Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Army Pass

Hiking the trail over New Army Pass (From Inyo County, California) is a high country adventure worth making. The pass itself is right on the boundary between Inyo and Tulare Counties. From the Inyo County side (take the road SW from Lone Pine up into the parking area) the trail passes through Cottonwood Lakes – a cluster of high elevation lakes that feed from snow melt near timber line (over 10,000 feet). We spent three days in this magnificent country two years ago (in July) and had a wonderful time. There are a number of foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana) groves which are uncommon anywhere else on the eastern side of the Sierra. This picture is of one of the Cottonwood Lakes just east of New Army Pass.

Even in the summer there can be a morning frost on the ground at this elevation. The plants are all well adapted to grow and bloom in this harsh environment. This second picture is of rock fringe (Epilobium obcordatum) that we found holding to a rock face just below the pass. This is a cold and windy holdout, and there were pockets of snow not far away. It is a remarkable plant in a remarkable place.

Here are the three of us (me, Michael, Spencer) a bit travel-weary but happy among the foxtails. You can almost see how spectacular the air is

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