Wild Flowers in the Sierras. Beauty at 7500 feet above Lake Tahoe wildflowers flourish in harsh conditions.

Just a few of the Fabulous Flowers

Mules Ears. Harbingers of Summer
Mules Ears. Harbingers of Summer
Brilliant blue Speedwell
Brilliant blue Speedwell
Sulphur Flower
Sulphur Flower
Poisonous Larkspur... Avoid using any of this delphinium family in your garden if you have livestock (including dogs and cats ) or a nervous spouse!
Poisonous Larkspur... Avoid using any of this delphinium family in your garden if you have livestock (including dogs and cats ) or a nervous spouse!
Aquilegia Formosa, the Crimson Columbine Found in sheltered places near creeks. This beauty was in an Aspen grove contrasting with the vivid green of its surroundings of Corn Lilies.
Aquilegia Formosa, the Crimson Columbine Found in sheltered places near creeks. This beauty was in an Aspen grove contrasting with the vivid green of its surroundings of Corn Lilies.
False Solomon's Seal
False Solomon's Seal
Marsh Marigolds like Wetland
Marsh Marigolds like Wetland
Delicate Elephant's Heads grow by the stream
Delicate Elephant's Heads grow by the stream
Drifts of Mule's Ears cover dry slopes.
Drifts of Mule's Ears cover dry slopes.

Harsh Environment, delicate flowers

The majestic Sierra mountain range runs along the West side of Lake Tahoe and reach 14,490 ft at their highest point, Mount Whitney many miles away in Southern California. The Sierras around Lake Tahoe are about 10,000 ft above sea level. My favorite walk is along an old flume trail, carved out of the mountainside at around 7500 ft. It was originally a small canal of wood sidings held in place by a bed of large stones. The stones are mainly still in place and some of the old planks lie around the area. The path is littered with old nails that used to hold the flume together. The flume was used to float timber down to a sawmill many miles away. It was built by Chinese work men and there is an area near by called Chinese Camp. It is mind boggling to think of the labor required to build such an intricate system of flumes high up in the mountains with such rarefied air. They must have been very tough people.

In perfect contrast are the drifts of wild flowers that grow there, appearing unscathed after a long winter hidden under many feet of snow. No sooner has the snow gone than out pop the flowers. The fragile flowers are an amazing contrast to the stony, gritty soil that they cling to, displaying cameos of beauty along the way. Even dead flower heads make a stunning display at the end of a hot summer, their job done but going out in a blaze of glory. It would be very difficult to find a backdrop more stunning than the distant azure waters of Lake Tahoe glistening in the sun, over a thousand feet below. Vivid red Indian Paintbrush contrast with the beautiful blue of the Forget Me Not. Cheeky yellow Mules Ears cover barren hillsides .

As you descend to the little stream down below, the flora changes as wetlands provide damp succor to daisy like Marsh Marigolds and other lush flowers. Huge stands of Californian Corn Lilies stride across the water meadows with the occasional Skunk Cabbage, the downfall of many a pioneering family who tried to eat them with deadly consequences. Sweet little Star Gazers so called because they point their flower heads up to the sky when they have been fertilized. Sweet little Elephant heads grow at the water's edge. The flower head sports a "trunk" and two big ears, like an elephant in tiny purple detail.

This is just a few of the beautiful flowers found in the Sierras in late Spring. A hike along mountain trails at this time of the year brings bounteous rewards with the beauty of the flowers as well as the breathtaking scenery. Well worth the effort!

Lake Tahoe's Ethereal Beauty

Breathtaking Views of the Azure Lake.......photo courtesy Flickr
Breathtaking Views of the Azure Lake.......photo courtesy Flickr
The Trail festooned with Lupins and Mules Ears........photo courtesy Flickr
The Trail festooned with Lupins and Mules Ears........photo courtesy Flickr
Even the dead Flower Heads are Pretty..........photo courtesy Flickr
Even the dead Flower Heads are Pretty..........photo courtesy Flickr
Remnants of the old Flume lie scattered about. Watch out for nails if you are riding a Bike!....photo courtesy Flickr
Remnants of the old Flume lie scattered about. Watch out for nails if you are riding a Bike!....photo courtesy Flickr
Going Home for a welcome Cup of Tea
Going Home for a welcome Cup of Tea

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Comments 24 comments

Not Telling profile image

Not Telling 7 years ago from Eastern Nowhere

I love high altitude flowers, enjoyed your article very much.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

I'm glad you told me that, Not Telling Thanks for the comment.


lrohner profile image

lrohner 7 years ago from USA

Gorgeous photos! Enjoy your tea!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Will do, irohner, thanks for the comment!


Jodi Hoeksel profile image

Jodi Hoeksel 7 years ago

This is lovely, Gypsy! It is so nice to see the high country beauty, again! I am happy here, yet the high country beauty will always have a great part of my heart! Thank you for sharing! : )


rgsimmo 7 years ago

Great scenery, almost as good as Lake Taupo New Zealand. Who's the guy with the white hair and red backpack going home for a cup of tea?


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Jodi! Good to see you, you will have to go to Snowdonia to get a bit of Welsh high country. Hope you are enjoying the summer. Thanks for the comment.

rgsimmo,It is almost as good but not a sheep in sight. We found this guy on the trail and he asked if he could come along. Thanks for the comment!


rb11 profile image

rb11 7 years ago from Las Vegas

Beautiful pictures, does the lake have any issues with low waterlines or drought as lake mead has these past years?

Regards


quicksand profile image

quicksand 7 years ago

Great pictures! Thanks! :)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi rb11 Lake Tahoe is a very, very deep lake, but it still has issues with drought conditions. Surprisingly enough there has been quite a lot of rain this year. At Tahoe City there is a control dam that lets the water out into the Truckee River. The water goes into Pyramid Lake 100 miles North of Reno. The lake is a vestige of the ancient Lake lahontan. This control dam aims to keep the water at a reasonable level as near the natural rim as possible. Here is a web site that gives the information about the level  http://www.boattahoe.com/lakeleveldata.htm  I hope this tells you all you need to know.

Quicksand, thanks for the kind comment


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Great hub! I travelled that way in the late seventies, but did not get to see the lake! Next time..


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi earnestshub, Sorry you missed the Lake, it is still there waiting for you! thanks for the comment.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

I live in the Sierra foothills at about 3200 ft-- and closer to Yosemite. The wildflowers have been especially good this year, starting with an amazing poppy display in the Merced River Canyon. Most of yours look a little different than the ones we commonly see at our elevation. We do get a lot of Lupines, Chinese lanterns and California Poppies. Now it's mostly the delicate pink ones we know as "Farewell to Spring". We did se a nice profusion of Dogwood blossoms earlier this year up toward Yosemite.

Tahoe is a beautiful place in all seasons.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Rochelle, our high elevation flowers have been exceptional this year as we have had an unusual amount of rain. I don't know "Farewell to Spring" I shall have to look it up. Thanks for stopping by!


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

There seem to be many varieties on google images . I think this looks like the one I know;

http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_im...


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thank you so much Rochelle, I don't see this plant at our elevation. So pretty


Don Simkovich profile image

Don Simkovich 7 years ago from Pasadena, CA

I miss not being in the Sierras. We were in Lake Tahoe last Thanksgiving and enjoyed it. I only did a little hiking but I'd like to do so much more.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

It i a very beautiful place in all seasons. Perhaps you should stat longer next time


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Beautiful hub with the pictures included about these wild flowers in the High Sierras. I've been to Yosemite, but not Lake Tahoe. Hope to get there someday!

BTW, thought I was a fan of yours and just noticed that I am not. Correcting that NOW!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks, Peggy, glad we are official friends now! Thanks for the comment. Hope to see you up here one day.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

YOUR DIVINE HUBS are the most beautiful wild flowers of the lot!!!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Wow epigramman, that's praise indeed! Thank you very much!


jrsearam profile image

jrsearam 5 years ago from San Juan, PR

Gypsy, what I wouldn't give for a trek through the Sierras. I spent a few days hiking around Yosemite back in the eighties while going to school at Berkeley and was overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of those peaks and valleys. I recall the wild flowers growing in patches of snow that had yet to succumb to the warmer days of spring, scattered around the valley floor for as far as I could see. Being from the tropics I had never seen anything like that. Thick bunches of little flowers displayed on icy pedestals? It blew my mind. Your picture of the Brilliant Blue Speedwells reminds me a lot of the snow bound little flowers. Beautiful hub...JR


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

I am so happy you enjoyed my hub. The Sierras are so beautiful and the ability of delicate little flowers to survive the long, bitter winters is quite amazing. How lucky we are to live on such a diverse planet! Thanks for dropping by.

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