June 14, 2008

Wildflowers from the Ashes

Today we rode Buck Ridge for the second time this year. The first time (May 17) we came to snow on the ridge, which cut the ride a little short. Today, with the high temperature at the trailhead (7000 feet) reaching 81 degrees, the snow was melted except for a few drifts in the trees, even near 10,000 feet, which was our highest point. The temperature there must have been close to seventy. Daisy appreciated those little bits of snow and was able to cool off a little by rolling around in them.
The lower part of the trail was burned in the Neola/Farm Creek fire of last June in which 3 people were killed. In many places on the hillside, the sage and pinion-juniper were completely burned away, leaving only nubs. Those areas have become meadows with lush grass and wildflowers growing in the ash-enriched soil. In other areas, the blackened skeletons of trees remain standing, but even there, the grass and flowers are staging a renewal.
As we went higher, we rode out of the burned area and came to the same forest where Boss sniffed bear scat last time. Today, we saw scat in 3 areas, and Boss seemed a little spooky the whole time we were in the forest. Even Mischief seemed reluctant to go first.
We saw many sego lilies (state flower of Utah) growing in the field where we parked the trailer. As we went higher, we saw penstemon, forget me nots, sunrays, Indian paintbrush, bee plants, bluebells, a beautiful stand of claret cup cactus, and other blooms that I don’t have names for. Above 9000 feet, the snow was too recently melted to allow flowers to bloom or grass to grow very much yet. Above 9500 feet, the aspen leaves were just coming out.
At 10000 feet, we reached a ridge that gave a breathtaking view of the high Uintas, with Mt. Emmons and Kings Peak in the background, as well as Chepeta Mt.
Counting all of the ups and downs, according to the GPS, we did 4000 feet of elevation gain, and 14 miles in five and a half hours, an excellent workout for all of us.

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