Monday, July 26, 2010

Mountain blogging

Having never explored the Sonora Pass area (just north of Yosemite), I decided to toss the tent in the Prius and head up for a couple of nights in the lovely (despite the name) Pigeon Flats campground, 20 minutes west of the summit on Hwy. 108.

The area has a few things going for it:
1. Spectacular scenery.
2. Less than four hours from the Bay Area.
3. Once you escape the fishermen, RVs, and dogs in the rustic "resorts" along the Stanislaus, you only have to share the place with the occasional backpacker making her or his way over some portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. (For the record, I have nothing against fishermen, RVs, or dogs, in their proper place.)

My main excursion was a day hike south from the Pass on the PCT. The air is a little thin for a sea-level geezer like me, but after your lungs adjust it is only the view that leaves you gasping. E.g., chilly Latopie Lake (photo).

I would say the wildflowers here are not quite up to the standard at Carson Pass to the north, but then again what is? Up on the bleak moonscapes near Sonora Pass you do encounter plenty of sturdy alpine wildflowers, such as the brilliant alpine penstemon.

One more picture, and two puzzles:

1. I understand why, from an evolutionary standpoint, the alpine plants use bright colors to advertise heavily with the pollinators during the short growing season. But what is the adaptive advantage to a lichen of being dayglow yellow?

2. How can the Prius still average 46 MPG in the Sierras, when it has to rely on the gas engine to make it up the climbs?

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