Summer Storm over Mono Basin

Evening Storm over Mono Lake

Summer storms wander unpredictably over the east side of the Sierra Nevada. There’s no telling, one day to the next, where they might occur or how long they may last. The practiced eye can often tell by mid-day, though, how stormy the later afternoon and evening may be.  Thunder was booming across north-central Mono County by mid-afternoon this day in late July and gave Lee Vining a good bath around dinner time.

Rainhbow over Lee Vining


Copyright © 2016 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

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The Falls on Hot Springs Creek

Hot Springs CreekHot Springs Creek originates at Burnside Lake, nearly 8,200 feet above sea level on the east side of the Sierra Nevada in Alpine County, east of Hope Valley, southwest of Hawkins Peak. In its first 2.5 miles it tumbles down steep cascades more than 2,000 feet into Hot Springs Valley and through Grover Hot Springs State Park, picking up volume with input from Charity Valley Creek and Sawmill Creek. East of Hot Springs Valley it becomes Markleville Creek at the confluence with Pleasant Valley Creek. A mile and a half beyond Markleeville, these waters join the East Fork Carson River, bound for Carson Valley, Lahontan Reservoir, and eventually the Carson Sink.

Hot Springs Creek

Several small “falls” in the lower steep section of the creek are popular destinations for day hikers.

Hot Springs Creek

In early June, 2016, the waters were the highest I’ve ever seen on Hot Springs Creek (since I’m usually here later in the summer, well after spring runoff).Hot Springs Creek

In late summer, when the creek slows to a trickle, there’s a swimming hole under this fall.Hot Springs CreekHot Springs Creek

Looking down from granite outcrops at the west end of the valley.Hot Springs CreekNear the west end of Hot Springs Valley.  Hot Springs Creek Near the campground.Alder

Alders grow on stream banks that are submerged during high water.

 

 


Copyright © 2016 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

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Curtz Lake Trail

The BLM and Alpine County Trails Association have recently improved and expanded the trails at Curtz Lake, an ecologically interesting place just off Highway 89, between Woodfords and Markleeville in Alpine County, California.

Curtz Lake area map

Curtz lake is a seasonal lake with a small watershed and no outlet, so in years with little snow and rain, the lake hardly fills at all and dries up completely in spring or early summer. In years with heavy winter snowfall, it becomes much deeper, and may hold some water all through the summer and fall. This past winter (2015-16) had near-normal precipitation, so there was a near-medium amount of water in June.

Curtz Lake

Curtz Lake has two basins, so when water levels are low, it looks like two smaller lakes. This is the larger, deeper, northeast basin. Lots of emergent vegetation.

Curtz Lake

This is the smaller, shallower, southwest basin of Curtz Lake.

Curtz Lake trail

It takes a lot of work to make a trail this easy to walk through rocky terrain, dense with trees that have low branches.

Astragalus

A milkvetch or locoweed (Astragalus sp.)

Raymond Peak fron the Curtz Lake trail

A distant view of the very rugged Raymond Peak (10,014 ft).

Curtz Lake trail

Hawkins Peak (10,024 ft) from the trail. The elevation here is about 6,300 feet.

TIM_01556-Delphinium_andersonii

Anderson’s larkspur (Delphinium andersonii)

Curtz Lake trail

There are numerous interpretive signs along the trail — all very well designed and informative.

Curtz Lake trail

Curtz Lake trail

Looking northeast toward the Pine Nut Mountains of Douglas County, Nevada.

Curtz Lake was named for Captain Peter Curtz, a long-time resident of this area from the late 1850s into the early 20th century. He was a prosperous miner, a District Attorney, a Supervisor, and school board member in Alpine County (1).

Seems to me a person with these accomplishments should have a larger, more permanent lake to bear his name, but natural lakes are in limited supply in Alpine County. He would no doubt be pleased with the attention his pond has received lately.

(1) Alpine County Historical Society. 2005. Alpine County, California: Bear Valley, Kirkwood, and Markleeville (Images of America Series).


Copyright © 2016 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

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