Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in Personal, Photography | One Comment

Extra birthday wishes to Sylvia, Pam, (oh no – is yours the first or the second of Sept.?) and Ron T.! Happy birthday, friends!

Today’s post is for Marilyn, AKA The Captain. Just some photos of new flowers, and a get-well wish along with a birthday greeting.


(Remember when we found Western Eupatorium??)

What is this?



What is this?

What is this?

What is this?

What is this?

What is this?

What is this?


Western Eupatorium

Hiking Mineral King – White Chief Part 2

White Chief might be the most beautiful place accessible by foot from Mineral King. Short hike, steep, lots of variety. Any time Trail Guy encounters someone along the trail below the Eagle Lake/White Chief junction, he tells them they will be happier if they choose White Chief. 

Here are more photos from our Eclipse Day White Chief walk/hike.

What is this flowering shrub??

What is this teensy darker version of a Baby-Blue-Eyes??

What is this unknown yellow flower??

Slow but handy way to fill a water bottle.

There are more photos, but they were on Trail Guy’s camera because I overworked my battery. Aiming at the sun may not have been such a good idea. . . 

More tomorrow? Stay tuned. . .

Hiking Mineral King – White Chief

The eclipse. Big deal. Lots of chatter. Lots of ideas. Lots of rah-rah. What to do about it in Mineral King?

Easy! Poke a hole in a piece of cardboard with an ice pick, get a piece of white paper, and walk to White Chief. 

I say “walk” because I elected to not carry a pack or food. My camera was in my pocket, and a water bottle was in my hand. Let’s go!

Neither Trail Guy nor I had ever used a device like this. We both decided that if a “pinhole” (ice pick sized) is good, then why not a larger hole?

The answer is that the small hole works; the larger ones do not. We have a theory on why this is, but it will take too long to type.

I couldn’t tell the difference between light from an eclipsed sun and light when high clouds are obscuring the sunshine.

See the light in the ice-pick-sized hole? The moon kept eclipsing the sun for awhile, although I was hard-pressed to tell without the device.

Trail Guy insisted that the light was different from just a cloudy day. He’s observant and artistic like that; me? I just bumble along.

Since the steepest part of the hike was behind us, we decided to just keep on trucking up the trail into White Chief. The day became very crystal clear.

When this thick cloud passed over the sun, I aimed my camera at it. Does this look like an eclipse?

To be continued. . . tune in tomorrow.

Hiking Mineral King – Eagle Lake

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Photography | 2 Comments

Remember that I said the last time I saw Eagle Lake it was empty because some stupid hon-yock opened the dam? I didn’t want that to be my last view of the place, so I told Trail Guy I wanted to go there, and I hoped he would join me. 

He consented. I asked why he dislikes that hike so much; his reply is that the trail bed is horrible.

As usual, he was right.

We started around 8:45 a.m. on the Eagle/Mosquito Trail. It’s 1/2 miles from our cabin to the junction of White Chief Canyon. 

This is the prettiest area of the trail – flat, usually full of wildflowers, running water alongside the trail, shade, and TONS OF MOSQUITOES! So unfair. . .

Was it just 2 weeks ago that this meadow was completely full of Jeffrey Shooting Star? Now it is full of knotweed, but it is white so makes no impression in a photo.

We climbed through an area I had completely forgotten about. I knew the rocks were coming, and forgot about this buffer zone.

See? The rocks.

I looked back at Sawtooth and its shadow, but I didn’t turn into a pillar of salt.

Apparently the rocks aren’t all that stable.

After I navigated over/around this big boy, I caught up to Trail Guy standing by this:

I said, “WESTERN EUPATORIUM! I haven’t seen this in years, and the last time was on the Franklin Lake trail!”

Trail Guy probably thought I was a little delirious.

To be continued. . .

Trail Guy’s Favorite Mineral King Hike

Sometimes I have to be down the hill, feeding Samson, watering the yard, blogging, drawing, taking care of business, fulfilling promises. Meanwhile, Trail Guy the Retiree is in Mineral King, hiking and taking photos for me to put on my blog.

His favorite place to go is White Chief. Mine too, unless it is the junction of the Franklin/Farewell Gap trails, or Farewell Gap itself. The lakes might could be, but we don’t go there much so I can’t remember. (I might could go there, but I’ll prolly be down the hill at the liberry instead.)

And sometimes Trail Guy comes home, especially if the Giants are on teevee.

Not the Giants; Samson wants to know why the Giants’ games are blocked out in our zip code.

Mineral King Wildflowers for Carol

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal, Photography | No Comments

Happy Birthday, Carol! These flowers are for you today.

Hiking Mineral King – Farewell Gap

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal, Photography | No Comments

Two days after Trail Guy went to Farewell Gap via a loop, we returned together with our new best hiking buddy Jessica. The point of the hike was to see Sky Pilot, an elusive high-elevation flower that we’ve never seen anywhere except Farewell Gap (not that we go anywhere outside of Mineral King. . .)

Here are my photos of that trip.

The flowers are still great at the “Junction Cafe”. This time we didn’t stop here for lunch but just kept heading up and up and up.

A previously-ignored or never-before-noticed, not-in-the-books yellow wildflower

This reminded us of marigolds, and if I can’t find it in any book, I will simply title it myself: Mountain Marigold.

I think this is the same thing, looking down from the top. Most of them had 3 sections of petals.

Stonecrop? Nope, that’s yellow. This is an unknown high-altitude succulent.

More unknown high-altitude succulents.

Blue Lips are still in bloom up high. This is late for them!

Identify yourself, Unknown Shrub!

The lupine up on Farewell Gap have white accents, and the penstemon is a color I’ve never seen it in before.

Sky Pilot – THIS is why we hiked 6.7 miles one way, uphill.

I was thinking of this hat as a Lupine-head, but Jessica wore it in honor of the Sky Pilot.

I felt sort of tired, and thought, “How disappointing, I’m out of shape”. It later occurred to me that middle-aged people who are truly out of shape don’t hike 13+ miles in one day at high altitudes (or low ones either).

Sorry, Trail Guy – no one will come by to give you a lift back down to the cabin.

Jess and me with the Golden Trout Wilderness/Forest Service land behind us.

Jessica and me with Timber Gap in the background.

Franklin Creek continues to flow strongly, but it is easy to ford now.

Hiking Mineral King – Peculiar Sights

Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 in Mineral King, Peculiar Sights, Photography | No Comments


When I hike, I think. When I think, I ALWAYS have questions.


What is this and why can’t I find it in any of my books? It is growing by the  lower trail crossing of Franklin Creek.

What is this and why can’t I find it in any of my books? It is a yellow flower I always wrote off as “too similar to all the rest of the boring yellows”. This year I am learning as many new flowers as possible – new to me, previously ignored.

Being a color junkie, I HAD to know if all these flowers are the same color. The largest petal is from a Jeffrey Shooting Star, the middle petal is from Fireweed, and the one on the left is Rock Fringe.

On the Franklin/Farewell Trail above the lowest Franklin stream crossing but below the junction is this odd view of Farewell Gap.

Remember when Trail Guy went into the snow tunnel?

Here are his photos from inside the tunnel:

About a week later, the tunnel looked like this. He walked in it a ways, and then climbed out onto the pinkish algae-clad snow.


The more he rubbed and tried to wash off the algae, the redder it became.

Is this Laurel or Heather? I believe they are twins, not quite identical but very close.

Meet Lousewort. Why is he in the flower books and so many other prettier flowers are not?

You’ve seen this in a previous post – it is a YELLOW Violet. Say what? I thought yellow and violet were complements on the color wheel. What’s next – a blue orange??


Hiking Mineral King – A Loop

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Mineral King, Photography | 2 Comments

Trail Guy prefers to loop hikes to up-and-backs on the same trail. While I was reuniting with Redwood High School Class of ’77, he was making a loop from White Chief over to the Farewell Canyon and up into Farewell Gap. Here are his photos.

I think these pure yellow columbine are called “Sierra Columbine”.

These 2-colored Columbine might be called “Alpine Columbine”. It all depends on which wildflower book one refers to.

The elusive and rare “Sky Pilot” can almost always be found on Farewell Gap in July.

Hiking Mineral King – Eagle Meadow

Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 in Mineral King, Photography | 4 Comments

Eagle Lake is about 4 miles from the Mineral King valley floor, but the trail is steep and rough. In spite of that, it is probably the most popular destination. Trail Guy doesn’t like going there and I haven’t been in several years. The last time I was there, the lake was almost empty, because some stupid hon-yock opened the gate on the dam.

This is no excuse to miss out on Eagle Meadow below the lake or the sloping meadow below Eagle Meadow.

Another unknown white flower, low to the ground and with a distinctive leaf pattern – I WILL find the name!

Labrador Tea, but not the true kind of the northeast.

Lousewort – this strikes me as a true Why Bother, but it is in my favorite flower book by Steven Stocking.

One also encounters a mysterious sinkhole, where water continually flows into and yet it doesn’t fill up. The trail looks positively bucolic, but there are armies, platoons and relentless swarms of ravenous bugs. There is a meadow before you begin climbing to Eagle Lake, and it was full of Jeffrey Shooting Star and Knotweed. (and bugs that bite.)