Spreading Phlox ( Phlox diffusa )

Spreading Phlox ( Phlox diffusa ) is a perennial shrub with small needle like leaves.  This is a small white flowering plant which prefers alpine, sub-alpine environments and rocky or sandy soil.  This is a low growing plant which is commonly only two to eight inches tall.

Phlox diffusa is a small white flowering plant which prefers alpine and sub-alpine environments.

Photographed in the White Moundtains, Phlox diffusa is a small white flowering plant which prefers alpine and sub-alpine environments.

Commonly found high in the mountain and distributed in the western United States and Canada.  The five petaled flowers range from a clean white color to lavender or pink.  The blooms are typically visible from May to August.

Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery

Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery

Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery

Located just outside of Independence, CA the Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery has played an important role in the preservation of the Golden Trout.  Beyond the hatchery’s primary purpose, the site makes an excellent location to pll off the highway, relax in the shade and enjoy a picnic lunch.  This is how I was introduced to the hatchery 30 years ago, and it is still much anticipated stop each time I travel the 395 highway.

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Alabama Hills

Located near Lone Pine, CA the Alabama Hills are an awesome spot to visit and explore.  Large boulder formations erupt from the ground and create a maze of canyons, trails and roads. This feature in itself, is more than enough fun to justify a trip to this area, however add to the equation that the Alabama Hills has appeared in more Hollywood movies than one person can name and you have the perfect combination of terrain and nostalgic history.

Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California

Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California

The Alabama Hills are featured in many €Western€ movies and is the birth place of the Lone Ranger and Iron Man.

A final punctuation mark is the Alabama hills are located in the foothills of Mount Whitney (14,505 ft), the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

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White Mountain Road

White Mountain Road is a high altitude road that travels north from Highway 168 out of Big Pine and into the Bristle Cone Pine Forest of the White Mountains.  The road is partial paved as far as the Schulman Grove visitors center and beyond the road is graded dirt.

As the White Mountain roads winds north, it follows the ridge line of the White Mountains climbing higher in elevation and offers up amazing vistas of Owens Valley to the west.

Bristlecone Pine Tree, Patriarch Grove, White Mountains

Bristlecone Pine Tree, Patriarch Grove, White Mountains

The bristlecone pine tree is found in this mountain range, and is the oldest living thing on the planet and are known to live 5,000 years.  The bristlecone pine trees live in groves in arid sub alpine mountain tops in the western United States, including the White Mountains in California and around Mount Charleston just north of Las Vegas.  The harsh environment, high elevations over 12,000 above sea level, dry conditions, high winds twist a bend the trees and they slowly grow across the millennium.

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Cerro Gordo

Cerro Godro overlooking the then full Owens Lake.

Cerro Gordo overlooking the then full Owens Lake.

Located in the Inyo Mountains on the eastern side of Owens Valley, Cerro Gordo is a currently a ghost town after almost 100 years in operation from 1866 to 1957.  Several buildings still survive, including the general store and the American Hotel. The town is located on private land and permission to visit must be obtained.

The town site is currently on the ridge of the mountain range, and accessible from either the western side in Owens Valley, or from the East from the Saline Valley Road.  Founding of the site is credited to Pablo Flores who began mining near Buena Vista Peak.  Initial development of the area was hindered by Native American activity in the area.  The establishment of Fort Indepenced helped “control” this activity and the amount of activity in Cerro Gordo increased.  Early efforts were primitive with most mines being open pits or trenches and smelting was done in adobe ovens.

The location began to develop with the foundation of the first store at Cerro Gordo by Independence businessman Victor Beaudry.  He soon acquired several claims in exchange for payment of debt at his store and soon built two smelters.  In 1868, Mortimer Belshaw established a partnership with another stakeholder the Union Mine.  He secured financing from Los Angeles, and built the first road, a toll road known as the “Yellow Road”, which gave him a lot of control over shipments coming down the mountain.

 

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