BoSEHS - Bubbs Creek and Forrester Pass (Day Two,Three)

Mark Walker MWalker at
Tue Aug 24 03:19:28 EDT 1999

Butterflies of the South Eastern High Sierra: cont'd

On day two, Saturday August 7, we awoke at Kearsarge Lakes and picked up the
pieces from our Bear incident.  We only lost two meals, some toothpaste,
deodorant, and a toothbrush.  Wise of the bear to maintain good dental
hygiene after having such a feast.

After a quick swim in the frigid lake, we hiked from Kearsarge Lakes, and
down past Bullfrog Lake. On the way, I enjoyed more of the Square Spotted
Blues that were seen on the other side of Kearsarge Pass.  There were also
Lupine Blues (Plebejus lupinus) flying in these high altitude meadows.  From
Bullfrog Lake we dropped down even further into Vidette Meadows.  The
weather turned unfavorable for butterflies, and we concentrated on hiking
down the steep trail to the canyon below.

Once in Vidette Meadows, I began seeing the Hydaspe Fritillary (Speyeria
hydaspe) and the Mormon Fritillary (Speyeria mormonia) flying in and out of
shaded meadow areas.  The altitude here was just below 10,000 ft.  We hiked
on up Bubbs Creek to a campsite (with a bear box) just below the treeline.
Still too cool for butterflies, we concentrated on trout.

Day three (Sunday, August 8) was to be the hardest day of hiking.  Up early,
and on our way up the steep ascent to Forrester Pass, elevation 13,200', we
passed through some amazing terrain.  Once above the timberline, the sun
emerged bright and brought to life many butterflies.  The dominant butterfly
at about 11,500' was Behr's Sulphur (Colias behrii).  At the high altitude
meadows below Center Peak, this butterfly was flying by the dozens.  A very
dark and drab looking butterfly in flight, the green scaling is
unmistakable.  The females have wonderfully soft margins, slightly yellower
coloration above, and some even have more of an albino form.  When this
butterfly lands on meadow grass, it is virtually invisible.

Also resident in these alpine meadows was a subspecies of Euphydryas editha
(don't have my field guide handy).  This butterfly was usually found resting
on the rocks with wings open, although I did see them nectaring
occasionally.  The Nevada Skipper (Hesperia nevada) was also common here.  I
didn't see Hesperia miriamae anywhere.

We stopped for lunch at a lake above 12,000'.  Here we saw the only
Papilionidae seen all week - a single Parnassius clodius, flying in a big
hurry.  Strange that we didn't see this butterfly anywhere else.

After another quick swim in this lake (coldest water on the trip), we headed
up the final set of switchbacks to Forrester Pass.  My son and I hiked this
leg together, which was extra special because I was turning 40 years old
this day.  On top of the pass we enjoyed the breathtaking views, and
marveled at the trail down the other side - the trail built out from the
shear cliff.  We then became aware of the fact that it was already 4:00
p.m., and that we still had over 4 miles to hike down to a reasonable

When we arrived, I don't think we could have hiked another step.  The sun
had already set, and my feet felt like hell.

My son continues to remind me that this was the day I really went over the

Mark Walker.
in Denver, CO, where it is 86 degrees F and I won't be able to go

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