Montana Outdoors

July 7, 2014

Stalking and stalked

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 10:10 pm

Spotted Coralroot

Spotted Coralroot

Spotted Coralroot

Spotted Coralroot ~ Corallorhiza maculata

These flowers are in the orchid family and are saprophytic. They do not have chlorophyll that most plants use for food production and therefore do not have green leaves. They derive their nutrients from decaying organic matter and because of their dependence on that they may be abundant in one part of a forest one year and completely absent there the next. Because they live in such close symbiotic association with soil fungi they cannot be be cultivated.

While I was slithering on my back through the tall grass like an inverted snake, stalking these wild orchids, I heard some noise in the thick brush off the trail which I first attributed to my dog, except that when I glanced up, she was quite close to me. It happened again a quarter of a mile further up the trail when I was in the prone position stalking a stand of Pipsissewa. I suspect it was a cougar just trying to figure out exactly who was slithering around in the middle of his living room. I would certainly do the same.


  1. Well, that is certainly an image you’ve drawn. Exactly how one should spend a good portion of their time … up close, very close, to all things natural. A very interesting flower. I love all things orchid. ‘Do be careful,’ goes without saying … 🙂


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — July 7, 2014 @ 11:01 pm

    • The wild orchids are very special to me too. I will spend as much time as is left to me in the wild country and enjoy every second of it. It’s the world of which we are a small part. Rather sadly, I am even better armed than the cougar and much more prepared.


      Comment by montucky — July 7, 2014 @ 11:35 pm

  2. Good thing your dog stayed close to you. A cougar would love to snatch her if she was lagging behind. I guess you hope it wasn’t a grizzly. These flowers certainly come at a price!


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — July 7, 2014 @ 11:26 pm

    • My hiking friend is always well defended. She is such an innocent creature. There are lots of bears in the area, but not often a grizzly. In that area of the forest the risks are minute compared the risks in one of our cities.


      Comment by montucky — July 7, 2014 @ 11:44 pm

  3. That first shot shows superb detail.
    I do hope that animal (whatever it was) was frightened off by the combined ‘strength’ of doggie & master.
    I think I might be scared stiff if I heard loud sounds out in the mountains where you’re hiking.


    Comment by Vicki — July 7, 2014 @ 11:36 pm

    • Wild orchids hold a special attraction for me. Their blossoms are tiny but very beautiful when seen with magnification.
      Thanks for your concern, but there is really very little to fear in the mountains, especially in the remote areas where the wildlife has had little or no contact with people.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 7:16 am

  4. Interesting to see the spotted corallrot. And good storytelling.


    Comment by bentehaarstad — July 8, 2014 @ 3:32 am

    • Thanks. Coralroot isn’t rare, but encountering it is usually a surprise, and a pleasant one.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 7:18 am

  5. Any orchid is worth the trouble it takes to find and photograph it. That cat will just have to understand!


    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — July 8, 2014 @ 4:18 am

    • Yes, orchids are very special. That cat, if that’s who it was, has probably caught my scent before and undoubtably will again. There is a large variety of tracks on that trail.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 7:21 am

  6. You sound very calm, so I will not freak out for you. Happy stalking and may you not be stalked as you do this. I do appreciate all the wonderful photos and the info that goes with it….hugs


    Comment by Beth — July 8, 2014 @ 6:48 am

    • Thank you Beth. I’m very pleased that you enjoy the photos!


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 7:22 am

  7. What an interesting and beautiful plant. Great photos!


    Comment by Sue — July 8, 2014 @ 7:56 am

  8. Beautiful specimens of some of God’s handiwork. It’s nice that you are so knowledgeable about things of the forest and can tell us about how they live and why. As for your visitor “the eyes are always watching” Take care


    Comment by Ron Mangels — July 8, 2014 @ 8:39 am

    • Thanks Ron. Yes, I often wonder how many eyes have studied me on some of the trails and who they all belonged to.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

  9. There are a lot of stalking eyes out there.


    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — July 8, 2014 @ 9:12 am

    • In winter you can double back on your trail and see the tracks of whoever might have been following you. I’ve seen that coyotes do it a lot; they’re so curious!


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:31 pm

  10. What an interesting looking flower. So very unique. Thanks for stalking them for us to see, however, I’m relieved to hear your stalker moved on. We were recently in the mountains in North Carolina and I expected to see at least one bear — didn’t see any. But that’s okay, I’d rather be the stalker than the stalkee. 😉


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — July 8, 2014 @ 9:22 am

    • I haven’t seen a bear yet this year, but I’m really just starting to get out again. I’m sure to find a few before summer’s over.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:32 pm

  11. Hi Montucky, You certainly have outstanding and unique adventures while taking beautiful photographs! Have a pleasant day today!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — July 8, 2014 @ 9:23 am

    • I still get excited when I start up a mountain trail. There always will be something beautiful, interesting or exciting awaiting me there.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:34 pm

  12. Yes, we would wonder at what they were doing in our living rooms, wouldn’t we? 🙂

    Interesting plants/flowers, Terry…and beautifully rendered.


    Comment by seekraz — July 8, 2014 @ 10:03 am

    • I’m sure that lots of wildlife have looked us over and we never knew they were there. But then I’ve seen a lot of wildlife that never knew I was there too.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

  13. What a great subject and images Terry, the crack heads that live in our county are way more any risk a walk in the mountains pose.


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — July 8, 2014 @ 10:43 am

    • Yup. THe most dangerous part of any of my wanderings is between home and when I turn on to an old Forest Service road.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:37 pm

  14. Wow, cougars are an exciting prospect! I was going to ask if you ever felt threatened, but on reading your comments I can see that you don’t – and I can understand why. I feel far more at home in the countryside than in a city, too, (and much safer, although the biggest animals we have are deer!) And the orchids are amazing!


    Comment by Jo Woolf — July 8, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

    • The variety of wildlife in this area makes every trip exciting. You just never know what you might see and part of the enjoyment is seeing what kind of signs they leave along the trail. It is usually quite plain just who has been using any given trail.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

  15. That’s pretty cool. I’d love to see a cougar in the wild one of these days. Also… I need to go look at my Pipsissewa! I was almost ready to open last week, and with the intervening backpacking trip, I have forgotten to go out and check it again.


    Comment by jomegat — July 8, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

    • The Pipsissewa are abundant along that trail, more than I’ve ever seen there before. What beautiful little faces they have!


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

  16. Wow, that’s a little scary being stalked. I sure hope you never get in a situation where you have to pull the trigger…


    Comment by Candace — July 8, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

    • It happens many more times than I know about, and it isn’t surprising. The lives of those who live there depend on their knowing who and what is around and guessing what their intentions might be. I’ve only been threatened a couple of times and one of those was just a bear with a cub. She made a bluff charge at me and turned away immediately when I fired a warning shot. I make it a point to study the signs of the animals and stay aware of who my hiking companions are.


      Comment by montucky — July 8, 2014 @ 8:47 pm

  17. I just admire and admire Your nature photos.


    Comment by Sartenada — July 10, 2014 @ 2:27 am

    • There’s so much beauty to be found in nature! I think we share a love for it.


      Comment by montucky — July 10, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

  18. What a gorgeously exotic plant! Watch out for those cougars!


    Comment by Sharmon Davidson — July 10, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

    • It is. I love all wildflowers, but the wild orchids are perhaps my favorites.

      Yes, I do watch out for the cougars. I see their signs everywhere but seldom get to see a cat. They are beautiful animals.


      Comment by montucky — July 10, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

  19. lovely
    i so enjoy finding wild orchids!


    Comment by Tammie — July 11, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

    • I do too. They have an excitement about them that’s very special.


      Comment by montucky — July 11, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

  20. just re-read this post and heard about the noise around you, i wonder who was checking you out. so exciting out there!


    Comment by Tammie — July 11, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

    • Yes, it is exciting, knowing that you usually are not alone. This was probably a cat. I know that they hunt mule deer just up the mountain from there and snowshoe hares down toward the mouth of the canyon.


      Comment by montucky — July 11, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

  21. A plant without chlorphyll certainly is interesting. When I read your title, my first thought was that it was a play on the “stalks” of the plants. Then I discovered there was a little more action than I’d realized.

    Your comment about doubling back reminded me of lines from the ending of another Wendell Berry poem, titled “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” The last lines are:

    As soon as the generals and the politicos
    can predict the motions of your mind,
    lose it. Leave it as a sign
    to mark the false trail, the way
    you didn’t go.

    Be like the fox
    who makes more tracks than necessary,
    some in the wrong direction.
    Practice resurrection.


    Comment by shoreacres — July 11, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

    • Sometimes when hiking in the winter, I will walk backward in my previous tracks for about twenty steps, then jump off to the side and make a circle around to past where I left off, just to give anyone who might be following me something to think about.


      Comment by montucky — July 11, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

  22. Happy coralroot. I hope the spots aren’t contagious for the photographer.


    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — July 14, 2014 @ 9:11 pm

  23. I was telling someone about you and your orchid photos yesterday, and realized it had been so long since I have visited your blog–and how much I miss blogging myself. So glad to see you are still here and regularly posting your wonderful photos. Kateri from Dandelion Haven (Now Tangled Basket Farm).


    Comment by kateri — July 14, 2014 @ 9:49 pm

    • It’s good to hear from you, Kateri! I will visit your new site!


      Comment by montucky — July 15, 2014 @ 7:55 am

  24. When I opened this link and saw the first photo, my mind immediately said: “fried bananas.”
    Now where that thought came from, I have no clue.
    Good thing you gave the scientific name for these flowers, to set my thought process straight!
    Beautifully clear photos! 🙂


    Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid — July 19, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

    • Their lack of green leaves makes them quite strange-looking flowers.


      Comment by montucky — July 19, 2014 @ 10:37 pm

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