I was out of breath as I reached the top of the bluff. But it was worth the hike. I now had a falcon’s-eye view out over the South Fork of the Snake River. Absolutely beautiful.
The sprawling flood plain to the East was fully plowed and planted. Potatoes, wheat, and alfalfa. And maybe a few specialty crops lay low in the distance. Broccoli, cauliflower, rhubarb, and cabbage. Casting different hues of green. Forest green to fern, to mantis, to dark pastel, to castelton.
Those perfect rows flowed down from the sagebrush on the foothills of Kelly, Lookout and the West Farnes mountains. All the way up to the tree line. That winding green ribbon tracking the banks of the river. Mostly Cottonwoods and Aspen, mixed with Douglas and Spruce Firs.
A separate and parallel tributary, an irrigation canal, formed a second blue brush-stroke to this en plein air landscape. Separating the bluff I had climbed from the river bank. The berm between the river and the canal was topped with a mostly level dirt access road. Eroded from overflows in places. I’d hike down it a little later in the day as I continued my explorations.
Perched up here, I could see for miles. And I wasn’t in a hurry to climb down.
There is something primeval about water and water courses. It’s as powerful an element as is fire. It must be wired into our genetic code or something, but it just captivates your attention. Makes you mind go silent as you breath it all in.
Watching that never-ending continuous flow. The water cycle that begins over the ocean. Carrying the rising moisture inland until elevation and cooler air precipitate out those precious droplets. First turning to snow in the mountains surrounding this high desert. Then rain over the lower plains. Then feeding above and below-ground streams. A million trickles emptying into that serpentine flow that can carve soils and mountains alike as it traces its path back to the seas.
The enteral march of Naga. The Kundalini. The Ouroboros.
This was a familiar moment. One I’d repeat in the high deserts of both the Northwest and the Southwest. Always seeking the high ground for that vantage you can only find there. And always hunting for water, the master sculptor.
And this was the highlight of the day, as my lodging experience had been less than idyllic.
But that’s another story.
One thing that has always fascinated me has been the vegetation in these areas, and you know from my prior posts just how captivated I am by wildflowers.
So when I climbed down from the bluff and strolled along the riverbank, I found myself marveling at that plant the Monarch Butterfly so dearly loves – Milkweed. But it wasn’t the same as I’d seen it before. Different regions. Different species. Different adaptations.
The variety of webs that DNA can spin is astounding.
The “Star” you see in the feature pic is one of the florets to Antelope-Horn Milkweed found in the Southwestern high desert. Here’s the entire flower.
But in the Northwest, by the Snake, the Milkweed variety here is named “Showy” and that it is.
And in the Midwest, where I just spent the winter, there is this variety, called “Common,” but I don’t regard anything in Nature as being common.
A little bit the same. They all have star-like arrangements to the florets of their composite flowers, but also drastically different. But they all attract the same butterfly. Although the Midwestern one is hosting ants at this frozen moment in time.
I’m kind of partial to the Az variety, but I’m not sure what kind of butterfly that makes me 🙂
So how did I meander from Snake Gods to Milkweeds? Who knows? My mind is undisciplined at times. And there are no rules to blogging 🙂
Wishing you many wildflowers upon your trails.