Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When hiking in Yellowstone....

There are always a few things you want to check while hiking in Yellowstone.  First, you would want to check the conditions of the trail that you are hiking.  Ask rangers questions like, "Is the trail safe?  What will the weather be like today?  Is the trail accessible? (i.e. wet conditions, snow)"  If a ranger recommends a trail to you, you can assume that the trail is fine to hike.  They should know the conditions of the trail.  If a trail is dangerous or closed, the ranger wouldn't have suggested that specific trail.  But definitely always ask about weather conditions.

I went down to the Canyon district the other day with two new ranger living here at Tower, Bridget (an interpretation ranger) and Mary (a ranger who works at the Northeast Entrance), and Brian, Tower's SCA from last year who is visiting for a couple of weeks.  We hiked 3.1 miles in to Grebe lake.  Because of all the rain here, the trail that went around Grebe lake was flooded.  This information was available to us as rangers, and we knew it would be wet, but to actually see the extent of flooding is another thing.  There were large amounts of glacial lilies blooming.  I encouraged everyone to try at least one.  Yes, when I say 'try' I mean 'eat'.  Glacial lilies are actually quite delicious.  Their root is sort of sweet and lemony, with their leaves having a bit of an apple flavor.  The entire plant is edible, roots, leaves, stem, and flower.  No one seemed to dislike it.  (WARNING: before you eat ANY wild plant, make sure you know all the effects of that specific plant, and be 100% sure that it is the correct plant.  Many poisonous plants are similar looking to edible plants.)
Last night, Jan took Bridget and I to some clusters of Calypso Orchids (Common Name: Fairy Slipper).  Now the only other time I have seen one of these was on a hike at Bear Creek in 2009, (see the post HERE).  These flowers are a rare sight.  They usually only grow in moist areas in early June (we are having a very late summer so some are still visible here).  People are enticed by its color and shape, therefore it is very rare because people pick it too often.  Unfortunately, we also saw a stump of one of the stems that had been picked, so the picking has already begun.   Overall, it is a good idea not to pick unknown wildflowers in Yellowstone because if you don't know the history behind the plant, you might not know that it could be rare or delicate.  (or poisonous, like Death Camas)
On a brighter note, if you go to the above link (the post on my other blog from 2009), you'll notice at the bottom of the blog that there was an unidentified purple flower that I mentioned.  After two LONG years of searching, I have FINALLY found the name of that flower (this flower right HERE).  One of my guesses before was Blue Clematis, and while that guess was incorrect (as I had suspected) I was right in the sense that it is a type of Clematis.  This Clematis' common name is Western Virgin's Bower.  This knowledge is from Bridget's amazing wildflower book which I was leafing through and saw a picture of the mystery Clematis.   So yea.  That was pretty awesome.


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Myself in my uniform from a couple of years ago. I wear normal clothes to the office now.