Wildflowers in full bloom along Lee Vining CreekJune 4th, 2016 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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.
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.
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.
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!