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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cage Match : Tweedy vs Bitterroot

I have spent the last two days truly meandering around.

Saturday morning I headed over to Blewett Pass and checked out a trail that climbs the ridge up to Red Top. It was at Red Top last Summer that I encountered a puzzling plant that lead me to Flickr. From there I have ventured out into the world of blogging and am now pondering the possible purchase of a nice camera.

It is a sickness I tell you.

Blewett Pass is just waking up from the late snows. The roads are open but not real good yet. I suspect the best will be in about three weeks. I hope to get up and find the flowering plant that created these interesting seed pods ; Washington Twinpod.

I poked around the greater Leavenworth area and remembered when I was driving home via Hwy 2 that there was a glorious bloom of Tweedys Lewisia up on some rocks along the highway. I have never seen these plants close up and my friend Ron Hanko reported about them on his blog last week. When I read his blog entry I imagined him scrambling up on the rock face to capture his images. I figured why not.

I doubled back and while trying to decide where to pull off looked into the woods. From the far side of the road I could see large boulders inside the woods adorned with flowers.

I could not believe my luck. I pulled ahead to a parking lot near a picnic area and walked back. It was an easy scamper into the woods and onto the large boulder. I am pretty sure these were the flowers Ron captured as well.

Such bold flowers with subtle color.

Like blushing butter ; cream yellow a hint of rose. They have nice bold leaves too. All of this growing on a hand full of soil and mosses, loosely attached to a massive boulder.

I immediately thought about what I had often read, there are those that consider this Washingtons most beautiful wildflower. Is it? Does it really compete with another Lewisia , Bitterroot?

I decided today that I would hike up the Boy Scout Trail at Ray Westburg and come down Rays trail. I wanted to see if the Mariposa Lily's were starting to bloom. The Boy Scout Trail heads up the ridge through a deep re-entrant (canyon/ gully) which has a fair number of Ponderosa Pines inside. There were a lot of flowers blooming today, certainly more than I have ever seen here.

The Boy Scout trail joins Rays trail about 2/3 of the way up the ridge. It had obviously rained overnight and it was certainly not warm. Even though there was a lot of buckwheat blooming, I can count on one hand the butterflies I saw. Later next month you can come here and be surrounded by butterflies, particularly the Blues. I did capture this Common Ringlet.

At the top I thought I would wander out to the road. Once you reach the top the environment changes to hard lithosoil and a mix of rocky and grassy areas. On the final bit of climb I decided that it might be fun to hike west a ways and return to my car by hiking down slope cross country using stock trails made by elk deer and cattle.

I am so glad I decided this. Along the road and in most of the open areas I found patches of Bitterroot. One open rocky area pulled me in and here there were hundreds of buds and flowers. I crossed the area and headed for some trees. I picked up an old road that has been closed and started descending. The road switched back and came to an end but the hoof stock clearly show they cross regularly. These animals must go down slope for water and there are no regular streams or pools up top.

I followed a narrow track across a very steep face and up over the ridge. I knew I was two ridges over from Rays trail and I was thrilled at the solitude. There were wonderful flowers and I even had a few bird encounters. I could hear a grouse calling and every once in a while "baby bird in nest" begging sounds.

It was interesting to see that almost every large tree had a skirt of pale green Miners Lettuce around the base. This small green plant is tasty and I cannot resist nibbling some when I find it. It is sweet fresh and "green" tasting. I might be convinced there is a bit of fresh corn flavor as well.

There were several stock trail intersections and I knew the general direction to follow so I let that be my guide. I gained a new ridgeline and instantly saw that I was above the Boy Scout Trail canyon. I had a man pass me this morning heading in and he took the high trail to gain this ridge. The trail itself was still created by and for hoof stock. Everywhere plants blooming including more Tritelia than I have ever seen.

It was in concert with the Larkspur and Lupin to make sure every tone of blue was painted today.

I noticed an open rocky area and walked near. I saw Bitterroot here, an unexpected surprise. I admired the little plant and turned to proceed and stopped dead and gasped

then laughed with glee.

A large rocky area covered in Bitterroot.

Hundreds of blooms, uncountable number of buds just breaking through.

Oh they were magnificent.

And I have my answer. They are amazing and beautiful! Hugging the dirt and pushing aside rocks. Braving sun and wind to bloom in what appears to be unwelcome hard crusty soil.

I will accept the Tweedys Lewisia is a beauty of the woods, but Bitterroot...

They are so grand they have a mountain range named after them!

1 comment:

  1. From the pictures, I agree. Tweedys are beautiful, and I wouldn't mind seeing some live, but that Bitterroot is perfect. Looks like something an artist would create.