“the quawmash is now in blume” (again)

“the quawmash is now in blume”

“the quawmash is now in blume
and from the colour of its bloom at
a short distance it resembles lakes
of fine clear water, so complete is
this deseption that on first sight I
could have swoarn it was water.”

So said Captain Meriwether Lewis on June 12, 1806. He also noted that “Musquetoes our old companions have become very troublesome.”

L & C journal entries for June 12, 1806


I missed peak bloom this year but I didn’t miss peak mosquito hatch. As per usual, they were quite troublesome.
Last year I was there on June 13 and the bloom hadn’t really started yet. This year on June 23 it was a bit past peak but there would have been many prime specimens to photograph had the petals not been rain stained.

"the quawmash is now in blume"

There’s been so much rain that those petals that weren’t already wilted were rain stained. It was hard to find any stems to photograph.

I left Packer Meadows somewhat, but not entirely, disappointed, and raced along Elk Meadows Road to Lily Lake to make it for sunset. My timing was good. I arrived in plenty of time for sunset and in plenty of time to watch a young cow moose — I’d guess the now two-year-old calf that I saw in company of mom the last two years. Plenty of time, also, to discover that my favorite foreground trees have been destroyed by the falling of a large tree. I’ll miss them. A photo of them from last year:

Serenity Redux

Plenty of time, as well, to get an uneasy feeling waiting for the sun to dip. The cause of my uneasiness was some huffing noises as well as some screeches — sounds reminiscent of my mountain lion encounter of a few years back up on Carp Ridge. I didn’t become uneasy enough to depart, but I did practice drawing bear spray and pulling the safety off and getting my thumb on the button — working on muscle memory. I also stayed alert and when my eye wasn’t to the camera viewfinder, I kept my eyes, neck and body moving looking around.

I did find another tree to use as a foreground tree but as it happened, the sun hid behind clouds before dipping below the horizon. I made the best I could out of it:

Twilight - Lily Lake

The drive from Lily Lake to where Elk Meadows Road comes out on the Montana side on Hwy 12 a few miles west of Fort Fizzle was rough. There were stretches of road where one couldn’t avoid big deep holes. I had to work hard at not rubbing the belly of the car. I failed once (didn’t hit hard, though). I miss my 4×4 Pathfinder! I didn’t need four wheel drive — not by a long stretch — but more clearance would have been welcome, indeed. I also passed some heavy machinery parked such that it partially blocked the road. I didn’t have any trouble squeezing past it but I was mentally critical of the parking job.

And then I came up on this:


So… had I come in from the Montana side, I’d have reached this sign and turned around. However, I’d already driven the closed road from the other end by the time I came to the closure, so…

The last sighting of the evening was one I found encouraging in the light of low recruitment rate of calves in elk herds (low cow/calf ratios) — a nursery herd with 32 cows and 15 calves that I could see. There could easily have been even more calves (or cows, for that matter). The heads of standing calves were just visible over the tall grass. Bedded calves would have been invisible.

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