Tuesday, March 25, 2014

habitat ~ 03/25/14 ~ Lewis Creek Trail in the Sierra National Forest

a National Recreation Trail in the Sierra National Forest
(more information here and here)

Without intending to be hip, we "unplugged" for Spring Break up at Bass Lake.  No phone, no internet, no tv.  I got recommendations in advance from fellow bloggers for Hite Cove Trail (more info) and Devils Peak, both in the Sierra National Forest... I think.  Good luck trying to find either one on a road map.  With the infinitely more famous neighbor Yosemite, I discovered information for places outside of the National Park boundaries to be thin on the ground.

So, we did the next best thing, we drove around until something looked interesting.  It's our way of quickly exploring a new-to-us area.  See that trail sign?  Yep, that's all the notice you'll get from Hwy 41 as it quickly heads to Yosemite.  Andy chose to stop here, because there were a couple other cars already parked and it was in the middle of the week during a season when most everything in the area is shut down until at least mid-April.  Hence, it must be a good stop, right?  

Yes, most definitely, yes.  I loved it!  Although, I think our timing was a little early to catch its full spring glory.  It's a casual hike along what I assume is Lewis Creek, under a startling variety of very tall trees, including the prettily-puzzled ponderosa pine.  There are a couple scenic waterfalls, too.  If it were a big water year, I'm sure the creek would be deafening.  One thing to note, for the two of us who are used to the grippier Monterey pine needles, the ponderosa pine needles are extremely slippery to walk on.  Mr. Sure-Footed Trail Runner slipped very hard on the needles over granite.  His elbow is going to hurt for a long time.  Other than that, we enjoyed our little hike very much, and I hope to return someday.

For future reference, I should tip my hand in the water of the tributary (2nd photo above), beacuse I read mention of possible warm springs here.  Say, does anyone know, at what point does a creek become classified as a river?

turkey tail ~ 03/25/14 ~ Lewis Creek

turkey tail
Trametes versicolor

Look at the pores!  From the top, it looks very similar to false turkey tail with both having strips of fuzz, but the "true" turkey tail is more velvety in texture, like fluffy corduroy upholstery.  For me, these lack the characteristic orange tinge of false turkey tail.  Plus, it has a thicker 'shroom appearance at the edges, especially when they're fresh.  This batch was growing on a fallen incense-cedar, which is reportedly rare for this hardwood saprobe.

Again, I normally don't go around pulling fungi off wood to take pictures of the underside, but this comparison endeavor was for Cindy @ Dipper Ranch.  I have no idea if these comparisons can be made beyond my local CA range.

Pacific bleeding heart ~ 03/25/14 ~ Lewis Creek

Papaveraceae (formerly Fumariaceae)

I really like bleeding hearts and rarely get to see them out in the wild closer to home. These don't quite look like the pale pink wider ones that I posted from Washington last year, but that may be because these blooms are young.  Maybe they'll lighten in color as they age?  Reported bloom times are June-July on Calflora and May-July on Yosemite Hikes.  Another early bloomer?

snow plant ~ 03/25/14 ~ Lewis Creek

posted 04/03/14 - Hey, here's something different!  I vaguely remember always seeing these coming up out of the snow back when I used to ski twenty years ago.  They made me think of Snow White's red lips.  The reported bloom time is May - July, even from local Yosemite Hikes site.  Hmm?  I guess these are early? Maybe plant people generally aren't out looking for blooms when there's enough snow on the ground for skiing?  In the week since I took these pictures, it snowed quite a bit in the area.  These were the only ones I found next to a slow moving side creek.  The middle picture is a snow plant seed stalk that was laying nearby.  I also spotted plenty of upright seed stalks, but I was mistaken and they ended up being the similarly odd-looking pine drops (Pterospora andromedea).  I keep wanting to call these snow drops, but that's not correct.  Snow plant, snow plant.  For more information on this flaming red parasitic plant, the USDA Forest Service and Botanical Society of America have good pages.