Date: April 17, 2017
Place: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California
Last spring was wonderful. After five years of drought a wet winter happened and in response Southern California burst in a mind blowing superbloom display.
I missed the early wave of this year's superbloom. Unable to travel for a number of reasons all converging on the month of March and the beginning of April, I had to settle for drooling over the magnificent images that fellow flower appreciators posted online.
Once finished our family obligations we were ready for the real fun. Vacating spring break of everything else we packed ourselves with Grandma Quail and headed south to see the desert bloom of Southern California. I have already posted about most of that trip but so far delayed writing about our first stop at Carrizo Plain National Monument. Partly because I have already posted about Carrizo Plain in this blog and partly because of the daunting task of selecting only a few images of the hundreds of photos Pappa Quail and I have taken that day. Now, in anticipation of this spring's bloom I finally finalized this post.
I have posted in the past about our hikes in Carrizo Plain National Monument, including the nice-yet-mediocre bloom display a couple of springs ago. I am therefore not describing these hikes again here and this post is mainly a spring celebration post with lots of flower photos, some animals too, and mainly a show of the dazzling display that this unique place can put on when conditions are right.
We entered the park from the north and stopped by the overlook hill and the Soda Lake. We started by going up the hill for a look around.
|Onion, Allium sp.|
|Snake's Head (Malacothrix coulteri)|
Many of the flowers were of familiar genera, only bigger and more beautiful than I've ever seen before.
|Baby Blue-eyes, Nemophila menziesii|
|Cream Cups, Platystemon californicus|
|Smooth Tidytips, Layia chrysanthemoides|
|Crinkled Onion, Allium crispum|
Moving slowly downhill were walking on a narrow foot path in a field of larkspur blossoms, of more than one species. I don't think I've ever seen before larkspurs in such a high density.
I have also never seen so many people at Carrizo Plain before. Sadly, not all of the flower appreciators that visited there appreciated them enough to stick to the trails - there were many trampled areas where the flowers were flattened to the ground, broken by careless feet.
|Sphinx Moth visiting a trampled larkspur|
|Larkspur on goldfield background|
|Common Side-blotched Lizard|
|Dense Owl's Clover, Castilleja densiflora|
|Great Valley Phacelia, Phacelia ciliata|
|Alkali Goldfields, Lasthenia ferrisiae|
The dirt road up to the campground and on to the Caliente Ridge is very narrow and in some places very steep. Pappa Quail was at the wheel but I kept interrupting him, requesting frequent stops to take flower photos.
|San Joaquin Blazingstar, Mentzelia pectinata|
|A yellow bouquet|
|Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum|
|Bladderpod, Peritoma arborea|
Carrizo Plain, view from the Client Ridge
|Purple and Yellow|
|Chia Sage, Salvia columbariae|
And then there were those who stood out.
|Desert Candle, Caulanthus inflatus|
I suppose I went through that phase too. I still love seeing wildlife, but this trip was all about wildflowers.
|Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja affinis|
|Wind Poppy, Papaver heterophyllum|
|Lupine, Lupinus sp.|
|Shrubby Ragwort, Senecio flaccidus|
|View northwest from Client Ridge.|
We drove all the way down to the Plain and found the dirt road which crosses to south of the Soda Lake eastward. It took us about an hour to get to Wallace Creek and the day was getting short.
Already from far we could tell that the peak bloom was over. I tried not to show too much disappointment when we came to a stop and saw hardly any bloom there. Still, the hills were green and not grayish-brown as we've seen them before.
|The trail along the foultline|
|Indian Clover, Trifolium albopurpureum|
|The faulty bend of Wallace Creek|
|Lupine, Lupinus sp.|
|Salinas Milk Vetch (Astragalus macrodon)|
|The Tremblor Range|
|Nelson's Antelope Squirrel|
|Bloom on Tremblor Range|
We had spent that night in Bakersfield. Still reveling in the day's sights I believed that would be the highest point of our trip. I was proved wrong. Very wrong, in fact, because on the following day we were entering the Mojave Desert and a an entirely different Garden of Eden. Still, it was our best visit at Carrizo Plain National Monument and I have no doubt it wasn't the last.