Date: August 3, 2019
Place: Lake Margaret, Kirkwood, California
Coordinates: 38.704396, -120.069563
Length: about 5.5 miles round trip
Level: moderate +
A few months ago when I was just beginning to formulate my annual backpacking trip I saw an announcement on the California Native Plants Society page about a botanical guided hike planned in the area of Kirkwood on the Saturday of August 3, right at the end of the week I had planned my backpacking on. I did a quick assessment in my mind and promptly signed up to participate in that hike.
And so, after completing a wonderful five-days backpacking trip in Yosemite my friend and I drove up to Kit Carson Campground where we had spent the night before the group hike and, on the following morning drove up to the small Lake Margaret parking lot off rte 88.
|Near the Trailhead|
|The hike as was captured by my GPS|
|Dwarf Larkspur, Delphinium depauperatum|
|Broad leaf Lupine, Lupinus latifolius|
|California Corn Lily, Veratrum californicum var. californicum|
|Twinberry, Lonicera involucrata|
|Sierra Tiger Lily, Lilium parvum|
But then again, wildflowers were the main item on my agenda for this hike.
|Pretty Face, Triteleia ixioides|
|Dusky Onion, Allium campanulatum|
But those of us who took it slow were treated to a pretty flower, one which Ive never seen in bloom before: Lewis' Monkeyflower. Not long ago all monkey flowers were grouped in the Mimulus genus. Recently however, they were split into several genera and now I have a hard time figuring out which is what. I was glad to have been told the species name of this one.
|Lewis' Monkeyflower, Erythranthe lewisii|
|Groundsel, Senecio triangularis|
|Brewer's Lupine, Lupinus breweri|
|Summer Coral Root, Corallorhiza maculata|
Soon our group stretched into a long string of people again, each of us looking at different plants.
|Alpine Shooting star, Primula tetrandra|
|Sierra Beardstongue, Penstemon heterodoxus|
Having hiked this trail before, the group's botanist knew where to find wildflowers off the trail and he beaconed us to follow him to the base if the rocks to take a closer look at some of them.
|Pink Alumroot, Heuchera rubescens|
|Scarlet Paintbrush, Castilleja miniata|
|Crossing Caples Creek|
|Going off trail to see wildflowers|
|Little Elephantshead, Pedicularis attollens ssp. attollens|
|Oceanspray, Holodiscus discolor|
There were many other hikers there as well, and some had dogs with them. I was fortunate to hava had the chance to photograph some of the multitudes of butterflies that were flying all over the place.
|Coyote Mint, Monardella villose|
|Regel's Mountain penstemon, Penstemon roezlii|
Passing a small forest pond I stopped to look at the perfect reflection of the calm water.
The wetland surrounding the pond was another colorful bed of colorful mountain wildflowers.
|Brewer's Fleabane, Erigeron breweri|
|Larger Mountain Monkeyflower, Erythranthe tilingii|
|Primrose Monkeyflower, Erythranthe primuloides|
Near the creek - a familiar mountain shrub, the rose meadowsweet in bright pink bloom and lots of bugs buzzing around it.
|Rose Meadowsweet, Spiraea splendens|
|Scarlet Gilia, Ipomopsis aggregata|
|Leichtlin's Mariposa Lily, Calochortus leichtlinii|
Meanwhile our much smaller group assembled on the side of the trail and looked at what was blooming nearby.
|Streamside Bluebells, Mertensia ciliata|
Of those there were many. Group participants who had done this very same hike at this exact time of year last year said that there were much fewer wildflowers then. This year the snow stuck late and everything was peaking when we were there.
|Sierra Larkspur, Delphinium glaucum|
|Horse Mint, Agastache urticifolia|
The last part of our trail ascended up through a crevice in a a steep rock face. From there we descended in a single file into the basin of Lake Margaret. (Full view of the lake at the top of this post).
|Lake Margaret, view from above|
A mamma mallard swam by, accompanied by three ducklings. They didn't come too close and i was glad to see that they didn't seem habituated on human food. I didn't see any other waterfowl.
|Mamma Mallard and one of the three ducklings I saw with her|
|Our hike's organizer diving for White-stemmed Pondweed|
Our way back from the lake was much quicker. Naturally, we did not stop an each wildflower we saw, having appreciated them all on the way in. I did however, take the opportunity to get another try at flowers that I didn't think I captured well the first time.
|Monkshood, Aconitum columbianum|
Not that we neglected the wildflowers - I spotted a pine wood lousewort that was in bloom and pointed it out to the others. This we've seen on the way in were not yet in bloom and it was nice to see one that was.
|Pine Woods Lousewort, Pedicularis semibabata|
|Sierra Juniper, Juniperus grandis|
|Huckleberry Oak, Quercus vacciniifolia|
But eagerness to get home did not come in place of wanting to stay some more in the mountains. I wish I could.
I also learned about this beautiful trail and the lovely lake at its end. I don't know that I would have ever found out about it by myself. The trail is beautiful, and while fairly well marked, it is quite rugged at places and involved creek crossing on fallen log bridges and some scrambling up and down rocks. It's well worth the time to go and explore this pretty corner of the forest.
|Coming up to the trailhead|
Many thanks to Cynthia, Matt, and Mona of Calflora for organizing this hike and for sharing their immense knowledge and love of wildflowers with us!