Nature Notes

Vol. V July 1st, 1927 Summer Season. No. 1


Because of its exposure, the southwest slope of Eagle Peak is free from snow long before the more protected valleys are bare. The Eagle Peak trail, which begins at the bridge on the camp ground road at Longmire, makes a fine early season hike and is famous for its flowers. About this time of year it is interesting to note the development of the plants at the different altitudes. At Longmire, the huckleberries are in bloom. A mile or so up the trail, and a thousand or so feet above Longmire, the huckleberry is in loaf only. Considerable snow remained, on the 25th of June, two miles, and two thousand feet from Longmire. At the edge of the snow, the huckleberry leaves were just coming out. The little transparent bud scales still surrounded the leaves. Pushing up through the snow, the naturalist found that the higher he got the scarcer the snow and the more plentiful the flowers. This paradox is, of course, explained by the open character of the woods at those elevations. Portulaca and pentstemon were blooming in the meadows below the peak, while kinnikinnik was found in blossom on the very summit, 6,000 feet above the sea. Many other flowers seemed on the verge of bursting into bloom, and doubtless are by this time.

A coyote had just proceded the naturalist to Eagle Peak. His three-inch tracks showed the impression of claws. This distinguishes the tracks of the coyote and wolf from those of the members of the cat tribe. The cats have the power of drawing back their claws when walking.

At this time of year a huge drift of snow lies in the "saddle" at the end of the Eagle Peak trail. After climbing the relatively snow free Longmire side, the naturalist was tempted to walk to the edge of this drift to look down into Paradise Valley. Some suspicious cracks in the snow arrested him, and, cautiously working around to the side, he saw that the supposedly solid drift was actually overhanging, like a breaking wave. Had her persisted in his course, the naturalist might have imitated the bear that went over the mountain, in a head-over-heels fashion. Such "snow-cornices" are to be watched for early in the season on mountain ridges. Though to be shunned as foot paths, they nevertheless are quite a beautiful sight when sun and shadows bring out their perfect curves. Cornices usually overhang to the north, for the prevailing southwest winds of winter drift the snow over the ridges.

S. B. Jones, Ranger, Naturalist.

<<< Previous
> Cover <
Next >>>