10 June 2010

Afternoon Hike: Wildflowers

I'm working on an article about the hunting culture of the Na'vi in the film Avatar. I reached a good place to stop and took a break, when a Western Tanager came by to tell me to get outside and enjoy the day:

I called retired friend Dave Carter--sure enough, he was ready to go at the drop of a hiking stick. We drove up to The Moulton ski area just a few miles north of Butte, Montana, expecting to get drenched under heavy, dark clouds. Despite the look of this sky, we never even pulled the raincoats out of our packs:

The dogs didn't bring their raincoats:

We hiked out on to Big Flat (aka "Moonlight Flat" when we ski there on winter nights). Superfund is never too far away when you're near Butte. Here's our view of the Yankee Doodle Tailings pond created by sludge from Copper King Dennis Washington's open pit mine:

Despite the proximity to mining and smelting waste, however, The Moulton is a relatively pristine place with great wildflowers on the sagebrush prairie of Big Flat. Lots of Sagebrusch Buttercup (Rununculus glaberrimus):

And also Nuttall's Rockcress (Arabis nuttalli; along with Pretty Shooting Stars):

Yellowbell (Fritillaria pudica; sorry for the fuzzy pic--took several shots as usual but the camera just didn't want to focus on the bell--the deadwood looks great, though):

Pasque Flower (Anemone nuttalliana):

And a mystery flower (no hike complete without one; this is some sort of Balsamroot maybe? note the leafless, hairy stem):

The wet weather has some interesting mushrooms fruting out, too:

The Wyoming Kittentails (Besseya wyomingensis) will be blooming soon:

 The heavy, steady rains have tapered off to a light shower and a few sprinkles most every day. With Global Warming and the shifting calendar, I'm guessing that the latter part of June will be warm & dry (historically, it rained every day in June). Yeah, yeah, I know the saying: "Montana: only fools and newcomers predict the weather."


troutbirder said...

Great wildflowers. I really like the pasque flowers which are quite rare here in S.E. Minn

Elizabeth said...

You always see the most amazing things on your hikes!

Anonymous said...

We are having endless rain, too. I only recognized one of these flowers. I do look them up after you post them though. Glad you got through your hike without rain or snow.

BEE said...

I believe the "mystery flower" is a prairie crocus AKA a pasque flower or pasqueflower (genus Pulsatilla). They were my favorite flower growing up on the prairies of ND. They generally bloom in ND about the time school is letting out!

You have an excellent blog. I've lurked for quite a while but never commented.