Mount Ashland in mid-May, 2019: a few flowers, and a whole lot of snow!

The Bolt in the parking lot for the Mt Ashland ski lodge – not the place we left it during the hike.

Melody and I spent most of yesterday on Mt Ashland, checking out current snow and wildflower conditions. We found a lot of the former and not very many of the latter; here are a few of the more than 100 pictures I shot.

The walk

The gate was closed on Road 20 at the west end of the Mt Ashland Ski Area, so we parked a couple of hundred feet east of it, in a spot I judged would have shade when we got back to the car, and walked the road toward Grouse Gap. The road was plowed to the branch that goes to the summit of the mountain, and then up that branch; that’s for the people who service the equipment on top of the mountain, including a TV broadcast antenna and a weather radar dome as well as the upper terminals of a couple of ski lifts. At the junction, we chose to stay on Road 20. After the plowed part, the road was three to six feet deep in snow. Some of the time there were bare patches along the edges, and we could walk in those; at other times, there was no choice but the top of the snow, which luckily was fairly firm. Grouse Gap itself was covered with snow to a depth of about two feet. Weather was cloudy and cold when we started walking around 10:30, but had mostly cleared by the time we got back to the car five hours later, having walked a total of about 5 miles. The Bolt was in the ONLY small bit of shade in the very large parking lot, and yes, I felt smug.

Grouse Gap. Mt Shasta in the distance.

The flowers

Walking in, the only things we saw in bloom were manzanita bushes, but I did spot some color in a large bare area up a south-facing slope above the road near the big bend in the road beneath the rock formation known as the Rabbit Ears, so we climbed the slope to investigate on the way back. The “color” was a large patch of mixed buttercups and marsh marigolds. They were accompanied by a few miniature white lomatiums, and not much else – except a tiny patch of kalmia, with two fully-developed blooms. We hadn’t seen kalmia on that part of the mountain before, so finding it was the highlight of the day.

Kalmia microphylla, western bog laurel.

The car

The Bolt, of course, behaved splendidly. Interesting point: it’s 35 miles from our house to the ski area parking lot, during which one climbs a bit over a vertical mile. The gauge that measures the car’s electrical use read 15.6 kilowatt-hours (kwh) when I turned off the power in the parking lot. It read 15.7 kwh when I turned off power at home, at the end of the trip. The power generated by the drop in elevation had almost matched the power used by the 35 miles of distance, and we had used just a net 0.1 kwh on the return trip. The estimated remaining range had actually increased by 47 miles, from 150 in the parking lot to 197 at home. Try to do THAT in a gasoline-powered car.

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