At the very summit of California, so high on the slopes of Mt. Whitney that the celestial sphere resounds with deep blue tones, there grows a tiny jewel that seems to reflect the sky itself. Found only on the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada, this precious blue flower relishes extreme elevations. To survive intense sunlight, drying winds and freezing nights, the 6-inch-high sky pilot grows in rocky crevices, its stems insulated with a cloak of dense, finely dissected leaves. As soon as snow banks melt, the sky pilot matures so quickly that its radiant blossoms are at their peak for only one day, giving this ephemeral plant almost mythical status among mountaineers who venture into its lofty realm.