Every season in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is full of wonder and beauty, and right now the glories of spring are everywhere.
This mountain range reaches north-south, spanning 400 miles (640 km) on the eastern side of California. See map below. The Giant Sequoias, the largest trees in the world; Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous U.S.; and Yosemite National Park, are a few remarkable features of the Sierra Nevadas.
Two weekends ago we visited the northern section of the Sierras, near Lake Tahoe and Gold Country.
In the upper alpine elevations there was reportedly still snow on the ground. Lower, in the montane forests where these photos were taken, the last snow fell two months ago and is gone now…and the woodlands are waking up.
The rivers and waterfalls boisterously cascaded with frigid, clear, mountain water — snow melt from the peaks. Most of California’s water supply depends on this snow melt, so it’s always great to see the spring waters running strong.
We hiked through mixed conifer forests where redwood, oak, pine, and fir trees towered overhead. Bigleaf maple trees had begun their seed production.
The understory was coming alive with wild dogwoods in different stages of leafing out, opening their tender white flowers, technically leaves. The yellow button flower in the center attracts insects, for pollination.
On the forest floor wildflowers were bursting through the needle duff. Wild trillium were a special find, and clumps of bleeding hearts, abundant. The gooseberries, a type of currant, will be a tasty treat for forest mammals and birds.
Caterpillars, birds and reptiles were emerging, vibrating with life. They have much to do to prepare for the new season.
Springtime doesn’t last too long in the Sierras, but when it’s here, life is vibrant.
Written by Jet Eliot
Photo credit: Athena Alexander
California and the Sierra Nevadas. Graphic courtesy Wikipedia.