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Author Topic: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California  (Read 51982 times)

Robert

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7 December January 2015

Weather: Clear

Temperature High: 73F (23c)  Low: 39F (4c)

What a change from last week! The high temperature today 73F was a record high temperature for this date. Last week it was average cold weather for this part of California. Last night we did not have below freezing temperatures, very strange for this time of year with clear skies. The weather this past week has been very similar to what we had last year, very dry with record breaking high temperatures. We are back to below average rainfall to date, the Sierra Nevada is much below average on snowfall to date. I hope that the drought ends!



I started today's outing at the same trailhead as last weeks outing. Elevation 1,750 Ft. (533 meters). This is a look from the other side of the canyon looking back in the direction of the trailhead. This week rather than hiking down the canyon to the Middle Fork of the American River I crossed American Canyon Creek and traversed the opposite ridgeline.



Frequently seen on the forest floor is the Apiaceae, Sanicula crassicaulis.



With warmer weather the camera functioned as normal. Berberis aquifolium var. dictyota, certainly not rare, but not seen that often.



I crossed American Canyon Creek and traversed the canyon. Much more dry on the west facing side.



Looking back to American Canyon.


(edit by maggi to correct the date  ;)  )
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 09:52:55 AM by Maggi Young »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2015, 01:21:43 AM »
I traversed the canyon at about 1,250 ft. (381 meters) plus or minus. The forest in this area is dominated by Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa and Inteior Live Oak, Quercus wislizenii.



I was very surprised to find Bear Clover, Chamaebatia foliolosa growing at this elevation. Generally it is found in the mid elevations of the Sierra Nevada. I have never found it growing this low in elevation before.



Achillea millefolium  is very common in the nursery trade in this part of California. There are a number of different color selections. Here it is growing in its natural habitat. Wild plants almost always have white flowers.



The warm weather brought out the scents in the various plant habitats. Ponderosa Pine has its scent, different from Jeffery Pine. Today there was a very sweet scent from time to time. I'm not sure what plant it came from. However, a few plants were already starting to bloom, such as this California Bay, Umbellularia californica.



In a short time I worked my way to the canyon face overlooking the Middle Fork of the American River.



In the past, there has been much gold mining in this area. It is not unusual to find old mining equipment, stone walls, and sometimes buildings left by the miners. I found this giant Myrtus communis and with a Nerium oleander at this old mining site. I guess one of the miners like ornamental plants and they have survived to today. I even found a few seedlings of the Myrtus growing a short distance from the mother plant.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2015, 01:52:03 AM »


My goal was to work a far as I could up the Middle Fork of the American River. This is a view up stream towards Cherokee Bar.



Yerba Santa, Eriodictyon californica is another common evergreen shrub at this elevation. California Native Americans used the leaves a medicine and as a chewing gum. I do chew the leaves from time to time and it has a somewhat mint-like flavor. It is said to be medicine for the lungs.



In the sunnier locations I found Lupinus albifrons. It is very widespread in this area and generally grows in extremely rocky, dry locations.

I was able to get about 3 miles (5km) up stream and had to turn back just short of Cherokee Bar.



I took a different route back and found the first herbaceous bloomer of the new year just getting ready to open its flowers. This is extremely early! It looks somewhat like Cardimine californica, but is not quite right. It still might be but I will keep checking around to make sure on the identification.



With the camera working, I tried to get a good photograph of Rubus leucodermis. The stems look much better than, as seen in the photograph. It is a bramble, so I'll use caution when I introduce some into our wild native plant garden.

It was a beautiful and productive day to be out, however it is troubling to have it so warm and dry in January. We will be praying for wet weather to return very soon. I did a good 9 miles (14.5 km) today. Not bad for 4 hours time.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2015, 07:31:21 AM »
Still very interesting, Robert! And some very special plants that I didn't know existed! Like bear clover and yerba santa for instance.

I have a ponderosa pine in my garden and am going to take a sniff when it gets sunshine!
Cardamine is a favorite genus of mine but I have not californica. The only species which you show that is native here is yarrow!

I have had 3 different cameras the last 20 years and never experienced problem with cold weather except that the batteries don't last as long as in warmer weather. I often have a spare battery in a pocket inside the outer clothing  to keep it warm.

Keep walking, please :)
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Tim Ingram

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2015, 08:18:05 AM »
Hear, hear! We also have a ponderosa pine in the garden grown from seed and now about 20-25ft high; it always gets a lot of comment when in cone (and next to it the Mexican Pinus patula), but they come so much more to life when you get a view of their natural habitats. Lupinus albifrons grew well for us quite a few years ago but it's not an easy nursery plant - very sensitive to root disturbance and pathogens. I once lifted a whole lot of self-sown seedlings while still tiny with as little disturbance as I could manage and none of them grew away successfully - careful culture from seed is obviously the only way (perhaps with Rhizobium inoculation from root nodules of other legumes?) The Umbellaria and Eriodictyon both look attractive especially if they would adapt to our relatively cooler, wetter summers and sometimes colder winters. The landscapes are the thing though - really exciting to see. I add my thanks to Trond's.
Dr. Timothy John Ingram. Nurseryman & gardener with strong interest in plants of Mediterranean-type climates and dryland alpines. Garden in Kent, UK. www.coptonash.plus.com

Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2015, 02:48:13 PM »
Trond,

It is the mature bark on Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine that has a nice scent. On a warm summer day in the Sierra it is very noticeable. There are many different plant scents that I notice when I'm out hiking. Maybe I'm just sensitive to such things, but it is certainly pleasant when I'm out.

Tim,

As you might expect, Lupinus albifrons is somewhat easy to grow in our area. In containers they need a very quick draining soil mix, mostly volcanic grit, sand, and very little organic material. Most nurseries in our area do not grow them as they usually die quickly in a standard nursery soil mix.

In the garden most people kill them by watering them. In the ground I might water them a few times during their first summer. After that I never water them and they thrive, however this is their home territory and this is what they like. Another enemy of Lupinus in generally is slugs and snails. We do not have snails here at the farm, but we do have plenty of slugs. I find that having sand and volcanic grit around the base of the plants is helpful for the species that need summer irrigation in our region. Around here, slugs are not a problem in the non-irrigated areas. It seems that our slugs can not survive the dry summers.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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David Nicholson

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2015, 04:08:06 PM »
Following with interest Robert.
David Nicholson
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Maggi Young

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2015, 04:52:15 PM »
I am intrigued to see this landscape and flora, Robert - thank you for taking the time to share.

 The stem colour of Rubus leucodermis is something that would catch your eye  in passing.  It's one which has black  "raspberry-type"  fruits, isn't it?
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2015, 11:59:58 PM »
Maggi,

Thanks for fixing the month on the first posting.  :)

Yes, Rubus leucodermis has "raspberry-type" fruit that generally ripens a dark purplish-black, if one is fortunate enough to see them. As you might expect, the bird almost always get there first. There is also a native blackberry, R. ursinus. Unfortunately the Himalayan Blackberry is a big pest in our area and takes over a lot of habitat. I do see R. ursinus around from time to time. It is very easy to identify and is quite different from the Himalayan pesty type.

David,

I enjoyed seeing your primulas on the other posting. Very nice.

I have a tremendous number of locations and plants lined up for the coming season. I might not be able to visit them all this year, but I'm hoping the places I do go will be interesting for all who follow along.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2015, 12:17:59 AM »
16 January 2015

Weather: Cloudy, with a few rain showers.

High Temperature: 57F (14c)  Low: 39F (4c)

Today I continued my exploration of the Middle Fork of the American River. Last week I traversed the north facing canyon face to just below Cherokee Bar. This week I started on the opposite side of the river, the south facing canyon face.



I parked my truck at Driver's Flat, 1,703 ft. (518 meters) and first had to walk down to Cherokee Bar on the Middle Fork at 719 ft. (219 meters). The photograph is of typical Oak - Pine forest at this elevation.



I was not sure if this was going to be a good day, however it got off to a good start with some interesting annual Lupinus species along the trail. I will have to wait until they bloom to identify them.



As I hiked lower into the canyon many more interesting plants appeared. Calochortus, most likely C. albus.



Here is a good photograph of the canyon face where I traversed last week, about mid way between the ridge crest and the river below.



Cherokee Bar. I'm near the bottom of the canyon.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2015, 12:33:08 AM »


As I worked my way down towards Cherokee Bar, various plant habitats appeared, such as this rock out cropping. Such out croppings are generally good places to find interesting plants.



I was somewhat surprised to find oak savanna type habitat, especially with some of the original native clump grasses. In most cases the invading Asian grasses have taken over. I saw a number of different grass species that I can identify in the spring when they are flowering.



The weather has been way to warm, Aesculus californica already in leaf.



More and more species of plants appeared, seedlings of Eschscholzia caespitosa was among the many annuals that were easy to identify.



Lomatium utriculatum blooming - at least 2 months too early.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2015, 12:59:00 AM »


Clematis lasiantha is a common chaparral species.



I finally made it down to Cherokee Bar and started up stream, farther into the canyon.



At some point this canyon becomes very wild and remote. I was hoping for such as I hiked up farther into the canyon. Clearly the 49er's arrived here well before I did. As a matter of fact, most of the time I was hiking on a dirt track. I could not wait until this gave way to something more primitive. At least, I was not disappointed by the plants. So far I was finding most of everything I had seen on all my previous outings.



The 49er's must have been insane with lust for gold. I have no idea how they dragged all their equipment up these canyons and around the rapids as in this photograph.



After hiking for 2 more miles (3.2 km), I finally found a small trail to follow.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2015, 01:19:10 AM »


Many streams worked their way down to the river. Each stream is an opportunity to explore for plants on future outings.



Sanicola bipinnatifada, or most likely this species. I will have to wait until they are blooming to make a positive identification.



I sure hope that we get more rain and snowfall this season. Nemophila, most likely pedunculata. As worked my way into a more remote area of the canyon there were large assortments of annuals, perennials, and bulbs growing. With adequate rainfall the spring display must be stunningly beautiful.



The ghostly branches of Populus fremontii.



After hiking for 6 miles (9.6 km) I was finally in wild territory. This beautiful oak was hanging out over the canyon, time to turn around and hike back to the truck. As usual I kept going, you know, I had to see what was around the next bend. I was not disappointed, a Bald Eagle flew past me down the the canyon.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2015, 01:34:11 AM »


Far in the back reaches of the canyon, I think that I arrived in heaven. The reflections off the rock faces were so peaceful in the dead quite. From time to time the music of song birds echoed through the canyon.



The calm pools with many beautiful reflections. As the rain fell on these pools it became magical.

I was not disappointed by this outing! 12.45 miles (20 km) round trip and well worth it. My list of plants seen was nearly double of previous outings this season. As for this wild territory, I can feel the Siren sweetly singing me back.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

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Re: 2015 - Robert's adventures in the Northern Sierra Nevada - California
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2015, 06:13:20 AM »
That's a very beautiful canyon Robert. I'm enjoying your threads and constantly find myself wishing I could be hiking with you and learning about your native flora from you in person and on location. Seeing that cave makes one think of bears... do you have trouble with bears stalking you while you're hiking? People say Australia is dangerous but I would rather come face to face with snakes and spiders than a hungry bear, any day!

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