Hiking Mineral King – Empire Area

Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in Mineral King, Photography | No Comments

To get to the area of the Empire Mines, it is best to leave early in the morning. The lower part of the Sawtooth/Timber Gap trail is HOT and STEEP; with its exposure, morning is the only sensible time to walk it. We met our friends at 8:30 on the bridge, which is early in Mineral King.

Those trees are Timber Gap.

The tram tender’s cabin ruins are visible from the trail just before leaving the trees (one more switchback to go!)

Jessica was on duty – making visitor contact, learning about trails, answering questions – she is an expert and a joy to hike with! This father/son team was hiking from Lone Pine (below Mt. Whitney) to Yosemite. Yes, you probably do have a car, but on foot is the another valid form of transportation. 

What happened to this tree?? Inquiring minds need to know.

Trail Guy found the remains of a cabin near Timber Gap. One reason for our hike was to show the area Archeologist.

The Archeologist has very specific rules, tools and methods.

The Ranger surveys her territory.

This Foxtail was another reason for our hike.

In case you can’t read the faint writing scratched in at the bottom, it says “10-19-67”. Largest Foxtail Pine on the ridge? In Mineral King? In Sequoia? In California? In the whole world?? It measured 25′-27″ around, probably bigger than in 1967.

The top splits into three, a Biblical tree, perhaps?

Our plans were thwarted by the threatening sky, and although 3 of us made it to the bunkhouse ruins below the Empire Mines, it was a hasty visit. We got a little bit wet, but no one melted.


Hiking Mineral King – The Nature Trail

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Mineral King, Photography | 3 Comments

This hardly qualifies as hiking – a one mile walk up a trail from Cold Springs Campground in Mineral King. There is always a great variety of wildflowers, and there are aspen trees, a little area of conifers, views of Sawtooth Peak, and a desert-ish area of sage, along with plenty of places to get your feet wet.

This sort of trail bed is called “rip-rap”. It is hard to walk on, both up and downhill.

Sawtooth is back there, but the light was not conducive to capturing it with my Press-Here-Dummy camera.

Sawtooth’s Peak is just out of sight in the back on the right. (yes, poetry, I know. . .)

Trail Guy along the Nature Trail that ought to be called the “Wildflower Walk” (thanks, Melissa!)

Someone was very vocal and visual about his opposition to Disney building a ski resort in Mineral King. Wow – carvings on aspen last a very long time.

There’s Sawtooth! (different day, different light)


Hiking Mineral King – Three Falls Below the Gate

Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in Mineral King, Photography | No Comments

About 1-1/2 miles below the end of the Mineral King Road, you can see a roaring section of falls over the edge, waaay down there. Trail Guy and I went exploring, following a friend’s vague instructions: “I just drop off those rocks below my cabin”. Oh yeah? I followed Trail Guy and trusted him to get me there and back in one piece. He did not fail.

Umm, yeah, we’ll just drop off this rock.

Hey Trail Guy, where is a trail??

A big snow avalanche came through here. The tall tree is missing branches very high up. The lower shelf is dirt-covered snow.

I came all this way to have a dead tree in my view??

Very powerful water – cool mist, scary edge, thundering roar.

Can you see the snow shelf here?

There were some flowers to take the edge off.

Some variety of Bro-dee-uh (spelled brodeaia or some such reckless combo of vowels)

Hiking Mineral King – Timber Gap

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Mineral King, Photography | 4 Comments

Samson wants to know when his people will be home more often. We miss you, Little Buddy.

Sometimes it rains, and I look out the door and am thankful for the rain and for a cabin that is dry inside.

This is the most photographed cabin – looks different from up here.

The lower 1/2 mile to Timber Gap is very very steep.

When we stop to breathe, the views are spectacular.

A huge snow avalanche went down this drainage.

Everything is up from here.

This is the view I sort of tried to capture in the first mural in the Mineral King Room in the Three Rivers Historical Museum.

Mountain chickadee?

I wussed out. Trail Guy asked if I was okay, and I responded, “a little light-headed”. I hate that. We went as far as the wildflowers. You saw them last Friday, but here they are again, because they were spectacular. (I know I already used that word – it fits.)

Week of Wildflowers – Everything!

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 in Color, Mineral King, Photography | 2 Comments

Today concludes the Week of Wildflowers in Mineral King. Sure, there are many I haven’t photographed, different ones along the road, ones that appeared earlier in the summer, ones that will appear later. This week has been about flowers that I saw and photographed in the last two weeks. And for the final post of Mineral King wildflowers, today’s photos are about everything, all together, everywhere, Yea God! (boo devil)


Week of Wildflowers – Blue

Posted by on Jul 20, 2017 in Color, Mineral King, Photography | No Comments

Blue includes purplish blue, and perhaps bluish purple. Some of these you may have seen previously on the blog, because blue flowers are my favorite. 

My favorite penstemon – this only appears as “Foothill Penstemon” in my four books, but that can’t be true at 7000-9000′.

Blue Lips

Fivespot, still in bloom if you climb toward Timber Gap (last week, anyway!)

Nightshade – don’t know the particular variety

More penstemon, because I have it.

Okay, all the Ls line up here:

Languid Ladies, AKA Sierra Bluebells



May I remind you again how much I adore this penstemon?

A variety of Bro-dee-uh (spelled brodiaea or some such reckless combo of vowels)

These are butterflies, not flowers. Why aren’t they called “flutterbys”?

These aren’t in Mineral King but are along the road at about 5000 feet (near the Wolverton gate/helipad). I include them here in case someone knows what these are. They do not exist in any of my books (or my neighbors’ books either.)

Week of Wildflowers – Red

Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Color, Mineral King, Photography | One Comment

Reddish is a more accurate term for today’s Mineral King wildflowers. I am including orange and pinkish flowers too. Someone pointed out to me once that red is very uncommon in nature. It is used for accents rather than in large amounts.

Here are some oranges:

Much brighter orange in person than this anemic photo – I never noticed it before this year and have no idea what its name is.

Western Wallflower is a tricky one – sometimes it is orange, sometimes it is yellow.

This is a lichen, not a flower. The color was irresistible! (It might be a little smaller than a quarter, in case you were thinking of pouring some Cap’n Crunch into it.)

Now, reds.

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush again

Penstemon, Goldenbeard penstemon, or California fuchsia? Beats me, it is striking. (You know you want to laugh at that. . .)

Crimson Columbine

More of the striking penstemon.

Pinks are sort of red, red plus white. They certainly don’t belong with white, blue, or yellow.

Elephant Head

Another penstemon, called “Pride of the Mountains”

Heather or Laurel? I’m going with Red Heather (ignore the phlox in the background – they already had their turn.)

I don’t know this delicate little pinkish thing that resembles manzanita but is very low to the ground.

Have I ever seen this before? It seems to be everywhere this year. I think it will turn into a berry.


Shooting Star – often more purplish than pinkish, sometimes named “Jeffrey”

Pussy-paws. They have never been so tall!


Week of Wildflowers – Yellow

Posted by on Jul 18, 2017 in Color, Mineral King, Photography | One Comment

As I was thinking about a week of wildflowers (Mineral King wildflowers, specifically), it occurred to me that all the flowers can be categorized with the same colors I use for painting – white, yellow, blues and reds. (orange, pink, and purple pose a bit of a challenge – just work with me here. . .)

Here are eight yellow wildflowers I found recently in Mineral King:


Cinquefoil? Not shiny, so I don’t think it is cinquefoil. Yellow flowers and I don’t really understand one another very well.

Sulphur flower – this is new to me this year. Probably just blew past it in all the previous years.

Meadow Hosakia is also new to me this year. It’s been right there in my favorite book all along, but I disregarded it.

Monkey flower, actually “seepspring monkey flower”.

Western Wallflower (who comes up with these names??)

Dandelions qualify as wildflowers in Mineral King; what you do with them in your own yard is your own business.

I don’t know – another ubiquitous tiny yellow flower

Why is a yellow flower named “Violet”? (I just work here, but inquiring minds need to know.)

Week of Wildflowers – White

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Color, Mineral King, Photography | 6 Comments

I’m able to spend lots of time in Mineral King this month. While hiking, I think. Sometimes I think about the blog, and the idea of a week of wildflowers came to me. Today, white! I’m doing my best to look at white flowers and learn some new names. Several blog readers have told me that they love white flowers, so out of respect for you, I will try to stop ignoring them. Here are 17 for you to enjoy: (there are more than 17 out there along the trails but I probably ignored them.)

Dandelion puff


Not sure – sort of looks like Pennyroyal, but I forgot to scratch and sniff

Cow parsnip

Wild Geranium

I don’t know and can’t find in any of my 4 books!

Morning glory (not the kind that plagues the farmers down the hill)

Rein Orchis (weird, I know)

Pennyroyal, for sure

Knotweed? Sort of looks like it, but not exactly and wasn’t growing in a wet area.

Phlox – sometimes these are lavender.

Mariposa Lily (pay no attention to the tiny yellows here)



Naked Buckwheat

Don’t know and can’t find – it is exactly the sort of white flower that I usually just pass by as if it is just another grass or leaf.

These might be Baby’s Breath. Who knew they existed outside of florists’ shops?

Mineral King Water and Wildflowers

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in Mineral King, Photography | 6 Comments

I know, Mineral King is supposed to be the topic on Fridays, but I have so many photos to show you that I’m breaking my policy. Can’t get fired . . . 

Crystal Creek where the trail crosses

Crystal Creek below the trail crossing

Indian paintbrush

Mariposa Lily, a non-boring white flower

The Pussy Paws are tall this year. Because they aren’t lying on the dirt, I was able to smell them, and they are STRONG. Who knew??

The lupine is a little faded this year.

My favorite penstemmon – I don’t ever remember seeing it in Mineral King before!

Fiesta Flower, I think. . .

Trail Guy along the Nature Trail that ought to be called the “Wildflower Walk” (thanks, Melissa!)

The larkspur are thick, but their color is weak

Rein Orchis is the weirdest name. It is an odd shaped white flower.

The ground is polka-dotted with Sierra Star Tulip.

Inside one of the most charming cabins (not mine, which is also charming).

Red-breasted Sap-sucker – never heard of it, never seen one before.

What is this unknown white flower? If I didn’t ignore them in all my flower books, I might know.