Saturday, June 27, 2009
Yes, we have trees in the part of the intermountain west commonly known as the Great Basin, which is also part of the larger Basin and Range. The tree above is a piñon pine tree, an old one. Many of the old ones on the trail up to Squaw Peak were burned by some long-ago brushfire. Their bark is black, their shapes are twisted, their needles are plentiful.
The sky was everywhere gray, misty, and obscure. Raindrops glistened and sparkled, suspended from fire-black and rain-darkened branches. Each raindrop contained a small green world.
The rain intensified colors. The greens of sagebrush, rabbitbrush, piñon, juniper, and bitterbrush became greener. The umbers and ochres of fallen needles became deeper. Flowers almost glowed.
I'm not sure what this flowering plant is, also seen in the previous photo, possibly it's Mirabilis multiflora. I don't recall seeing it last year, but I might have missed it. It was usually smaller than this particular example, and was often hiding at the base of bushes or beneath trees on south- and west-facing slopes, from about 6760 feet to at least 7320 feet.
I was lucky to spot these small, delicate tulip-like flowers; I have been unable to identify them. They were growing in a broadly flat area at about 6700 feet. UPDATE: These plants appear to be some variety of Calochortus, some varieties of which are called mariposa lily.
Prickly pear, Opuntia, was wonderfully in bloom at the lower elevations of 6700 to 6900 feet. The flowers were pale orange to yellow with rose-like petals. Red or magenta prickly pear had already bloomed earlier in the year and higher on the mountain.
Sagebrush, sea-green with wet, dark-brown woody branches, grows in clumps around a larger plant that has already bloomed and is going to seed.
The tall seedy plant is probably Atriplex canescens, commonly known as fourwing saltbush. I was surprised to it growing at such a high elevation, at the low end of the piñon-juniper zone (6700 feet). There were only a few Atriplex bushes. They were two to four feet in height, and had few leaves. I first suspected Grayia (hopsage), which is usually a low-elevation plant, also, but the leaves weren't right.
Another unknown: this stalk is more than three feet tall, most were one to two feet in height.
Beautiful small white to pink flowers were growing in clumps at about 6600 feet.
We got wet, even with rain-protective clothing. We got cold coming back down from 7400 feet, even though we were fairly well bundled. It was a beautiful day.
This post is a submission to the Carnival of the Arid #5, which is hosted at Coyote Crossing by Chris Clarke.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Oh, and there are little tiny swellings where the tomato flowers were! MOH discovered that just now.
Date and time of photo: June 22, 2009, at 9:00 am.
Monday, June 22, 2009
First, they would get close and carefully eye the nest and everything around, while hiding in nearby bushes or trees. This wren has a small grub or something in its beak.
They built an unusual-looking nest, one with twigs sticking out of the hole. The twigs tightened up the entryway, protecting the nestlings from anything larger than a wren.
Part of the action is not just to bring food in for the baby birds, but to take out the trash. Somewhat neater than messy diapers, I think.
Both the male and female wren were involved in the feeding and trash-taking-out operations, dividing their chores evenly as far as I could tell.
While watching the wrens, I caught this patient birder taking pictures of them.
Friday, June 19, 2009
We came first to Teresa Lake, pictured in the above three photos, after hiking up from the Wheeler Peak campground. Teresa Lake is at about 10,280 feet in elevation, or somewhat just below 3150 meters.
Between Teresa Lake and Stella Lake, we hiked over snow patches...
...and across a lateral moraine separating the two lakes. While we hiked, it snowed lightly.
Ah, our first glimpse of Stella Lake, with probable Precambrian meta-pelite littering the ground. Stella Lake is at an elevation of about 10,400 feet, or somewhat just below 3200 meters.
Hike, hike, hike - now we're probably on a terminal moraine below Stella Lake.
We found a great view of Stella Lake here, looking about due south across one of the lateral moraines separating the two lakes, toward the cirque headwall above Teresa Lake.
Spring flowers on an outcrop of probable Precambrian quartzite along the shore of Stella Lake, during a light snow storm: Precambrian and Quaternary in one view. The quartzite might be the Stella Lake Quartztite of Misch, now considered part of the Precambrian McCoy Creek Group.
Hose, R. K., Blake, M. C., and Smith, R. M., 1976, Geology and mineral resources of White Pine County, Nevada: Nevada Bur. Mines and Geol. Bulletin 85, 105 p.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I won't go into the history of the Leadfield mining district in Titus Canyon, CA, except to say that the sign does not give the entire history, and that real copper and lead discoveries were made there in the early 1900's. See links below.
A photo overview of part of the Leadfield town, with colorful grey to pale orange mine dump. I didn't knock around on this dump, so I don't know what was being brought out of the ground, but the grey matches the color of the local limestone.
Death Valley Ghost Towns: National Park Service
Leadfield, California: Ghost Town Explorers
Leadfield, California: Wikipedia
Leadfield Ghost Town: Mojave.net