October 28, 2017

Dinkey Lakes 23-25 August 2017

This was my second trip out of Cliff Lake Trailhead this year and it turned out to be as fruitful as the first. It was my first trip beyond the Nelson Lake turnoff. The trail remains heavily forested to Cliff Lake and to the pass leading to Dinkey Lakes. The purpose of my hikes for the past several years has been to document the areal extent of Lewisia leeana and this was one of the most fruitful I have taken.

During the hike to Cliff Lake, I was distracted by 18 plants and one amphibian. Three of them were new to me. They included bud saxifrage (Micranthes bryophora), muskflower (Mimulus moschatus)and a Sierran treefrog (Pseudacris sierra).

A little before noon as I approched Cliff Lake, I made my first observation of Lewisia leeana. I wasn't expecting to see it because it had never been reported in the area. Near the inlet stream at the north end of Cliff Lake, I observed L. leeana in the wettest environment I have ever seen it and it was surrounded by moss. During the hike to the divide, I made a total of 13 observations of L. leeana. L. leeana was not as abundant on the north side of the divide until I got to Rock Lake. During the remainder of 23 August, I made eight more observations of L. leeana.
See : https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2017/8/23

On 24 August I divided my time between two areas in Dinkey Lakes. During the morning, I hiked from my camp at Second Dinkey Lake to Island Lake down to Fingerbowl Lake and back to Island Lake via a different route. The granite ridge north of the trail between Second Dinkey and Island was barren of L. leeana and I didn't see any of it until I crossed the Island Lake outlet stream. The slopes between Island Lake and Fingerbowl Lake were a different matter - I made 20 observations in that area. Returning to Second Dinkey I walked the ridge south of it, returning via a more westerly route. I made 20 more observations of L. leeana on that circuit.
See : https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2017/8/24

I decided to return home on 25 August. I made a couple of more observations of L. leeana north of the divide. South of the divide I took the Bullfrog Lake trail and made an additional 25 observations of L. leeana on the way to the trailhead. In addition, I made my first observation of ballhead sandwort (Eremogone congesta).
See : https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2017/8/25

The Dinkey Lakes area has more observations of L. leeana in the Calflora database and iNaturalist than anywhere else in Fresno County. It is heavily visited because of its beauty and more recently due to its easy access. I visited about half the area and the density of L. leeana was at least equal to anywhere I've been.

Posted on October 28, 2017 03:11 AM by sekihiker sekihiker | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Bear Mountain 16-18 August 2017

Was it Bald Mountain or Bear Mountain?

Three years ago, I wrote in my journal on iNaturalist about a trip up Bald Mountain.1 I was inspired to go up Bald Mountain by an observation of Lewisia leeana made by Hall and Chandler in 1900.2 I found no L. leeana up there and the environment did not look suitable for it. The summit of Bald Mountain (7,826) is almost 1,000 feet lower than than the lowest known elevation for L. leeana anywhere else in Fresno County (8,713'GPS, 8,720'map).3 It is more than eight miles west of Dinkey Lakes, where the nearest other observations of L. leeana have been made. In her comment to that journal post, Belinda Lo, aka belinda on iNaturalist, noticed that Hall and Chandler recorded an elevation of 9,000 feet for their observation and she wondered if it was possible they could have recorded the wrong name. She pointed out that the nearest peak with close to that elevation was Bear Peak [actually Bear Mountain]. I thought, Bear is similar to Bare, could be possible.

In 2016, I headed into new territory. I had never used the Cliff Lake Trailhead and I was going to try to get to Bear Mountain from there. I went to Nelson Lakes and crossed the divide to their west, and stayed at Chinquapin Lakes. Despite decent snow fall the previous winter and spring, the Chinquapin Lake area was extremely dry. There was no hint of L. leeana in the area and nothing else was blooming. I was so discouraged, I turned around and came home the next day without even attempting to continue to Bear Mountain.

On 16 August 2017, I decide to try for Bear Mountain again. The way was familiar to Chinquapin Lakes but became more difficult to follow after that. Finally, I made it to Sportsman Lake where I set up camp. There was plenty of light left after finishing dinner, so I went up the slope north of camp where there were plenty of plants in view. I made several observations on the way to the top of the ridge and crossed over to the other side. To my delight, I spotted L. leeana and recorded three observations of it.5

The next day, I headed for Bear Mountain. I stayed near the top of the ridge west of Sportsman Lake and managed to make several more observations on the ridge's north flank before reaching the Swamp Lake four wheel drive trail. I continued westward and saw many more L. leeana plants until I stopping halfway up Bear Mountain.6 Without seeing Hall and Chandler's field notes, I'm convinced that this is where they found L. leeana, not Bald Mountain.

1 https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/sekihiker/3298-day-on-bald-mountain
2 http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/get_consort.pl?taxon_name=Lewisia+leeana&county=06019
3 https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/819752
Since then lowered to 8,640 feet, see: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1818140
4 http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/819752
5 https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2017/8/16
6 https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2017/8/17

Posted on October 28, 2017 03:02 AM by sekihiker sekihiker | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Scepter Lake 2-3 August 2017

I planned a five day trip to the Blackcap Basin which was aborted due to mosquito density. My destination for the day was Scepter Lake via Chuck Pass. I went cross country from the Little Rancheria/Woodchuck divide and passed through prime Lewisia leeana country to Chuck Pass. At the pass, I contoured around the ridge to the north, finding no L. leeana and eventually being turned down slope by massive talus piles. Eventually, I found my way back to the trail and hiked on to Scepter Lake. Heeding the advice of a couple of hikers I had met west of the Duck Lake turnoff that morning, I set up my tent. They suggested I pitch my tent to avoid being drenched by afternoon showers. Almost as soon as my tent was up I was in it and protected from a massive deluge which lasted a couple of hours. Mosquitoes were out as soon as the rain stopped and I wondered if I would be able to continue on.

The next morning, the mosquitoes continued to plague me and I decided to return home. My modified route took me past Crown Lake to Crown Pass and to the summit of the ridge east of Woodchuck Lake. I made numerous observations of L. leeana on the ridge and on my way back to trail. Showers and mosquitoes convinced be to get home as soon as I could. Even though I was turned back by rain and mosquitoes, I made 41 observations of L. leeana and two species new to me, shaggy lupine and giant red Indian paintbrush. See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2017/8/2

Posted on October 28, 2017 02:55 AM by sekihiker sekihiker | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Geraldine Lakes 25-27 July 2017

In 2016, I observed the densest stand of Lewisia leeana I had ever seen.1 It was on the north flank of Spanish Mountain and the purpose of this trip was to revisit it in hopes I could see it in bloom. It wasn't in bloom because the snow had recently melted off of it. The gully to the west was choked with snow and an easy way up Spanish Mountain was not evident. I saw western anemone nearby which I had seen in fruit a year earlier. I returned north and walked on the north side of the divide between Geraldine Lake and the Rancheria Creek Drainage, making a number of observations in the process.2

1 https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/3991112
2 https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2017/7/26

Posted on October 28, 2017 02:52 AM by sekihiker sekihiker | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Duck Lake 17-18 July 2017

With a huge snowpack, my first trip to Sierra National Forest where I am studying the distribution of Lewisia leeana was delayed until mid-July. The trip was not disappointing. The ridge east of Duck Lake hosts the densest stand of L. leeana I have ever seen. The plants were healthy and in full bloom.1

1 https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2017/7/18

Posted on October 28, 2017 02:48 AM by sekihiker sekihiker | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Looking for Lewisia leeana in 2016

This was not a great year for exploration. I spent a total of less than two weeks in the field. The only trip I took to a new area was a disappointment. Even though we had better than normal precipitation, the mountains were still dry after the previous three years of drought.

13-14 June My first trip was a bust because the first night out, I realized that our wedding anniversary was two days away. I failed to see any Lewisia leeana on the trip.
See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2016/6/13

12-15 July The second trip in mid-July to Woodchuck Lake was productive. I went down the creek toward Upper Box, climbed the hill north of the lake and explored the ridge east of it. I made 49 observations of L. leeana. See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2016/7/12

27-28 July The third trip in late July was to an area I had never visited. I originally planned to hike to Bear Mountain. After crossing from Nelson Lakes to Chinquapin Lakes I changed my mind. It was so dry, barely anything was still in bloom. I saw no L. leeana at the higher elevations which was very discouraging. I turned around after one night and went home. See:https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2016/7/27

24-27 August My last trip was a return to Spanish Mountain. I explored the area surrounding Upper Geraldine Lake. L. leeana was not in bloom and the plants were very dry. A highlight of the trip was a climb up Spanish Mountain where I saw one of the densest stands of L. leeana I have ever seen. Unfortunately, they were not blooming. I made 36 observations of L. leeana. Not a single plant was blooming.
See: https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2016/8/24

Posted on October 28, 2017 02:35 AM by sekihiker sekihiker | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 05, 2015

Bench Valley Field Trip 4 August 2015

At Dinkey Creek, I turned east toward Courtright Reservoir where I was to start a four day trip to Bench Valley. Smoke began to fill the air and I wondered if I would be able to hike. It dissipated as I approached the turnoff to Courtright and hope returned. I left the Maxson Trailhead and my nose started running and my eyes burned. By the time I reached the head of Long Meadow, I had decided to turn around. In 60 years of hiking, it is the first time I have ever quit a hike. In addition to the thick smoke, three years of drought had left the country dry and unattractive.

On the return from Long Meadow, I managed to make five observations, despite my dismal mood.

Posted on August 05, 2015 09:16 PM by sekihiker sekihiker | 5 observations | 1 comments | Leave a comment

August 01, 2015

Blackcap Basin Field Trip 21-25 July 2015

Storms brought in by Tropical Storm Dolores soaked the mountains in mid July. I hit the trail just as the storms were dissipating. Lighting is often beautiful when clouds are overhead, but lighting for photos of flowers can be a problem. Plants needed the drenching during this third year of drought. For some of them it was too late. Lupines never really had much of a chance unless they were close to the ground. Brewer's red heather and Labrador tea bloomed well in only a few places. Mountain pride lived up to its name and didn't seem to mind that it has been dry this summer. The plant I have been following, Lewisia leeana, bloomed in June but only a few flowers remained past mid-July. The high point of this trip was to be a visit of the highest elevation observation of L. leeana in eastern Fresno County, in the Blackcap Basin.

It wasn't raining but the sky was filling with clouds when I left Rancheria Trailhead at about 8:30. I got to the wilderness boundary and saw the first of many fields of corn lily in bloom. I have never seen so many, quite a few topping straggly and sickly looking stalks. Have I never been out when they are in bloom, or is this an exceptional year? Were all these blossoms the result of the nice rain we had in June? I have no idea, but I saw exceptional blooms through out the trip.

A little after noon, I reached the Woodchuck/Little Rancheria Divide and began traveling cross country toward Indian Springs. I stayed high and saw lots of Lewisia leeana, as much as I've ever seen anywhere. I had to work to avoid stepping on them. I passed by a hidden and seldom visited pond south of Indian Springs and its outlet stream was still running despite the drought. As I crossed granite slabs, Lewisia leeana disappeared and then I entered dense undergrowth dominated by Brewer's red heather and Labrador tea without a trace of L. leeana. Thunder started to pick up but rain hadn't fallen yet. Finally, the rain began around 1:30 and it rained off and on for the rest of the day's hike.

As the steep trail began to level out with the approach to Chuck Pass, Lewisia leeana reappeared. I had planned to stay high and travel cross country to Crown Lake, but with the dark, rainy skies, I changed my plans. My search for L. leeana on the east flank of the ridge would have to wait. It irritated me that the trail dropped to the southeast moving me away from my goal of Crown Lake, but I knew it would be the safest and quickest way there. After passing through Large Meadow I hiked passed a familiar ridge of volcanics and up through swamps on Scepter Creek. A little past 5:30, I found L. leeana again but didn't see it for long because the trail took me into the dominion of Scepter Creek. Soon I climbed into the flat country that surrounds Crown Lake. I spent way more time than necessary looking for a decent campsite near the lake but finally settled on a spot with partial protection under the trees. Day one observations: http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/7/21

Rain continued through the night so I wiped the tent dry inside and out as best I could before putting it away. I hoped to be in the Blackcap Basin at the end of this my second day. I made it up and out of the Crown Lake basin and an hour or so later I was up on Crown Pass and looking forward to the descent to Half Moon Lake. I made several observations of L. leeana and other flowering plants on the way to the lake. A little after 10, I crossed the Half Moon Lake outlet stream and headed around the ridge toward the North Fork Kings River. To my delight, I encountered many L. leeana plants on the way there. It found it hard to believe that L. leeana has never been reported in this area considering how much of it there is along the trail.

By one o'clock I began the ascent up Kings River canyon . I would see no more L. leeana until I reached Portal Lake. The area next to the river is much too wet to support L. leeana, the cliffs above much too steep. The trail was sloppy in places, but that is not unusual. I arrived at Portal Lake before five. A strong wind whipped over the lake and dried up my soggy tent in a hurry. I managed to cook dinner through the windstorm and there was enough light left to do a little exploring. I focused on the area between Portal Lake and the little unnamed lake to the north. Imagine my delight when I found several Lewisia leeana plants as well as Shasta knotweed and dwarf alpine Indian paintbrush. Day 2 observations: http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/7/22

I was excited to be on my way the next morning. I was looking forward to visiting the only reported locality for L. leeana in the Blackcap Basin somewhere between Pearl and Division Lakes. Between Portal and Pearl Lakes, I saw several more L. leeana plants. The ascent to Pearl involves finding a way up a steep wall and I found a way that didn't involve trail until the last 100 feet or so. Even though I have been to Pearl Lake a couple of times before, it looked very different from what I remembered. The dry, gravelly area sloping east toward the lake was sparsely covered with flowers. One of them, granite mousetail, Ivesia muirii, was new to me. In addition there was abundant dwarf alpine Indian paintbrush and eriogonum. I crossed the outlet stream where I found some nice little elephant head, Pedicularis attollens, and continued to the north end of the large lake. It didn't take long to ascend to Division Lake but Lewisia leeana was nowhere to be found. I climbed all the way up to Regiment Lake. I returned to Pearl Lake, disappointed that I hadn't spotted any L. leeana. It was only later in the afternoon, long after I had left the Blackcap Basin, that I realized that I should have checked an area west of the small pond between Pearl and Division Lakes. I guess I'll have to visit again next year.

On my way out of Blackcap Basin, I spotted just one more L. leeana plant. Next up was Crown Basin. The trail to the basin was hard to follow, but I managed to get to a viewpoint where I could get a feel for the area. Getting into the basin would have involved significant elevation loss and of course gain to get back out. I decided to put off exploration of Crown Basin to a later date. I returned to the Blackcap Basin trail and dropped down canyon to the trail junction with the Half Moon Lake trail. The map shows two streams descending from the south, one from Maxson Basin and the other from Maxson Lake. The stream I chose to ascend curved westward and I soon knew I was not going to make it to Maxson Lake that evening. I returned to forest south of the Half Moon Lake trail and set up camp next to what I figured was the outlet stream from Maxson Basin. Day three observations: http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/7/23

The next morning, I hiked a short distance through forest until a steep, rocky section came into view. It became obvious that there were many more than two streams flowing from the south. By the time I figured that out, it became way more important to just find some kind of way up the steep section, not necessarily up just one of the two outlet streams. I didn't know it at the time, but I chose a drainage that was parallel and a little east of the outlet stream from Maxson Lake. A little after 8 o'clock, I spotted my first L. leeana and I saw many more all the way to the top. I wasn't sure exactly where my path would lead, but to my surprise I rounded a corner and there was lovely Maxson Lake. Even though I was unsure about descending next to the Maxson Lake outlet stream, I decided to risk it. It was probably a little more technically difficult than the ascent route, but I managed it, full pack and all. I was back at the Half Moon Lake trail by 11:30 and began my return on familiar ground.

I made just a few observations on the return to Crown Pass. My goal was to move cross country from Crown Pass toward Woodchuck Lake and maybe camp at one of the little ponds along the way. Instead, I made it all the way to a campsite at the south end of Woodchuck Lake. I saw lots of L. leeana along with the usual eriogonum, mountain pride, and the occasional lupine field. Day 4 observations: http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/7/24

Day five dawned with clear skies and I was eager to get home. I hiked cross country on a ridge west of the trail. Before long I was making my way toward Chimney Lake but before getting to the junction, I dropped down cross country to the south fork of Woodchuck Creek. As soon as I crossed the creek, I was back in Lewisia leeana country. I took a more westerly track than usual and soon ran out of L. leeana. By 9:30, I was on the Woodchuck/Little Rancheria divide and heading down toward the trailhead. I made a few more observations before reaching the Rancheria Trailhead at 1:15. Day 5 observations: http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/7/25

Overall, I was happy with the trip. The disappointment of not finding L. leeana between Pearl and Division Lakes was offset by all the observations north of Portal Lake. The abundance of L. leeana between Half Moon Lake and the North Fork Kings River was a pleasant surprise. The trip to Maxson Lake turned out to be fun and worthwhile. The cross country walk from Crown Pass to Woodchuck Lake was rewarding. Although is was wet the first couple of days, my equipment performed well and made the trip as pleasant as could be expected.

Posted on August 01, 2015 05:26 PM by sekihiker sekihiker | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 06, 2015

Spanish Mountain Field Trip 24-26 June 2015

June is a busy month with an anniversary, a birthday, father's day, a long planned visit with friends and hopefully, some time enjoying the mountains and studying flowers. Somehow, I managed to squeeze in three trips, all out of the Rancheria Trailhead east of Wishon Reservoir. All of the trips were designed to hunt areas where Lewisia leeana might be present. It's disjunct population in Fresno County has become my study subject for the past couple of years.

On this three day trip, I returned to Crown Ridge above Chain Lakes. On my first trip of the year, I had been rained off the ridge. Day one took me to upper Chain Lake. On the way, I made several observations of L. leeana, starting on the moraine that dams middle Chain Lake to its west and including an observation within the blocky morainal debris that dams upper Chain Lake on its west. After a pleasant night's rest, I returned to where I had left off during my first trip. L. leeana was in full bloom and very abundant in granitic areas on the north slopes of high point 9900+ which is capped by volcanics. As I headed down the south facing slope, I searched in vain for L. leeana. I moved across a ridge to the east and still had no luck. The view to the south was not promising. Below was a prominence, 9774T, which looked to be entirely volcanic and almost entirely barren of understory. The ridge including point 9477T looked volcanic as well. I decided to descend the canyon north of this ridge instead of going to Crown Rock. There were plenty of flowers to be seen on the way down to the almost abandoned Chain Lakes Trail below. Lower parts of the canyon had excellent grazing so I saw lots of cattle. I picked my way south on faint trail littered with large deadfalls and reached the Crown Valley Trail a little before noon.

The second half of day two proved to be just as interesting as the first. The trail to Crown Valley is heavily used and easy to follow. The country it passes through is generally dry and even dryer during this drought year. Variety improved near the meadows and streams I passed, but I wasn't tempted to explore much. I kept my eye open for L. leeana, but didn't really expect to see any because of the low elevation. Finally, I reached the turnoff to Spanish Mountain at about 12:45. The trail looked seldom used but there was one set of horse tracks that helped me to locate it. Deadfalls were a real problem, sometimes involving many trees. I lost track of the horse prints more than once, only to find them on the other side of the downed trees. I became jealous. It appeared that the horse had levitated over them. The trail passed near or through several meadows where it disappeared and was difficult to find on the other side.

A little before 2:30, I arrived at a shallow, grass fringed lake and found a trail sign at its south end. The sign didn't mention it, but Spanish Lake was only a half mile to the west. It pointed the way to Geraldine Lakes where I wanted to spend the night. I turned east, spending much of the time going cross country but, now and then, encountering a blaze, a duck, or worn ground. Finally, the path turned more southerly and I ascended an unnamed drainage toward Geraldine Lakes. A little before four, I encountered my first L. leeana in the area, a large plant in full bloom. I continued up a broad granitic ramp to an overlook of lower Geraldine Lake, encountering many more L. leeana and other flowers on the way. The route down to the lake looked steep but possible, but I decided I wanted to stay at upper Geraldine Lake. I turned west and tried to find the trail to upper Geraldine Lake. I guessed the wrong direction and flailed around through forest, then swamp until I finally found what looked like the trail.

The ascent to upper Geraldine Lake seemed endless, but I encountered L. leeana again and again on the way up, including a first, one growing in dark metamorphics. Finally, at six o'clock on the dot, I arrived at upper Geraldine Lake. I decided the trip had been worthwhile, considering how many L. leeana I had seen on the way up. Not only that, but it was a pretty little lake where after a few minutes I found a pretty good campsite.

The next morning, I followed the trail which eventually led to lower Geraldine Lake where I found a huge campsite. I guess that's where most people stay when they come to this area. Faint trail led back up to where I had missed the turnoff the day before. I headed west, looking for more L. leeana and was not disappointed. I was not surprised that I found none on south-facing slopes. I didn't make it to the location reported by York and Shevock in 1995(JEPS96202). I figured I'd seen enough L. leeana in the area and I didn't doubt that there would be a lot more plants in the direction of their location.

I headed back to the trailhead. Staying high in an attempt to skirt deadfalls, I overshot the trail, the first of many missteps on the way back to the Crown Valley Trail. It was more difficult than the trip in. I got lost several times, especially in meadows and in areas with dense deadfalls. For a while, I was on a trail that connects the Spanish Lake trail with the Geraldine Lakes trail, that one that starts near the old ranger station. Finally, I made it to the Crown Lakes Trail and it was almost three o'clock. Well, at least I knew I wouldn't have a hard time finding my way back to the trailhead. On my way back, I ran into a couple of fishermen that had spent time fly fishing Crown Creek and we talked for 20 minutes or so. They said the trail deteriorated beyond Crown Valley and had lots of deadfalls across it. A few minutes later, on the banks of Cabin Creek, I made my fourth observation of this trip (third of the day) of mitrewort, this time a new species to me, alpine mitrewort or Pectiantia pentandra. Even though the flowers are almost impossible to see unless you look closely, the leaves call attention to the plant.

I arrived at the junction with the cutoff heading to Rancheria Trailhead and saw the sign I had missed on my first trip of the season. It was new and fresh and located in a place that is easily missed if headed toward Crown Valley. The trail to the Crown Valley Trailhead looked unused. I wonder how long the Crown Valley trailhead will be used to get to Crown Valley? I guess it's still used to get to Statham Meadow.

I descended down to Little Rancheria where I took a break at about six o'clock before finishing the day at the trailhead at about 7:30. It had been a big day and I saw a lot. My first impression of the Spanish Mountain area, a bad one, had been clouded by the difficult trip in from the Crown Valley trail and the hard climb to upper Geraldine Lake. My impression of the area started to change during the final day and by the time I started looking at the photos of the trip, I realized the area was worthy of many return trips (especially if I can find a better trail to Geraldine Lakes).

Posted on July 06, 2015 07:19 PM by sekihiker sekihiker | 1 comments | Leave a comment

Crown Pass Field Trip 16-19 June 2015

My plans for this trip were far too ambitious. I planned to take a cross country route on day one but stayed on trail instead. I wanted to visit Upper Box and Lower Box in the Upper and Lower Box Watershed then go cross country to Old Pipe Lake. I made it to Old Pipe Lake all right, but didn't even make it to either box canyon. The country looked too rough, so on day two after descending toward Upper Box, I returned to Woodchuck Lake and took trail to Crown Pass. There I descended Nichols Canyon via abandoned trail and reached Old Pipe Lake. I expected my last day to be a simple trip home but saw much more than I expected. This was a trip of surprises and I really can't complain.

This summer, I'm trying to figure out how extensively Lewisia leeana grows in eastern Fresno County. Calflora, the comprehensive database for California flora, indicates it can be found in three isolated areas; in the Dinkey Lakes area, near Crown Pass, and on the flanks of Spanish Mountain. Two other observations can be found in CalPhotos, one on Eagle Peak near Dinkey Lakes and the other far to the east in the Blackcap Basin. My observations in the Woodchuck and Little Rancheria Creek watersheds are not yet in any database.

On the first day of the trip, I observed L. leeana south of the Woodchuck/Little Rancheria Creek divide. I took it as a good omen until I descended the trail toward Lacy Camp and didn't see any more. By the time I got to Lacy Camp, I figured I would probably make better time on trail than trying a cross country route. I managed to see a number of familiar plants and couple of new ones on my way to Woodchuck Lake. [http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/6/16]

The next morning, I slept in and didn't leave Woodchuck Lake until 10am. I headed north cross country and into the Upper and Lower Box Watershed. An hour later, I found L. leeana, the first time it's been observed in this watershed. I walked out on a point, looked down at Upper Box, looked over to the ridge separating it from Old Pipe Lake and had an immediate change in plans. The descent to Upper Box looked difficult and I figured it would be a very long day to go around the ridge to the lake, much less to hike over to Lower Box and back before that. I left the trip to Lower Box for another day and decided to head cross country east of Woodchuck Lake where I would hopefully find more L. leeana. I wasn't disappointed. I found plenty of L. leeana on my way to the trail and more on my way to Crown Pass. Finding the trail down Nichols Canyon to Old Pipe Lake was a different matter. I would guess it has been many years, probably over a decade, since the trail has been maintained and it showed few signs of use. Most blazes on trees had grown shut. A duck here and there showed where someone thought the trail might be. It was basically cross country down a steep canyon toward Old Pipe Lake. I found plenty of L. leeana, first observations in the Meadow Brook Watershed. Old Pipe Lake looked seldom visited and considering lack of trail, that is completely understandable, but it was not a disappointing day. [http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/6/17]

On day three, I was hopeful I might find some L. leeana north of Old Pipe Lake, but the area was dominated by pinemat manzanita and I couldn't find any. I headed up Nichols Canyon and parts of the old trail seemed a little easier to find than the day before. At Crown Pass, I decided to climb over the ridge instead of taking the trail I had used the day before. It turned out I followed trail anyway. The old, somewhat abandoned, but well ducked trail joins the new trail not too far from a small pond south of the main trail, and there I enjoyed lunch. After lunch I headed down one of the ridges that separates Woodchuck Lake from Marsh and Chimney Lakes. I saw plenty of L. leeana on the ridge and a number of other sightings, including a beautiful and unusual white Sierra shooting star, before making camp at Chimney Lake. [http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/6/18]

I convinced myself that final days are useful for returning to the trailhead and not meant for lots of observations. On day four, I was surprised at how much I found on the way back. I discoverd a new locality for pine fritillary south of the location where I made observations in 2012 and 2013 and I saw a few species new to me, also. [http://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/sekihiker/2015/6/19]

In all, it was a great trip with 141 observations, a couple of new watersheds visited, and a few more cross country transects completed.

Posted on July 06, 2015 06:57 AM by sekihiker sekihiker | 0 comments | Leave a comment
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