22 June 2009

Early Summer (?) Hike: No Morels, but lots of Wildflowers

Summer Solstice, though here in the northern Rockies along the Continental Divide it's still the rainy season of June. Despite the weather, Andrea Stierle, Dave Carter, and I (and our three dogs) donned our raingear and set out from Butte America for a hike. Don Stierle was going to join us as well, but a big rainstorm swelled the Wise River (Big Hole tributary), so he kayaked instead. So many choices, so little time.

Our ostensible purpose was a hike into the Pettengill Burn in search of morel mushrooms, but we got off on a finger ridge that the burn never reached. No matter, we found LOTS of mushrooms. Not morels, though, and we amateurs didn't know if either of these common types were edible:

We did, however, find tasty specimens of the eminently edible Western Giant Puffball (Calvatia booniana):

This leaf lichen is probably edible too, at least if you are a caribou:

In the woods, along with the fruiting mushrooms, the tiny flowers of Grouse Whortleberry (Vaccinium scoparium) are blooming:

OK, which of you lughead dogs mouthed this grouse egg (and cracked it)?

They all (Black Molly, Speckled Jack, and Golden Chooka) look guilty to me:

We climbed to about 8,400 feet and encountered almost no snow. At the highest elevation along the ridge, flower catkins of the Mountain Alder (Alnus incana) hung in the chill air:

Down lower, below the woodline in the meadows along the Big Hole River and its tributaries, many wildflowers are blooming:

The blue sea of flowers at the top of the photo (above) are my favorite, and an important food of Native Peoples, the Blue Camas (Camassia quamash):

The foreground of that landscape photo is dotted by another Indian food, the American Bistort (Polygonum bistortoides):

Ah, here's a bed of Rocky Mountain Irises (Iris missouriensis):

Exquisite up close too:

A sign of overgrazed land (cattle don't like them) but beautiful nonetheless, a field of Golden Pea (Thermopsis montana):

Look closely, and you can see why they're called "false lupine:"

Speaking of lupines, two varieties are in bloom. Here's Silvery Lupine (Texans call them "bluebonnets;" Lupinus argentus):

And the easily overlooked, less showy Dwarf Lupine (Lupinus pusillus):

Rounding off the list for today's hike, the Sticky Geranium (Geranium viscosissimum):

Back in Butte, my neighbor's wheelbarrow & wagon garden of cabbages and tomato plants is looking mighty fine:

And tomorrow is the Bitterroot Festival: BBQ elk ribs and a hike out back to see the rock roses. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!


bitingmidge said...

I've just had a lovely time digging through your recent posts, have enjoyed them immensely!

Sunshine Coast Daily Photo - Australia

Postcards from the Road

Calm Energy said...

Love all the photos of the flowers!
the Blue Camas are especially sweet.
I laughed at the photo of your dogs rough housing!

Thanks for stopping by at my post today!
Our oldest daughter could not come home for Father's Day either...no pressure though... I don't like the fact that a Hallmark holiday has the potential to induce guilt... I always say, "every time the family is all together---it's a holiday!"

secret agent woman said...

I like the idea of gathering edible mushrooms, but I'm afraid I'd kill myself pickng the wrong kind.

fishing guy said...

ER: Those were some neat photos from the wilds of your mountains. Neat flowers and fungi.

The Crow said...

Beautiful photos, ER.

Looks like Molly is coming into her own! Bet she's a sassy little thing.


The Crow said...

Just enlarged the iris photo - oh my gosh, how beautiful! I can almost smell their slight licorice scent.

Great shot, as all your photos are, ER.


Eric(NL) said...

Heey hello,

Thanks for stopping by on my blog, also looked at your blog again, the iris-pictures are really great, lovely colors, very nice to watch!!

Greetings from Eric

Carol said...

Great photos...I enjoyed the hike....that first shot could be either flowers or mushrooms...all the flowers are beautiful...love the iris and lupine..

fourwindsphotojournal said...

Looks like you and your buddies had a nice hike. Glad to see a shot of camas. I have been wondering about it since I read the Lewis and Clark journals. Most of the wildflowers are new to me. We do have wild geranium and lupines here. Right now in fact, lots of the roadways in Maine are blue with lupines.

I don't know much about mushrooms, and am not brave enough to gather anything to eat.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Fantastic Series of photographs !! These are simply great..Flowers are so beautiful..Great..Unseen Rajasthan

Janie said...

Great mushroom shots. I don't think I've ever seen a Blue Camas. I wonder if they grow here.