Alpine Lichens: Bishop Pass, Sequoia – Kings Canyon N.P., California

Bishop Pass is one of the more species-rich alpine locations in California that Imshaug collected in during his 1955 surveys. Despite the lack of well-developed soil, he found a number of soil crust lichens (terricolous lichens), along with dozens of rock lichens (saxicolous lichens). So we tasked ourselves with the same, and found all the species that Imshaug originally found.

The only trouble was: pretty horrible altitude sickness. Its unfortunately usual for Jason, so we’ve been slowly acclimatizing ourselves with training hikes, etc. But usually I’m just fine. And I got it bad that night below Bishop Pass. The comforting thought was considering that perhaps it’s an initiation: do we have what it takes to tackle this project? All 91 peaks throughout the Sierras, Cascades, Intermountain region and the Rockies? If the sun peaking over the ridge of Mt. Agassiz was saying anything the next morning, it might just have been saying: Yes, initiation successful.

Mt. Agassiz and its ridgeline, Bishop Pass is just below the peak, behind the mountain of alluvium in the foreground. The colors were a delight that day.
Mt. Agassiz and its ridgeline, Bishop Pass is just below the peak, behind the mountain of alluvium in the foreground. The colors were a delight that day.

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Mt. Tiffany, North Cascades, Washington

Giant fires raged last year when Jason and I attempted to survey two alpine lichen locations in Washington: Mt. Pugh (Glacier Peak Wilderness) and Mt. Tiffany (Okanogan National Forest); the 2015 fires shut down many of the towns in the Eastern Cascades, and flames were jumping over regional Hwy 2, blocking our access to the Mt. Tiffany. Luckily we were still able to survey Mt. Pugh, and we saved Mt. Tiffany for this year. And it was well worth the wait!

North facing cliff of Mt. Tiffany. Jason risks life and limb to find rare lichens!
North facing cliff of Mt. Tiffany. Jason risks life and limb to find rare alpine lichens!

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Trophy Meadows, Wells Gray Provincial Park, B.C.

Waiting for alpine lichen season to begin is challenging, but Jason and I have been spending the past month adventuring around Idaho, Washington, and north-central B.C. My favorite by far has been the Trophy Meadows in in the Upper Clearwater area of B.C.. Purely enchanting.

Upper Trophy Meadows looking eastward
Looking northeast from the upper part of Trophy Meadows.

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