Sunday, March 5, 2017

Snow on the Mountain

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Sometimes it doesn't pay to be early. The Pantoll gate was locked when I arrived, well after 7 a.m., and probably closer to 8 a.m. I pulled into the campers' parking lot and got out to pay the $8 parking fee when a beautiful downpour of small hail turned the place into a wonderland. On second thought I decided to drive down the road to park for free, then walk back up to hike out the Matt Davis Trail. While I was setting up this shot of my first shooting stars of the season, a park ranger drove down Pantoll Road and opened the gate. It was about 8:20.

I walked a little farther along the trail to see what I might find in the woods and came across a bunch of calypso orchids. I was seeing calypsos three weeks earlier last year. Maybe they've been waiting for the rains to ease up. After shooting the orchid I hiked back to the car and drove up to Rock Spring, then headed out along West Ridgecrest to look for mushrooms. I was still finding quite a lot of fungi at this time of year in 2014, but my usual haunts on the mountain haven't been producing much this season, and I found very little of interest.

Instead of mushrooms, I found lots of Indian warrior.

Out in the open I found quite a bit of Lomatium getting started. As I was taking my time to poke around I realized the sky was getting interesting, so I headed back to the car to drive out to Druid Rocks.

My thermometer said it was a balmy 49 degrees, but the windchill was something else. A strong and steady wind was howling over the ridge, and I kept ducking behind big rocks to get out of the finger-nipping cold.

It wasn't long before I'd had enough of the cold, so I hiked back to the car and drove it to a nice overlook to await the incoming storm. I could see huge curtains of precipitation falling to the north and figured they would soon drift south toward me.

What I didn't figure was that the precipitation would fall as snow! It didn't stick, but it was still a beautiful thing to see. I posted a little bit of video at the end of the post.

Once the snow let up I drove back to have a closer look at one of the very few mushrooms I found all morning. Like a waxy cap I recently found, this was another stalked mushroom that seemed content just to put its head above ground and go no further. 

Here it is, pried loose to show its very short, fluted stalk. I took a picture then tucked it back from whence it came.

I shot this hand-held from inside the car, so it is what it is.

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