 trails that take visitors among the trees. We took the steep, but shorter, 1-mile trail (at 10,000 feet, it had us puffing at times!).||1083|
|140||Bristlecone pine growth rings This log had been cut years ago, it shows the tiny growth rings which indicate the slow growth rate of these ancient trees. There can be as many as 100 rings per inch of wood!||1237|
July 2, 2012 The huge pink and cream-colored seedpods made this wildflower fairly easy to identify. I found it blooming along the trail at the Bristlecone Pine forest. clr: 5-y
|142||Bristlecone pine forest wildflowers We enjoyed this beautiful view of the Sierra Mountains far in the distance as we hiked along the trail in the Bristlecone Pine forest.||1170|
July 2, 2012 This species of sandwort grows at high elevations. I found this one in the White Mountains at 10,000 feet. clr: 1-w
July 2, 2012 This was a very common wildflower growing in the Bristlecone Pine forest. The flowers looked like little pink pompoms! clr: 3-p
Eriophyllum lanatum integrifolium
July 2, 2012 This little sunflower grows in high elevations. Like many plants that live in harsh conditions (cold and windy in winter, hot and dry in summer), it has silvery hairs on the leaves. I saw this plant at the Bristlecone Pine forest. clr: 5-y
July 2, 2012 I found this wildflower blooming along the trail at Bristlecone Pine forest. clr: 5-y
July 2, 2012 I'm about 99% sure on the identification of this wildflower. Some of the composites can be very difficult to ID. I found this tiny plant growing in the Bristlecone Pine forest. I put a penny next to it to show how small the plant was. clr: 8-v
|148||An Ancient Bristlecone pine Photographers love the gnarled wood of these ancient trees. The trees have developed their interesting character from centuries of harsh conditions.||1066|
|149||Bristlecone pine burl Some of the trees have interesting burls and swirls on their trunks.||1250|
July 2, 2012 This pretty dark purple mint was difficult to identify. It was not in any of my wildflower books, I finally found it on a California wildflower website. I spotted it while I was hiking up the trail at Bristlecone Pines forest.
July, 2, 2012 Yet another composite! It can be very difficult to identify these flowers! clr: 1-w
California ground squirrel
Spermophilus beecheyi This little guy must have not liked the looks of us as we hiked up the trail to Gaylor Lake in Yosemite, he barked out alarm calls to the other squirrels nearby. These little squirrels are also known as "chickarees".
July 3, 2012 This is a very common wildflower in western mountain meadows. clr: 1-w
|154||Gaylor Lake trail I really wanted to hike to an alpine lake while we were in the Sierras. The last day we were in Yosemite I found a lake at the end of trail that was a little over 1 mile in length. Although it was a short trail, it was quite steep with an elevation gain of ~1000 feet. I've marked Kenny ahead of me to show the steepness of the trail. This trail begins at the parking lot at the eastern entrance of the park. We enjoyed the hike up to Gaylor Lake. I saw several different species of wildflowers along the trail and on the lake shore.||1090|
July 3, 2012 This little Lousewort was growing in the woods along the trail up to Gaylor Lake. clr: 5-y
|156||Gaylor Lake trail Getting closer to the top! It was very rocky in this area of the trail.||1039|
|157||Gaylor Lake Trail There was an incredible view of the eastern side of Yosemite from the top of the Gaylor Lake trail. It is easy to see the U-shaped valley cut by glaciers long ago. (photo by a fellow hiker)||1092|
June 30, 2012 There were quite a few of these pretty pink wildflowers blooming on the lake side of the Gaylor Lake trail. clr: 3-p
Dwarf alpine Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja nana This was one of the 60 new wildflowers that I saw on the trip. I found this plant growing near the shore of Gaylor Lake. clr: 1-w
July 3, 2012 It is hard to believe this tiny wildflower is in the same genus as the beautiful Mountain Laurel that blooms in the spring in Tennessee. Like many other alpine wildflowers, this plant is very small and grows close to the ground. clr: 3-p
Alpine Shooting Star
June 3, 2012 This little Shooting Star grows in wet areas at very high elevations up to 11,000 feet. I found these growing along the shore of Gaylor Lake. clr: 3-p
|162||Kris at Gaylor Lake Kenny shot this photo of me enjoying the view of Gaylor Lake. I finally got to see an alpine lake!||950|
|163||Gaylor Lake and alpine wildflowers||986|
July 3, 2012 This is one of the "DYCs" ("darned yellow composite") in Yosemite. clr: 5-y
Miterwort; Bishop's Cap
These strange green flowers are very different than tiny white snowflake-like Bishop's Cap in the east. This plant is common in the mountains of the west.
Subalpine Indian Paintbrush
July 3, 2012 These pretty paintbrush flowers paint the alpine meadows with splotches of magenta.
July 3, 2012 It seemed strange to see willows growing and blooming on the ground up by Gaylor Lake. clr: 9-m
|169||Alpine lake After our hike to Gaylor Lake we took a short walk across the meadow to this beautiful lake in the valley at the east entrance of Yosemite. This was our last day in the park, so we decided to enjoy it as long as we could.||1160|
July 1, 2012 The first time I spotted this pretty little flower was when we pulled off the highway onto the gravel road to drive to Obsidian Dome. The leaves smell a lot like a skunk, thus the species name. clr: 3-p
|171||Obsidian Dome I always read about a new area before we visit. I was glad I learned about this fascinating place called Obsidian Dome. The area east of the Sierra Nevada mountains near Mammoth Lakes has a spectacular history of volcanic activity. This large dome is made of black volcanic glass called "obsidian".||1078|
|172||Obsidian Dome Pumice and obsidian make up the rocks in this huge dome.||1069|
|173||Hot Creek Geyser Water from snowmelt in the Sierra Mountains seeps into the ground in the valley to the east. When the water comes in contact with hot rock deep below, it is heated and rises to the surface as a geyser. the water bubbles and sputters. Signs warn visitors to stay away from the creek because people have been scalded and died when swimming.||1029|
|174||Hot Creek twisted rock layers This layer of twisted rock was near the Hot Creek geyser. It took a tremendous amount of pressure to cause the rock layers to twist this way.||1011|
|175||Mobile station restaurant When we were at Mono Lake one evening, we asked some local people where we could find a good restaurant in Lee Vining. We were surprised when we were told to go to the Mobil gas station! We had seen a lot of people eating out on the patio when we passed it on our way to Yosemite, but little did we know it had a gourmet restaurant!||937|
|176||The Mobile station restaurant The Whoa Nellie Deli had delicious gourmet food, quite a surprise for a gas station restaurant!||911|
|177||Mobile station restaurant I decided to be daring and try the Ahi tuna and seaweed. It was very good!||922|
|178||Panum Crater The Panum Crater had a trail that went around the perimeter of the extinct volcano. We wanted to go to the guided tour at Mono Lake at short time later, so we didn't walk the entire trail.||923|
|179||Red-winged Blackbird Mono Lake has many different species of birds. This male Red-winged Blackbird was resting in the willows in the wetlands along the shore.||1069|
Mono Lake Lupine
July 3, 2012 This little lupine is endemic to the pumice plain areas near Mono Lake. That "soil" looks so poor, it is a wonder that anything can grow in it. clr: 8-v
|181||Mono Lake Mono Lake (pronounced "moh-noh", not "mah-noh" like the disease!) is located in the town of Lee Vining, just east of Yosemite. The water contains salt and soda, it is highly alkaline. This sign shows where the former shoreline was before the city of Los Angeles began diverting water from feeder streams in 1941. Mono Lake information||988|
White-flowered Bog Orchid
July 1, 2012 I was excited to see these pretty white orchids growing in the wetland area as we walked on the boardwalk to Mono Lake. clr: 1-w
|183||Mono Lake Tufa Towers One of the most fascinating aspects of Mono Lake are the tufa towers. These rock formations are made of calcium carbonate (limestone), but they did not form from ancient, compacted seashells like other limestone. The towers grew under water before the lake level dropped when calcium in the underwater springs reacted with the carbonates (soda) in the lake water. These towers are often used as nesting areas for ospreys, swallows and other birds. Mono Lake tufa information||1069|
|184||Mono Lake tour We took a tour of the lake shore with a volunteer guide. He dipped a strip of litmus paper into the water, we were amazed to see it had a pH of 10! It is very alkaline. If people swim in the lake they will not sink due to the high density level of the salts.||925|
Tachycineta thalassina These beautiful green, violet and white swallows nest in the tufa towers at Mono Lake. This is a great area for birders!
Mono Lake Alkali Fly
Ephydra hians These flies are very strange! They live in the alkaline water of Mono Lake as larvae and pupae. They eat the algae in the water and lay their eggs on the rocks. The native Kutzadika'a people (the name means "fly-eaters') ate the pupae of these flies because they are high in protein and fat. Can you imagine eating fly pupa stew!? The adult flies swarm along the surface of the water and on the edge of the shore. If you wave your hand above them, they will fly a few inches above the surface and then quickly land. These insects are an important food source for numerous birds. California gulls are especially fond of them!
Mono Lake brine shrimp
Artemia monica Brine shrimp, brine fly larvae and pupae, and green algae are the only organisms that can survive the harsh conditions of the saline water of Mono Lake. These organisms are a very important food source for many species of birds, including California Gulls.
July 3, 2012 I found this flower blooming along the shore of Mono Lake. clr: 5-y
|189||The pumice plain The area near Mono Lake is very high in pumice, a very light volcanic rock. The rock formations in the background are extinct volcano cones. The pumice in the foreground spewed from the volcanoes around 700 years ago.||872|
July 3, 2012 These pretty yellow flowers brightened the drab, white pumice near Mono Lake. It is amazing how some plants thrive in such poor, dry soil. clr: 5-y
July 3, 2012 This pretty blue wildflower is related to Forget-Me-Not. It gets its common name from the prickly seeds that develop from the flowers. clr: 7-b
|192||Old Thyme Inn - Half Moon Bay, CA This was the bed and breakfast where we stayed in Half Moon Bay our last 2 nights in California. It was built in 1898. The breakfasts were very tasty.||943|
Pacific Seaside Plantain
July 5, 2012 I found this Pacific Seaside Plantain blooming on the beach at Half Moon Bay. This is not an especially pretty wildflower. clr: 5-y
Silver Beachweed; Beach Bur
July 3, 2012 I call this "Beach Ragweed" because it is in the same genus as the eastern ragweed. I would imagine it causes allergy problems too! clr: 6-g
|195||Pescadero Beach Pescadero Beach is a beautiful state park located off Highway 1 south of Half Moon Bay. When I looked at the river below the cliff, I spotted a large Harbor Seal swimming upstream (the long, black object in the center of the photo).||991|
Phoca vitulina Harbor Seals are common on the California coast. It is fun to watch them pop up out of the surf.
|197||Marine Isopod This marine isopod was quite large, it reminded me of a rolypoly on steroids!||839|
|198||Tsunami sign This sign was posted on a kiosk at Pescadero Beach. It would be hard to get to higher ground in that area since Hwy. 1 parallels the beach.||775|
July 6, 2012 These are pretty purple wildflowers that grow on the beaches of California.
Haematopus bachmani These comical-looking shorebirds are often seen probing the beach sand for food.
|201||Surf Fisherman I enjoyed watching this fellow casting his line in the rough surf as the gulls landed nearby. It seemed strange to have to wear warm clothes on July 5th, but the cold breeze off the Pacific Ocean drops the air temperature drastically.||903|
July 5, 2012 I found this flower blooming on the beach at Half Moon Bay. clr: 5-y
July 5, 2012 This Sneezeweed has very small ray flowers (a.k.a. "petals"). clr: 5-y
|204||Pigeon Point Light station We stopped at this beautiful light station on our way to Año Nuevo State Park. The Pigeon Point light station has a youth hostel.||904|
|205||Pigeon Point Lighthouse The 115-ft. Pigeon Point Lighthouse was built in 1872. It is now located in a State Historic Park. We enjoyed our brief stop here.||893|
July 5, 2012
|207||Año Nuevo State Park dunes Our last stop of the day (and the trip) was at Año Nuevo State Park. The park is famous for the Elephant Seals that come ashore on its beaches to give birth in the winter and to molt in the summer. A 1.6-mile hike is required to reach the haul-out beach. Part of the trail involves slogging up and through difficult sand dunes and sandy paths. It is worth the effort to see and hear the huge seals.||885|
|208||Año Nuevo lupines and seals This was our first view of the Elephant Seals, we heard them long before we saw them. If the wind is blowing the right way, they can be smelled too!||861|
|209||Elephant seal new arrival This young male elephant seal arrived from the sea and we watched him shuffle out of the water onto the beach. These guys have a face that only a mother elephant seal could love! :)||842|
Northern Elephant Seal
Mirounga angustirostris These young Elephant Seals were sparring on the beach at Año Nuevo State Park. In the summer the seals haul out on the beach to molt. The males have a large proboscis ("nose") that they make a loud, snuffling sound through. The volunteer who was stationed at the beach overlook told us that the largest males had not yet arrived, these guys are just juveniles. The full-grown males can be 14 feet long and weigh close to 6000 pounds. The seal in the foreground on the left is molting its fur. I was not as close as it looks, I had a 500mm telephoto lens on my camera. It is against the law to approach the seals. These large animals could be dangerous if harassed.
|211||Elephant seals throwing sand It was funny to see the Elephant Seals throwing sand over themselves at Año Nuevo, they do this to cool off. The seals will molt all of their old layer of fur during this time.||774|
|212||Male Elephant seals sparring These juvenile Elephant Seals are sizing each other up.||793|
|213||The Año Nuevo Light station house The old Año Nuevo Light station house is now abandoned and has become the property of California Sea Lions and Cormorants.||779|