Eastern Mojave Vegetation Field Notes (Continued)  
 

Tom Schweich  

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Literature Cited
 When I first read the field notes of Annie Alexander and Louise Kellogg, I was fascinated by the descriptions they wrote about the places they went and the plants and animals they found there. By publishing my field notes on the Internet I hope to follow a little bit in their tradition.
 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

 

Other articles: Winkler's Cabin Road 30010
Full Size ImageLooking west on the road to Winkler's Cabin, June 1, 2010  

Looking west on the road to Winkler's Cabin.

Other articles: Winkler's Cabin Road 29990
Full Size ImageLooking east on the road to Winkler's Cabin, June 1, 2010  

Looking east on the road to Winkler's Cabin.

Other articles: Lobo Point Road at the camp site
Full Size ImageLunch stop at Lobo Point.  

Lunch stop at Lobo Point, where the Merritt College Desert Studies class used to camp. Note the new No Camping sign.

Other articles: Lobo Point Road in the Valley of Lobo Point
Full Size ImageView of Lobo Point, 1 June 2010  

View of Lobo Point in 2010.

Full Size ImageCaterpiller munches on Mirabilis multiflora  
Caterpiller munches on Mirabilis multiflora

Locations: Lee Vining. Sagehen Meadow.
Full Size ImageSunset at Sagehen Meadow (7:53 PM)
Full Size ImageSunset at Sagehen Meadow (8:00 PM)  

10 June 2010

We drove to Sagehen Meadow Thursday, June 10th. My truck was packed to the roof, but Cheryl’s car still had some room for more stuff.

Stopped in Lee Vining to claim our Post Office Box, it’s PO Box 428, as there is no mail delivery out here. Then on to the Whoa Nelli Deli (Mobil Gas Station) for an early dinner. And then … out the 23 miles from Lee Vining to Sagehen Meadow.

Thursday night, we pretty much just emptied the cars, and then collapsed. Both of feel the altitude a little, getting short of breath while carrying stuff up the stairs. The only unpacking we did was the refrigerator food, and then went to bed. I set one of the Havahart traps in the downstairs bedroom, baiting it with peanut butter. These traps don’t kill the animal. Before I went to sleep I heard the trap close. I caught a little mouse. I tried to go back to sleep, but the little mouse started making a racket in the trap, so I staggered out of bed, opened the front door, and shooed the mouse out of the trap.

 

Friday June 11th

Friday morning, the low temperature was 31, with light snow showers. We got busy and were putting things away, cleaning up, etc.. We set the heating to 63, and it slowly warmed the house up to 63 from maybe 53. I started working on the picture window blinds, because they were sticking, and would not close all the way. As soon as I touched them, they fell down around my head. Inspection revealed they were installed with the wrong size brackets, and that most of the screws were loose. In the original packaging for the blinds I found the right size brackets, and then found some bigger screws in the garage. I got the trackway installed, and was just starting to install the slats when …

The electricity went out. Here, no electricity means no water, in addition to no refrigerator, no lights, etc. Actually the downstairs bathroom gets a little water by gravity feed. So we at least had a toilet that would flush, and a little trickle of water from the bathroom faucet.

I read the electrical system manuals. Then went out to the battery house where the inverter is, but couldn’t get the electricity back up. The inverter was on but not sending AC power to the house.

We placed a couple of calls, including one to the electrician, but no one responded. For telephone access we have to drive out 2 miles to California Highway 120 at Sagehen Summit. There we can get 2 to 4 bars, and pretty good voice quality. I’m thinking the service must come from a tower near June Lake, as we can see the hills around June Lake, though not the hills around Lee Vining.

We spent last night in the house, with no electricity. We built a fire in the fireplace which kept the house a toasty 56 degrees. Then I heated some chili beans over the propane tailgate barbeque we brought, and we had Frito pie (Fritos, Chili Beans, and Cheese) for dinner. As it was cold and dark, we went to bed. Set two traps this night, one downstairs and one upstairs in the kitchen. I think I fell asleep around 900, and when I woke up at 1000, there was a mouse in the trap. It, too, was making quite a racket, so I put it out in the hallway to wait for morning. Cheryl heard the trap in the kitchen shut about 1100.

In the morning we said, “Good Morning,” to the mice, and I took then out into the sagebrush to let them go.

 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

 

Locations: Mammoth Lakes. Sagehen Meadow.
Full Size ImageEarly morning view of Sagehen Meadow  

Drove out to the highway to check for messages, hearing none, I returned to the house for breakfast. For coffee, we heated water on the propane stove in the truck.

A good hot shower is beginning to sound really good about this time. Also our gel ice packs in the refrigerator are beginning to soften, so before long the food will start to spoil. So we’re thinking maybe take the really perishable food in the cooler, get ice, try some phone calls, and maybe crash in a motel for a shower and some Internet.

While arriving in Mammoth Lakes we finally heard from the electrician. He told me about a secret circuit breaker *inside* the inverter panel. He said it was a white button. So we turned around and went back to the house. While taking the panel off the inverter, I noticed a white button on *top* of the inverter. So I pushed it, and then restarted the inverter and it worked! The electricity came back on! Flowing water, flushing toilets, all the conveniences of modern living.

Other articles: Forest Road 1S196 near Sagehen Mdw
Full Size ImageHouse across the meadow  

I started a fire at about 500PM, when the house was 61 inside, and now, about an hour later the house temperature is up to 64, so the fireplace is pretty effective. I’m just going to have to get busy and start splitting wood, as we are burning through the available wood pretty fast.

So we are staying at the house tonight. The Internet is working. Tomorrow the electrician may still come out, as I have a few remaining questions. One thing we’ve learned is to check everything, and not assume that anything is working. For example, we’ve been getting water from the tank, and assuming that the solar panel operated pump down in the meadow is working. But maybe not, so I got up on the tank this afternoon and checked the tank to make sure it was full. It was!

 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

 

Locations: Sagehen Meadow.
Full Size ImageMountain Bluebird in the early morning.  

Our focus for Sunday was to finish moving in. Cheryl has been cleaning the kitchen. Even though the family was here and cleaned a lot, there was more to do. I took it upon myself to clean out the firewood storage niche next to the fireplace and then refill it with clean split wood from the garage. In the process I cleaned the garage a little also. In between, I putzed with Skype. I can place calls, and I can hear the person whom I called with great clarity. They on the other hand could only make out about 1/5 of my words. Not near good enough to rely on for day-to-day communications. As a kind of compromise, someone could call our Skype number and leave a voice mail message. I will get notified that there is a message, and can retrieve the message. Then, I suppose, if it’s urgent I can drive the 2½ miles down to Sagehen Summit, and place a cellular call from there. As my sister says, life was a lot simpler in the sod house and covered wagon days. If speed is not of the essence, then E-mail or Facebook is probably the best way to communicate for now because we can check our computers frequently.

The snow flurries have stopped and today is in the 70’s and sunny. The electricity has been reliable but, then again, we haven’t been running the heat pump. The electrician did not come today, which was OK because we don’t have any burning issues. I continue to read the manuals for the equipment. I found no manual for two pieces of equipment, so I downloaded them from the Internet. There are a few issues that need to be resolved. For example, the battery meter has not worked since the electricity went out, and I can’t get it restarted. The next step will be to go out to the battery house and check the fuses on the battery meter circuitry. And the pump controller down in the meadow shows a Fault condition, although it’s pumping water because the tank stays full.

Because it’s been sunny the solar collector for hot water has been working. This afternoon we took real showers in 80 degree water. 90 would have been better. Tomorrow will be sunny also, and maybe tomorrow we’ll have hot water. We’ve been a little bit inventive, by heating water in the tea kettle to make a pail of hot water for hair washing, and then mostly rinsing in the tepid water from the hot water tank.

This afternoon, we walked the perimeter of the property. Since the property is 40 acres square, it’s ¼ mile south from the house to the corner with the well and pump, ¼ mile to the east , ¼ mile north, and finally ¼ mile west back to the house. Found a little water in the swale. Saw a few things in bloom; enough to get me thinking it’s time to start collecting. I’ll only mention three. There is a little Phacelia, probably Phacelia bicolor, that is blooming in the warmer environment against the house. There is an Arabis growing in the heavy gravel of the road. It’s very distinctive because the flower stem bends way down when the fruit begins to develop. The term for that would be “reflexed.” I’m thinking it’s Arabis holboellii var. retrofracta, but I need to take my Jepson manual down there and sit in the dirt and check it again carefully. Cheryl saw me lying in the dirt, but didn’t see my camera, so thought something had happened to me. And then, there is a tiny Mimulus (Monkey flower) that is blooming on south-facing sandy slopes. It’s probably Mimulus nanus, but I need to go back and be sure. Along the roads at lower elevations the Mimulus nanus var. mephiticus (Skunky Monkey Flower) is starting to bloom, making a kind of purple carpet beside the road.

Tonight I will set the traps again. Last night we caught two mice, one in each trap. This morning I took them 100 yards out into the sagebrush and let them go. I’m hoping they’ll stay out there, and not make their way back to the house. We use peanut butter to bait the traps. Also today, I chased an animal out of the garage. It was larger than a mouse, but I didn’t get a good look at it. Following it’s path, I found a small hole that gives animals access to the garage. So I need to plug that one tomorrow.

Finally, we have a family of Mountain Bluebirds nesting under the eaves of the house. Tonight, while we were eating dinner, the proud father, and hard worker I might add, posed for us on the railing of the deck. I have attached a link to a recording of the song of the Mountain Bluebird: http://www.all-birds.com/Sound/mountainbluebird.wav

 

Monday, June 14th

Monday was our big shopping day in Mammoth Lakes. We hit Rite-Aid, the Do-It Center, Sierra Sundance Whole Foods, and the Vons. We also went to the Great Outdoor Clothing Store in the outlet mall to buy me a couple of shirts. I had very carefully grouped the shirts to bring in my closet, and then left them there in their very neat little group. So I bought two more shirts. In the future we can dispense with Rite-Aid and Sierra Sundance Whole Foods, and get most everything we need at the Do-It Center and Vons. We had a very nice lunch at the Good Life Café, open for breakfast and lunch. I had the crispy chicken sandwich with the side salad, and Cheryl had the vegetarian quiche with the potato leek soup. All very fresh and delicious. We were, however, exhausted after shopping five stores capped by a 1 1/4-hour shopping experience at the Vons. And then … we had to follow all those 50 mph slowpoke rubberneckin’ tourists out highway 120 to our turnoff at Sagehen Summit.

Well, that better be all for now. It starts getting light at 4:15 AM, sun up at 5:30 am, so if you want 8 hours of sleep, you gotta get to bed when it gets dark.

 

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Botanizing Your Front Yard.

It’s pretty amazing to be able to walk your front door and do some serious botanizing in your front yard. This afternoon I walked though the meadow, and down the swale, looking for the little monkey flower we saw Sunday. I found it easily on the south-facing slopes among the sagebrush.

It’s called Mimulus nanus var. nanus, or Dwarf Purple Monkey Flower. It’s about 1 1/2 inches tall. Most plants have only one flower, but some have two. One of the ways you identify this little plant is by the two gold stripes in the throat of the flower that are surrounded by deeper magenta.

This is one of the few collections of this variety in the Mono Lake basin. Most of the collections are of Mimulus nanus var. mephiticus or the Skunky Monkey Flower, that can seen lining the roads and coloring the sand flats magenta. Today, I also collected the Arabis holboellii var. pinetorum that I mentioned in a previous post, and a Ribes cereum var. cereum or Wax Currant. Another name for this plant might be a Gooseberry.

This morning I also buried a pipe in the ground to support one of those umbrella clotheslines, as it is getting to be time to wash clothes. Cheryl did a couple of loads of clothes, but hung them on a short line that is behind the battery house, as today’s wind was stirring up some dust around the umbrella clothesline. Since I disturbed the soil putting in the pipe, the fine dust is exposed to the wind. I imagine after a few days, the dust will be blown away, and we can use the umbrella clothesline.

Last night we only caught one mouse. I took it a different way out into the sagebrush, spinning the trap to make the mouse dizzy as suggested by Steve. Maybe it will be totally confused and go the other direction away from the house. If that doesn’t work, I’m gonna try doing the Hokey-Pokey before letting the mice out of the traps. The second trap was sprung, but it had no mouse. Perhaps, I didn’t set it right and the mouse got away. Or maybe it just closed of its own volition. They have quite a hair trigger on them.

There are still other mice in the house. Today we found mouse poop on the counter top where Cheryl had cleaned yesterday. We also pulled the refrigerator out and cleaned up the poop back there. I was thinking we might run into a nest somewhere, like behind the refrigerator, but so far we haven’t found one. We’re also following Hanta virus precautions, of not sweeping mouse poop, but wetting it with a mild Clorox solution, and then wiping it up with a paper towel. Is it really necessary to take such precautions? I don’t know.

Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 at Sagehen Mdw
Full Size ImageArabis holboellii var. pinetorum, Collection No. 589  

589  Arabis holboellii Hornem. var. pinetorium(Tidestr.) Rollins. (=Boechera pinetorum (Tidestr.) Windham & Al-Shehbaz. ) Holboell's Rockcress.

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County, California. In the heavy gravel of the access road to the Robert Lane house, adjacent to sagebrush above the meadow. 37.8727°N, 118.8583°W. WGS 1984. Basal leaves obovate; pedicels smoothly arched in fruit, not reflexed; fruit curved, not straight.

Basal leaves obovate; pedicels smoothly arched in fruit, not reflexed; fruit curved, not straight. In the heavy gravel of the access road to the Robert Lane house, adjacent to sagebrush above Sagehen Meadow.


Full Size ImageHabitat of Mimulus nanus and Arabis holboellii  
This photo shows the habitat of Mimulus nanus var. nanus and Arabis hoboellii var. pinetorum.

Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 at Sagehen Mdw
Full Size ImageDiplacus nanus, Collection No. 590  

590  Mimulus nanus Hook. & Arn. var. mephiticus (Greene) D. M. Thomps. (=Diplacus mephiticus (Greene) G.L. Nesom.) Skunky Monkey Flower.

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County, California. 37.8708°N, 118.8548°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 2535 m. Possibly puberulent, but definitely not hairy; throat floor generally with 2 gold stripes surrounded by deeper magenta. On south-facing slopes in granitic soil, among sagebrush, above the swale. Somewhat ambiguous as to var. mephiticus vs. var. nanus.

Possibly puberulent, but definitely not hairy; throat floor generally with 2 gold stripes surrounded by deeper magenta.

  591  Arabis holboellii Hornem. var. pinetorium (Tidestr.) Rollins. (=Boechera pinetorum (Tidestr.) Windham & Al-Shehbaz.) Holboell's Rockcress.

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County, California. Lower part of the meadow, above swale. 37.8708°N, 118.8548°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2535 m. Among sagebrush. Lower part of the meadow, above swale.

Locations: Sagehen Meadow.
Full Size ImageThe swale that drains Sagehen Meadow.  

Looking upstream at the swale that drains Sagehen Meadow. Note the water in the lower left.

Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 at Sagehen Mdw
Full Size ImageRibes cereum var. cereum, Collection No. 592
Full Size ImageRibes cereum var. cereum, Collection No. 592  

592  Ribes cereum Douglas var. cereum. Wax Currant.

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County, California. Between the sagebrush and the swale draining the meadow in the lower, eastern part. 37.8708°N, 118.8554°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2535 m. Bract tip wide with teeth, style hairy.

 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So Wednesday, at a fine Matt & Becci lunch of Ritz crackers, Laughing Cow garlic and herb cheese, a little deli ham, carrots, humus, and Pelegrino Limonata soda, I spy a large green bush out the picture window. Nestled in among the Jeffrey pines, the sun brought it out of the background as a very bright green. So I says to my wife …

I says, “Wife, I reckon I’ll mosey over there and botanize yonder bright green bush.”

I did so, and determined that it was a large version of the Gooseberry or Wax Current (Ribes cereum var. cereum) that I had previously found in smaller versions around the meadow. While there I took this photo looking back at the house.

Coming back I also got down on my belly and photographed this little guy. It’s a small version of Phacelia bicolor, and it is found in the warmer areas on the south side of the house. The largest plants are right up against the battery house. Note the bug down below the photo.

We’re making some progress in reducing the mouse population in the house. Last night we caught no mice. The trap in the kitchen was closed, but had no mouse. So I don’t know if I set it incorrectly and a mouse escaped, or if just vibration in the house caused the trap to close. Regardless the trap downstairs was not sprung. So maybe we’re making progress in reducing the mouse population in the house.

We’re almost finished in moving in and cleaning the house. Upstairs and downstairs are cleaned more. The downstairs bed is now on the frame and off the wooden blocks. So we’re almost ready for company and to show the house to prospective buyers.

I have also been working a little in the garage. I moved a bookcase slated for the Salvation Army against the garage wall and have been organizing the tools, screws, nails, etc., in the old bookcase. There is also a pile of waste wood in front of the house. About a third of that has been cleared of nails, and then sawn in fireplace-size pieces. We really don’t have hot water for bathing, though. It gets warm, maybe 80°. So we heat some water in the tea kettle, and use it to make a dish pan of hot water for most of the washing. I can rinse off in the house’s hot water, but I wouldn’t want to take complete shower in it.

We used the stove to cook pancakes, and I found myself missing KPFA. Usually I make pancakes on Sunday mornings while listening to Mary Berg’s Sleepers Awake! show on KPFA. This show always ends with the duet from Bach’s Cantata No. 78, which has become known as the “Pancake Song” in our house. For dinner tonight, Cheryl is baking a meat loaf and potatoes in the oven. We haven’t been using the heat pump to heat the house, actually haven’t needed it, so we have plenty of electricity to operate the electric stove.


Full Size ImageCaught! Mouse in Havahart trap.  
Little mouse in a Havahart trap downstairs.

Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 near Sagehen Mdw

Locations: Sagehen Meadow.
Full Size ImageHabitat of Ribes cereum var. cereum near Sagehen Meadow.  

593  Ribes cereum Douglas var. cereum. Wax Currant.

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County, California. Northwest side of the meadow. 37.8713°N, 118.86°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2540 m. Large plant, lf hairs few, glandular, style hairs present. In mixed sagebrush and Jeffrey pine.

Large plant, lf hairs few, glandular, style hairs present. Northwest side of the Sagehen Meadow. In mixed sagebrush and Jeffrey pine. At first I thought this might be a different species than collection no. 592. However the leaf hairs are few, and style hairs are present, so it is the same species.

Full Size Image
Ribes cereum var. cereum, Collection No. 593
Full Size Image
The house in Sagehen Meadow as seen from the location of my Collection No. 593.

Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 at Sagehen Mdw
Full Size ImageThe happy botanist checks his determination of Phacelia bicolor.
Full Size ImagePhacelia bicolor, Collection No. 594  

594  Phacelia bicolor Torr. ex S. Watson var. bicolor.

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County, California. Northwest side of the meadow. 37.8713°N, 118.86°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2540 m. Large plant, lf hairs few, glandular, style hairs present. In mixed sagebrush and Jeffrey pine. Growing in disturbed area, plants of many different sizes.

Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 at Sagehen Mdw
Full Size ImageRumex paucifolius, Collection No. 595.  

595  Rumex paucifolius S. Watson. Alpine Sheep Sorrel.

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County, California. North side of the meadow. 37.8725°N, 118.8587°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 2542 m. Among sagebrush. North side of the meadow.

Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 at Sagehen Mdw Glossary dioecious monoecious
Full Size ImageColl. No. 596, Carex douglasii
Full Size ImageColl. No. 596, Carex douglasii  

596  Carex douglasii Boott. Douglas Sedge.

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County, California. North side of meadow. 37.8728°N, 118.8579°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2536 m. Found sparingly among sagebrush and forming a "turf" in open areas of granitic and volcanic sands.

5 October 2011: Of seven plants collected, five plants have only staminate florets. The other two plants have staminate and pistillate florets in lower spikelets of the infloresence. Upon dissection, the perigynia was not well developed, so I could not tell whether it would be beaked. In retrospect, these collections were probably made too early in the plants phenology. Here are some characters I arrived at: Plant long-rhizomed, rhizomes 1.5 mm dia., bisexual or pistillate; Leaf blade inrolled; Infloresence generally 2.5 cm, 1.3 cm wide; Spikelets > 1 per infl, lowest spikelet sheath < 4 mm (measured 2 mm), 1 per node, generally < 1.5 cm (measured 0.7-0.9 cm); Perigynia without veins, faces glabrous, not filled with pithy tissue, appressed to ascending; Style 3 mm; Stigmas 2, 4 mm, wavy.

 

Thursday, June 17th

Finally, today I took a little botanizing trip over the hill to Big Sand Flat. I was looking for the little Monkeyflower (Mimulus nanus var. nanus) that I wrote about last time. It seems there are no collections of it from the Mono Lake basin, even though I found it a half mile away. Stopping in the west end of Big Sand Flat, I hiked north looking for it. Hiked north because so far I have only found it on south-facing slopes. There it was, on upper slopes above the sand flat, in open places among the sage brush. Returned to about the mid point of the flat, and took a similar walk. Just as I got to the top of the slope on the north side of the sand flat, I found the species again, among the Jeffrey pines, but on bare soil in open places. All three places I’ve found the plant have been at the tops of slopes, where the shape of the slope is convex. I’ve not found the plant at the bottom of a slope where the shape of the slope is concave. I think maybe I’m finding this variety, though, because I’m looking for it. It’s very small, often only an inch high, and it blooms early in the season. It’s also probably overshadowed by a cousin of sorts, the Skunky Monkey Flower (Mimulus nanus var. mephiticus). That variety puts on great shows of magenta along the roadsides and in the sand flats. And so maybe it overshadows it’s diminuitive cousin who is found only on convex slopes.
   

Other articles: California Highway 120 near Big Sand Flat  

598  Calyptridium umbellatum (Torr.) Greene.

Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. West end of flat, on floor and adjacent slopes. 37.8667°N, 118.9052°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2385 m. Infloresence terminal, not axial.

Other articles: California Highway 120 near Big Sand Flat
Full Size ImageDiplacus nanus, Collection No. 599
Full Size ImageHabitat of Diplacus nanus near Big Sand Flat.  

599  Mimulus nanus Hook. & Arn. var. nanus.

Diplacus mephiticus (Greene) G.L. Nesom. Skunky Monkey Flower.

Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. Open slopes above the west end of flat. 37.8672°N, 118.906°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 2401 m. Small specimens, growing among sagebrush. Somewhat ambiguous as to var. mephiticus vs. var. nanus.

Other articles: Forest Road 1S19B (1S181) at swale  

600  Mimulus nanus Hook. & Arn. var. nanus.

Diplacus mephiticus (Greene) G.L. Nesom. Skunky Monkey Flower.

Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. Above the flat on the north side, bare soil in open areas with Jeffrey pine and sagebrush. 37.8769°N, 118.9021°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2415 m. Somewhat ambiguous as to var. mephiticus vs. var. nanus.

Other articles: Forest Road 1S19B (1S181) near sand dunes
Full Size ImageSand dunes on the edge of Big Sand Flat.  

Sand dunes on the edge of Big Sand Flat.
 

Friday, June 18, 2010

 

Locations: Sagehen Meadow.
Full Size ImageEarly morning at Sagehen Meadow  

We were poised to make our Mono Lake social debut at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua.

I had no idea what a Chautauqua was. Turns out a Chautauqua is an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is "the most American thing in America." Thank you, Wikipedia.

The Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua started for us with the dinner Friday night at the Lee Vining Community Center. Three entries, a beef, a stuffed chicken breast, and some special polenta for the vegetarians. We sat along common tables and chatted with our table-mates about the sessions we were attending.

 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

 

Other articles: Forest Road 01N106A at arborglyph

Locations: Bohler Canyon.
Full Size ImageArborglyph beside Bohler Creek.  

Saturday morning we went on a field trip up Bohler Canyon just south of Lee Vining. This was billed as a potpourri. Lots of birding. Of course I’m doing pretty good just to get Class = Aves, much less the crested free-range bugcatcher. We did find this example of an arborglyph, something that at one time would have been grafitti on trees, and is now the subject of anthropological investigation. See, for example, the June 7th issue of the High Country News.

Locations: Bohler Canyon.
Full Size ImageView east from Bohler Canyon  

View from Bohler Canyon.

Other articles: Forest Road 01N106A up the canyon

Locations: Bohler Canyon.
Full Size ImageHabitat of Ephedra viridis in Bohler Canyon  

Habitat of Ephedra viridis in Bohler Canyon.

Other articles: Poole Power Plant Road in canyon
Full Size ImageView across the canyon.
Full Size ImageView across the canyon.  

In the afternoon we took a Field Notebook and Illustration workshop. Had a delightful time sitting in a meadow in Lee Vining Canyon, trying to follow our leaders’ instructions on how to do “deep description” or trace our hands doing blind tracing, i.e., tracing without looking at the paper.
  We hurried home and went to bed early, because our Sunday morning field trip started at 700 AM.

Locations: Mono Dunes.
Full Size ImageJohn Harris shows off a kangeroo mouse  

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This trip, aptly named the Mono Dunes Critter Caper, amounted to seeing what was caught in the traps set out the night before by our leader.

The leader was John Harris, from Mills College, who did some undergraduate work in the Mono Dunes, and knew the area and animals well. We caught mostly deer mice, a pinyon mouse or two, several kangaroo mice, and one least chipmunk. No kangaroo rats. The kangaroo mice were really interesting, they have huge heads because of the auditory bulbs on their skulls. Apparently these large bulbs enable them to hear very low frequency sounds, such as those made by the wings of owls.

  We had some time between the field trip and the picnic, so drove up Bridgeport Canyon, where I hoped to relocate a collection by Jack and Jim Reveal (Mimulus nanus var. nanus, UC1338583). This is apparently the only collection of that variety from the Mono Lake basin. Typically, collections of Mimulus nanus in the Mono Lake basin are the variety mephiticus, of Skunky Monkey Flower, especially those collections made in Big Sand Flat, close to where we are living. But here on the south side of the basin, and on the margins of Big Sand Flat, I have been collecting something that looks very much more like the variety nanus that mephiticus. They are very tiny and not hairy at all, whereas variety mephiticus is 2-3 inches tall and hairy. There were also thousands of Calochortus leichtlinii in bloom on a small intra-canyon mesa. Anyway, I was able to find something like I was looking for on an open, sandy convex slope among the pinions above Coyote Springs.

Literature Cited:
- Thompson, David M., 2005.

Other articles: Coyote Springs Road in Bridgeport Cyn  

601  Mimulus nanus Hook. & Arn. var. nanus. Dwarf Purple Monkey Flower.

Bridgeport Canyon, Mono County, California. Approximately 50 meters west of the stated geographic coordinates and Bridgeport Canyon Road, 0.75 miles north of Goat Ranch Cutoff Road, and 2.70 miles north from California Highway 167. 38.1095°N, 119.0645°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2065 m. On upper convex slopes, sandy soil, openings among pinyons. This collection was an attempt to relocate Jack L. Reveal and James L. Reveal #104, 6/9/1962 (UC1338583).

Reading Thompson's key in TJM2,

 65. Lvs and calyces hairy, hairs >= 0.7 mm, corolla tube gen puberulent externally, corolla magenta, dark red-purple, or yellow ….. var. mephiticus

  •  65' Lvs and calyces minutely puberulent, hairs <= 0.3 mm; corolla tube glabrous externally, corolla magenta or lavender-purple
  •   66. Corolla tube-throat 5.5–12 mm; fr gen 3.5–6 mm ….. var. jepsonii
  •   66' Corolla tube-throat 11–19 mm; fr gen 6–12 mm ….. var. nanus

    If it's yellow, then mephiticus, never seen that in the Mono Lake basin.

    If the leaves and calyces are hairy, then it's mephiticus

    If it's magenta and not hairy, maybe puberulent, then it's nanus.

    I have the impression that a lot of what has been collected as var. mephiticus in the Mono Lake basin, would be redetermined as var. nanus when following the key in TJM2.

  • Other articles: Coyote Springs Road on sm. Mesa
    Full Size ImageMono Lake, Cowtrack Mountain, and the White Mountains from Bridgeport Canyon.
    Full Size ImageHabitat of Calochortus leichtlinii in Bridgeport Canyon.  

    602  Calochortus leichtlinii Hook. f. Smokey Mariposa.

    Coyote Spring, Mono County, California. Slopes to southeast of Coyote Spring, 2 miles north of Goat Ranch Cutoff Road, and 4 miles north of California Highway 167. 38.12°N, 119.0851°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2174 m. Rocky slopes, south to southwest exposure.


    Full Size ImageConcert in Mono Lake County Park at conclusion of the 2010 Chautauqua.  
    But we were talking about the Chautauqua … We went to the picnic, paid our $20 and got two plates full of BBQ pork sandwich, homemade potato salad, coleslaw, a few potato chips, and a Hansen’s drink. They also had a traditional hamburger and a Portobello-burger. This went to support Lee Vining High School in whatever they do. The picnic also included live music by husband & wife (Kris Delmhorst & Jeffrey Foucault) who claimed never to have played in the daytime, in a park, so I think it was a more amazing experience for them than for us. Between sets was the official Mono Lake Bird Calling Contest, with a few real bird calls, and lots of hilarious hijinks and tomfoolery.

    This was a great experience, something that we’d plan to do again, and certainly recommend to others.

     

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Monday, we hung out here in Sagehen Meadow, washed clothes. We use the washing machine, but then hang clothes out on the umbrella clothes line that we brought from home.
      Also this day we determined to try our escape route. There have been fires on or near Sagehen Meadows Road. If, for some reason, we can't leave by that route, we wanted to know how to leave (with our vehicles). One route would have us follow Sagehen Meadows Road to Dexter Canyon road, which after some 40 miles of driving would leave us at CA Highway 120 in Adobe Valley. Alternatively it looks like there is a little road we could take that would leave us on CA Highway 120 at Gaspipe Spring. To get there, we would have to go across the meadow on Sagehen Meadows Road, then turn east on Forest Road 1S196. This little track follows the swale downhill until to comes to Forest Road 1S191.

    Literature Cited:
    - Hammond, William C, Geoffrey Blewitt, Zhenhong Li, Hans-Peter Plag, and Corné Kreemer, 2012.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S191 near GPS stn
    Full Size ImageEarthscope GPS station near Sagehen Meadow.  

    Forest Road 1S191 crosses the swale and then climbs the hill.

    At the top of the hill is an Earthscope GPS station. I think this was Station P641.

    Then the road descends easily to Gaspipe Spring.

     

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Tuesday June 22 Tuesday, I did some computer work, and then botanized for a few hours in Big Sand Flat.

    I collected a little caryophyllaceous thing where Dry Creek enters Big Sand Flat. I’ve worked through the key 3-4 times and come out at Eremogene kingii var. glabrescens (King’s Sandwort), but I’m just not convinced. Then I went over to the other side of the flat where there was an unopened Scroph a few days earlier. Today there were some flowers open, and I keyed it straight out to Penstemon humilis var. humilis, something last collected in Mono County in 1945 near Bodie.

    Hmmmm.

    Continued on the road a little more and a little more, until it dead-ended on a small hilltop. This hill had a fine view of Mono Lake to the northwest, and Sagehen Peak to the south. Here I collected Gaytophytum diffusum var. parvifolium, Mentzelia albicaulis, Phacelia bicolor, and two Cryptantha.

      Stopped at the spring where Dry Creek enters Big Sand Flat.

    Other articles: F. R. 01S04A 10300 Field Notes Coll. No. 636, 5 Jul 2010.
    Full Size ImageHabitat of Stellaria longipes near Dry Creek.
    Full Size ImageStellaria longipes at Dry Creek.  

    603  Stellaria longipes Goldie ssp. longipes Longstalk Starwort.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. In a damp area beside Dry Creek where it enters Big Sand Flat. 37.8819°N, 118.8852°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 2390 m. Also collected at Sagehen Meadow.

    See also Collection # 636 in Sagehen Meadow.

      Returned to CA Hwy 120, drove down to the exclosure, then turned northeast on a little Forest Road 1S19B (1S181). Here I saw two small Penstemons beside the road.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19B (1S181) at swale  

    604  Penstemon cinicola D. D. Keck. Ash Penstemon.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. On the northwest margin of Big Sand Flat, on forest road 01S19B, about 1 km north of forest road 01S19, two plants here, one more seen near the end of forest road 01S19B, also collected at Sagehen Meadow. 37.8766°N, 118.9006°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2396 m.

    This small dark blue penstemon keyed out directly to P. humilis when using the Jepson Desert Manual. That would be an interesting find and a southerly range extension since the nearest collection of P. humilis is near Bodie. However, there were a few collections of P. cinicola from Crooked Meadows. This taxon is not listed in the Jepson Desert Manual. Later, I would also collect P. cinicola at Sagehen Meadow.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19A at "Sand"
    Full Size ImageMono Lake from "Sand"
    Full Size ImageView southwest from the "Sand" marker.  

    Continued along 1S19B, then up a small draw to 1S19A, to the monument named "Sand."
    Full Size Image
    Marker at "Sand"
    Full Size Image
    View southeast toward Sagehen Peak.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19A at "Sand"
    Full Size ImageMale and female flowers of Grayia spinosa as collected at "Sand."  

    605  Grayia spinosa (Hook.) Moq. Spiny Hop Sage.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. About 1.5 km north of Big Sand Flat, on the hill with a monument named "Sand." 37.8969°N, 118.8914°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2480 m. Collected both male and female plants.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19A at "Sand"
    Full Size ImageUtah Service Berry as found on the knob named "Sand."
    Full Size ImageHabitat of Utah Service Berry near the knob named "Sand."  

    606  Amelanchier utahensis Koehne. Utah Service-Berry.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. About 1.5 km north of Big Sand Flat, on the hill with a monument named "Sand." 37.8971°N, 118.8916°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2488 m.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19A at "Sand"  

    607  Gilia leptomeria A. Gray.

    Aliciella leptomeria (A. Gray) J.M. Porter. Sand Gilia.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. About 1.5 km north of Big Sand Flat, on the hill with a monument named "Sand." 37.8969°N, 118.8914°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2488 m.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19A at "Sand"
    Full Size ImageGaytophytum diffusum var.parviflorum, Collection No.  

    608  Gaytophytum diffusum Torr. & A. Gray var. parviflorum H. Lewis & Szweyk. Spreading Groundsmoke.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. About 1.5 km north of Big Sand Flat, on the hill with a monument named "Sand." 37.8969°N, 118.8914°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2490 m.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19A at "Sand"  

    609  Phacelia bicolor Torr. Ex S. Watson ver. bicolor. Two-Color Phacelia.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. About 1.5 km north of Big Sand Flat, on the hill with a monument named "Sand." 37.8968°N, 118.8914°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2488 m.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19A at "Sand"  

    610  Mentzelia albicaulis Hook. White-Stem Blazing Star.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. About 1.5 km north of Big Sand Flat, on the hill with a monument named "Sand." 37.8969°N, 118.8913°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2486 m.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19A at "Sand"
    Full Size ImageColl No. 611, Plagiobothrys kingii var. harknessii  

    611  Cryptantha

    Plagiobothrys kingii (S. Watson) A. Gray var. harknessii (Greene) Jepson. Harkness' Popcornflower.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. About 1.5 km north of Big Sand Flat, on the hill with a monument named "Sand." 37.8968°N, 118.8914°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2486 m.

    Coll. No. 611, 22 Jun 2010, characters observed while keying: Annual, cotyledons persistent, to 7 cm., tap-rooted, branched at base; Stems, ±equally tall; Leaves, basal rosette 0, cauline alternate; Corolla, white, limb 5 mm., appendages yellow, prominent; Nutlets, #4, light tan, ovoid, 2.6 mm. × 1.5 mm. wide, adaxially keeled above scar, scar, lateral, sessile, raised, flat without thick rim, margin prickles 0, cross-ribs irregular.


    Full Size ImageColl No. 612, Cryptantha
    Full Size ImageColl No. 612, Cryptantha  
    Cryptantha

    Other articles: Forest Road 1S19D on the road  

    613  Mimulus nanus Hook. & Arn. var. nanus (Greene) D. M. Thomps. Skunky Monkey Flower.

    Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. On top of the north rim of Big Sand Flat. Forest Road 01S19D, about 1/2 mile northeast of Forest Road 01S19 “M&R Tank Road.” 37.8799°N, 118.9019°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2444 m. Open areas among Jeffrey pine, sandy soil. Somewhat ambiguous as to var. mephiticus vs. var. nanus.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 at Johnny Mdw Rd
    Full Size ImageView of Johnny Meadow  

    In the afternoon we decided to explore to the end of Sagehen Meadows Road, the road we live on. We got as far as Johnny Meadow Road, where I got distracted. So we checked out Johnny Meadow. It wasn't bad, but unfortunately the road was blocked by a down tree, so we were unable to go all the way to the end.

    Other articles: Forest Road 1N02 near arborglyphs
    Full Size ImageArborglyph on Sagehen Meadows Road  

    Along the way we saw more arborglyphs, something never noticed before, but now found in nearly every aspen grove. This one says, “Jose Irigoyen, Agosto 4, 1970.” We also found a turnout near the top that gives an excellent view of the house, Mono Lake, and the Sierra Nevada.
      Our plan for the next morning was to drive up there with our coffee, and enjoy the view. But we didn’t make it. Maybe another morning.
     

    Wednesday June 23

    Today, I worked on identifying some of what I collected yesterday, then did some of the brush-clearing that I am responsible for here. Some sources say brush should be cleared for 50 feet around the house, others say 100 feet. Mostly I am working on the southwest side of the house, since fires seem to run southwest to northeast here. Some of what I’m clearing is year-old sagebrush. Those are easy, just using a weed puller. Others though, are plants that have sprouted from older roots. My technique is to dig the roots out, then cut up and bury the plant in the hole made while digging the roots. The alternative is to bag it all and take to the dump, but I would rather not do that. I’m OK with digging out sagebrush, but I’m having trouble doing that to the few bitterbrush or the lupines that are just now sprouting from their roots.

    Tonight, as I was washing the dishes, the moon was rising over Glass Mountain, while the early evening sun illuminated Sagehen Peak. It was beautiful just like every morning and evening here. I don’t think I would ever tire of the view.

     

    Thursday June 24

    Unlike the lumberjacks who go shopping on Wednesday, we went shopping on Thursday in that suburb of Los Angeles known as Mammoth Lakes. We’ve made it 10 days, mostly due to Cheryl’s planning, but we’re out of Cheez-Its, beer, coffee, and other essentials of life.
     

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

     

    Other articles: California Highway 120 near Blind Spr Vy
    Full Size ImageView of the Benton Hot Springs Ranch meadow.  

    This morning we attended a field trip sponsored by the Eastern Sierra Land Trust to the alkali meadows of the Benton Hot Spring Ranch. This location is about 40 minutes east of Sagehen Meadow, near the town of Benton. Benton is north of US Highway 6 from Bishop to Tonopah, and at the foot of the highest part of the White Mountains. The Eastern Sierra Land Trust has a conservation easement on the meadow, to provide the owner compensation for promising never to develop the meadow, or split it up and sell it off in little pieces.
      We crossed the barbed wire fence and walked across the meadow. Even though it rained yesterday, the meadow wasn’t muddy, and the salts were crunchy under our shoes.

    Other articles: California Highway 120 near Benton Hot Sprs

    Locations: Blind Springs Valley.
    Full Size ImageLooking south in the meadow near Benton Hot Springs  

    We saw a rare plant called Calochortus excavatus, with various common names of Inyo county star tulip, or the Inyo county mariposa lily. It was on the edges of the meadow, still in wet soil, not above the lowest part of the meadow itself. I grow Sierra foothill species of Calochortus at home. Actually I had two, C. superbus and C. venustus, but after growing them together, and saving and planting seed year after year, I think what I really have now is a hybrid between the two.
    Full Size Image
    Inyo Star-Tulip (Calochortus excavatus)
    Full Size Image
    Inyo Star-Tulip (Calochortus excavatus)
      Also in the meadow we saw the Potentilla gracilis or slender cinquefoil, again not in the middle of the meadow, but sort of on the edges that were still wet. Lots of other plants, an Orobanche, probably O. corymbosa, a rare alkali hawksbeard, and of course several different kinds of willows.
      There is a pond at the lower end of the meadow. The Eastern Sierra Land Trust is working on a project to restore the Benton Speckled Dace to the stream draining the pond. Unfortunately, the pond is populated by the Sacramento Perch, also an endangered species in its own habitat near, you guessed it, Sacramento. Apparently it also likes to eat most anything, but is especially fond of Benton Speckled Dace. It looks like the project will be approved, to drain the pond and get rid of the Sacramento Perch, then restore it somewhat, to make good habitat for the Benton Speckled Dace, and then introduce them. According to some geological reports I’ve read, the Benton Speckled Dace could be descended from fish that migrated from the Lahontan Basin (Carson Sink) to the Owens River drainage by way of Pleistocene Lake Mono, when it spilled first northward by way of the Mount Hicks spillway, then southward by way of the Adobe Hills spillway.
      This afternoon, I straightened up the battery house, sweeping the floor, and stacking the fiberglas insulation left over from construction neatly against the wall. I also worked a little more on removing the brush around the house that has started to regrow after being plowed several years ago. I’m pretty good at pulling out the sagebrush and the rabbitbrush, but having trouble deciding I want or need to dig out the bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata, in the Rose family) and the lupines. There are only a few bitterbrush, and the lupines are very soft so, so far, it hasn’t made much difference. Appealing to my Berkeley-ish ecocitizen sensibilities, I have been cutting up and burying the cleared sagebrush, rather than loading it into plastic bags and hauling it to the dump. I’m sure the real locals would think I was nuts.

    Also this afternoon, Karl was here. He nailed back some of the siding that has become loose in the wind, and began making preparations to install a small electric water heater. We’re happy to be having real hot water. However, it comes at a price. It’s one more thing that could drain the batteries. Probably we’ll turn it off at night, so that we don’t run the batteries down keeping the water hot all night. Then turn it back on in the morning, when the sun is shining on the solar panels. We have stopped using the dryer, opting for the clothes line, and have stopped using the heat pump, because of their heavy electricity use. The contractor’s also going to replace the back door the sheriff broke open when they were looking for the former owner of the house.

    I’m continuing to learn about the house. We lost our power a week or so ago, because we were using too much, and tripped a circuit breaker in the inverter. At that time, the battery meter also stopped working. Resetting the inverter brought back the power, but not the battery meter. After several puzzling days, the electrician and contractor remembered over beers shared at the bluegrass concert at the Mobil Gas Station that the battery meter was powered by an auxiliary power circuit on the battery charge controller. So they called me, suggesting I figure out how to turn that circuit on. I read the battery charge controller manual, and highlighted the configuration menus in yellow. While attempting to apply my new knowledge in the battery house, I learned that the menus in the charge controller were similar to, but not exactly the same as, the menus as described in the manual. Regardless, I managed to turn the auxiliary circuit back on, and the meter came to life. It’s an important little meter because it tells us how much charge is in the batteries, how many amps of current we’re taking out of the batteries versus how much the solar panels are putting in, and how many amp-hours we’re drawn out of the batteries. To organize all this knowledge I’ve started a Visio drawing of the mechanical systems of the house, showing how everything starts with the solar panels, and all the different ways we use that energy. It’s pretty complicated. There are four pumps: the well, the house water pressure, the solar collector pump, and the geothermal water pump. Three information panels: the battery charge controller, the inverter, and the battery meter in the house office.

    In other news, I had my first Sagehen Meadows haircut. I was explaining to Dick at the Razor’s Edge that we would spending the summer here and that I would probably have to drive to Mammoth Lakes for a haircut. Dick loaned me an old pair of clippers, and sent me to the Shaver Shop on Telegraph Avenue, to buy a set of Size 1½ cutters. That’s how I get my hair cut, a 1½ all over. Cheryl and I set up out on the deck, and she cut my hair. It looks pretty even. Of course, not as perfect as Dick, hisself, might have done, but still pretty good.

      While writing up the day's events, I was, by the way, nursing a bottle of Mammoth Brewing Company’s Paranoids Pale Ale. This is a local brew, which I thought I should buy as we continue to “go native” or maybe it’s “go local.” They have a number of other brews, including the Real McCoy Amber Ale, which I pronounce as “eminently drinkable.” Mendocino Brewing Company products, such as Eye of Hawk ale seem to be popular here, or at least loaded to the rafters in the cooler. And, of course, the New Belgium products, such as Fat Tire ale are also available.

    Well, that’s probably enough for tonight. I’m going to send this as a .PDF, and also e-mail it directly to two people who are having trouble reading the PDF version. If that includes you, please let me know.

     

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

     
      Sunday (June 27th) I met three botanists from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, at the intersection of California Highway 120 and Benton Crossing Road. They are Anna, Sarah, and Glen, left to right. Anna is a PhD student working in Polygonaceae (Buckwheats), Sarah is a Masters student, and Glen is a PhD student. We had agreed to a 900 AM meeting time. I was a little unsure about our route and driving miles, so I left a little early and drove to Benton to get gas. I wasn’t sure the gas station would be open at 800 AM on a Sunday. It’s a generic gas station with no brand name showing. The pumps are credit card operated, and the sign says they’re open 700 AM to 900 PM. The gas station is affiliated with a restaurant and a “market” and there were a couple of good ol’ boys inside shoveling down eggs, bacon, hash browns, and whatever else was on the menu.
      With a tank full of gas, I returned through the Blind Spring Valley where Cheryl and I attended a field trip on the day before. Stopped for a photo or two of the valley, and then again in Old Benton, or Benton Hot Springs. Took a photo of the old general store and gas station. Across the street is the old house, and down the road is the Benton Hot Springs Bed and Breakfast that has been recommended to us several times. From there I drove back west on Hwy 120 to Benton Crossing Road. Anna, Sarah, and Glen were there, waiting for me. Our first stop was just a few miles north in Adobe Valley, where they collected buckwheats, whereas I got distracted by an Astragalus (Loco Weed).

    Other articles: California Highway 120 near Dutch
    Full Size ImageColl. No. 614, Astragalus casei
    Full Size ImageAre the pods stipitate? I think not.  

    614  Astragalus casei A. Gray Case's Milkvetch.

    Adobe Valley, Mono County, California. 0.3 miles northwest on a 4WD road that was entered from California Highway 120 0.8 miles north of Benton Crossing Road, 37.8039°N, 118.5795°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 1990 m.

    Keyed from Taylor (2010)

    9' Stipules not connate into a sheath
    19' Pubesence basifixed
    20' Pods have a few hairs, definitely not obscuring surface
    24' Pods with small stipe
    25' Pods 1-chambered
    32' Pods leathery and pubescent -- well, no, but neither could they be described as glabrous and inflated.
    34. Stems stiffly erect -- definitely not prostrate or decumbent
    ………………………. Astragalus casei A. Gray

    Full Size Image
    Coll. No. 614, Astragalus casei

    Other articles: Benton Crossing Road at Wildrose Cyn

    Locations: Wildrose Canyon.
    Full Size ImageColl. No. 615, Phacelia vallis-mortae  

    615  Phacelia vallis-mortae J.W. Voss

    Wildrose Canyon, Mono County, California. Near Benton Crossing Road, about 5.4 miles south of California Highway 120. 37.7216°N, 118.6029°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2271 m.

    Characters: Annual. Stem erect. Leaves, cauline compound, segments toothed. Calyx lobes entire, ±alike, generally short to long hairy. Corolla uniformly colored blue, 13 mm, 12 mm wide, generally deciduous. Some stamens exserted. Fruit ovoid to elliptic 4-5 mm. Pedicels 1.5 mm in fruit. Calyx lobes in fruit 8 mm, not dimorphic, ±straight, ±enclosing fruit, 3 mm > fruit. Seeds 2, one seed has ridge, but not grooved.

    In Taylor (2010), this keys pretty much straight to P. vallis-mortae. In TJM2 and TJDM, it gets lost in the keys around P. distans and P. tanacetifolia.

    Full Size Image
    Coll. No. 615, Phacelia vallis-mortae
    Full Size Image
    Coll. No. 615, Phacelia vallis-mortae

    Other articles: Benton Crossing Road at Wildrose Cyn

    Locations: Wildrose Canyon.
    Full Size ImageColl. No. 616, Eriastrum diffusum  

    616  Eriastrum wilcoxii (A. Nelson) H. Mason. Wilcox's Woollystar.

    Wildrose Canyon, Mono County, California. Near Benton Crossing Road, about 5.4 miles south of California Highway 120. 37.7216°N, 118.6029°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2271 m.

    Coll. No. 616, 27 June 2010, characters observed: Annual, to 10 cm.; Leaves, alternate, pinnately-lobed, lobes 5; Calyx, membrane not spout-like; Corolla, tube 6 mm. + throat 1 mm. + lobes 4 mm. × 1.8 mm. wide, lobes lavender, lobe tips > stamens; Stamens attached well below corolla sinus, unequal, exserted < ½ length of corolla lobes; Anthers exserted.

      Back on Benton Crossing Road, which zig-zags around before finally coming out at US Hwy 395 near Mammoth Lakes, we stopped at Wildrose Canyon. I was a little surprised to find Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) here. It is very common in the eastern Mojave Desert, at Lobo Point, and Wild Horse Mesa. Sometimes called apricot mallow, the stems reach 2 feet tall and are covered by orange or apricot-colored flowers. The desert mallow is one of the first perennial plants to fill in after a fire. When we were in the eastern Mojave in early June, I took this photo of Round Valley from Pinto Mountain. It shows a partially burned area from the Hackberry complex fire of 2005, with the sagebrush and junipers in grays and greens on the left, and how the Desert Mallow has filled the burned area in orange on the right.

    From Wildrose Canyon we proceeded south over Wildrose Summit and into a little valley then drains through Chidago Canyon to Chidago Flat. On the left (east) side of the road, at a place called Banner Springs, was a large vegetable garden, fully fenced, maybe an acre in size. I seemed like an odd place for such a large garden. We made one botanical stop in this little valley, along a wooden pole line, where we were looking for Eriogonum esmeraldense, or the Esmeralda Buckwheat. Esmeralda is the name of a Nevada county. It was originally a huge county stretching from Goldfield in the southeast and past Aurora in the northwest. Later it was split into two counties, with the Goldfield area retaining the county seat of Esmeralda County, and the mining town of Aurora becoming the county seat of Mineral county. After Aurora declined, the county seat was moved to Hawthorne, Nevada. The first collection of the Esmeralda Buckwheat was made in 1853 in the mining town of Candelaria which was then in Esmeralda County, but now is in Mineral County.

    For lunch we stopped at Watterson Summit, on the eastern edge of the Long Valley caldera and ate in the shade of the Jeffrey pines among boulders of Bishop Ash. The rim of the caldera is pretty low on the south and southeast and the topography subdued. But to the north, the wall rises to 11,000 feet at Glass Mountain, nearly 5,000 feet above the floor.

    For the last botanical stop we went to Benton Crossing, where the road crosses over the Owens River. I think my niece Heidi has been fishing here. We were looking for a little plant called Goodmania luteola. It has a couple of common names, Yellow Spinecape or Golden Goodmania. It’s one of those little tiny plants that you have to lay down in the alkali dust to see or photograph. I don’t have any photos. Was planning to take some, but then a young fisherman came over and asked for help starting his car. Got distracted doing that, using my jumper cables, and then forgot that I wanted to get my camera out. However, here’s a photo that I particularly like (http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+0607+1303) taken by Steve Matson. He’s a really good plant photographer, and I’ve met him on a couple of field trips and at the herbarium.

    Other articles: Forest Road 3S47 at Owens R Field Notes 21 Jun 2011
    Full Size ImageGoodmania luteola (Parry) Reveal & Ertter  

    617  Goodmania luteola, in alkali flats adjacent to Forest Road 3S47, just north of Benton Crossing Road.

    Also found at numerous locations on wet alkali flats or meadows in Long Valley. There is one other collection from Mono County at River Spring in Adobe Valley. Inyo County locations include Fish Slough and Klondike Lake. The type is a collection made by C. C. Parry in 1881 with a given location of "Mojave."

    Other articles: Forest Road 3S47 at Owens R
    Full Size ImageColl. No. 617.1, Cleomella parviflora  

    617.1  Cleomella parviflora A. Gray. Slender Cleomella.

    In alkali flats adjacent to Forest Road 3S47, just north of Benton Crossing Road. (37.6987,-118.7615,WGS 1984.) 6/27/2010 Benton Crossing, Mono County, California.

    Other articles: Forest Road 3S47 at Owens R
    Full Size ImageColl. No. 617.2, Micromonolepis pusilla.  

    617.2  Micromonolepis pusilla (Torr. ex S. Watson) Ulbr. Small Povertyweed.

    Benton Crossing, Mono County, California. In alkali flats adjacent to Forest Road 3S47, just north of Benton Crossing Road. 37.6987°N, 118.7615°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2083 m.


    Full Size ImageAnna, Sarah, and Glen from University of Lausanne  
    Anna, Sara, and Glen, three botanists from University of Lausanne, who stayed with us for two nights.

    Other articles: California Highway 120 Benton Hot Springs
    Full Size ImageStage station in Benton Hot Springs
    Full Size ImageBed & breakfast at Benton Hot Springs  

    Stopped for a few photos in Benton Hot Springs.

    Full Size ImageOsprey with nest on tufa.  
    The stop at Benton Crossing completed our stops for the day, so we did a little bit of Mono Lake basin touring, stopping mainly at the South Tufa of Mono Lake. After being gently admonished for stepping on some tufa, we caught some brine shrimp and looked at those, and then looked for the freshwater springs entering Mono Lake. It is the fresh water with just a tiny bit of calcium carbonate precipitating when entering the alkaline water of Mono Lake that creates the tufa towers in the water. The towers are sticking up out of the water now, because the lake level has declined, as the streams entering Mono Lake were diverted to provide water for Los Angeles. We also watched a pair of Ospreys, who had built a nest atop one of the tufa towers. The docents said that they have been in residence since April but, so far, have failed to rear any chicks. Since there are no fish in Mono Lake, they fly ten miles to the June Lakes basin to fish. If they have chicks they have to carry the fish ten miles (downhill, at least) to their nest at Mono Lake.

    Finally, back at the house, we had a nice dinner that Cheryl prepared. We also had hot water for showers, Karl had installed a small electric water heater in the mechanical closet. Of course, that’s one more way we use electricity, so we have to be careful to use only what we need.

     

    Monday, June 28th

    Monday was a laundry day, a yard work day, and a deal with what you collected yesterday kind of day. Our guests collected in Yosemite during the day (with permits!) and then returned in the evening to spend a second night with us.
     

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

     

    Other articles: Dobie Meadows Road 80500
    Full Size ImageView north on Dobie Meadows Road.
    Full Size ImageView to the northwest, along the route of 01N112.  

    Tuesday morning, Cheryl made blueberry scones for breakfast, which were very good. After our guests packed up and headed out to collect near Lee Vining and points north, we assembled a little lunch, and set out for the day ourselves. I wanted to do a little botanizing at the Adobe Hills Spillway, and in Alkali Valley. On the way we passed through Adobe Valley, the location where I saw and then video-ed the wild horses (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cHiuznIsi8) last year. We saw lots of horse poop on the road, but no horses this year. We even poked up a little road into the back country with no good luck.
      We stopped at the Adobe Hills Spillway, where Mono Lake spilled over into the Owens River during the Pleistocene Ice Ages. I showed Cheryl the snail shells in the sediments at the high-water level, and then I tried again to examine and identify a little plant that has had me mystified for a couple of years. With divided leaves, cobwebby hairs, congested flowers, stamens opposite petals, etc., it ought to be easy to figure out. However, every time I try, I seem to get lost in the keys. I’m using the Jepson Desert Manual, and it’s possible the species is not in there. It’s also possible that my Homer Simpson diagnostic skills are a little weak. Anyway, this time I took some photos, and collected it again, and maybe some day, it’ll come to me. I also collected an Astragalus, a composite, and the obligatory Cryptantha or two, at the spillway, and then we moved on.

    Other articles: Dobie Meadows Road break in slope at Adobe Hills Spillway Field Notes at Adobe Hills Spillway
    Full Size ImageColl. No. 618, Ipomopsis congesta at the Adobe Hills Spillway  

    618  Ipomopsis congesta (Hook.) V. E. Grant subsp. congesta Ballhead Ipomopsis.

    Adobe Hills Spillway, Mono County, California. At the spillway of Pleistocene Lake Mono, east side of road, most common in borrow pit, occasional elsewhere nearby. 38.0585°N, 118.774°W. WGS 1984. Stems reddish, leaves pinnately lobed, infloresence head-like, flowers white, stamens exserted. Growing in fresh water sandstone, with fossil snail shells. , stems reddish, leaves pinnately lobed, infloresence head-like, flowers white, stamens exserted, on fresh water sandstone,

    Other articles: Dobie Meadows Road at Adobe Hills Spillway

    Locations: Adobe Hills Spillway.
    Full Size ImageCollection No. 619, Astragalus lentiginosus var. floribundus  

    619  Astragalus lentiginosus Hook. var. floribundus A. Gray. Freckled Milkvetch.

    Adobe Hills Spillway, Mono County, California. Growing in the fresh water sandstone at the spillway, 16.6 miles east of US Highway 395 on California Highway 167, then 8.0 miles southeast on Dobie Meadows Road. 38.0585°N, 118.774°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2181 m.

    Coll. No. 619, 29 Jun 2013, characters observed: Perennial subshrub of Great Basin sagebrush desert (Mono Lake basin is in nSNE); Hairs basifixed, simple; Root crown, at ground surface; Leaves, 1-pinnate, odd-pinnate, main axis extending as a leaflet; Leaflets >> 7, typically 23, mid leaflets 5 mm. × 2.2 mm. wide, spaced 2 mm., tip rounded, sparsely hairy, green (not ashy-gray or silvery), both surfaces ±equal in appearance; Stipules, 3 mm., not connate, sheaths 0; Calyx conspicuous, base ±symmetric; Sepals, fused 3.5 mm. + free 2 mm.; Flowers, bilateral, 18-20 in a spike, not head-like; Corolla conspicuous; Petals ochroleucus (not pink-purple); Banner 8 mm. when dry; Wings 8 mm.; Keel 6 mm.; Stamens, 9 fused, 1 free; Style tip and stigma glabrous; Fruit, 12 mm. long, stipe 0, glabrous, 2-chambered; Seeds, several.

    Full Size Image
    Collection No. 619, Astragalus lentiginosus var. floribundus

    Other articles: Dobie Meadows Road at Adobe Hills Spillway

    Locations: Adobe Hills Spillway.
    Full Size ImageCollection No. 620, Chaenactis douglasii  

    620  Chaenactis douglasii var. douglasii Douglas' Dustymaiden.

    Adobe Hills Spillway, Mono County, California. Growing in the fresh water sandstone at the spillway, 16.6 miles east of US Highway 395 on California Highway 167, then 8.0 miles southeast on Dobie Meadows Road. 38.0585°N, 118.774°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2175 m.

    Full Size Image
    Collection No. 620, Chaenactis douglasii

    Full Size ImageCollection No. 621, Cryptantha  
    Cryptantha sp.

    Other articles: Forest Road 058 near Alkali Lake
    Full Size ImageThree little ducks, probably shovelers, in a spring beside Alkali Lake.  

    Our next stop was Alkali Lake in Alkali Valley in Alkali County … … Oh! … No, that would be Mineral County. I don’t know how the state of Nevada could have missed the opportunity to have an Alkali County, though. There are certainly plenty of places it could describe.

    We found a little road that would take us down to the alkali flats. There was a spring with a three ducks. Haven’t a clue what kind of ducks. They were small, dark colored, with maybe a white stripe. Maybe someone else can recognize them.

    The plants found in the zone between the sagebrush and the alkali flats were pretty interesting. We found quite a few different plants, although it was still a little early spring here are 7000 feet elevation. The little Goodmania might be here, but the plants were very small and I found only one or two open flowers.

    Other articles: Forest Road 058 rd jct, nw of lake  

    622  Thelypodium crispum Payson. Crisped Thelypody.

    Alkali Lake, Mineral County, Nevada. Northwest side of Alkali Lake, in alkaline soils with rabbitbrush. 38.2817°N, 118.7633°W. WGS 1984. Northwest side of Alkali Lake, in alkaline soils with rabbitbrush.

    Other articles: Forest Road 058 rd jct, nw of lake  

    623  Goodmania luteola (Parry) Reveal & Ertter. Yellow Spinecape.

    Alkali Lake, Mineral County, Nevada. Northwest margin of Alkali Lake, in silty alkali flat with rabbitbrush, 38.2817°N, 118.7632°W. WGS 1984.

    Literature Cited:
    - Holmgren, Arthur H., Leila M. Schultz, and Timothy K. Lowrey, 1976.

    Other articles: Glossary dolabriform Forest Road 058 rd jct, nw of lake
    Full Size ImageColl. No. 623.1  

    623.1  Sphaeromeria potentilloides (A. Gray) A. Heller var. nitrophila (Cronq.) Holmgren, Schultz & Lowrey. Northwest margin of Alkali Lake, in silty alkali flat with rabbitbrush. 6/29/2010 Alkali Valley, Mineral County, Nevada.
    Full Size Image
    Leaf detail of Coll. No. 623.1, Sphaeromeria potentilloides var. nitrophila
    Full Size Image
    Coll. No. 623.1

    Full Size ImageColl. No. 623.2  
    623.2  Chenopodium. Goosefoot.

    Alkali Valley, Mineral County, Nevada. Northwest margin of Alkali Lake, in silty alkali flat with rabbitbrush. 38.2817°N, 118.7632°W. WGS 1984. Flowers, but no seed.

    Coll. No. 623.2, 29 Jun 2010, characters observed: Annual, scaly or powdery, hairs 0; Stems, upper, not jointed or fleshy; Leaves, alternate, not clasping, petioled, blades 15 mm. × 4.5-5.0 mm. wide, flattened (not fleshy), 1-veined, not spine- or bristle-tipped; Flowers, pistillate, with calyx; Calyx, not winged or tubercled, appendages 0; Stamens 5; Seed, orientation unknown.


    Full Size ImageColl. No. 623.3
    Full Size ImageColl. No. 623.3  
    623.3  Cleomella parviflora A. Gray. Slender Cleomella.

    Alkali Valley, Mineral County, Nevada. Northwest margin of Alkali Lake, in silty alkali flat with rabbitbrush. 38.2817°N, 118.7632°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2148 m.

    Coll. No. 623.3, 29 June 2010, characters observed while keying: Annual, or appearing so, herbaceous, tap- rooted, not scapose; Hairs, very few, in axils only, simple, tapered; Leaves, cauline, alternate, not lobed or clasping at base, compound, 8-12 mm.; Flowers bisexual, radial (actinomorphic); Perianth in 2 whorls; Flower parts 4(6); Sepals fused at base; Petals 4, free at base, entire, yellow; Ovary superior; Pistils 1 per flower; Style very short; Stamens 6; Filaments wingless; Fruit a silicle, ±spheric, ±3 mm., indehiscent; Seeds, ±8.

    Other articles: Forest Road 058 rd jct, nw of lake
    Full Size ImageCollection No. 624
    Full Size ImageCollection No. 624  

    624  Goodmania luteola (Parry) Reveal & Ertter
      I also found a Hesperochiron californicus, or California monkey-fiddle (who comes up with these common names?) on the drying and cracking alkali mud. This was a new plant to me, and I would not have expected to find it here.

    Other articles: Mono Lake Basin Flora Hesperochiron californicus Forest Road 058 rd jct, sw of lake
    Full Size ImageHesperochiron californicus collected in Alkali Valley.  

    625  Hesperochiron californicus (Benth.) S. Watson. California Monkey-Fiddle.

    Alkali Lake, Mineral County, Nevada. On the south side of Alkali Lake, where the old road breaks out of the sagebrush. 38.2659°N, 118.7503°W. WGS 1984. Elev. 2149 m. Open, drying, alkaline mud flats.

      After a little lunch, we started back for home. Out here, of course, one does not go straight home. Straight home would have been about 30 miles across the east side of the Mono Lake basin. But, there is the post office, the market, and the gas station that (should) all lie on the route home, and they are all in Lee Vining on the west side of the basin. At the post office, we got our mail, and picked up a daypack for Cheryl, and some Sherman (live) mouse traps for me. At the Mono Market, we got a few supplies, and lastly filled the truck with gas at the Tioga Gas Mart.
     

    Wednesday, June 30th

    Wednesday morning we packed up again and left for Devils Postpile National Park. Of course, first we stopped at the dump to drop off garbage and recycling. The dump is open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and sometimes we find ourselves planning outings around the dump schedule.

    Cheryl and I visited Rainbow Falls in a September years ago, and we wanted to see it with a lot of water and, hopefully, a rainbow, so it was on our priority list for an early tourist trip. You have to stop and the Mammoth Ski Lodge and then take a shuttle bus from there. The fare was $7.00 with no discount for being old and decrepit. There is also a summer time gondola ride to the top of Mammoth Mountain. The regular fare is $21.00 with a senior fare of $11.00. Maybe, they just drop seniors off about half-way, I don’t know.

    Anyway, we took the shuttle to the Rainbow Falls trailhead, and walked the mile and a half to the falls. There was a good flow from the melting snow in the high country, and a good visible rainbow.

    After lunch, we walked back to the trailhead at Red’s Meadow Resort, and took the bus back to the Mammoth Ski Lodge.

    While driving through Mammoth Lakes, we noticed a Farmer’s Market. It’s on Wednesdays from 400 PM until 700 PM, and they were just setting up when we arrived. There were maybe five or six stands, but only two were fruits and vegetables. Another had coffee, one fresh roasted peanuts, and another was the Friends of the Inyo, an environmental group. At the vegetable stand we got some very nice organic broccoli and lettuce. Talking with the growers, we learned that their garden is at Banner Springs, mentioned above, and that they grow all that they sell. Next time we pass by that way, we’ll have to stop in and say hello. They also knew about the house in Sagehen Meadow, and its story. The fruit stand had very nice peaches, apricots, and cherries from Bishop. We just bought peaches and apricots, and some good-looking garlic.

    So that’s probably it for today. Today (Thursday) and Friday, we’ll stay here at the house. I have plant collections to document and work over. And, it’s time to botanize in the meadow again, to see what’s started to bloom since I was last out there a week ago. Spring continues to evolve here, the days at a little warmer, maybe a very pleasant 75 in the daytime, and in the low 50’s at night, with different tiny flowers in bloom.

    Saturday, we’re signed up for a canoe trip on Mono Lake, and Sunday we’re planning to do Independence Day in Bridgeport, with a morning parade, a noon barbecue, and an afternoon rodeo. Apparently the Bridgeport rodeo is just skills the cowboys actually use on the ranches, and not the professional stuff. We’ll see. Tom

    Other articles: California Highway 203 27000
    Full Size ImageRainbow Falls in Devils Postpile National Monument.  

    Rainbow Falls.
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    Date and time this article was prepared: 6/17/2017 2:13:14 PM