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The Mono-logue » Blog Archive » Wildflowers in full bloom along Lee Vining Creek

Wildflowers in full bloom along Lee Vining Creek

June 4th, 2016 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Sandra Noll, Birding Intern in 2014, 2015, & 2016.

Not far from the Mono Lake Committee headquarters and bookstore, the Lee Vining Creek trail offers multi-sensory delights this time of year. Early morning and late evening are best for birding but anytime of day is great for wildflowers.

Yellows predominate from the profuse tiny blossoms of bitterbrush and buckwheat to the stately single stems of western wallflower and from button-like rayless daisies to sunflower-like blossoms within the long fuzzy leaves of woolly mule’s ears.

The Lee Vining Creek trail flanked by yellow bitterbrush and sagebrush. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The Lee Vining Creek trail flanked by yellow bitterbrush and sagebrush. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Western wallflower are abundant this year! Photo by Sandra Noll.

Western wallflower are abundant this year! Photo by Sandra Noll.

Rayless daisy brightens the trail. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Rayless daisy brightens the trail. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The sunflower-like blossom draws attention to the long fuzzy leaves of mule’s ears. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The sunflower-like blossom draws attention to the long fuzzy leaves of mule’s ears. Photo by Sandra Noll.

In delightful contrast are the lovely purples of lupine and the dramatic, almost neon orange/reds of paintbrush. And, more subtly, the rosy-tipped bracts of hop sage and the uniquely beautiful but easy-to-overlook blossoms of the tiny low-growing bicolored phacelia.

Colors of lupine blossoms range through the blue-violet spectrum. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Colors of lupine blossoms range through the blue-violet spectrum. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The neon orange-red color burst of paintbrush demands attention. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The neon orange-red color burst of paintbrush demands attention. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Hop sage bracts add intriguing color and texture. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Hop sage bracts add intriguing color and texture. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Bicolored phacelia, sometimes called sticky yellowthroat, is tiny in size but uniquely colorful and well worth seeking out. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Bicolored phacelia, sometimes called sticky yellowthroat, is tiny in size but uniquely colorful and well worth seeking out. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Many of these delights are found tucked within the dominant vegetation: rabbitbrush and fragrant Great Basin sagebrush both still displaying the stark dried flower stalks and seed heads of last fall’s bloom. Others are found near cool aspen groves where new green leaves shimmer against white-barked trunks.

Mixed wildflowers in a natural rock garden of the sagebrush scrub. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Mixed wildflowers in a natural rock garden of the sagebrush scrub. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The Lee Vining Creek trail winding through aspen grove. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The Lee Vining Creek trail winding through aspen grove. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Lee Vining Creek rushing toward Mono Lake, at near-peak flow this year. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Lee Vining Creek rushing toward Mono Lake, nearly at its peak flow for this year. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The colors and textures of spring are enhanced by the rushing waters of Lee Vining Creek—a symphony of sound as the trail first parallels then rises high above the creek. With the warm weather, the creek will probably see its peak flow this week, which will be over 200 cubic feet per second. The last time Lee Vining Creek got a meaningful peak flow was in 2011, before the current drought, so this year’s peak flow is extra-important to help move sediments downstream. It lifts the heart to see the creek, now swollen with snowmelt, flowing down to meet and replenish Mono Lake.

Take a walk, celebrate spring, and savor the wildflowers along Lee Vining Creek!


2 Responses to “Wildflowers in full bloom along Lee Vining Creek”

  1. avatar Richard W. Says:

    Thanks for the colorful photos and description of area wildflowers. Always fun to view the fresh blooms. Please post more, hopefully from Parker Lake and Lundy Canyon.

  2. avatar David Garcia Says:

    Took the hike last week, (June 8 and 9) and it was great. Flowers at their best.