Beginning of the Blooming Season at Bearbones

We had beautiful weather and terrific views. Looking west from the old lookout site on the summit, we could see plenty of snow still on Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak, both around 6000′, over 1000′ above our elevation on Bearbones. The little open area in the distance in the middle of the photo is Heavenly Bluff.

On Friday, May 19, Kris Ellsbree and I attempted to get to what I call “Heavenly Bluff” to see the early flowering Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca). We drove up Road 2127, south of Hills Creek Reservoir. Like a number of other roads in the area, this seems to have deteriorated quite a bit in the last couple of years. We also had to cross two patches of snow. I had my doubts we could make it all the way to Heavenly Bluff this early, especially this year, so I wasn’t surprised to get stopped by a very large tree fallen across the road (which had already been removed by the time I called the Middle Fork Ranger District office on Tuesday, but they said there was snow blocking the road a mile farther up the road, so we wouldn’t have made it anyway). Luckily, we were only a half mile from the Bearbones Mountain trailhead, which was my backup plan and a lovely spot in its own right. It was very early in the season on Bearbones, with a relatively small number of species in bloom, but we had a successful and enjoyable day. Here are some photographic highlights.

We saw quite a few Moss’s elfins, one of the earliest butterflies to emerge. The early flowering Sierra sanicle (Sanicula graveolens) was a favorite and abundant nectar source.

Although the Siskiyou fritillary population on Bearbones is much smaller than the one on Heavenly Bluff, I was still very excited that Kris was able to spot 4 budding plants, 2 on the summit and 2 on the side ridge. I’ve only ever seen a couple of mature plants in this population. Hopefully this is a young population that will bloom more as times goes on.

Glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) were quite fresh on the north side of the summit.

You have to get out really early to catchcute little steer’s head (Dicentra uniflora) in bloom, and we saw some still in bud. The population is larger than I realized, no doubt because they are mostly gone by the time I usually get up here.

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