By Ted Ayers
Spring is arriving on the desert floor and snow is still on the mountains. It’s time to shale off the winter blues, get out your gear and focus on the smaller things in nature—flowers. We are very fortunate to live in an area with such a significant elevation variation. This means that we get to enjoy the Wildflower season much longer than many others.
Dean Webb, Bill Albrecht and I have been checking out the hot spots. From all appearances this will be a very good year in many areas and perhaps an outstanding year in the Tehachapi Mountains. My experience tells me that the moisture that fell before Christmas and the very significant rains of the past 3 weeks (about 2+ inches in the Tehachapi’s) will result in Mother Nature giving us a beautiful spring.
Short Canyon just west of Ridgecrest and off 395 is already beginning its showy display. The Phacelia is very thick around the Creosote Bushes and the ground is spotted with Suncups, Tackstem, Chia, and Desert Dandelions.
A bit further up Short Canyon the hillsides are covered with California Poppies and Yellow Coreopsis. Sand Verbena is also in bloom as are the Brown Stemmed Primrose. Desert Primrose should follow before long. Early morning is a good time to be there and capture the flowers with the Owens Peak Wilderness providing a stunning background. A little further north along 395 the Goldfields are already painting the desert yellow.
Closer to home the Foothills of the Tehachapi’s between the Caliente turnoff on Highway 58 and the San Joaquin valley remind one of the green green hills of Ireland (minus the sheep, of course).
This area is particularly nice at the moment with the early morning mist hanging in the valleys.
There are quite beautiful displays of Fiddleneck all along the hillsides, as well as profuse stands of Blue Dicks, Lupine, Wild Onion and Popcorn flower. The area marked with an E on the Caliente Route Map is particularly profuse at the moment. Park at the access road by the gate (watch for it on your right as you near the marked area) Go over the gate and walk about a hundred yards up the hill. There you find fields of Poppies, Popcorn flower, Blue Dicks, and Lupine. You will also find some nice displays of Owls Clover. This is a good area for scenics with the bare willows and green hills in the background. It ia also a good area for Macro shots.
The Kern river Canyon is also beginning to show its color with some good stands of Fiddleneck and Yellow Monkeyflower. I would expect to see good showings of Poppies and Lupine before too long.
Get out your gear, shake off the dust and start shooting. You never know what you might find and you surely don’t know when we will get another good Wildflower display.