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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Buckeye Trail Circuit Hikers

One of the neat things about trail conferences is talking to other people who have hiked long distances. There are more people who have hiked all of the Buckeye Trail than those who have hiked all the North Country (makes sense- the BT is "only" 1440 miles)

I like to take pictures of me with other hikers. Call it ego. Call it a club. Call it fun. Anyway... here are some.

First up is Andy Niekamp, who also wrote a book about his adventure called Captain Blue on the Blue Blazes. I had read and really enjoyed his book, so I was happy to meet him.

Buckeye Trail hikers Andy Niekamp and Joan Young

These three people are "old" friends. Ruth and Dan Dorrough and I are now the only three people who have hiked all the North Country Trail, the Finger Lakes Trail, and the Buckeye Trail. In between them is Randall Roberts who has completed the BT, and is now working on pieces of the NCT. I failed to put myself in a picture with them. Next time. (Although I have lots of pictures with Dan and Ruth)

Buckeye Trail hikers Ruth Dorrough, Randall Roberts, Dan Dorrough

You've heard about this person before. It's C.W. Spencer. Ester and I stumbled upon him and wife Bonnie hiking in northern Ohio in the fall of 2016. His book about his BT hike is also a book about grief, called Hiking Without Dave. Excellent. He also led the Sunday morning worship service at the conference.

Buckeye Trail hiker C.W. Spencer

These three people are also circuit hikers. I thought I hadn't met any of them. Wrong! The couple on the left are Chuck and Beth Hewett. They have written Wandering Ohio, which is a journal style account of their hike. Beth remembered talking with Marie and me in 2014. We had a chance encounter in northern Ohio! But this was definitely the first time I'd met Mei Ling (on the right). She is now off hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Buckeye Trail hikers Chuck and Beth Hewett and Mei Ling Liber

Long-distance hikers just naturally have things in common. It's a great informal "club" to belong to.

In other news: I was good- I stayed home and did stupid odds and ends that needed to be done. I mowed the rest of the grass and my trails, which I then hiked in the early evening. I wrote a little bit. I got the recycling sorted. I think I may go to bed with a book.

See NCT End to Enders
See Spirit Mountain
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Red Trillium- Color Variant

This is hands-down the most phenomenal plant sighting of my recent trip to Ohio and Alabama. It took me a long time to figure it out, but I did accomplish the deed. I was waiting to share with you until I had my suspicions confirmed by someone with professional plant knowledge. I sent my question off to a couple of people, and Tony Reznicek (University of Michigan) was the first to respond. He verified that I had correctly identified this flower.

First of all, look at this forest opening full of trillium. Do you see anything odd about it? Probably not, it's too long a shot.

large-flowered and red trillium color variant growing together

But the trilliums aren't all the same kind! If you were there you would see how some of them look yellowish or even yellow-green. The large-flowered trilliums fade to pink as they age, so I suspected a different species. As far as I knew there is only one yellow trillium, but I wasn't sure of exactly what key features to look for. I tried to take enough photos to help me later.

red trillium color variant white yellow green

Got home and looked it up. Definitely not yellow trillium! What the heck is it? So I got out my serious guide to plant identification, Britton and Brown Illustrated Guide to Plants of the Northern States and Canada in three volumes.

When I was still at Cantwell Cliffs where we found these, this was the biggest thing that convinced me it was not the large-flowered trillium. See how the flower on the left is much shallower, and snuggles into the sepals instead of having a deep cup of petals like the one on the right?

red trillium color variant white yellow green
Then there are the business parts of the flower. Here is large-flowered on the left and the mystery trillium on the right. See how the stamens are different? See how the ovary of the one on the right is sitting right out in plain view? And it's pink.

red trillium color variant white yellow green
Sometimes that ovary is deep maroon.

red trillium color variant white yellow green
That was the aha moment. And Britton and Brown said that red trillium can occasionally be found with yellow, green or white petals. And there you have it. This is a red trillium! How awesome is that? That's one problem with flowers named for their usual color. Anyway, this is Trillium erectum, as in erect... the flowers are above the leaves and not curved downward below the leaves.

In that same patch there were a few red trilliums that actually were red!

red trillium color variant white yellow green
Color variants occur more often than you might think. I also have a picture (a very poor one) of a white pink lady slipper orchid that I saw a number of years ago.

In other news: It was a very productive day although no actual writing occurred. I spent the morning getting yet more typos fixed in the first three Dubois Files books and uploaded to all the different platforms. Hopefully that will be the last of those edits- good grief! Then I mowed lawn and dug up some autumn olive. Went to the bank and to get mower gas. Took a 5-mile walk. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same. Maybe I'll be able to justify driving a bit to hike an actual trail. Maybe I'll just finish the mowing. Stay tuned. And I'm sitting here breathing in the scent and sight of a jar full of lilac. Wonderful day!

See Cantwell Cliffs
See Almost Doubling My Trillium Life List
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Yellow and Orange Make Me Smile

Just got home from writers' group, so I'll do a fast post and call it a day. The two brightest flowers from yesterday are so intense they just seem to glow.

The yellow is hoary puccoon, Lithospermum canescens. It's really similar to hairy puccoon, but it's less hairy. Now you know. I think these two plants come the closest to having the exact color of the old Crayola boxes called yellow-orange.

hoary puccoon

The other is a flower that is stunning to find in the wild. The color is outlandishly fluorescent red-orange. It's commonly called Indian paintbrush (as are several other plants), but this is Castilleja coccinea. It's secret is that the color isn't the petals. the actual tiny flower is hidden inside the bright calyx.

scarlet Indian paintbrush

I had never seen either of these flowers till I moved to Michigan.

In other news: I hung out laundry and wrote chapter 3 in The Bigg Boss. Also participated in a meeting via computer about trail stuff, then went to writers' group.

See Hairy Puccoon
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Monday, May 21, 2018

The New Life- A Sample Day

Although I haven't gotten in any writing (yet), today has been an exemplar day of what I hope will become a standard for me.

It began with a hike on the North Country Trail. About 15 of us started at Sawdust Hole near Brethren. Here's the view over the Manistee River.

spring trees on hillside above Manistee River

The reason we were hiking on a Monday is because TV 9&10 came out and did a segment on the NCT and the Hike 100 and Hike 50 Challenges. It will be aired at 4 pm, Tuesday, May 29. I'll be posting a link to the clip when it's posted on the website.

interview with newscaster in the woods

We had to wait quite a while for the news team to find the trailhead, but after the interviews and shooting of hike segments, we finally got to hiking. Most everyone was released before a few of us- chapter leaders, and me because I've hiked the whole trail. So friend Loren and I ended up hiking together. We did about 5.5 miles and finished just before the serious rain began. We only got damp. No big deal.

This mama rose-breasted grosbeak was right near the parking area, so we moved farther down the trail so as not to disturb her. I was actually amazed at how small a nest they make.

female rose-breasted grosbeak on nest

The trail in this section winds through Leitch Bayou down almost at river level (Manistee River) for a couple of miles.

spring trees beside Manistee River

Then it climbs back up the bluff with more beautiful views of the springtime hillsides.

spring trees on hillside above Manistee River

Loren and I enjoyed taking pictures of a lot of the wildflowers. I particularly like this picture because it's not often you find a multi-colored spread of flowers on a hillside in Michigan. This is hoary puccoon and Indian paintbrush (blooming surprisingly early), with some white fleabane mixed in (hard to see). You may see them closer another day.

spring wildflowers

So I made a measly bit of progress on this year's Hike 100 Challenge. I'm not worried. I'll get it, but this brings me up to 15 miles. I know- pathetic.

Then Dave and Loren, and I went out to catch a late lunch-early dinner. I came home (poison ivy strip, shower, and clothes wash). Now I'm updating some websites with info from today, writing a blog post, and savoring the freedom I feel. Perfect.

This was the same place as Maggie the dog's last long hike, but it was winter then. I looked, but apparently didn't post pictures from that hike. It was also the same piece of trail where I cooked my first ever North Country Trail meal, long ago in 1991.

North Country Trail, Sawdust Hole almost to Highbridge and back

See Sawdust Hole north
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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Phacelia- A Whole New Genus

One of the fun things about going to an area that is only a little out of your normal range is that you are familiar with a lot of things, and only run into a few completely new ones. Alabama is definitely in the South, but even so, I know a lot of the plants or at least their cousins.

However, this was a complete stumper! Fortunately, it was labeled in the native plant garden on the TVA property. This genus of plants is often commonly called scorpionweed because most of the species in it grow out west and are very prickly. In addition, it's a member of the borage family, so the flower stalks are often curved (like a scorpion tail). Think of forget-me-not and comfrey. Those are also in the borage family.

This example, however, isn't prickly. This is its best look with flowers in abundance. It is Phacelia bipinnatifida, common names: fernleaf phacelia or spotted phacelia.

fernleaf phacelia

It was actually the spotted leaves I noticed first because it looked similar to waterleaf. But then I saw these trailing stems with other stems coming off them (bi-pinnatifid), and was confuzzled.

fernleaf phacelia

After the flowers are gone, it pretty much looks like a mess. Here's a pretty blossom, closer. Each one is about an inch across.

fernleaf phacelia

Fun, fun! A couple more new plants yet, but I'll sprinkle them in with other things as the days go by.

In other news: last handbell performance of the season this morning. Worked on chapter 3 of The Bigg Boss, but have to rethink it a bit so didn't get many words written. Goofed off!

See Bryophytes- Liverwort Sex
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