Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sawtooth Mountains; Backpacking, Flora and Fauna

My daughter Vanessa and I and our friend Steph recently spent four days backpacking in the Sawtooth Wilderness area here in Idaho.

There was the usual gorgeous scenery;

But being a gardener I was equally impressed with all the beautiful wildflowers. We had timed our trip well for viewing the flora.

Look at this breathtaking Little Pipsissewa which was quietly posed beside our first campsite:

According to my wildflower guide book; "The genus name, from the Greek cheima ("winter") and philos ("loving"), refers to the evergreen nature of the plant. The common name Pipsissewa is believed to be derived from the Cree Indian word pipisisikweu, meaning "it breaks it into small pieces;" the plant was once used in preparations for breaking up kidney stones or gallstones."

A less friendly plant is the Elegant Camas;

Still lovely, but according to my guidebook; "Camases are among the most infamous western plants, poisoning many livestock, especially sheep. Indians and early settlers were also poisoned whenever they mistook the bulbs for those of edible species, such as the Camas Lily."

I didn't haul up my wildflower guidebook, I had enough to carry, but I was pretty sure this was heather when I saw it.

I believe it is Pink Mountain Heather which has a range from Alaska to northern California, Idaho and Colorado.

I just love what I've always referred to as "Indian Paintbrush." This one must be Giant Red Paintbrush as opposed to Desert Paintbrush. It was everywhere and so gorgeous.

In this field of flowers you can see Sulfur Paintbrush also. From the guidebook; "Most Indian Paintbrushes are bright red; this is one of the few yellow ones. The large genus is found primarily in western North America."

Sulphur Flower (Eriogonum umbellatum) from the Buckwheat Family.

Hooded Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana) from the Orchid Family.

Probably Sticky Aster (Machaeranthera bigelovii) from the Sunflower Family.

I was constantly tempted to stop, kneel down, and take wildflower photos which is really very difficult with a pack on your back. Luckily I only fell down once as I was attempting this maneuver. But really, how could I resist?

We did manage to see a bit of "fauna" but not much;

Vanessa and I, standing on top of a waterfall.
(Our packs are covered with ponchos because of the many thunderstorms we encountered.)

It was a good trip but it's always nice to be back home with toilets, electricity, running water and a real bed.


Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Incredible beauty! Thanks for taking time to stop and take these pictures.

Unknown said...

Victoria what beautiful wildflowers and OMG there's still snow! Love all of the pictures but the variety like a field of flowers was especially pretty! What a gorgeous place to go camp.

Southern Lady said...

What lovely wildflowers! It sounds like you had a great backpacking trip, but I'm with you, there is nothing like running water, electricity, and real beds. Carla

D said...

Would you not stand so close to the edge of that ledge, please!!! ;) Breathtaking photos and what a wonderful trip and "finds" of wildflowers.

Yearz ago, when I was in the 7th and 8th grade our science teacher had us study wildflowers and then take a id test with other schools at the local University; the prize for the person who identified the most received a Wildflower Guide. I still have it.

Laura Paine Carr said...

Oh I am so glad that you didn't roll back down the mountain in your efforts to bring these beautiful shots of strong women and wildflowers to us!

I need to go on a hike. I also need a new wildflower book, as mine is so beat-up. My friend has this handy-dandy fold-out laminated chart. That's what we need! They are available in the Park Headquarters bookstores.

I thought that I had your blog bookmarked, but cannot find it. The other day I wondered where you had gone, and found that it is time for me to update my favorites and listings. Cheez. It's as though my blog has become my desk, and that is not good!


Goneferalinidaho said...

I love the Sawtooths, what a great place to visit. Welcome back to town!

Connie said...

I'm happy you took the time to take the photos....the are wonderful! Idaho is so full of beauty and wonder.
I love the little pipsissiwa....I have only seen it once on our mountain excursions. It is called for in an herbal Kidney/Bladder formula I make.

Rosemary said...

What gorgeous photos. Impressed that you took on such a rigourous walk... Beautiful scenery. Amazing wildflowers.

Barbarapc said...

Great photos and wonderful scenery - made me feel nostalgic about getting back out there to camp, until I saw you with the backpacks, the ponchos and heard about the rain. The wildflowers are just amazing!

Les said...

I stumbled across your blog and these photos are beautiful. They make me jealous and remind me of our trip to Colorado last summer.

Cairns Backpackers said...

Thanks for your information. It helped me much. I am a backpacker too. And I have travelled a lot. But I haven’t seen as good services as I was provided by Cairns Backpackers. They are really great. Cairns Backpackers

Unknown said...

Very cool. We went backpacking in the Sawtooths last summer. Check out the video of your trip: