If you follow the posts here on a regular basis, you have probably picked up on the fact that many things up on the summit follow a tight schedule and happen for a limited amount of time. This week is probably the best example of this phenomenon because it is the week that the Kellog’s Lewisia is in bloom. The Lewisia is a very rare plant that grows only in the high Sierras and we are lucky enough to have a location on the summit that presents just the right conditions for it to grow. Those conditions turn out to be in dry granitic soil that is very inhospitable to other plants, so you will almost always find them growing alone. It usually blooms in early July, but this year it is a couple of weeks late, probably due to our late winter.
The best place to see these rare gems is out along Kidd Lakes Rd where Palisade Creek crosses the road. This area has the perfect granitic soil eroded by the creek for the Lewisia to thrive (if that’s the right word for it). There is actually a marker on very tall granite boulder (an excellent example of one of the many glacial erratics that litter this area) out on the road. Drive down Pahatsi Rd in Serene Lakes and continue down the unpaved Kidd Lakes Rd for about 1.5 miles until you hit the open rocky area around the creek. Look for the marker boulder on the left side of the road just after the creek. There is an exhibit sign on the boulder with information about the Lewisia. There is a very nice bed of Lewisia about 5o yards east of the boulder. It is a little tricky to spot the plants at first because they just grow right up out of the most uninviting granitic ground. Look for small white patches that are the flowers from each plant. Make sure you get down on your hands and knees and stick your nose down into a flower to smell the very subtle fragrance of these pretty pinkish white flowers. If you walk down along the creek, you will see more of these flowers as well Penstemon, Asters, and even an occasional Mariposa Lily. It is really a beautiful area to explore at this time of the year.
For you wildflower lovers who missed the Camas Lilies out at Sagehen Creek last month, they are currently blooming out on Van Norden Meadow up here on the summit. The late snow on the meadow has resulted in a late appearance by the blue beauties. If you want to see them you need to get out there this week because they probably won’t last for more than the next week to 10 days. Just drive out Lake Van Norden Rd off of Soda Springs Rd to the old sheep pens. Walk out the dirt road into the meadow for about 100 yards and then turn left and walk out along the tree line for a 1/4 mile and you’ll see the blue lilies. Just a warning, there is a small creek to cross and it is very wet out by the lilies, so wear shoes you don’t mind getting mucky. There are also some patches of Shooting stars out further in the meadow although they are definitely past their prime and may not be worth the muddy walk out to them by now.