Sunday, February 20, 2011
Same price, now with extra waterfalls
This week's return to winter conditions has been a nice break from weeks of sunny, pleasant, mild weather. Skiers are happy (when the road to Badger Pass isn't closed) and waterfall enthusiasts should be, too. The snowline dipped below 2000' twice, and left snow in El Portal. More rain fell at low elevations, and all the small tributaries of the Merced filled with runoff.
The 140 corridor between El Portal and Briceburg has been dynamic in the past few days: lots of cascades pouring down to the highway, a couple of landslips, and still more flowers. It's not too early to go enjoy the Hite's Cove trail for living color. The highway is lined with sparse fiddlenecks in sunny spots. On sunny slopes across the river, patches of poppies and false goldfields are evident. Right now the waterfall buttercups are at their peak above the road, immediately downstream of Ned's Gulch - a lush display is found on the drippy metamorphic substrate.
A red-shouldered hawk was seen at Rancheria Flat today, joining the non-wintery black phoebes and Anna's hummingbirds that have weathered the snowfall. Treefrogs are chorusing in wet places.