Snowmelt gullies, summer 2009

The snowmelt gullies referred to here are those places high on the northern face of the San Gabriel Mountains where the snow lingers longest, and where in late summer there is abundant dampness, typically with water trickling down slopes that are too steep to climb comfortably. Thus it is fortuitous that State Highway 2, the Angeles Crest Highway, traverses the northern slopes of the mountains providing easy opportunity to see these areas at first hand. Being high, cool, and damp, they are some of the last places to produce their “spring” bloom. All of the photographs here are from late July and early August 2009.

This page has six panels of photos, of which four are from the snowmelt gullies,and two from neighboring areas along the highway. Of these four snowmelt gullies, the first three are between Islip Saddle (6,592 ft) and Dawson Saddle (7,901 ft), while the fourth is between Dawson Saddle and Vincent Gap (6,565 ft). The final panel of photos is from further east in the meadow at Big Pines (6,862 ft.).

Click on the thumbnails to see higher-resolution images.

Roadside seep

This roadside seep is east of Islip Saddle on the Angeles Crest Highway. While not a snowmelt gully, it is a similar environment. The many-flowered monkeyflower, a tiny trinket of yellow, is common adjacent to the water running from the seep along the southern side of the road, until it disappears through a culvert and down the mountainside.

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Seep on lelft side of highway

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Willowherb (Epilobium glaberrimum)

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Sedes at roadside kseep

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Many-flowered monkeyflower (Erythranthe floribunda)

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Many-flowered monkeyflower (Erythranthe floribunda)

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Blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra subsp. caerulea)

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Giant blazingstar (Mentzelia laevicaulis)

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Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana)

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White fir (Abies concolor)

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Mojave Desert from roadside seep

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Snowmelt gully 1

This gully is notable for the burn scars visible at the higher elevations, the result of the Curve Fire in 2002.

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Snowmelt gully

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Burn area above snowmelt gully

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Giant red paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)

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Parish's oxytheca (Acanthoscyphus parishii var. parishii)

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Trees on the steep hillside

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Poodle-dog bush (Eriodictyon parryi)

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Prickly poppy (Argemone munita)

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Beaked penstemon (Penstemon rostriflorus)

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Bush chinquapin (Chrysolepis sempervirens)

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Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)

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Snowmelt gully 2

This broad, wet slope is packed with masses of flowering plants. It is almost directly below Lily Spring, which is central to an area to be surveyed in one of our chapter's projects. It is close to Mile Marker 67.70 on the Angeles Crest Highway.

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Snowmelt gully above highway

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Avalanche chute above highway

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Carpet clover (Trifolium monanthum subsp. monanthum)

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Giant red indian paintbrush (Castilleja miniata subsp. miniata)

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Giant red indian paintbrush (Castilleja miniata subsp. miniata)

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Wet slope of the snowmelt gully

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Corn lily (Veratrum californicum var. californicum)

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Bigelow's sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii)

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Bigelow's sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii)

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Bigelow's sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii)

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Stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea)

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Stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea)

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Bush chinquapin (Chrysolepis sempervirens)

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Many-flowered monkeyflower (Erythranthe floribunda)

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Many-flowered monkeyflower (Erythranthe floribunda)

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A rush (Juncus sp.)

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A rush (Juncus sp.)

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White-flowered bog orchid (Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys)

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White-flowered bog orchid (Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys)

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Western blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)

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Western virgin's bower (Clematis ligusticifolia)

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Scarlet monkeyflower (Erythranthe cardinalis)

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Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

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Willowherb (Epilobium glaberrimum)

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Snouted monkey flower (Mimetanthe pilosa)

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Snowmelt gully 3

This is close to the previous location, and not so extensive.

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Snowmelt gully

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California fuchsia (Epilobium canum subsp. latifolium)

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Corn lily (Veratrum californicum var. californicum)

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Tall silky lupine (Lupinus elatus)

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Giant blazingstar (Mentzelia laevicaulis)

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Naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum)

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California coffeeberry (Frangula californica subsp. californica)

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Rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa)

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Prickly poppy (Argemone munita)

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Mojave Desert to the north

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Snowmelt gully 4

This location is known colloquially as Snow Canyon.

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Upper section of Snow Canyon

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Urn-flowered alumroot (Heuchera caespitosa)

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Scarlet monkeyflower (Erythranthe cardinalis)

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Scarlet monkeyflower (Erythranthe cardinalis)

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Grinnell's beardtongue (Penstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii)

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Hoary nettle (Urtica dioica subsp. holosericea)

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Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

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Johnston's monkeyflower (Diplacus johnstonii)

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Longstalk phacelia (Phacelia longipes)

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Parish's catchfly (Silene parishii)

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Giant blazingstar (Mentzelia laevicaulis)

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California fuchsia (Epilobium canum subsp. latifolium)

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A buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.)

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Brewer's fleabane (Erigeron breweri var. jacinteus)

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Brewer's fleabane (Erigeron breweri var. jacinteus)

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Meadow at Big Pines

This meadow, a swampy area with many blooming plants, is adjacent to the Angeles Crest Highway at Big Pines. This is directly east of the snowmelt gullies, and because of its elevation has many plants flowering in the same late-summer period.

The last photo is from the drive back to the Los Angeles area, showing the spectacular panorama where the East Fork of the San Gabriel River runs almost from one side of the San Gabriel Mountains to the other, with the mist of the city in the far distance, and Iron Mountain (8,007 ft) on the left..

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The meadow at Big Pines

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Water speedwell (Veronica anagallis-aquatica)

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Yellow monkey flower (Erythranthe guttata)

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Slender cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. fastigiata)

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White hedge nettle (Stachys albens)

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Corn lily (Veratrum californicum var. californicum)

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Corn lily (Veratrum californicum var. californicum)

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Sedges in the wet area

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Meadow rue (Thalictrum fendleri)

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Meadow rue (Thalictrum fendleri)

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American wintercress (Barbarea orthoceras)

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A penstemon (Penstemon sp.)

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Valley of East Fork of San Gabriel River

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Thanks to Jane Strong for assistance in identification of plants and flowers.

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