The August bloom exploded midmonth in the upper elevations with lush gardens thrilling tourists and seasoned hikers alike. Giant red paintbrush and wavy-leaved paintbrush brought all hues of red into the landscape, while monument plant, crimson columbine, several lupines, woolly mules ears and corn lilies adorned the alpine trails.
Creeks, streams and springs continue to quench upper-elevation slopes, allowing many mid-season species to persist into September while also ensuring the emergence of our favorite late-blooming beauties.
August’s 80-degree temperatures around the lake, melted much, but not all, of the winter’s ample snowpack. Creeks, streams and springs continue to quench upper-elevation slopes, allowing many mid-season species to persist into September while also ensuring the emergence of our favorite late-blooming beauties. Here’s some of my favorite spots to catch wildflowers in September:
It’s not too late to find streams crowded with masses of fireweed, towering larkspur, ranger buttons, giant red paintbrush and Lewis’ monkeyflower.
Kirkwood’s Upper and Lower Coral loop trails offer these and more. From the Red Cliffs Lodge parking area, head toward Chair 11 and walk up Snowkirk to the Upper Corral loop for a 2-mile excursion into a snow-fed bowl. Be on the lookout for head turners such as rock fringe, Sierra primrose and the gorgeous explorer’s gentian.
Also on Carson Pass, the loop trail from Woods Lake to Roundtop Lake to Winnemucca Lake still includes stream crossings and meadows where lupine, paintbrush, marsh marigolds, Sierra claytonia and elephant heads enjoy the remaining water.
Emigrant Lake, which can be accessed from Kirkwood or Caples Lake, is known to have patches of red mountain heather, white mountain heather, arnica, grass-of-Parnassus and alpine gentian that linger into September also.
For those venturing into Desolation Wilderness to places such as Velma Lakes, Halfmoon Lake or Aloha Lakes, the beautiful bog asphodel, hiker’s gentian and California fuchsia are vivid, late-season bloomers aiming to give pollinators one last chance at sampling their goods.
Many wildflowers from midseason are producing colorful berries. Sierra gooseberry is dark red with impressive prickles; bittercherry has bright red berries that shine in the sun but are so bitter that most birds avoid them; mountain ash puts on a show of orange-red berries.
I hope you have enjoyed the wildflowers as much as I have. Don’t be sad to see them go, though. When you see a flower with an aging, droopy head, know it is merely taking its final bow before it can return next year for another fabulous performance. | wildflowercat.carbonmade.com