Bristlecone Pines and Belly Flowers
We drove straight to the Patriarch Grove without stopping. Usually we make many stops on the way up and get there late in the day. The last twelve miles are unpaved and this is where the best roadside flowers are. Today in bloom were Red Penstemon, Lupine, Coyote Mint, a Senecio, Paintbrush, a matted Phlox, and Showy Penstemon. I also had two sightings of Marmot near the Schulman Grove.
The Patriarch Grove is the site of Bristlecone Pines, the oldest tree and possibly the most photogenic. It is also a great spot for “belly” plants, which are very small flowers you have to get on your stomach to really see and photograph. Among those seen today were Rosy Buckwheat or Butterballs, Alpine Paintbrush, Dwarf Alpine Daisy, two yellow aster-type composites, two species of Astragalus, and Flax. There were also White-breasted Nuthatches visiting the Bristlecone Pines.
If you don’t want to drive the twelve miles on the unpaved road, you can stop at the Schulman Grove and Visitor. There are hiking trails, a Visitor’s Center in Trailer (the original visitors center burned down and is being rebuilt). Most importantly there are Bristlecone Pines and wildflowers there as well.