"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Short View of a Long Hike

I didn't know the exact mileage, but I had a hunch it was going to be an all day hike. At 9 AM, I started at the Chinle Trailhead and at 6 PM, ended at Coalpits Wash Trailhead, crossing from one trail to the other on Old Scoggins Stock Trail.  Here's a map of the hike from one of my favorites sites, Joe's Guide to Zion National Park.

I brought about a half gallon of water, a lunch, my walking stick and camera, and took my time.  I think I probably stopped to look around about every 40 steps. That made it a longer walk that it might be for some folks. It was beautiful every step of the way, and so peaceful. I met only four people during the whole day.

Anyway, I took a lot of pictures of wild flowers and interesting rocks. I also took a lot of grand views, but I've shared so many of those I thought it was time to zoom in again to stay balanced.

It took me several hours today to identify all the flowers.  If you're interested, here they are, clockwise from the upper left corner: desert paintbrush, Shivwits milk-vetch, claret cup cactus, cliffrose, dwarf lupine, desert larkspur, sego lily, beavertail cactus, Mojave desert star, desert primrose, sneezeweed, bells of Ireland, skyrocket, yucca baccata, and purple sage (in the center).

If you read the list, you may have noticed one flower that is not a wild species at all, but a flower typically found in a florist shop. Can you guess which one? See the end of the blog for the name of this invasive non-native not-wildflower.

Here are the rocks. I can't begin to identify all of them, but most are probably forms of sandstone.  There's a plant with the sandstone in the upper right corner, maybe some gypsum layers on its left, and there are also some mysteries for you to ponder. Can you find the cryptobiotic soil? (Hint: it looks like a mini 3D map of Zion.) How about the petrified wood? (Answers at the end of the blog.)

The final question still lingering from this trip is, who made this track?

It's about 3" long and 2.5" wide. It was made in a damp sandy stream bed so it was depressed quite a bit. I don't see any claw marks. The bottom lobe has three bumps on the bottom and two on the top. I'd love to hear your expert opinions about it, 'cause I don't know. 

(Botanical and geological answers: Bells of Ireland, bottom row second from the left. Cryptobiotic soil, bottom row, far left. Petrified wood, bottom center.)


  1. Love the zoomed in views of flowers and rocks! Grand views are nice and all, but there's something to be said about focusing on the small details that are right in front of us. Thanks for including all the flower names. I used to pride myself in knowing all the names of the flowers when I lived in the northeast, but I am still learning the ones out here in the west. I've seen quite a few of those same flowers in bloom here in New Mexico this month, and you just helped me put names to some that were previously unknown.

  2. Thanks for your comment Amanda. Being a northeasterner too, I'm having the same issue with western trees. They're all new to me and I haven't given them the attention I need to for ID. I found a couple of great sites to help me identify the flowers. (None of them seem to do the job by themselves, but in combination you can get the job done.) One is the Ladybird Johnson Wildlflower Center, http://www.wildflower.org/plants/ - Lenore

  3. I too get caught up in the minute details of these desert landscapes. It is amazing what is hidden in the nooks and crannies and even in plain sight if you focus on the near instead of the expansive views. It is gorgeous country!

  4. No kidding. The more you look, the more you see. Deeper and deeper. Thank goodness I don't carry a microscope, though I do wish for a real macro lens sometimes. Thanks for your comment Lisa.


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