Desert Boy started off trotting down the road. He found a puddle, and it was hard to convince him that we should go any further. But eventually we did.
The wildflowers were stunning. I was surprised to find four different penstemons. Above is thickleaf beardstongue (Penstemon pachyphyllus). Do you see the really hairy staminode (hairy thing sticking out of the middle of the flower)? That's one of the ways to help tell penstemons apart. First look at color, then if the stems are hairy or smooth, and then if the leaves, corollas (flower petals), and staminodes are hairy or smooth.
This penstemon has a smooth staminode. It's called Owens Valley beardstongue (Penstemon confusus). I really like the stripes on the inner parts of the petals.
The bright red of this penstemon sets it apart from the other ones we saw. It has the great name of firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii).
And one more...Tunnel springs beardstongue (Penstemon concinnus). It was a lot shorter than the other ones and had hairy stem and leaves.
Okay, I know we were supposed to be looking for snakes, but they were a bit elusive, while the wildflowers were so eye-catching. We did keep our eyes on the ground, though, and eventually we saw...
...a lizard! This is a sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus). Do you see the stripes running down his back?
Here is Meg searching up high on the hillside opposite us. People went up and down, looked under dead trees and in rock crevices. Everyone spread out to cover as much ground as possible.
Desert Boy got a bit worn out from all the traipsing up and down the hillsides. But with a snack, he was ready to go again.
We went up to some rocks and found large clusters of Kingcup cactus (Echinocerus triglochidiatus). To my utter amazement, Desert Boy walked through them with nary a fall and a spine in his hand.
On the way back down, we saw a different lizard. This one doesn't have stripes lengthwise like the sagebrush lizard, but instead has stripes going across his body. This is a western fence lizard (Sceloperus occidentalis).
When we got down the hillside, we reached a little spring, and water was running across the road. You can imagine Desert Boy's delight.
The only problem was that while I was photographing wildflowers, he somehow managed to find a muddy spot and fall down in it.
By this time I knew he was completely coated with mud, and it didn't matter if he got any dirtier.
Oops. Might as well get entirely coated with mud. He wasn't too happy when I told him we had to start heading back to the truck, about a mile away. And he was going to have to walk the entire time because I didn't want to pick him and all his mud up.
Fortunately, we came across some snake hunters who had better success.
They had caught a night snake (Hypsiglena torquata) and put it in the smaller plastic container, and a Great Basin rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis lutosis). The rattlesnake rattled incessantly, so we put him back and took a closer look at the night snake.