Place: South Warner Wilderness, Alturas, California
Coordinates: 41.35829, -120.284187
Length: 2.5 miles
After our first and very successful family backpacking trip on spring 2016 to the Manzana Creek we agreed to go again, this time during the 4th of July week. Inspired by a trip I had with my friends last fall I aspired to backpack in Yosemite National Park. On the very day the lottery of the coveted wilderness permit opened I sent forth my application, but I didn't win the lottery. I moaned about being unlucky, but as it turned out, had I won the lottery it would have been useless for us now because the high Sierra is still under a thick layer of snow.
It didn't take me long to decide our plan B. A quick call to the local ranger office and the decision was made we were going to the South Warner Wilderness at the Modoc Country.
We had visited the Modoc only once before, for 3 days during the spring break of 2014. Spring was just beginning there and the weather was somewhat challenging. Still, we had a nice discovery walk at the Modoc NWR, an interesting camping experience at the Stough Reservoir, and a lovely hike around Clear Lake. When we left the area it was with every thought of going back there when the chance came. And now the chance had come.
I selected for us the Pine Creek Basin to Patterson Lake Trail, which looked very promising on the map and from internet images I looked at. The ranger I talked with before going had told me that they expected the trail to be clear of any snow. So we packed our gear and after a day's travel and a night in Alturas we arrived at the Pine Creek Basin Trailhead.
Already at the trailhead I found lovely flowers to photograph, in between getting our packs ready and making final decisions as to what stays in the car and what goes along with us.
|Sticky Starwart, Pseudostellaria jamesiana|
|Pine Creek Trail, near trailhead.|
|Slender Beardtongue, Penstemon gracilentus|
|Ballhead Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum capitatum|
|Bog Orchid, Plantathera dilatata|
|American Brooklime, Veronica americana|
|Crimson Columbine, Aquilegia formosa|
|Tailed Kittentails, Synthyris missurica|
Below the trees bloomed the usual forest floor crowd: false lilies, violets, blue eyes Mary, and others.
|False Lily of the Valley, Maianthemum sp.|
|Astoria Violet, Viola praemorsa|
|Blue-eyed Mary, Collinsia sp.|
|Mule Ear and Larkspur|
|California Corn Lily, Veratrum californicum var. californicum|
Back in the forest for the last lag of hiking for that day. We had come across a gentleman who was hiking up to Pine Creek Basin. He was alone and he was walking at a great speed. But he did stop to chat with us as he overtook us from behind. He told us that he had grown up in the area and divulged many good ideas for future hikes at the Warners.
|Sticky Currant, Ribes viscosissimum|
And then I caught sight of something even more beautiful: a shiny emerald-colored pond way below, and a gashing creek cascading right into it. I looked up - my family were already far ahead. I Enjoyed the sight by myself and then hurried on to catch up with them. They had not noticed it on the way up but they would on our way down and out, three days later.
|An emerald pond with waterfall|
And I could tell that the area was different because the vegetation was changing. All of a sudden there were new wildflowers to see.
|Sierra Bluebells, Mertensia oblongifolia|
The trees opened up once more and we were washed with brilliant sunshine. By now, however, we were hot and sweaty, so we sat down under a tree and enjoyed the scenery from within our shadedspot.
|California Groundsel, Senecio aronicoides|
|Pine Creek Basin|