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.

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