Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Late Blooming Wildflowers in Eastern Yosemite



Accents of color along Tioga Pass Drive 


On August 1, 2017 I did a return visit to Tioga Pass in hopes of finding more wildflowers in bloom since my July 23rd. photo-adventure. Tioga Pass serves as the eastern entry to Yosemite National Park and climbs to 9,943 ft./ (3,031 m) elevation. 


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With warming temperatures, I noticed many of the wildflowers from my previous visit were starting to bolt.  However, driving up to higher elevations and even more wildflowers like this Showy Milkweed were in full bloom.   The red flowers are Scarlet Penstemon Penstemon murrayanus  which thrive in some of the worst climate areas of the U.S.-- on rocky, gravelly slopes, at from 3000 to 10000’ elevations. 


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A dash of blue and a healthy bunch of Brewer’s Lupine caught my eye. This flower, the Lupinus breweri,  is native to California’s mountainous areas.  


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Beautiful stands of lilac, the Fireweed or great willow herb, Chamaenerion angustifolium,  accented the gravely slopes.  This wildflower is named for its ability to act as a coloniser on burnt sites after forest fires.  

   
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The Longleaf phlox, Phlox longifolia, was growing profusely around the shady areas about mid way on the Tioga Pass road.  


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A sudden rain storm gave me a break for lunch while I stopped by an area dense with Jeffery Pines. Delicate white flowers of Mariposa Lily, Calochortus, accented the forest floor. 


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Almost hidden from sight, deep lavender flowers of Broadleaf Lupine Lupinus latifolius drew me in for a closer look and a click of the shutter.


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Arriving up higher, I came to a meadow where a number of wildflowers were thriving in the moist soil.

 Showy pink flowers accenting green foliage, Meadow Penstemon, Penstemon rydbergii,  can be found in damp, grassy meadows of Yosemite National Park.  




A small cluster of deep blue Nuttall’s larkspur, Delphinium nuttallianum, or two lobed larkspur were so close to the ground, they might have gone unnoticed.  


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One of the most unusual wildflowers are the Pussytoes, Antennaria,  which can reach up to 20” tall.  They are so named due to their similarity to kitten’s toes.   


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A bunch of Yellow Monkey Flowers, Erythranthe guttata, was spread out near the road side.  This flower gets it
is name from appearing like a monkey’s smiling face during part of its growth cycle. 


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Time was moving on and the shadows were growing long.  The breeze was blowing harder, so it was time to head back down Tioga Pass.


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Just as I was leveling out from my drive down, a huge cluster of pink flowers caught my eye across the road.  After turning around and carefully crossing the busy road, I realized that these were Longleaf phlox!  This flower can grow from 4 to 20” and was at least 20” in height.  What an awesome find to end my day along the Tioga Pass. 


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With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

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