Wednesday, July 23, 2014

(Some) wildflowers on the North Rim

I did indeed go to Cedar Breaks last week and for all my good intentions of two nights' camping, I got run out after one. It wasn't rain, although it threatened for a while. It wasn't the cold; I just put on more layers. It wasn't for lack of interest; it's a gorgeous place flush with wildflowers. It was two women who showed up with a pack of kids and who went on, loudly, until midnight. Campgrounds generally have quiet time after 10 pm but I think this bunch didn't/couldn't hear about the rule. I really wanted to stay another night but between them and the guy in the next spot over whose snoring I could hear even with earplugs in, I just couldn't do it. It seems I'm doomed to one-night stands when it comes to camping. HH is wary of me camping by myself in undeveloped areas but I told him my experience that night is precisely why I prefer to be away from humanity. Is it really too much to ask for people to realize that tents are not sound proof? The kids were typical, noisy, having-fun kids all day, which I have no problem with, but I did find it ironic that one of the moms shouted at them that it was time for them to use their whisper voices.

I have a slew of photos from Cedar Breaks that I'm still working on, but on Sunday I went on a different hike from any I've done before here on the North Rim, and those photos are finished. There is no dearth of wildflowers here, either.

The trail I went on is called the Ken Patrick, named for a Ranger killed in the line of duty. It's a 10-miler but I didn't do it all. The middle section is overgrown with thorny locust and even the bit I did was closely grown over, rocky, steep in parts, and isolated. I showed some rare sense and turned around before I broke a body part.

Here's a sweet aster, with a jaunty flip of two petals. Well, I think it's an aster because I just found out today how to discern an aster from a fleabane. They look very similar but the clue is the underside of the flowers. If the green part is neat and orderly it's fleabane. If it's all in a tangle, it's an aster. I don't have any shots of that part of the flower so I'm just guessing that these are asters.

Another aster. Maybe.

There are dozens of sunflower-like species in bloom. This is just one.

 Some sunflower-y blooms with asters and aspens.

These are pineywoods geraniums. Don't they look good enough to eat?

One silvery feather was lying lightly among the flowers.

Hooker's evening primrose. These grow on spindly, wavy plants about a yard high. I've seen them everywhere along the road, and always where there's no place to pull over.

I don't have enough of this plant to identify, but it's a tall narrow spire of flowers.

A native thistle just emerging from the bud. The purple/lavender/pink ones are non-native.

This is part of a tall stalk of flowers and buds. I've not seen this before. It's redroot buckwheat.

This is part of a drooping, tapered stalk of flowers. They're very delicate looking; this is highly magnified. It may be goldenrod.

The grip of one of my hiking poles is in the background, put there for scale but it doesn't work well for that. I've seen these little flowers for a couple of months now. The blossom is maybe 1/16" across.When seen at a distance, the anthers look like tiny dots on the petals.

I'm happy I didn't get any sense to turn around on the trail until I came across these. I was stopped in my tracks. They're not rare but I haven't seen them anywhere else. Another of the volunteers is much more knowledgeable than I, has a $50 book to back her up, and identified this as a campion. I loved these and took about 25 photos. If I ever have a garden again, I'm planting these.

This is just about where I turned around. The steps look easy from here but they were more formidable in person, each about a foot high. Most of the trail was not stepped like this, just steep and rocky.

People put a lot of effort into having a garden that looks as casually elegant as this.

Pussy-toes! That's what this is called. The dried blossom, about 1/2" across, is in the next photo down. The leaves are about the same size, maybe a little smaller.

The papery pussy-toes blossom.

Non-native thistle but what a color!

A short-horned lizard. These lizards have a unique, disgusting defense: they can shoot blood from their eyes to a distance of three feet.

I spotted this photographer at a distance; he was just a speck on the pinnacle.

A clump of asters/fleabane that any gardener would love to have. When I gardened in Washington state, asters didn't show up until late August and into September. When they started blooming, I knew fall was on the way.


Pink skyrocket. I first saw these in almost fluorescent red, and later also in lavender.They may be part of the penstemon family. The flowers grow along a tallish stalk.

A Western fence lizard? If so, Wikipedia says, "Studies have shown Lyme disease is lower in areas where the lizards occur. When ticks carrying Lyme disease feed on these lizards' blood (which they commonly do, especially around their ears), a protein in their blood kills the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The blood inside the tick's gut is therefore cleansed and no longer carries Lyme disease."

The weather is a crap shoot around here this time of year. It's monsoon season and the rain can come at any time (Actually, hello!! the rain can come any time now, for whoever's listening.) but mornings are generally safer than afternoons. I like to head out earlier in the day, when critters are stirring, the air is cooler, and there's less wind to wave the flowers around. It's a nice time to be on the trails.

Thought of the day:

I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
       -  Edna St. Vincent Millay