Sunday, May 9, 2010

Winter's last gasp

Every now and then I just marvel at the diversity of life in California.  You can be at the beach in the morning and on top of a fairly tall mountain within in a couple of hours, or out in the desert rock hounding.  It has an amazing array of scenery.  This late in May, it's also extremely rare to see much snow on top of the mountains, unless they are the Sierra Nevada.  Those mountains, which create the geographic backbone of California run as high as 14,000 feet.  They trap a lot of snow during wet year, which this one qualifies as, and will have snow for a long time.  Some will linger year round on the tallest, or sun shaded sides of mountains.

Still, in May, we usually only see a sprinkling of snow in few spots on our local mountains.  Not this year, because we received several very cold storms in April.  The storms dumped snow at around the 5000 foot level and it's still there, not in copious amounts, but enough to notice if your hiking in view of them.  That sometimes lends itself well to interesting pictures.  While on a hike in the Devils Punchbowl, I ended up getting, what I think is a pretty decent shot of a yucca in bloom with the snow covered mountains in the background.

In a month, the snow will be gone, although based upon today's weather, which was cold and dreary, but with no rain, it's not out of the realm of possibility to see more rain storms.  We have been having warmer, rather than colder weather over the last week or so and I ran the sprinkler system on the lawn for the first time last night, so I think we only have two chances of getting more snow on the mountains this season and that would be slim and none.

I'm now trying to figure out when to take my camping vacation this summer.  The plan is to camp at Lassen Volcanic National Park this year.  I've been to Lassen probably 3 or 4 times, but I've never been able to get to the top of the mountain.  It's not a real tough climb, but it is 11,000 feet and because the park is much farther north, there will be more snow on the peak, especially this year.  Because of when work starts in August, I don't have the luxury of waiting until then when it's quite warm and probably snow free, so we'll have to take our chances with the snow.  But, as my son says, "It's an adventure."  Snow, or no snow, we'll be there sometime this summer.

Picture was taken at or near the following geocache:
Devil's Punchbowl - by Kit Fox

Profile for Webfoot

5 comments:

Kryptic said...

Having grown up in Rancho Cucamonga, I took for granted the richness of the experiences offered by living so close to the mountains, the desert and the beach in California. Having been gone for 3 years now reading your blog helps to ease the longing for home. Thanks for the beautiful photo of the Yucca in bloom. I do so miss the desert this time of year.

Webfoot said...

Thanks Kryptic. Glad you're enjoying this.

Steve Natoli said...

Nice shot of the yucca and snow-topped mountains.

I've been up to the top of Lassen and it wasn't a tough climb, but then I was 19 years old at the time.

Another time my wife and I went up there to camp and there was so much snow I didn't try to go up again. And that was in August!

Webfoot said...

Steve,
The many times I've been to Lassen, it always seemed to be in June, so the snow was still fairly deep. I can remember once hiking through hip deep snow to get to Bumpass Hell, which is several thousand feet below the summit of Lassen.

chaosmanor said...

All this talk of snow reminds me of a drive I took to Crater Lake with our youngest, Liann. It was after her first year at Humboldt State, in mid-May of 2002. Sharon was on a long biz trip, so Liann and I went camping for a couple of days at Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP, and then drove into Oregon. It started to snow an hour before we entered the NP, and it was nearly a blizzard by the time we hit the Rim. They keep the road to the Village open every day except in the worst storms, so we were able to wander around a little. Then the sky opened up, the clouds left for about an hour, and we could see the whole lake :-) Talk about stunning!! Then the clouds came back and the snow started falling. Timing Is Everything ;-)

We Left-Coasters are truly blessed to have such a diversity of landscapes and climates available to us. The weather can be capricious at times, and occasionally down-right dangerous, but the rewards are worth the occasional hazard.

Great photo, BTW.