I’ve been scanning some slides from my three summers of plant collecting in the Bodie Hills, in Mono County, California and Mineral County, Nevada. The Bodie Hills are a small range on the western edge of the Great Basin, just one valley away from the Sierra Nevada. The vegetation is mostly sagebrush scrub and pinyon-juniper woodland, but several peaks reach high enough elevations to support small islands of subalpine vegetation—remnants of an environment that was more widespread at lower elevations when the climate was colder. One such area is Brawley Peaks, the highest peaks in the southeastern Bodie Hills.
One fine day in June 1981, I drove east from Bodie, across the state line into Nevada, and parked in Bodie Canyon where a side canyon meets the road at the 7,130-foot elevation. I hiked along a narrow ribbon of quaking aspens, which gradually gave way to a stand of lodgepole pines — not extensive, but perhaps the largest stand of lodgepoles in the Bodie Hills.
Higher up, approaching the summit, is a small but fine stand of whitebark pines.
Brawley Peaks is plural because there is an east peak at 9,420 feet (which was my destination), and a west peak (seen above) at 9,540 feet high. The Sierra Nevada crest can be seen left and right of West Brawley Peak, and Bodie Mountain and Potato Peak (highest in the Bodie Hills) are farther to the right.
The view to the north, across Bodie Canyon, includes Beauty Peak, that slightly reddish cone in the middle. The state line skips right across its summit. Far in the distance are the Sweetwater mountains.
To the east are the ruins of Aurora—a silver-and-gold mining town of the 1860s, the wide dark shield of Aurora Crater, and Mud Spring Valley. On the horizon is the Wassuk Range, with Mount Grant at its center. Beyond that are Hawthorne and Walker Lake.
Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2012 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.