When the chokecherries blossom there are big white splashes across the landscape everywhere. I caught a few last night just before the sun went down.
The blossoms fill the trees,
and the trees line the river banks.
Oh, and it pays to stay alert: there are other things that lurk among the chokecherries too! (This shot was more difficult to get than you might think!)
This spring I looked all over for the Common Camas or Blue Camas. It’s evil sibling the Death Camas was everywhere but the blue eluded me until on May 25th I was happy to find just a few in the most unlikely place and got these shots (from under an umbrella). It seems that camas like many other wildflowers has many moods and plays a variety of character roles depending on the light conditions.
Common Camas Camassia quamash.
Then yesterday on a Morell hunting trip I noticed that there was a light blue tint to a huge meadow along the Thompson River road about 25 miles north of Hwy 200, turned the Jeep onto a tiny road that led into the meadow and there found at least 400 acres of camas in bloom. I’ve read that many Indian wars were fought over the rights to certain camas meadows because camas was a very important food source for them. The bulbs of the camas are starchy, nutritious, have a high sugar content, and can be eaten raw, baked, boiled, roasted or dried. They should be collected only during the blooming season to avoid confusing them with the very similar-looking but poisonous bulbs of the Death Camas.
The forecast for the afternoon yesterday included a storm front coming in from the south and sure enough in the late afternoon the clouds began piling up. How I love to see those summer thunderstorms come rolling in!
Monday on a trip to see if the snow had cleared off the road enough to get to the trailhead leading into the Cherry Peak roadless area (it has!), I was surprised to see the Indian Paintbrushes blooming already, especially at that altitude.
The full rich color of these particular flowers is because they have blossomed during a fairly long cloudy spell, which has kept the sun’s radiation which is especially strong at that relatively high elevation from fading them.
Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja miniata.
Paintbrush at Mountain Nature ,com
Paintbrush at USDA Plants
Yesterday a short drive in the Jeep enabled me to find out that the road to one of my favorite trailheads is now passable, and so today I had to see how far up the trail itself I could go before being stopped by the snow. As it turned out, about 3 miles, but far enough to be able to see into the Cherry Peak roadless area, one of my all-time favorite places.
I’m tired right now, partly because of the hike and partly because of a 4 AM wake-up call with Rural Fire, and so I’ll post only a couple of photos from today and post more later (I brought back 88 photos: thank Goodness for digital).
The trail was open for the most part, but there was about a half mile of this (the snow depth here varied from 1 to 4 feet but it was frozen just enough to make it possible to stay on top):
This photo was taken at the point where I finally had to stop but it was actually where I wanted to be anyway for today. Later in the summer I plan to spend a night or two about 5 miles further up. The trail from which it was taken is in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains: the peaks in the distance are to the north across the Clark Fork River valley and they are part of the Cabinet Mountains. Can you imagine what the snow looked like here in mid-winter?
And this is what I wanted to see, some of the peaks in the Cherry Peak roadless area. This is part of Montana’s wild country!
For anyone interested in seeing a variety of maps of the area, there’s a terrific website called Roadlessland.org that displays them free. Once on their site, go to the right side-bar, click on Lolo then scroll down to and click on Cherry Peak.
Following a hunch yesterday, I paid a visit in the rain to the lower part of Munson Creek to see if the Tolmie Star-tulips were blooming yet. It’s still a little early, but there were already three blossoms showing: later there will be hundreds in that location.
From what I can tell, this little flower is supposed to be confined to Washington, Oregon and California only, but I guess nobody told Calochortus tolmiei because I’ve found them growing in four different locations in both the Cabinet Mountains and the Coeur d’Alene mountains here in western Montana and that’s something for which I’m very grateful: they‘re a beautiful little flower (about half an inch across) with lots of varieties.
Tolmie star-tulip, (Calochortus tolmiei)
Tolmie Star-tulip at USDA Plants