Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea)

Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) in Big Bear, California
Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) in Big Bear, California

The Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) is a rather rare and unique member of the plant community. The scientific name roughly translates to “the bloody flesh-like thing” and named by John Torrey, who was a 19th century botanist. The name is easily understood when walking through a snowy section of mountains and you happen across a bright red plant.

This solitary little plant is completely red is color due to its complete lack of chlorophyll. Unable to photosynthesize, this plant derives its nutrition from a mutual-ism between the plant and a fungus. The snow plant provides fixed carbon to the fungus, and in return, the plant leaches sugars from the fungus.

The red flowered plant typically appears just before the last of the snows of winter. The above ground stalk typically does not exceed 12 inches in height. The plant is typically founded in the conifer forests of California, Oregon and parts of western Nevada. The plants are essentially parasites to the conifers and as such, typically found close to them.

The flowers of the snow plant are typically tightly packed around the singular stalk and evenly spaced. The plant is typically bright red in color and the fruit is pinkish red.

A Sons introduction to High Sierra fishing

Fishing Rock Creek at French Camp, High Sierra, CA
Fishing Rock Creek at French Camp, High Sierra, CA

As a boy growing up, I was fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time in the High Sierra mountains fishing.  When I was about five years old, I learned to fish in Lone Pine Creek, California under the watchful eye of my grandfather.  We left camp one afternoon and walked about 50 feet to a small pool next to our campsite.  My memory of this event has faded, but my recollection of the event is that I quickly caught my limit of Rainbow trout within about 30 minutes and returned to camp with a full stringer of fish.  I recall my grandfather recalling later that it was the “damnedest thing”, and surely proof of beginners luck.  Time embellishes all tales, and true with fish stories the facts of the actual event may no longer support the tale being told.  It is true non the less that I had beginners luck!

For the next fifteen years or so, my parents, brother and I would spend a great deal of time in the High Sierra, or other camping locations.  My brother and I perfected our fishing technique in the high mountain lakes and streams.  We did not always catch our limit, nor did we have a desire to harvest more than we could eat that day, but we often had fresh trout for dinner.  Eventually, our camping trips became further and far between and my interest in fishing waned as the cost for a licensed increased.

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Eastern Sierra, Fall 2001

In September, 2001, my brother and I drove up to the Eastern Sierras for a couple of days of hiking and exploring. For the most part, we camped at Silver Lake in the June Lake loop for about 4 days. June Lake is a quiet little town in the Eastern Sierras. Side trips including driving up some 4×4 roads outside of mammoth, Mono lake, hiking in part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness, and Yosemite.

Yosemite is a magical place.One of the most photographed places on the planet and volumes have been written about this magical valley on the western side of the Sierra Mountains. The peak season for Yosemite Valley is generally considered to be late spring when the Sierra snow pack cause the infamous hanging valleys to explode in a torrent of water falls that defies true explanation. I found a certain elegance in the smaller waterfalls of late October that is atypical of most photography of this region. There is a timeless quality to this valley that allows one to become lost in the world that I can only dream of capturing and expressing on film.