Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bonanza Day at Pyramid Lake

My wildflower journal told me that two rare beauties should be blooming this week: Twinflower and One-flowered Wintergreen. So that meant a trip north about 70 miles to Pyramid Lake, a paddle across the lake to a mountain trail, and a steep climb up, up, up to where I knew these flowers grow. Or I should say, had grown in years past. There's always a certain amount of luck involved with hunting uncommon wildflowers (not to mention wet feet, skinned knees, broken nails, and deer fly and mosquito bites). But today was indeed my lucky day. I found them both, along the same trail -- in fact, growing together in the same patch -- and I didn't even have to climb all the way to the top. Whew!

All in all, it was a great day for great stuff in the woods. Every way I turned there was something amazing to see. So come along with me and I'll show you some of what I found.

Vivid pink Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) was growing all along the shore as I set off in my canoe to the mountain trail across the lake.

These dainty Common Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana) were growing right on top of boulders along the shore.

I don't know what this fungus is called, so I'll call it "Orange Popsicles." It was growing along a tiny stream next to where I hauled my canoe ashore to reach the trail up the mountain.

This has been my millipede summer, for sure. What a beauty! Just look at all those lovely yellow legs! I notice there's a fly on its back. I hope it's not going to parasitize this millipede like one I found earlier this year.

Beautiful Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), like tiny dogwood shrubs, was growing in masses all along the trail.

Maple-leaved Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) had the prettiest pink flowers that glowed against the dark shade of the woods.

All r-i-i-i-ght!!! This is the one I came up here for. Dear little Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) was carpeting the forest floor where sunshine made it through the canopy. And after I found this patch, I found more growing along the lake shore, and even more along the road. Gosh! I could have spared myself the climb (Pant! Pant!). Except that then I would have missed this next treasure:
One-flowered Wintergreen (Moneses uniflora), also known as One-flowered Pyrola, has disappeared from much of its original range in states around New York, so you can imagine how excited I was to find it here. Just two small plants in all the woods around. And I almost overlooked it because Bunchberry was growing nearby and I first thought that's what this was. I know, I know, it's not spectacularly gorgeous or anything. But you go try to find it! Betcha can't.

Here's another view of One-flowered Wintergreen, from waaay down where the millipedes crawl. From this angle it's obvious to see this plant is related to Pipsissewa and Striped Wintergreen and other more commonly found members of the Pyrola Family.


After my paddle and mountain climb, I went for an easy walk in the woods to a beautiful waterfall. The falls were powerful today, with waterlevels high from all the rain we've had. It was hard to miss this radiant Lacquered Polypore glowing orange like a pumpkin pie in the dark of the woods.

The waterfall was spectacular, worth every mosquito bite to see it thundering down its rocky course. The air around was filled with warm mist. This stream runs through a wide open marsh for quite a while before it reenters the forest, so the sun today heated the water. It felt almost like a sauna, standing on the bank.

My husband found this snowy tree fungus as we walked to our car to come home. That big one was as large as a dinner plate. It wasn't woody and hard like most tree fungi, but soft and velvety and kind of fragrant. Was it some kind of Oyster Mushroom? I'll bet it would have been good to eat. I didn't have any mushroom guides with me, so I didn't pick it for supper. Besides, we were going to stop for dinner in Pottersville, to try the restored Wells House. Glad we did. The food there was really good. A fine end to a glorious day. Some days I feel like I don't have to die to go to heaven.

5 comments:

Abe Lincoln said...

Gosh what an extraordinary lady you are to traipse about the forest primeval and canoe up and down the river. You could probably eat everything fried in lard and not have any increase in bad cholesterol. So much exercise has got to be good for anybody.

Anyway, your expertise in plants is really nice to read. Your determination to find specific plants is just great and the determination is unusual.

I came over from Tom Arbor's blog and sure am glad I did. Not only are you a lady of plants but your photography is refreshing to look at as well.

My photography is mostly about birds that fly into my back yard down here in Brookville, Ohio not that far from Dayton. I do have a nice selection of birds and try to attract more to my tiny backyard.

mybirdsblog.blogspot.com/

Woodswalker said...

Thanks, Abe, for your kind and generous comments. I also read Tom's blog (The Ohio Nature Blog) and am grateful to have his expertise available for me to call on. He's a pro and I'm just a passionate amateur enamored of the natural world. I hope to be out there paddling and hiking until the day I die.

I'm also a follower of your blogs, Abe, enjoying your remarkable photographs of backyard wildlife and local sites. What a beautiful garden you have! My gardening goal is to create a native woodland in my backyard -- meaning one I never have to weed, mow, or rake. Gotta save my energy for the river and the woods.

Ellen Rathbone said...

Where do you find all these wonderful millipedes!?!?!? All the time I spend in the dirt and all I find are the tiny little black ones. Grrrr. Maybe they are your totem animal.

Woodswalker said...

What a great thought, Ellen. My totem animal. . . . They certainly seem to be coming out of the woodwork (get it?) for me this summer. Found another one today (June 20) color-coordinated to a lovely slime mold.

Ellen Rathbone said...

I think the millipede in this photo is Sigmoria trimaculata. I'm still working on your other ones from Bedford.

Do you have photos of the one mentioned in your comment above? I suddenly find myself "into" millipedes.