28 May 2009

Spring Ramble: New Dogs, Wildflowers

Dave is retired and I'm on summer schedule, so we pick & choose our hiking days. With a glorious sunrise and clear early morning sky, I called Dave & we decided on a leisurely start with the dogs at 8:30 a.m.--to give the frosty morning air a chance to warm. Dave has had JackTheDog for a few months (gray & white), and Jan & I have had MollyTheDog (black lab mix) for just a week. Here they are in a meadow of yellow wildflowers:

These meadows along a stream drainage were still snow-covered a week or so ago. Ah, Sagebrush Buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus):

Also blooming in the wet meadows, the aptly named Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata):

As we climbed higher, we got to about 7,000 feet elevation and decided not to fight the knee-deep snow drifts. Near melting snow fields, Glacier Lillies (Erythronium grandiflorum) are just beginning to open:

Between the lodgepole pine woods and open meadows, the "edge plant" Blue Violets (Viola adunca) are putting on a show:

While cutting through a patch of woods, the dogs found a delicate little bird skeleton. As a sort of small miracle, they fetched it instead of eating it like the Wolf People they are!

As we looped back toward the parked Land Rover, we had to cross a small stream running high with snowmelt. The technique is: remove socks & cross wearing boots; then warm & dry your feet in the sun:

Dang--I should have gotten a photo of Dave crossing, since he was wearing long pants and took them off to cross:

As we crossed, a nervous elk cow watched us from the opposite hillside. This is sure sign that she had a calf hidden somewhere nearby (elk is center, just below tree line):

This is also Sandhill Crane nesting territory. You hear their haunting cries almost constantly, and occasionally you see them in their Pterodactyl-like flight:

I wish we also got good pics of the ducks, bald eagle, osprey and other critters. Well, sometimes memories are as clear as the finest photograph.

Dave checked his GPS when we returned to the Rover--wow, 9 miles (but who is counting?). Back in Butte America, the Violet Green Swallows are in my neighbor's nest box, and they buzz MollyTheDog and I was we walk past. This one posed for a rare still shot:

Until the past week, Spring temperatures were running about 10 deg F below average. Some years, the apple trees are in full bloom by now (of course, in those years, the blossoms often get weigted down with snow!). This year, the buds are just now swelling with lascivious beauty:

Oh, to be a Humble Bee!


fishing guy said...

ER: What a neat trip through the mountains. I felt as if I was right along side. That cold mountain stream must have been a shock to the system.

Vicki ~ FL said...

Beautiful photo of glacier lillies.

Thanks for visiting my blog ..... I do not know Wallace "J" Nichols but I'm guessing that my daughter has heard of him since she has been working in the sea turtle field for a few years. I'll ask her next time I talk to her.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a great hike for you two, EC. Nine miles is a long hike... I'm impressed.

Beautiful flwers up there in the mountains. I love the Glacier Lilies. Gorgeous!!!!!

Glad Spring is finally getting to you!

The Crow said...

Glad you (and family) and MollytheDog hooked up. Here's hoping you all enjoy a long and harmonious relationship.

Lovely photos, ER. Make me feel as if I am there.


Janie said...

Beautiful wildflower photos!
We had a black lab mix named Molly for 14 years. She was a wonderful companion. Hope your Molly is just as special.

fourwindsphotojournal said...

That looks like a fun day. I love to see what the wildflowers in other places look like. We have a few on those here in Maine, but not the lilies.

When I first came to Maine in 1970, my husband's family lived near the Canadian border, in Jackman. I remember snow in the woods until Memorial Day back then. It hasn't been that way for years, though. I kind of miss it.

EcoRover said...

I love wading in ice-cold water on a hot day, Fishing Guy. Not for too long or too deep, though!

Betsy frTenne, Dave just got the GPS recently. I'm guessing 9 miles is a pretty average day hike for us. I know backpacking on trails we've covered more than that (plus ups & downs of a few thousand feet elevation).

Thanks VickiFla and TC.

Janie, very cool! Maybe a reincarnation?

4Winds, we had a similar lilly in the Alleghenies--called 'em Trout Lillies (they have spotted leaves though). We'll have snow that makes some of the high country impassable through c. 01 July, and there are of course some snowfields and glaciers that persist.