My husband called to me as I was lagging behind on the loop trail, "Why do you keep looking at the ground?! Look up at the mountains, and the trees!"
We were in the Patriarch Grove of the Bristlecone Pines, at 11,000 feet, in the White Mountains, with dolomite rock as far as the eye could see, as in the photo above. One might well wonder why I would look down at it.
But if you click on that photo to enlarge it you will see that there are vague greenish splotches all over the place. Those are clumps of wildflowers, hugging the ground in mats barely taller than my living room carpet.
I was finding whole worlds of flower gardens tucked under rocks, where several species of the most diminutive blooms would pack themselves together in a jumble. I noticed them, but the sun was so bright, and they were so little, that I couldn't actually see them very well, or know if my photo was decent.
And I didn't want to make us too late for dinner in Lee Vining that night, a few hours' drive down the mountain and up the highway. But now I wish I had taken more pictures.
|Lewisia, I think...|
|milkvetch and an old cone|
Pippin sent me to a link from an area in Utah where more Bristlecones grow, and to the Table Cliff Milkvetch that looks pretty similar. But from my poor photo, I'm not confident to claim a perfect match.
Maybe it's even a version of the Whitney's Locoweed (Astragalus whitneyi) I saw in the lower grove. That one (below) was past flowering and was showing its crazily colorful pods, and this one 1,000 feet higher doesn't have any pods yet.
|Whitney's Locoweed and Dwarf Alpine Daisy|
Another view that was a quiet and calming feast for the eyes was of these sagebrush-covered slopes, as we traveled that gravel road. The total effect was so much more green and lively-looking than what we saw going west up from Bishop. Maybe it's a different species of sagebrush?
After this day with the Bristlecones and their tiny ground-hugging companions, we went back over the mountains and then north for the last hilly adventure of our July vacation.
|View of Sierras from White Mountains|