Sunday, August 28, 2011

California Mountains - Snow in Springtime

Spring was a happening thing in the high Sierra. Last winter extended well into June, and on at least one date that month the snowpack was the highest on record. This means that at the end of July when we were there, quite a bit of snow was still melting.

Leopard Lily
From our trailhead at nearly 10,000 feet, we only ascended another 1,000 feet or so, but the difference in the flora was notable. Higher up, the flowers and shrubs were still in bud; the snow hadn't been gone long.

Willow buds
Mountain Pennyroyal in bud

The violent weight of snow had deformed this cluster of trees in such a symmetric way as to be artistic.

Spearhead Lake

Rosy Sedum with Buttercups

At the highest elevations, every lovely bloom seems like a miracle, when you consider how much of the year the plants are just roots or seeds under the snow, how quickly they are required to respond to the light and warmth and come into their glory.

In some places they were sprouting out of a puddle where snow had likely been lying a few days previous, like in this low place I had to hop over to reach a spot overlooking Long Lake. You can see Mr. G. in the distance ready to spread out our picnic of cheese and crackers.

Around us and at our feet hot pink penstemon was making for a brilliant contrast with the midnight blue water and the granite rocks.


M.K. said...

Amazing!!! That's all I can say to these photographs from your travels! Those bend trees; isn't it shocking that snowflakes could do that? And the rolled up copper bark from your last post? I've never even heard of such a thing! Thanks for sharing, from one who will probably never see those sights.

h west said...

Great pics! Love those funky trees!

Janet said...

Lovely photos. I agree with the others -- the bent trees are a wonder.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I just can't believe the places you go--that they really exist! So lovely and strange. Thank you for sharing them with us.


amy said...

Springtime in mid-June; how delightful!! I so enjoyed seeing your beautiful photos~ especially that Leopard Lily...what a happy flower.
I want to visit I know the right month to make a trek : )

margaret said...

The first picture is so beautiful. It makes me long for the Rockies or the Swiss Alps never having been to the Sierras - I can smell the freshness just looking at it.