Carson Pass

July 2016


Carson Pass

4th of July ~ It was so splendid our first day at Carson Pass that we returned the next to explore again, this time off-trail along a ridge to 9100 ft, a place of wildflower delight (see map next slide). Following that walk, we soaked in Grover Hot Springs and dined at the nearby Stonefly.

Pics: (1) Juniper Tree, (2) Sardine Creek along east side of Sonora Pass, (3) Woolly Mule Ears, (4) Spreading Phlox, (5) Blazing Star.


Map ~ Mid summer, when the snow lingers on high peaks, is a grand time to explore the High Sierra's and is a time of wildflower excellence. So over the 4th of July holiday we spend 2 days exloring the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) north of Carson Pass. The first day we walked about 5 miles, along the RED route, to a viewpoint of Meiss Lake (north of map). In the middle of that walk (about 1-1/4 mile from the trailhead) we reached a watershed divide at a pond, where north of this divide streams make up the head waters of the Upper Truckee River. The next day, walking about 4-1/2 miles, we returned to revel in wildflower splender and walked a ridge, along the GREEN route, to 9100 feet. Thin air, grand views, and wildflowers everywhere, all simple pleasures.

Spreading Phlox

Spreading Phlox ~ This ground-hugging flower was widespread along Carson Pass. It made its home carpeting the landscape in open, sunny areas.

Juniper Tree

Juniper Tree (Juniperus occidentalis var. australis) ~ Just below tree line north of Carson Pass at about 8600 feet we found a grove of majestic Juniper trees.


Pond ~ Near the crest along the PCT north of Carson Pass is this pond at altitude 8750 feet. Its location very nearly demarks northern and southern watersheds. Just below the pond to the south is where we began our excursion up the ridgeline for our 2nd day's walk.

Woolly Mule Ears

Woolly Mule Ears (Wyethia mollis) ~ We were blessed, for we viewed fields of these lovely flowers on our walks. Seems these "fuzzy ears" burst with large yellow blooms in early summer (or maybe late Spring at 9000 feet), just after the high altitude snow recedes. Most delightful!

Sierra Stonecrop

Sierra Stonecrop (Sedum obtusatum) ~ Hugging the ground at elevation 9000 feet, this succulent with waxy leaves has flowers with petals tinged with yellow (or maybe green or orange if it pleases them).

Leichtlin Mariposa Lily

Leichtlin Mariposa Lily (Calochortus leichtlinii) - Maybe it's the sun drenched altitude for these splendid flowers at 9000 feet liked to congregate in clusters. They also seemed to be more squat to the ground in this long-hours-of-sunlight environment than those I observed elsewhere with longer stems growing on a mountainside with but half a day's sunlight. Mother Nature at her adaptive best.

Blazing Star

Blazingstar (Mentzelia laevicaulis) - Although the stems grow to a weedy-looking height, the blooms are delightful. This flower was found along HWY 89 at 5700 feet elevation on the west side of Monitor Pass.

Sardine Creek

Sardine Creek ~ Among the numerous creeks along HWY 108 on the east side of Sonora Pass is this one at 8530 feet elevation.

Deadman Creek

Deadman Creek ~ From Sonora Pass heading west on HWY 108 we followed Deadman Creek. Here we stopped (at elevation 8500 feet) for a view of rushing water.