On the crest of a lonely ridge, far above the rushing water of the river, the gnarled and twisted skeleton of an ancient pine still stands wild and free, looking toward the sky in anticipation of things yet to come.
The blossoms of Antelope Bush, Purshia tridentata. It is somewhat similar in appearance to sagebrush and is a very important food source for deer during the most harsh parts of winter.
Black Hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii. This grows as a large deciduous shrub to a small tree with very nasty thorns. It bears fruit that looks very similar to Serviceberry and it’s edible but neither good tasting nor juicy. The name “Crataegus” is from the Greek “largos”, ‘strength”, because of the great strength of the wood. On my hikes into the back country I always carry the 63-inch long staff of Hawthorn that I have had for many years now and over the several thousand miles it has accompanied me in those years it has helped me through some serious back country situations. Once I cut it, I carefully peeled the bark from it and began applying hand-rubbed coats of linseed oil. It probably has 80 coats now and is in every bit as good condition as when I first cut it.
Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa. Allergy sufferers beware: look at the pollen in the second photo! This pine can grow to be 100 feet tall and 4.5 feet in diameter and can live for up to 600 years. We share the property where we live with two mature Ponderosas and I’m constantly in awe at standing next to trees that were probably close to a hundred feet tall when the Revolutionary War was under way.
Silky Lupine, Lupinus sericeus. Pretty blossoms, but only a little over half their normal size because of lack of enough precipitation for the last month or so. We have had lots of clouds and showers that had very little rain in them. I’ve seen the same thing with many of the flowers that are now getting into their blooming season.
When I was considering the snow-covered trees at the top of Baldy Mountain (in the previous post), I recalled one day toward the end of September of 2008 when I was fortunate enough to have hiked to the top of that mountain after Mother Nature had decorated the trees up there with wind-driven snow during the previous night.
(Photos taken at the top of Baldy Mountain in the Baldy Mountain roadless area in western Montana)
There are both frost particles and snow on this fir branch. In the deep canyon where this tree lives it will not feel the direct rays of the sun again until May. Even existing in these conditions, this Douglas Fir may be still standing for up to a thousand years after our brief lives are over, yet our species in the one that is arrogant.