Montana Outdoors

July 12, 2017

In search of a flower

A flower has been on my mind a lot lately, one that I encountered on a hike in June of 2008 into the mountains along the Clark Fork River here in western Montana. The USDA “Plants” website tells me that it grows only in Washington and California, which might explain why I haven’t encountered it in any of my ramblings since 2008.

At the end of June this year, despite the heat, I again hiked the Donlan Saddle trail (USFS trail 205) up to the area where I first encountered the flower. Trail 205 is an aggressive little trail that seems much longer than its 3 mile length because it starts at an elevation of about 2,600 feet along the river and ends at an elevation of 5,000 feet where it meets the start of the CC Divide trail and also the road that proceeds from there on up to the Patrick’s Knob fire lookout.

The trail is pretty and there are a few good views to be had toward the top, the rest of the trail being in the forest.

Trail 205

Trail 205

Trail 205

Trail 205

Despite the extremely hot and dry conditions this year, there were several species of flower still in bloom:

Grand Collomia, Large-flower Mountain-trumpet

Grand Collomia, Large-flower Mountain-trumpet ~ Collomia grandiflora

Menzies' Campion

Menzies’ Campion ~ Silene menziesii

Woodland Pinedrops

Woodland Pinedrops ~ Pterospora andromedea

Giant Mountain Aster

Giant Mountain Aster ~ Canadanthus modestus

Nodding Onion

Nodding Onion, Allium cernuum

Though I did reach the area in which I found the flower in 2008 I did not find it in bloom this time, probably because I was a week or so too late and because of the dry conditions, but here is a photo of it taken on June 20, 2008:

Tricolor Monkeyflower

Tricolor Monkeyflower ~ Mimulus tricolor

I hope to try again next year, but a little earlier, and it will be worth the hike.


  1. Quite the collection of flowers! All very pretty, especially that pale four-legged one.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — July 12, 2017 @ 11:38 pm

  2. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by nvsubbaraman — July 12, 2017 @ 11:57 pm

  3. They’re all pretty, so worth the hike anyway.
    That 3rd shot looks like a very steep slope indeed – glad there’s a trail.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vicki — July 13, 2017 @ 4:16 am

    • That piece of trail was where I found the flowers years ago. Yes, it’s a very steep slope and the trail is quite narrow in places.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 12:09 pm

  4. “In Search of a Flower,” is such a lovely phrase, and a good way to spend one’s time. I think I recall the monkey flower …. another that looks like it belongs in a confectionary. It almost has an orchid look to it.

    I love the little blue stamens (I just discovered the plural can also be stamina) in the mountain trumpet. Your corner of the world is so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by teresaevangeline — July 13, 2017 @ 4:55 am

    • There seems to be no end to the beauty in these old forests. I know that even a few miles over in any direction there will be more things, some which I’ve never seen before. It’s a strong impetus for getting out there as much as possible!


      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 12:12 pm

  5. A beautiful hike and wildflowers, heaven!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by centralohionature — July 13, 2017 @ 4:59 am

    • Hikes like that sure do divert one’s attention from the headlines and TV news. A day there is pure relaxing pleasure and when you return home you sleep very well that night.


      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

  6. The mountain trumpet looks remarkably like our Texas star, after it’s gone to seed. I can’t remember seeing blue stamens before, except with chicory. I’m sure there are more, but this certainly is unusual, and very pretty. I’m sorry you didn’t find your monkey flower, but it’s still there, just waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shoreacres — July 13, 2017 @ 6:04 am

    • I love the colors of the trumpets, such pleasing tones. I will go there a little sooner next year, and perhaps venture down from the top which would be a lot shorter hike.


      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

  7. Despite not finding the Monkeyflower (what a humorous little name!), you hike certainly was not in vain. That Giant Mountain Aster really caught my eye. I think I’m partial to brilliant purple flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — July 13, 2017 @ 7:10 am

    • I really never go anywhere to find only one thing. I know there will be so many more encounters along the way. It was not all that disappointing to be unable to see that specific flower. Even flowers and scenes that were beautiful on previous visits are often entirely changed by the next visit. The aster is an example of that: usually they are a lighter color, but some there were very vivid like the one in the photo.


      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 12:28 pm

  8. I think it is fun that you have another adventure planned to find this, see this flower again. I hope you do.
    I don’t think that I have ever see Grand Collomia, I love the blue bits.
    I have a flower growing in a creek here that I have not been able to ID, maybe I will try a FB group.
    Lovely to see your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Tammie — July 13, 2017 @ 10:25 am

    • I rarely hesitate to revisit a trail. There is always something new and different and beautiful. I find it fascinating that even after thousands of hours hiking in these mountains and photographing all kind of different things over a couple of decades, each year I see something entirely new.
      There is also a Flickr group called “ID Please” that can sometimes be helpful for ID’s.


      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 12:34 pm

  9. Ah, pinedrops. They’ve been on my gosh-I-wanna-see-these list for years. So far I been unsuccessful. They occur in Alberta but are considered rare here. I checked one of my books just now — what a confusing plant. Well, not the plant, just the botantists who had to change their minds several times it seems before they figured out how it survived — from a parasite on conifer roots to a saprophyte sucking up dead organic matter to a symbiotic relationship with soil fungi. Apparently it’s only found in the extreme southwest of the province (looks like on the border with Montana) and in the extreme southeast (maybe Cypress Hills?). Thanks for the lovely pic.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Sally — July 13, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

    • They aren’t exactly plentiful, but I see perhaps a dozen every year. I have a feeling that the kind of trail that I prefer always has a few along its route.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 13, 2017 @ 6:55 pm

  10. Your hike was still worth it for the beautiful views.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Candace — July 14, 2017 @ 1:32 pm

    • No matter what, a hike is always worth the effort for me!


      Comment by montucky — July 14, 2017 @ 4:19 pm

  11. Beautiful images absolutely worth the hike 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Julie@frogpondfarm — July 17, 2017 @ 11:21 pm

    • It’s always beautiful in these mountains. I hike to just be somewhere, not necessarily to go somewhere, and the whole hike is enjoyable.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 18, 2017 @ 6:28 am

  12. I love the walk with You thru Your post. Beautiful photos. Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Sartenada — July 18, 2017 @ 4:43 am

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed the hike Matti! I think you would have liked to be there.


      Comment by montucky — July 18, 2017 @ 6:29 am

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