Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Serviceberry Trail Jaunt

Desert Boy is keeping track of the trails he's doing this year, and still needed Serviceberry Trail. I needed some exercise, so we went out for a jaunt.

The serviceberries are edible right now, although they aren't the tastiest. I showed Desert Boy what they were and he wasn't too impressed. In the background is the beautiful limestone cliff next to Granite Basin.

The buckwheats were popping, and I really liked this redstem buckwheat, Eriogonum racemosum.

Desert Boy hikes much faster than me, so I asked him to wait periodically. I had to laugh when I found him chugging a Coke on the trail. 

We had the whole trail to ourselves. It was in pretty good shape, with just a couple trees down.

We kept powering up, although when the flowers got especially pretty, I had to stop for a photo. Here's Eriogonum microthecum (the white one on the left), Eriogonum umbellatum (the brown one in the back), and green rabbitbrush (the yellow one).

The backside is so pretty. We went up through the aspen grove. Most of the leaves aren't changing yet, but a few have started.

Then it was down into the mountain mahogany. The seeds cover the forest floor.

The backlit seeds were gorgeous.

I showed Desert Boy where the Johnson Lake trail goes. The big aspen grove further uphill has barely started changing.

I love the balanced rock!

Down lower, you can see the north fork of Snake Creek.

The snowberries were white, leaving no doubt to their name.

A colorful aspen leaf.

And another.

The trail here is beautiful, the trail crew did nice work on it.

A baby lizard in the shade.

The Oregon grape/creeping mahonia is especially beautiful now.

A closeup of serviceberries.

And then we were done, in an hour and 20 minutes. That got us home just in time for dinner! 

 Have you done any fun hikes lately?

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Timber-South Fork Baker Loop Hike

It was Saturday morning, and I wanted to get in an early hike. I woke with my husband at 5 am and got moving and out the door by about 5:30 am. That had me heading up the hill to Great Basin National Park as the sun came up, and I couldn't resist pulling over to the side of the road and enjoying these spectacular sunflowers at sunrise.

Then I continued to the park entrance and had to pull over again! Obviously, this wasn't going to be a quick hike with my draw to picture-taking. So join me on this journey of one of my favorite trails in the Park, about 5 miles long and 1,500 feet elevation gain and loss.

Before I even reached the trailhead, I had another stop, to let some deer cross the road. A mom and two fawns (one pictured here) went by me.

Then it was time to hike. Five other vehicles were at the trailhead, but I didn't see anyone else. I started up the Timber Creek trail at a comfortable pace. I hadn't noticed these arrows on these trees before, but obviously they've been there awhile. 

The flower assemblage is different now than earlier in the year. In addition to paintbrush, there are lots of buckwheats blooming in yellows, pinks, and whites.

Here's some redroot buckwheat (Eriogonum racemosum) with a bee on it.

I really like the trail when it gets a little higher and flatter! The Timber Creek trail is relatively steep for quite a bit of its length.

The silvery lupine decorated parts of the trail, and at the higher elevations there are limber pines, white fir, and Douglas fir.

As I popped out into the high meadow, the light shone on Pyramid Peak in the distance. A splotch of sulphur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum) caught my eye and I moved over to get a photo.

I really love this meadow, so decided to get a selfie.

And then I got to the sign and realized I could put my phone on it and put on the 10 second timer and get some views with scale. Here's looking north.

And south.

And east.

And west.

A bumble bee on my sock. After hanging out in the meadow for a bit, it was time for the lovely walk down South Fork Baker.

The trail is in great shape.

I couldn't resist a photo of these lupine with a background of aspen.

Spotted coralroot

Shaggy Scalycap (I think, guess is based on iNaturalist)

Weidemeyer's Admiral butterfly on yarrow

A greater frittillary

The mountain mahogany has its "hellfeathers" right now. The seeds are great for getting into the back of your shirt and causing some discomfort.

I've seen a lot of these Police Car moths this summer.

I snacked on these currants. Yum!

Columbian monkshood near the trailhead.

Prairie mallow, also near the trailhead.

My lovely hike was over (with only three other people on the trail!). But the good stuff kept coming, including three bucks next to the road. This mule deer enjoyed the serviceberry for breakfast.

I could do that loop many more times this summer if I just had a little more free time. It is such a great way to spend a few hours, and going early in the morning meant that the temperatures were wonderful.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Marvelous Night Sky - Astrophotography

The Milky Way is extra bright in summer and fall because we can see the galactic core, the center of our universe, easily. One evening, my friend Jenny and I headed to Ward Charcoal Ovens near Ely, NV. We had it all to ourselves on a calm, cloud-free night. Yay! We put a tea candle in each of the charcoal ovens and then tried a variety of photos with various light painting options to light up the ovens.

Can you see Jenny in the door of the oven?

We thought  it would be fun to put ourselves into some photos for scale. These ovens are big!

We had so much fun taking photos. When we left, we finally looked at the time and realized we would be getting home the next day. :)

Another evening I decided to check out the night life of tractors. I was a little surprised to hear some squeaking from one trailer. I guess they aren't always quiet, lol.

I was also surprised by all the green airglow. Apparently you can see it in the darkest night skies. It may also be more evident when there is more aurora activity, which is caused by more solar activity. Our sun is the most active it's been since 2002.

Another view

Then I headed down to some sunflowers. It's such a good sunflower year!

I tried for various angles, not sure what would be the most captivating. 

I could just stay out there so long with the gorgeous flowers under the beautiful Milky Way.

 Just seeing the Milky Way gets me excited. I've been wanting to learn more about astronomy, so I've gone to five astronomy programs at Great Basin National Park this summer. They're held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. On one off night, a couple of the astronomers offered to help Desert Boy get his telescope working properly. He had been given one but couldn't figure it out. Fortunately, with the expert help, he was soon seeing really cool objects like binary stars, globular clusters, nebula, and more.

I was having fun taking photos at the same time.

Desert Boy was even able to show some other people things through his telescope. He can't wait to use it again--but now we're in a cloudy pattern, so he'll have to wait a few nights. It won't be long until he can explore more of our marvelous night sky.

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