Thursday, March 17, 2016

Early flowers on Utah Flats -Grand Canyon National Park

 I found this first bloom of the Beavertail Prickly Pear hidden by the Mormon Tea.  We were climbing up the Bonsai Route, out of the Bright Angel Campground.

Opuntia basilaris, the beavertail cactus or beavertail pricklypear, is a cactus species found in southwest United States. It occurs mostly in the Mojave DesertAnza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Colorado Deserts, and also in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico; it ranges through the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region to southern Utah, and in western Arizona, regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley. The Beavertail Cactus is a medium-sized to small prickly pear cactus, depending on variety, growing to about 60 cm tall. A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads. These are more or less blue-gray, depending on variety, growing to a length of 14 cm and are maximum 10 cm wide and 1 to 1.5 cm thick. They are typically spineless, but have instead many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin. The pink to rose colored flowers are most common; however, a rare variety of white and even yellow flowers also exist. Opuntia basilaris bloom from spring to early summer.
Here is a new flower, to me.  It is the Desert Anemone, or Windflower.  We saw these beauties while hiking the red, slickrock sandstone of Utah Flats.

Anemone tuberosa (desert anemone or tuber anemone) is a herbaceous plant species in the genus Anemone and family Ranunculaceae. Plants grow 10 to 30, sometimes 40 cm tall, from a woody-like tuber shaped like a caudex. Plants with 1 to 3 basal leaves that are 1 or 2 times ternate. The basal leaves few with long petioles and deeply 3-parted with leaflets lacking stems or rarely with a stalk. Plants flowering early to late spring with the flowers composed of 8 to 10 sepals normally white or pink colored, 10 to 14 mm long. The plants produce one peduncle with one solitary flower or 2-5 flowered cymes. Fruits in heads fusiform in shape, with 7-20 cm long pedicels. Fruits called achenes measure 2.5-3.5 mm long and 2-2.5 mm wide with a rounded outline and flat in shape, densely woolly, not winged also with straight 1.5 mm long breaks.

Anemone tuberosa is native to south central western North America mostly in Nevada and New Mexico and Northern Mexico but also west to California and East to Texas. This spring flowering plant is found on rocky slopes and along stream banks. Anemone tuberosa is part of a species complex that includes 6 to 9 species native from south western and central USA to South America For the most part all produce tubers or caudex-like tubers.

The always lovely Milk Vetch.  I really liked the course pink sand as the backdrop for this picture.  It shone like little desert jewels, a nice contrast to the purple flower.
Astragalus is a large genus of about 3,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae and the subfamily Faboideae. It is the largest genus of plants in terms of described species.[1] The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milkvetch (most species), locoweed(in North America, some species)[2] and goat's-thorn (A. gummiferA. tragacanthus). Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bonsai Route to Utah Flats -Grand Canyon National Park

On a recent backpacking trip to Phantom Ranch (Grand Canyon National Park), my lovely wife, Ryanne, suggested we make a day-hike up the Bonsai Route
Our goal was to explore the Utah Flats area.
A bird's eye view of Phantom Ranch
Hiking up the Bonsai Route, looking down at Bright Angel Campground

Taking a break at the hard shade ledge.  Angel's Gate in the distance

Looking up at Piano Alley, from the saddle.

Looking down through Piano Alley.  The Colorado River looks so small from here.

Grand Canyon selfie taken on Utah Flats.

Here is a sweet little point that I found.  Maybe you will find it, too.

You can see the Clear Creek Trail, on the left, and the South Kaibab Trail, on the right.  In between is the Colorado River.

They call it Utah Flats because the barren, red rock landscape resembles some Utah Canyons.  Zoroaster Temple peaks over the shoulder of Sumner Butte, seen here across the Bright Angel Canyon.  

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Condors in the Grand Canyon National Park_South Kaibab Trail

This California Condor was spotted soaring over the Grand Canyon
Condors reach a wingspan of 9.5 feet wide, the largest bird in North America
Look up to the sky while hiking or backpacking the South Kaibab Trail
The California Condor is found only in Arizona and California
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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

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