It’s a magical, mystical, damp world outside my cabin today.
Perhaps the Pacific Northwest has as many words for rain as the Inuit are said to have for snow. Drizzle for a day in June is a welcome and hopeful event. A drizzle is not so bad that you can’t work or play outdoors, yet the effect is to enrich the emerald landscape, replenish island wells and uplift the dried out spirits of parched, mossy-backed Lummi Islanders. A 24 hour drizzle is a very good thing indeed.
So while outside we have what the Scots might call a hagger, inside my cabin we have an alder fire to stave off the chill and I am content to think near it, review the photos from my last search and conjur up the “little treasures” I discovered in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico as I traveled first Southeast to Fennboree and after, North to my Home of Brown in Montana, and then West to Lummi Island. Another 3,458 miles under Esmerelda’s belt. All her wheels stayed on this entire trip.
The highlight of the trip, of course, was seeing Forrest at Fennboree. He was in good spirits and appeared to be having a fine time meeting searchers, signing T-shirts and telling stories.
My first wildflower sighting at Fennboree was in my campsite at Black Canyon Campground. These wild, native Rock Clematis were spiraling up the pine trees forming a lovely, pale orchid backdrop for my hot dog dinner.
The Monday after Fennboree I met with Forrest and recorded a couple of new stories on video to post on this blog. I have not edited them yet but let me just say that I think Forrest’s character really shines in the latest stories about roughing it all summer up on Hebgen Lake as a teenager. You’ll love his recipe for mud-baked trout over a campfire. He also talks about starting out in the art business when he emerged from the Air Force in 1970….and a bonus piece, based on a question suggested at Fennboree about the origin of Forrest’s belt buckle. He’s been wearing the same beautiful, multi-colored turquoise buckle for decades and he took the time to tell us about it…
For me the best two times of the year to walk around in the Rocky Mountains are Spring and Fall. Both seasons come and go quite quickly at higher elevations. Basically, spring for me is the week just before kids are let out of school and immediately prior to the long lines starting up at all the National Parks. It’s a special time of green meadows fragrant with the new growth of herbs and wildflowers, and the forest edges delicious with the aroma of new pine and the rush of ice cold creeks heading somewhere in a big hurry. Fall happens the week the kids head back to school. The meadows in Fall are filled with gooseberries and huckleberries. The bears like this time of year too. The autumn colors are a splendid visual miracle and the cold nights return to make sleeping in the outdoors a pleasure again. Two times of year…two sensory overloads.
As I headed north from Santa Fe spring was noisy all around…beckoning, luring, inviting me to stop and smell the fresh scented air and feel the clean mountain breeze against my face. I am in a hurry to test out my new theories but I can’t resist stopping for a few hours each day to wander in the open meadows and photograph wildflowers. It’s one of my small joys. I can’t explain the pull…I just love it.
Purple Larkspur on the rim of Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
A sage steppe vista like this never tires my eyes. There are wildflowers and critters gallumping all through this place.
This little Sunflower seems to dominate its immediate neighborhood and yell “Here I Am!”.
My destination was a new HOB in Montana to see if I could “put-in” there and discover the next clue. As many of you know, my starting point is inside Yellowstone National Park but as I follow the clues I am led outside the park into the Gallatin National Forest. This is my destination. My newly discovered home of Brown….the next step in solving the poem for me. A long way from a final solution but it’s taken me five years to get to this point. I’ve tried several other hoB places before this one. So far they have not panned out. I am hoping this one does.
Below my hoB and looking for the optimum “put-in” in the Gallatin National Forrest. The wildflower in front is a clump of Orange Indian Paintbrush. There are several varieties of Paintbrush that occur in various colors from deep red to pale yellow throughout the Gallatin region right up to 11,000 feet in elevation.
A close-up of the Paintbrush.
This is my first travel up a little creek I can’t paddle. The creek ends here. It’s certainly interesting with thousands of minnows bashing around when they see my shadow in their home, but not the place I would expect Forrest to want to spend eternity.
I wonder what this place looked like a thousand years ago. Was it a protected area where traveling Indians might have set up camp? Before I leave, I spend a few hours on my hands and knees looking for “little treasures”. I don’t find any arrowheads but I find plenty of wildflowers.
This Star Flowered Solomon Seal was growing in the moist soil near the edge of the pond.
There may be a dozen or more onions that grow in the west. This one is called Shortstyle Onion and is common throughout the area. Yes, it is edible; ask any Jellystone bear. They are quite adept at digging them up.
This is Oregon Grape or sometimes called Barberry growing under the darker canopy of Lodgepole Pine that dominates the Gallatin National Forrest. In a few weeks the yellow flowers will become clusters of juicy purple berries that look like grapes. They make a handsome jam…if you add enough sugar. In the fall the leaves often turn bright crimson and add splashes of Jack Frost color to the forest floor.
As I prepare to leave I walk into a patch of a few hundred Wild Strawberry plants. In a month there will be tiny red fruit all over this patch. The wild berries might be small but they are usually wallopingly tasty.
Back at the river I admire the view. Maybe next time I should bring my kayak…or my fly rod. Does that look inviting or what????
I’ll be back to continue my search down the river….
Maybe after I publish this Forrest will announce that someone has been within 13feet of the treasure…I know he’ll be talking about me….