I knew the trail along Stafford Creek to Navaho Pass in the Upper Teanaway / Esmeralda Basin are was good to go. This is a hike I have been wanting to do. It is well known for its wildflowers and big views.
I was not sure I was going to be able to get going, the road into the trail head was taken over by range cattle. They seemed to be everywhere and would appear from and disappear into the trees with no warning. They did not seemed overly concerned with Pearly Mae, my car. A polite toot of her horn didn't shift them so I rolled down the window and did the nearest thing to a cowboy "Gitalong"; I pounded Pearly Mae's side.
that shifted them.
After signing in at the trail head I set off. It was a wee touch chilly but I let that work to my favor. The trail parallels Stafford Creek and the music of the splashing running creek was with me most of the way.
I love getting on the trail early, it beats the heat and the crowds. Today there were more people coming down from overnights at elevation than were passing me going up.
I had a nice visit with a Hermit Thrush , Catharus guttarus. He shared his wandering song with me.
Flowers made were ever changing as I gained elevation. Along this slope occasional wet areas supported our usual orchids and as I climbed the elevation specialists starting to show themselves.
Scarlet Gilia, Ipomopsis aggregata, and lupin in abundance
Tiger Lily, Lilium columbianum, most of them past prime. I cannot see these flowers without thinking of all the early Disney and Merry Melodies Cartoons with dancing and singing flowers.
Red Columbine, Aquilegia formosa, grew in clusters and I had one classic view of a hummingbird dining. Unfortunately the wee thing was not willing to put on a show for my camera.
Columbia Lewisia , Lewisia columbiana, falls into the fight of Washington's most beautiful wildflower along with its cousins Bitterroot and Tweedys Lewisia. It is certainly a striking and stunning color.
I was trucking along well until I reached the 6000 foot level. I really hit the wall feeling, drunk and giddy. I rested, drank water, ate and tried to proceed on, but I could not manage my feet. I had another sit, drank more and ate more but still my unsteady feet just made me feel uncomfortable. I turned back just short of my ultimate goal and descended. Upon reaching 6000 feet, I felt fine. I have had some issues with high altitude before, usually swollen hands, but nothing like this. I am hoping that it was simply "first higher altitude hike of the year" syndrome and I won't have to concern myself with this again. I need to stock in some snap energy gel just to be on the safe side.
I was pretty disappointed to have to come down but I had a treat in store.
All of the moist areas that crossed the trail were now supporting butterflies. Most butterflies sip mud, sand and wet spots to obtain minerals from the soil. This was abundantly seen in Peru and it true here. The butterflies become very placid in this situation and it can be possible to get quite close to some of them.
My camera got a work out. My id skills are pretty rough and my tentative identifications are just that.
Canbey's Lovage, Ligusticum canbyi, with a checkerspot
Common Banded Skippers , Hesperia comma
Dotted Blue (L) and Greenish Blue (R) Euphilotes enoptes , Plebejus saepiolus
Field Crescent , Phyciodes campestris
Great Arctic, Oeneis nevadensis. This was the first I have ever captured an image. I was lucky to get a glimpse of the colorful eye spot on the upper (inside / top of the wing)
Northern Crescent, Phyciodes selenis, a bit blurry but these are not as common or as docile
Variable Checkerspot, Euphydryas chalcedona...closed
Zerene Fritillary , Speyeria zerene
A Pale Swallowtail, Papilio eurymedon look how worn out this one is.
I stopped when I spotted this swallowtail. It really loved the Scarlet Gilia and was predictable as it flew from patch to patch. I took many pictures and I could tell they had bad light, bad timing, bad positioning. I kept at it and shifted down trail a wee bit when some people walked through and spooked the butterfly. But I waited and it came back.
and I got my prize.
Everyone loves mud, particularly when it holds gems like this...