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Yo - take a gander! Lassen in June.


We have seen some breathtaking country here in Lassen Volcanic Nat'l Park and, on a miniature scale, some amazing sights.  The high country meadows, rich with wildflowers and lush with new greenery, and possibly even a small pond, are a sight to behold.  Lupines, Penstamons and other flowers create masses of vibrant color.  One of the last walks we took at Lassen was the Lily Pond Nature Trail, an easy one-mile loop.  We strolled along Reflection Lake, thru forest edges, and a portion of the Chaos Jumbles rock avalanche, to the Lily Pond.  Much of Lassen Park is covered with a mixed conifer forest -- red and white firs, Douglas fir, Incense cedar, massive reddish-barked Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines, Sugar and Lodgepole pines, and Mountain hemlock to name a few.  My favorite was the white fir.

Spring comes late to the high country and mosquito larva must have just hatched and were hungry!  Geez, every time we stopped in Lassen (except Manzanita Lake, go figure), especially if we were near water, we were swarmed (and nailed).  I seem to be a mosquito magnet, which is not something to aspire to!  (Tho, Jimmy seemed to catch his share.)  One of the advantages of autumn travel after kids return to school, aside from spectacular fall leaf color, is fewer bugs and no mosquitoes. 

Alpine Columbine, a teeny-tiny beauty.  This one is about two inches tall.

Imagine seeing nothing but gray rock and pine needles on the drier sides of the mtns, and suddenly your eye catches a bit of scarlet that looks soo out of place.  I saw these from the car, slammed on the brakes, backed up, stopped and got out to examine whatever the heck was this brilliant.  Up close, they reminded me of Indian pipe and I tho't they might be in the fungi family.  They're parasitic plants that derive sustenance and nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that attach to roots of trees.  Kinda like Indian pipe.  Nannie, you would've fallen over seeing them. They emerge from the sometimes still snow-covered ground in early spring or summer; maybe as late as July in higher elevations.  Snow had long gone where we spied several clumps of these bright red flowers.  Never saw the like before.

Close-up of Snow Plant (Sarcodes sanguinea).

Snow plant is native to western North America from Oregon thru the mountains of California and into Baja California.

This picture looks completely out of focus, but a Bufflehead mom and nine babies paddling in the shallows made the water all wiggly.  Except in this open area in the middle yellow-blossomed water (cow) lilies covered the pond surface.  (Nuphar polysepalum)  She knew we were there, but with nine kids in tow, she made no effort to move.  They were safe in the center of the pond.  The whole dang family was cute.

Other birds?  Male and female mountain bluebirds surprised us at 8000', ravens entertained us (always), song sparrows sang to us all over the Park, nuthatches played their tiny tin horn everywhere we went, and woodpeckers drummed, tho we were hard pressed to see what kind they might be in such a tight forest, and so on.  I'll just sum it up by saying.  We never had a dull moment.  We had a great time!

We finally pulled out of Lassen Tuesday morning, headed for the Alturas CA area.

3 comments:

  1. I would have slammed on the brakes too to see those snow plants! What an amazing color.

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  2. Oh my, the snow plant! You're right, I would have fallen over! Ain't nature just AMAZING!!!

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  3. I love the snow plants. I remember them from when I was a kid in Yosemite. Mosquitos? ugh. We have them here as well in Rocky Point. Something about that beautiful mixed conifer forest and nice moist understory. Sigh. One of the reasons we really loved going to the desert on this last trip, there were NO bugs, well, except for Jeremy's stink bug, but nothing flying around. Can't wait to see where you go next.

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