Backpacking in the wilderness yields a score of new sights and marvels, some of which make you stop and wonder — how they came to exist, or how they persist.
Landscapes like this view from 11,000+ foot Summit Pass, in the Hoover Wilderness in the eastern Sierras are a natural wonder to me.
Life exists and persists in the harshest of conditions at these high altitudes, making me appreciate what I see even more.
Wild flowers were especially vibrant this year after the mammoth snowfall in the mountains last winter. This year they will leave a lot of seed behind, which may take years to germinate depending on conditions in the next years.
Fireweed is a colorful pioneer in disturbed areas until other bushes and trees eventually outcompete them for light and water.
life growing on life — fruticose lichen on red fir
The lichen combination of Cyanobacteria and Fungi is also lush this year, after a banner year of snowfall.
You wonder how life can spring up in the middle of rocky dirt. But Pinedrops plants are parasitic and derive their energy and carbon from the mycorrhizae fungi that surround the roots of other plants.
Our hikes took us through lush meadows, over or through rushing creeks, dark pine forests, and occasionally along broad swaths of sheer granite, a place where it is easy to lose the trail. The trees here seem to be growing right out of the rock.
Small rock cairns mark the trail on exposed granite surfaces. In some areas the granite has been polished smooth by glacial movement of sand and rocks.