Kearsarge Pass, Sequoia National Park, California

Dear Kearsarge Pass, With your striking red furrowed bark of Foxtail Pines, cousin of the Bristlecone Pines. Soft rounded valley formed by the ancient lapping of glacial tongues. And alpine lichens slowly crawling on the teeth of giants. Loved every moment, Nastassja

Arriving at Kearsarge Pass; Nastassja getting out her collection gear.
Arriving at Kearsarge Pass; Nastassja getting out her collection gear.
Jason at Kearsarge
The wonderful Jason Hollinger, checking out some of the lichen flora before started the survey.

gorgeous granite ridgelin
Granite dancing. Check out the movement lines of the granite, you can almost see it moving slow slow curving here and then back and the granite pushes upwards, continues to push upwards. Though there’s some debate whether the slow rise of the Sierras is due to anthropogenic forces — depletion of aquifers. See http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/humans-causing-californias-mountains-grow
primula-close-up
Sierra primrose, Primula suffrutescens, after loosing its flowers. Here you just see its bracts.- how does it thrive in the alpine? And who are its pollinators up here?
Granite boulders looking like people of the rocks.
Rock people. Can you see them in there? Standing over, watching the alluvium drift down the mountains and fill the basins, the sun’s rise and fall over the landscape as a strobe light of intense color, and the constellations dancing over the sky.
collection-site
The collection site. Don’t you feel compelled to wander along this ridge? The molars of herbivorous giant rock people.
arthrorhapsis-perhaps
Arthrorhaphis citrinella? Notice the vertical clumping of the granules… could this be the same species that we observed at Bishop Pass? We couldn’t collect at either location, alas – hey, you try chiseling this out of a granite crack without destroying it, if you’re lucky to even get a scrap!
Lovely lichens growing in the crack of a granite boulder
Candelariella rosulans (yellow) amongst an Aspicilia (gray) and a Lecanora sierrae (pale mint green). Lichen colors are already so vibrant, saturated with pigment, that I don’t need to adjust their color levels to match my memory! I like that.
Lecidea atrobrunnea
Lovely alpine lichen rosettes. The brown Lecidea atrobrunnea, the bright yellow Pleopsidium flavum, and the mint green Lecanora novomexicana (perhaps).
Foxtail Pine
Down from the pass a bit, in the subalpine, the lovely Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana). Did you just read that again, too? Yup. This is a pine that’s endemic to this part of the Sierras, and my goodness, he’s a beaut! Look at those Limber Pine-esque tufts of needles, and the way that the branches curl upwards, and though you can’t see them, there’s 5 needles per fascicle too. But then check out how the needles seem shorter than Limber Pine, more organized, and the bark, so reddish, thick. Sure, I saturated the photo a bit, but that’s cause that’s what it looks like in person on a sunny day, its really that red! Closely related to Bristlecone Pine, keep your eye out for this one!
Great Basin as seen from Kearsarge Pass
Looking east from below Kearsarge Pass trailhead, any question that we’re in the Great Basin Desert? Consider this, the giant rifts stretching across Nevada, that created the 70+ mountain ranges of the Great Basin Desert, also created the Sierra Nevada Mtns. Perhaps the Great Basin seems boring to those of you who haven’t explored this most mountainous state in the lower 48… but it sure ain’t simply some big basin, some boring washtub, as its name implies. Unless, of course, the striking Eastern Sierras are boring to you, which they could be to you, but not to me!
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