The Mountains of California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 313 pages of information about The Mountains of California.
Thus the moraine soil and the necessary moisture requisite for the better class of meadow plants are at times combined about as perfectly as if smoothly outspread on a level surface.  Where the soil happens to be composed of the finer qualities of glacial detritus and the water is not in excess, the nearest approach is made by the vegetation to that of the lake-meadow.  But where, as is more commonly the case, the soil is coarse and bouldery, the vegetation is correspondingly rank.  Tall, wide-leaved grasses take their places along the sides, and rushes and nodding carices in the wetter portions, mingled with the most beautiful and imposing flowers,—­orange lilies and larkspurs seven or eight feet high, lupines, senecios, aliums, painted-cups, many species of mimulus and pentstemon, the ample boat-leaved veratrum alba, and the magnificent alpine columbine, with spurs an inch and a half long.  At an elevation of from seven to nine thousand feet showy flowers frequently form the bulk of the vegetation; then the hanging meadows become hanging gardens.

In rare instances we find an alpine basin the bottom of which is a perfect meadow, and the sides nearly all the way round, rising in gentle curves, are covered with moraine soil, which, being saturated with melting snow from encircling fountains, gives rise to an almost continuous girdle of down-curving meadow vegetation that blends gracefully into the level meadow at the bottom, thus forming a grand, smooth, soft, meadow-lined mountain nest.  It is in meadows of this sort that the mountain beaver (Haplodon) loves to make his home, excavating snug chambers beneath the sod, digging canals, turning the underground waters from channel to channel to suit his convenience, and feeding the vegetation.

Another kind of meadow or bog occurs on densely timbered hillsides where small perennial streams have been dammed at short intervals by fallen trees.  Still another kind is found hanging down smooth, flat precipices, while corresponding leaning meadows rise to meet them.

There are also three kinds of small pot-hole meadows one of which is found along the banks of the main streams, another on the summits of rocky ridges, and the third on glacier pavements, all of them interesting in origin and brimful of plant beauty.

CHAPTER VIII

THE FORESTS

The coniferous forests of the Sierra are the grandest and most beautiful in the world, and grow in a delightful climate on the most interesting and accessible of mountain-ranges, yet strange to say they are not well known.  More than sixty years ago David Douglas, an enthusiastic botanist and tree lover, wandered alone through fine sections of the Sugar Pine and Silver Fir woods wild with delight.  A few years later, other botanists made short journeys from the coast into the lower woods.  Then came the wonderful multitude of miners into the foot-hill zone, mostly

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The Mountains of California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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