Backpacking in the John Muir Wilderness(Cont 3)

Cirque Lake

My last day hike in the JMW was up to Cirque Lake: a cirque is a glacial carved, amphitheater like depression, typically characterized by a moraine, or a pile of glacial debris piled up at the base of the glacier. This is not really a textbook cirque, but it is, none the less a lake caused by glacial cirque.

Tree scar

Heart shaped tree scar with a T-rex head in the middle: a design that could melt the heart of a romantic paleontologist.

Bristlecone Pine cone

Emergent Bristlecone pine cones with their diagnostic blueish, bristly, bract tips. One can also make out the five needles to a bundle(fascicle), also diagnostic for the species.

Harrier(Circus cyraneus)

Juvenile Harrier, coursing over the wetlands at the edge of Cirque Lake, probably hunting for rodents. I observed a number of chipmunks, and ground squirrels in this area scurrying about. Harriers fly a somewhat random pattern, relatively close to the ground using sound for locating prey: they have facial discs, similar to owls to locate prey.


Cute Yellow-bellied Marmots(Marmota flaviventris) were frequently seen near the alpine lakes that I visited in the JMW. It is one of fourteen species of marmots, and is native to mountainous regions of southwestern Canada, and western US including the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. They live at elevations between 5,400′-14,000′, and are “harem-polygynous” in which the male reproduces with two or three females.


Probably in the genus Chlorophyllum, but I’m not sure.

Adult female Mallard(Anas platyrhynchos)

This adult female Mallard was very busy diving for its meals. Normally, Mallards feed at the surface but this individual, and several other mallards were diving at all of the lakes that I visited.

Sierra Gentian(Gentianopsis holopetala)

The wet meadows near all of the lakes had an abundance of low growing Sierra Gentians. Growing at the top of its published elevation range(11,000′), this species must be blooming at, or near the end of their growing season.

Unidentified wildflower

Another very small wildflower, unidentified(as yet), in the wet soil near Cirque Lake.

Published by sabaiedmsncom

I am a former park ranger, and coastal dune preserve manager, now retired and photographing the places that suit my wanderlust. I usually have a general idea of where I want to travel to, but once on the road I just follow my nose: it seldom steers me wrong.

2 thoughts on “Backpacking in the John Muir Wilderness(Cont 3)

  1. Thanks so much , Ed for these gorgeous photos giving us a peek into your adventures! What joy to be this close to God’s beautiful creation! I’m thankful you had this opportunity and now are safe at home once more!


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