Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spring Wildflowers in Pole Canyon, Great Basin National Park

 On Saturday we decided to go celebrate spring with a big group hike up Pole Canyon in Great Basin National Park. Pole Canyon is one of the lower elevation trails. It can be made into a loop with Timber Creek and the trails between the campgrounds, but our plan was to go up for awhile and return down the same path. We figured with seven kids, this would be the best idea, and we could play it by ear (or foot) to determine how far to go.

Right off I started having fun photographing so many wildflowers! Here are most of the ones that are out, along with a link to a more detailed description on A Plant a Day, a blog I started years ago but rarely update due to time constraints.

One of 26 milkvetches in the area: Newberry's Milkvetch (Astragalus newberryi)

A plant also cultivated for gardens: long-leaf flox (Phlox longifolia)

Whew! So many flowers, and we weren't even 100 meters down the trail! We caught up to Jenny and little Isaac, who was doing such a good job walking. As we continued in the pinyon-juniper woodland, I saw some another spring favorite:

We sauntered up the trail, with many stops to look at cool things.

The kids liked this little bee.

Isaac liked riding on his Mama's back.

Desert Girl also wanted a ride, but when she found some challenges, she was very happy, like at this creek crossing.

We found one little patch of snow.

As we ascended, the trail entered aspen-white fir habitat. A few aspens were starting to leaf out, but most were not.

We had many snack breaks, and the kids wanted to keep going.

Sometimes they walked, sometimes they ran.

A water strider on the little stream. Some of the stream was dry, but as we climbed higher we found water.

Jenny also took a bunch of photographs.

Then we emerged from the trees into a meadow, with sagebrush on the hillsides, water birch and willows marking springs, and matted brown grasses from last year.

We decided this would be a good lunch spot. And play area. And running arena. We spent a lot of time here, enjoying the beautiful day.

The willow tree had little furry catkins. They emerge long before the leaves.

Before we left the meadow to return to the trailhead, we tried to get the kids to pose. This is as good as we got!

The way down included more exploration. Isaac loved testing the water temperature.

The older kids thought they were pretty cool, hiking ahead of the adults, and occasionally taking rest stops.

Some of the many ants out. (The eyes are on the red part.)

Desert Girl hiked most of the way, over three miles. She's tough! On the way down I found a few flowers I had missed on the way up.

It was a great day hiking with friends and enjoying nature. I should also mention lots of birds were out: vireos, spotted towhees, mountain chickadees, kinglets, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and more. 

Pole Canyon can be hot in the middle of summer due to its lower elevation (around 7,500 feet), but at this time of year, it is perfect for hiking.

An excellent reference: Glenn Clifton's 2012 Flora of the Snake Range (this is a big file, and includes photos of most of the 1,000 plants in the area)

Learn more about hikes in and around Great Basin National Park, along with natural and cultural history in this book.


jhami said...

Great shots!

Maria said...

Looks like it was a lovely day out! That little bee is not a little bee! It is a European Wasp and destroys bees! Often mistaken for a bee. Nasty little thing which will keep on stinging you! Gorgeous flower photos!

Desert Survivor said...

Hi Maria,
Thanks for the id on the wasp!

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