In The Willows

BUll_moose_7

You never know what you will find hidden in the willows is what this guy was probably thinking when he noticed we were peeking in from the edge of his terrain. It always amazes me just how easy a creature the size of the moose can disappear from your sight with a simple step or two into the willows. Photographed near Cottonwood pass in Colorado.

Woodland Pinedrops: Pterospora andromedea

Earlier this summer we ran across a peculiar plant making its way up through the earth in the forest. A strange striped asparagus? No Woodland Pinedrops: Pterospora andromeda.

According to Wikipedia “Like all members of the Monotriopoidiae , Pterospora andromedea lacks chlorophyll (trace amounts have been identified, but not enough to provide energy for the plant or to color it. Plants exist for most of their life as a mass of brittle, but fleshy, roots. They live in a parasitic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, in which plants derive all their carbon from their associated fungus, but the relationship is not yet well understood.”

This makes it similar to several of the orchids we have encountered along the trail.

Now that summer has passed and fall is in the air the plant looks like this.

Somewhat like a small tree full of small pumpkins decorating the autumn forest.

Missouri Headwaters

Missouri Headwaters State Park, MT is where the three major tributaries of the Missouri river; the Gallatin, the Jefferson and the Madison come together and form the Missouri river proper. The Missouri Headwaters area is a geographical focal point and was important to early Native Americans trappers, traders and settlers. Coveting the regions bountiful resources, the Flathead, Bannock and Shoshoni Indians competed for control of this area, as did the trappers and settlers who followed.

Lewis and Clark passed by the Missouri headwaters on both ways of their voyage of discovery in 1805 and then again in 1806. In his journal documenting the expedition Meriwether Lewis wrote the country opens suddenly to extensive and beautiful plains and meadows that appear to be surrounded in every direction with distant and lofty mountains.

From the wet river bottom to the dry bluffs above each slightly different ecosystem was bursting with life the day we visited.

A fine way to spend a summers morning.