CA – Klamath National Forest, Kangaroo Lake Botanical Area (June 2021)

The Klamath National Forest is home to many rare and endemic species. As such they have several botanical areas which have been protected (link) including the Kangaroo Lake Botanical Area. “A 430 acre site located on the southeast edge of the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District  (T40N, R7W, SEC 14).  The area varies in elevation from 6000′ to 6857′.  It provides a diversity of plant habitats ranging from wet seeps and meadows to rock walls. The high level of habitat diversity is associated with a correspondingly high botanical species diversity. Sensitive plant species present include Phacelia dalesiana and Epilobium siskiyouense.” Source: Klamath NF

I have fond memories of Kangaroo Lake from my childhood when we camped nearby, and my dad spent hours fly fishing.

On this day though we were out to explore the Fen Nature Trail, a word that only came to my attention over the past few years.

We found plenty of fens with Darlingtonia californica aka Cobra Lilies or California Pitcher Plants.

We were hoping to find the rare Scott Mountain Phacelia, which I’d been lucky enough to stumble across unexpectedly a few weeks earlier at a different location (link).

Are you hiding down here?

How about here?

Success!

Calochortus elegans aka Elegant star tulip and Northwestern mariposa lily

Calochortus nudus aka Naked Mariposa Lily

Owl’s Clover with bug for extra credit.

Allium (onion) but not the rare one.

Sedum (aka Dr. Seuss trees)

Buckwheat, but not the rare species.

Blue Flax

Penstemon newberryi

Bladderpods

Intense butterfly or moth mating.

We enjoyed several views of Kangaroo Lake and distant views of three other listed botanical areas including China Peak, South China Peak and Cory Peak. Someday I’ll make it a priority to spend a day botanizing in those areas as well.

We hiked the trail to where it connected with the PCT. Our trip was less than 3.5 miles and about 750′ of elevation gain/loss.

Bonus: roadside botany on our drive to the trailhead

When I spied a group of rare California Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium californicum), I was giddy. They were freshly washed after a little overnight rain.

Apocynum andrsameifolium aka Dogbane

Shasta Leopard Lily

Sidalcea, Checkerbloom.

Rhododendron occidentale aka Wester azalea

Showy Milkweed (creative edit)

My botany fieldtrips have been such a fun rehab diversion. It’s highly unlikely in “normal” times I would have taken a day to drive 3-4 hours to spend 5 hours hiking 3.5 miles, followed by another 3 hours of driving. It was a wonderfully long 12-hour day filled with friendship, education, photography and visual delights.

CA – Trinity Alps, Stoney Ridge Trailhead (June 2021)

I can’t think of one trail in the Trinity Alps graded easy, so during my knee rehab it’s an area I’ve avoided. In general trails are rocky with plenty of climbing. The rewards are worthwhile but you work for the prize. However my botany friend invited me for a short wander along one of my favorite sections. She knows my limitations and is happy to share a few hours.

The yellow lupine were the stars of the day with an occasional iris to share the limelight.

I discovered the phantom orchids last year, I believe along this very trail, after being introduced to this species by my botany friend.

I was also introduced to the coralroot orchids last year. They were just beginning to bloom on this day.

Another favorite is the California Pitcher Plant aka Cobra Lily.

Rush Lily

Dr Suess-ish sunflower

Blue-eyed grass

Columbine

I love the variegated leaves on the not-yet-blooming Pyrola crypta, Cryptic wintergreen.

These Green-Gentian were just starting to bloom.

This bee was gobbling up the pollen. It was so loaded I don’t think it could have flown off this Pennyroyal. Look at those wings, so much detail. It gave us plenty of time to photograph.

While yellow was the predominate color of the day, we found a few lavender-colored lupine as well.

It was a great day to celebrate yellow! From my journal notes, “A big milestone day as I celebrated my 8-month rehab anniversary. Not only did I take a hike in my beloved Trinity Alps but I also climbed 1,500 feet over 4 miles while enjoying many of my favorite blooms.”

Other jaunts in the area:

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Swift Creek Trailhead . . . early spring jaunting


COVID-19 message from Shasta-Trinity National Forest. “We ask the public to please recreate responsibly. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing, etc., or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. Please read our frequently asked questions on the U.S. Forest Service Coronavirus (Covid-19) webpage http://www.fs.usda.gov/about-agency/covid19-updates”


With the trailhead at 4,000 feet, it’s a gamble to find out how far you can get before finding high water creek crossings or snow fields requiring a bit more effort than reward. The majority of hikers, especially those out for a day jaunt, target Granite Lake or Foster’s Cabin.

License plates serve as snow survey trail markers. It’s hard to imagine the snow being that deep.

Spring snow melt makes the cascading waterfalls exciting and noisy.

If you choose to follow the trail to Foster’s Cabin, the first obstacle is Parker Creek. The bridge was washed away years ago and early spring means you’ll either need to ford the creek or find logs up or down stream.

I like that this trail provides access to many other trails which can be used to create loops or longer out and back hikes. With federal budget cuts, trail condition and recent maintenance reports are not easy to access. Some trails are considered “maintained” while others have been left to volunteers or to return to nature. I’d like to volunteer with the forest service to make this information more available.

Sometimes the cabin is locked, other times not.

Continuing west past the cabin means a wet feet treacherous crossing of Swift Creek.

If you’re lucky these logs upstream might still be in place making for a nice dry feet crossing of Swift Creek.

Landers Creek Trail

Getting to Landers Lake early season might prove to be a bit of a challenge. First, this sign is to the east of Landers Creek whereas maps show the trail starts to the west. Second with blow down and snow it’s nearly impossible to find clues as to where the trail might be.

The trail veers far to the east as shown by the blue line on the right. You can see the black dotted line showing possibly the original trail. The blue line on the left was me attempting to find the trail. This is the digital map on Gaia. I tried several layers and none showed the location of the current trail. My paper USFS map matches this view.

I located the trail just before this wet feet crossing of Landers Creek.

Once located, I found the trail to be well maintained and in excellent shape.

Snowmelt continued to provide delightful waterfalls.

Soon it became apparent Landers Lake would not be reached on this day. Staying on the main trail to gain additional heights and these views was a better option.

Looking down at this unnamed lake, my viewpoint into the Union Lake drainage and turnaround was at about 7,100 feet. Those ridges to the west looked worthy of some future exploration.

A little extra off-trail navigation might be necessary to avoid meadows that have become ponds.

Finding dry places to camp can be a bit of a challenge.

Parkers Creek Trail

It’s easy to miss the sign that signals this junction off the Swift Creek Trail. Fair warning: this is a steep rocky trail with some erosion issues but otherwise easy to navigate.

Wet snowy trail is a given.

This is where the trail crosses Parker Creek. With a steep slippery snow slope, it marked my turnaround.

Upstream options didn’t look any better.

Finding this tarn was a fun reward.

Deer Flat Trail

Along Parker Creek is a junction for the Deer Flat Trail.

The first obstacle is getting across Parkers Creek. This giant log upstream made for a dry feet crossing.

This is definitely an unmaintained and wild trail. Yogi likes these conditions.

This was a fun blowdown to work around. The tree was huge!

Cairns mark the route in many open meadow areas. I’m guessing Deer Flat is accessed more frequently from the Poison Canyon Trail.

Knowing weather was changing, I took advantage of this view of the 7-Up Peak ridge to find a home for the night.

There were also view of Lassen as well as Trinity Lake.

It turned out to be a good location to watch sunset.

First light invited another day of exploration.

The forecast said otherwise.

Overnight temperatures reminded me it was still more winter than summer.

I love seeing the blue ridges.

Early blooms will keep you entertained.

Adventure Dates:

  • April-June, any year, depending on winter snow levels

Resources:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

2020 – Blooming April, Spring Doesn’t Care

I recently read a poem about how spring goes on regardless of this pandemic. Since spring brings me joy, I’m choosing to spend as much time seeking out the treats mother nature provides in this all-too-short season.

2020 is proving to be a spring I’d rather forget. I like many others, most likely including yourself, are wishing we could fast forward into summer and be done with Stay Home orders. I’ve learned to let go of things I can’t control and instead focus on those things I can such as my personal happiness. The dark short days of winter can bring on bouts of depression, something I’m more likely to avoid in spring when I happily languish in the warm sunny days. Instead of travel and backpacking, I spent time running, biking and walking primarily from my house. My car didn’t leave my garage for three weeks.

I discovered and fell in love with these rock roses.

Since I’m missing my wilderness wildflowers, I really appreciate neighbors who share their blooms.

The Sacramento River runs through town bordered on both sides by about 20 miles in trails. It’s within walking distance of my house and gives me plentiful green space and a place to breathe.

The trail harbored these colorful jewels.

When I finally decided to drive 10 miles to a dirt trail, I found so much joy.

With flowers lining the trail, I didn’t even mind hiking through lands dominated by fire.

I’d never seen such a mass dispersion of pussy ears (aka Calochortus tolmiei). If this was all I’d seen I would have been happy.

But no, my treasure hunt continued. What a delightful way to spend a few hours.

I stopped at Black Bear Pass where I found this wreath, which I though was a lovely tribute to the aftermath of the 2018 Carr Fire. When I got home and was processing my photos I couldn’t believe what I saw at the base of the stump. It took some work to lighten enough to see the surprise. I still can’t believe I didn’t see it when I was taking the photo. My guess it was hauled up on horses.

I finally decided to drive a bit further for my next hike and was thrilled to find these beauties.


I closed out the month hiking among more of nature’s jewels. I hope you all made the most of this forced pause.

What will May bring? Maybe some waterfalls to go along with more wildflowers? The draft policy for opening my home county indicates a ban on non-essential travel out of the county. Will I continuing being just a tiny bit of a rebel? We topped 90F degrees so that’ll be my motivation if nothing else. Air conditioner vs wilderness?