Lupine Loveliness: It's On, Mono County

The photo-amazing flowers make a pre-summer showing.

PETALS + PLACE: While loads of different flowers can pop up in loads of different places, we know that especially spectacular seasonal showings that are particularly glorious tend to be location-specific. This means that we keep an eye out for poppies in the Antelope Valley come late April and lavender going all purple in Ojai in June and the sunflowers of Yolo County just before summer and that amazing lupine that makes a late spring showing in Mono County. A real flower follower could build a year-long schedule -- or at least a spring-and-summer-long schedule -- just around tracking where the next magnificent spray of color will pop up, if the rain and wind have been kind. And while summer is just days away, and many buds are back to bed for another year, the Eastern Sierra is still having, quite literally, something of a field day in the floral department. Word has arrived that a number of places around Mono County are looking fairly petal-riffic, with the most poetically named flowers making a strong showing: paintbrush, milk vetches, hawksbeard, and mule ear are now dotting the landscape. And, of course, a prominent flower that's much associated with Mono County, with all of its deep bluish purple tones and easy-to-spot, above-the-grass-top ways: the lupine.

FIND YOUR LUPINE: Word has it that McGee Creek is going to town in the lupine department now, and while you can head up to the area to see it, you can go one better and get in the saddle. The McGee Creek Pack Station trots out on numerous clip-clops into the wilderness area, which equals a whole lot of mountain vista enjoyment and possible lupine finding for you (and, of course, you get to bond with your pony and enjoy a real pack station-style ride). Want to hoof it as summer sings into view? Here's where you start, pony people. Want to track the lupine bloom or find another field of flowers? Mono County Tourism keeps an eye on the wildflower reports -- they'll keep you knee-deep in lupine loveliness, while the moment lasts.

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