SMD Property Series – Viera North Peak

This is the first in a series of blog entries I am going to make in which I post my 5 favorite images of a property that Save Mount Diablo has acquired. The selection of what is my “favorite” changes from time to time and I often revisit properties and capture new images, so consider these to be “snapshots” at a particular point in time. In addition, “favorite” doesn’t always equate to “best” – often my favorite images are those that I think best represent the nature of the property, which doesn’t necessarily mean they are technically my best.

I will start this series with SMDs latest acquisition – Viera North Peak.

Viera North Peak

As the property name implies, Viera North Peak is located on the eastern slope of Mount Diablo’s North Peak. This 165-acre property is rugged, spectacular, and difficult-to-access, and was a top acquisition priority for the organization for many years due to its location, high resource values, and high visibility on the slopes of North Peak.

All of these photos were captured during May of 2009.

Viera North Peak summary on Save Mount Diablo’s web site

Image #1


This image was taken in the early morning light on my third visit to Viera. I hiked in to a spectacular rock outcrop on the property that is a great vantage point to view the surrounding landscape – including the summit of Mount Diablo (and summit museum) shown in this image.

Image #2


The Mount Diablo Jewel Flower (Streptanthus hispidus)

This image was taken on my second visit to Viera. We hiked to the property in the late afternoon and found this rare wildflower – a Mount Diablo endemic – on the same rock outcrop from which Image #1 was taken. I hiked back to this location a few days later and found that most of the flowers had gone to seed.

Image #3


The Viera North Peak property has many small, beautiful, rocky meadows. We speculate that the rocks in these meadows prevent wild pigs from “rototilling” them, so they remain filled with wildflowers like these Ithuriel’s Spear.

Image #4


Although much of Viera North Peak is composed of steep rocky hillsides covered in chaparral, it also has two beautiful tributary streams that were still running strong late in the spring. Along these streams the chaparral gives way to lush streamside vegetation like this Big-leaf Maple.

Image #5


Pink Spineflower (Chorizanthe membranacea)

Another cool wildflower found on Viera North Peak. I photographed this specimen against the lichen-covered rocks of the outcrop mentioned above.

Photography Notes

All of these images were taken with a Nikon D300 digital SLR. The landscape images were taken with my primary “hiking” lens – a 16-85mm DX-format Nikkor zoom lens. The macro photos of flowers were taken with either my trusty 70-180mm Micro-Nikkor zoom (possibly my favorite lens of all time) on a tripod, or the 105mm VR Micro-Nikkor hand held.

Additional Links:

Save Mount Diablo
Calflora – information on wild California plants for conservation, education, and appreciation

© 2009 – 2011, Scott Hein. All rights reserved.

Scott Hein

About Scott Hein

Scott Hein is a freelance nature photographer whose passion is photographing the native plants, wildlife, and landscapes of the American West. Although his explorations have taken him from Alaska to Antarctica, the wild lands and parks surrounding Mount Diablo near his home in Northern California remain his favorite photo locations.
This entry was posted in Natural History, Photography, Save Mount Diablo. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to SMD Property Series – Viera North Peak

  1. Leslie "Marco" Lieurance says:

    Fascinating images with depth of a wondrous spot. The first picure glows. Is it soft morning light? Looking forward to more.

    Next time it would be interesting to know the season and year of the pictures.

  2. Scott Hein says:

    Hey Marco – definitely soft morning light, around 6:30 AM. Good suggestion on adding the season/date/year. In this case I took all of these photos during mid-May, 2009.

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