You can see the cabin we just stayed in for two weeks in the lower right-hand quadrant; it's the one with two windows stacked on top of each other. My husband and I agreed that it was the most relaxing vacation we've ever had. We grilled, we ate, we swam, we paddled the canoe, we hiked, we rode bikes, we read. Our teen-aged boys did the same. We had some time with extended family and friends, and some time to ourselves. There really wasn't anything I would change.
I got to indulge my butterfly obession, too. There were of course masses of orange fritillaries everywhere. I didn't bother to try to identify which species because they are so difficult to tell apart. These are enjoying some pennyroyal.
There were tiger swallowtails (or perhaps it was anise swallowtails; I didn't get a photo) and this gorgeous Lorquin's Admiral, named for Pierre Lorquin, California's first known butterfly collector.
Here's the same Lorquin's Admiral, showing off its psychedelic underwings.
There were clouds of intense cerulean blue butterflies fluttering around on the trail, sometimes stopping to sit in the mud (entomologists call this "puddling."). They were so busy that I couldn't get one to sit still for its portrait, and when one did, he or she immediately closed up their wings so you could only see the silvery-gray underwings with tiny black dots. If I had really dedicated myself to it, I could have gotten a photo, but we were on a hike to Lower Lola Montez Lake and I was trying to keep up with my sons, who were on moutain bikes. I regret not trying harder, now, however. I will do some research to see if they were most likely Sierra Nevada Blues or something else. Also I need to do research on a black butterfly with chartreuse spots.
I was extremely happy to discover that these caterpillars are Mourning Cloak larvae, thanks to The Bug Guide. I found them beside Lake Angela, on Donner Summit. You can click the link to see a photo of the adults.
I did not see the adults but my friend Karen said she saw one, on the same willow bush that was being denuded by these caterpillars. I learned from my wonderful butterfly book, Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions by Arthur Shapiro and Timothy D. Manolis, that Mourning Cloak butterflies "can be seen migrating upslope individually along Interstate 80 in June!" (Exclamation point his.) I love to think of the little butterflies in their tiny cars in the slow lane. Watch out for them.