Sunday, March 15, 2015

Table Mountain, Part 2

 Due to multiple commitments, I cannot tell the whole story of yesterday's Table Mountain expedition in one post.  The Table Mountain photos and accompanying short texts will be spread over the next couple of days.  In today's first offering, I've got photos from the beginning, the middle, and the end of our day.  Above is Douglas's Violet, found near the Bitterroot as soon as we got out of the truck.  This is one of many yellow species of violets found in the Sierra.  The leaves are lacy, and almost fern-like, different from most other violets, and the backsides of the top petals are a dramatic purplish brown.  You can see fronts and backs of petals in the above photo, but there is only a glimpse of the leaves emerging fro the carpet of grass.
 Here's another view of a blooming Bitterroot. My favorite spot for finding the Bitterroot is the vicinity of the public parking lot, although we found a few in small patches of similar habitat in many places on the mountain.
 As we walked away from the parking lot, the iconic vast fields of yellow and blue were striking, as always.  The most prevalent yellow flower (above) is known as Goldfields.  In later posts I'll show close-ups of intermingled Goldfields and Lupine punctuated by the pinkish Owl Clover.
 One of our main objectives was to visit Phantom Falls, or I should say the most spectacular of the several waterfalls sometimes called Phantom Falls.  I hadn't bee there for three years, so I had forgotten the landmarks along the way.  When we got to the above waterfall, I thought we had arrived at Phantom Falls.  Greg got this photo with his cell phone.  Something didn't look right to me.  Yes, there was a cave behind the fall, and the fall itself as a nearly straight-line drop of 100 feet or so.  However, below the falls, instead of a wide canyon full of large blocks of basalt, there was narrower canyon full of fairly mature trees.  Was sunstroke affecting my memory, or were we at a different fall.  Further investigation has confirmed the letter.  I don't know the name of the above fall, nor can I find it on the map I have, but it's not the Phantom Falls we were looking for.  It was beautiful, though, as were the many different wildflowers on the slopes embracing its canyon.
 By the time we came across Tidy Tips, above, my memory card was full, so Greg again backed me up with his cell phone camera.  Tidy Tips are common in the fields below Table Mountain, but I've never seen large patches of them on the mountain.  I've begun to see them occasionally on the roadsides through Sierra Valley.
 I call the above photo "The Pelvis, not Elvis."  Out in the open cattle grazing land on the mountain we came across several Vulture's Dining Rooms, or bone yards.  Picked clean by vultures and ants, and bleached by the sun, we found the bones beautiful. Not surprised that desert-dwelling artists like Georgia O'Keefe found them and wildflowers to be equally fascinating subjects.
I'm tossing in a close-up of Manzanita that was blooming near the Greenville Y.  We saw lots of blooming Manzanita in the canyon on the way down to Table Mountain, but made no stops.  Compare this the photo of Silk Tassel Bush, taken in the same area and posted a couple of days ago.  While the flowers look quite different, when these bushes are not flowering, they look quite a bit alike to the casual wildflower buff.
During my next break from school work, I'll post the promised information about Spring Whitlow Grass.

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