I always have a soft spot for restoration areas so Lee Vining Creek near Mono Lake was a nice treat for our second hike. In 1954 a fire destroyed much of the area surrounding the creek. Floods then came in the next few years, and with no roots to hold the soil the entire area was wiped out. Over the ensuing decades the narrow roadside canyon become a tire dump for local service stations. Finally in the 1980’s local conservation groups started the healing and today there is a great interpretive trail telling the whole story.
You descend into the canyon over hot alkaline sands through the usual sagebrush, bitterbrush and a spring beauty Desert Peach. There were a few hopsage as well, very cool looking as the flowers fade.
Most wildflowers were done, some random asters and these beautiful prickly poppies right on the trail
As you near the creek the riparian species take over. Aspen, cottonwood and white fir are the dominant trees, while dogwood, wild rose and serviceberry fill out the medium understory.
Sitting by the creek I saw my first dipper, bopping up and down on a rock.
These guys can actually go underwater for their meals. Another spot near the creek revealed these blue stunners
She also found these purple clarkia-ish flowers (I was too busy looking for birds). Known as fireweed:
As if we didn’t have enough wildlife this handsome fellow bounded right across the trail
These birds were literally following us on every single hike, Elisa’s attempts at a photo resulted in 30 shots of empty sky with a black smudge, so I cheated as usual:
Luke was doing his best to keep his toasty paws cool as we walked back on the sunbaked sand
Lee Vining Creek spills into Mono Lake
Next week we wrap up our Sierra trip with a wild wildflower walk.