Category Archives: Nature

Top 10 Most Beautiful Wildflowers on Our Trip

Theresa and Shadow hiking through a wildflower field in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Theresa and I try to visit a national park each year.  But we usually travel in autumn when the weather is still nice, crowds are thin, and prices are low.  As a result, we’ve rarely seen the spectacular wildflower displays for which our national parks are famous. 

But on our RV trip in 2012, we “followed Spring” from the desert southwest to the Rockies and Great Plains, then up into Canada and Alaska, and down to the Pacific Northwest.  We were treated to one wildflower show after another from February through September, and we saw over 120 species of wildflowers. 

Choosing the most beautiful wildflower is like choosing the sexiest supermodel… it’s rather subjective, and there is no wrong answer.  Following are the top 10 most beautiful wildflowers we saw on our trip:

   

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Our New eBook: Wildflowers of Western USA, Canada and Alaska

We are proud to announce the first eBook from our cross-country adventure in 2012:  

Click here to download our eBook

“Wildflowers of Western USA, Canada and Alaska” by Timm and Theresa Martin.  The beauty of nature captured in over 100 full-color photos of wildflowers from a 2012 hiking trip across the western United States, Canada and Alaska.  Flowers are presented in the order we encountered them, with their common name, date and location.  Parks include Chugach, Denali, Joshua Tree, Kenai Fjords, Kluane, Mt. St. Helens, Olympic, Theodore Roosevelt, Waterton Lakes, and Yoho.  Published June 2013, 134 pages, iPad iBooks format for the Apple iPad and iPhone.

Please pass this on to anyone you know who enjoys beautiful wildflowers.

Download eBook: Wildflowers of Western USA, Canada and Alaska

Following the Flowers North

Lupines on a mountain hillside.

I have always wanted to see wildflowers blooming in profusion in the mountains.  Because the growing season is extremely short, Alaska, Canada and the northern U.S. have brilliant flower displays with all the flowers seeming to bloom at the same time and covering entire mountain hillsides. (Hover over the pictures to see the flower name.)

Timm and Darby amongst yellow Arnica (from the sunflower family) and Labrador Tea.

We traveled north in what seemed like perfect synchronization with spring, as spring also moved north. We hiked in southern Canada in the Canadian Rockies in May.  As spring moved north, so did we.  We spent June in northern Canada.  Then, we traveled farther north into Alaska in July and spring accompanied us there as well.

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Pine White Butterfly

While hiking in Olympic National Park along the Griff Creek trail, we encountered hundreds of butterflies fluttering around the conifer trees.  As we sat on a sunny outcrop overlooking an expansive valley and river below, our eyes were drawn to the butterflies as they gracefully danced and mingled against the dark green background of the pine trees.

Pine White Butterfly Copyright © Scenes from Here. Image Used Under Creative Common License.

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Nature’s Infinite Variety

Before we started this trip, I worried that I would get bored of hiking day after day for months.  I worried that the hikes would all start to look the same to me.  After 7 months of hiking, this could not be farther from how I feel.  I love getting out on the trail and seeing what nature has in store for me today.  I look forward to experiencing each hike and letting all my senses explore the path. 

Rialto Beach on the Pacific Ocean in Olympic National Park.

My feet feel the surface of the trail, sometimes soft with pine needles, sometimes scrambling over boulders, sometimes slogging up a gravity defying incline and sometimes walking over cobblestones rounded smooth by an ocean surf.

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The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent Was the Summer in Alaska

We had a running joke on our journey this summer through Alaska and Canada:

“Canada is so beautiful that everyone in the world would want to live here.  To ensure that didn’t happen, God gave Canada really lousy weather.”

Snowstorm rages on the mountain behind our campground in Banff National Park, Canada

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Land of the Midnight Sun

Theresa at the Midnight Sun Baseball Game in Fairbanks, Alaska around midnight on the summer solstice

We haven’t seen the night sky since we were in Dawson Creek, British Columbia on June 8th, over seven weeks ago.  And then it was more dark blue than black.  The last truly dark sky in which we could see all the stars was in Great Falls, Montana on May 19.  Since then we’ve been travelling in Canada and Alaska, land of the midnight sun.

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Mosquito: The Alaska State Bird

Darby and Shadow hope that the mosquitoes aren't this big

Theresa’s dad Jim likes to joke how we are safe from vampires in Alaska because of the 24 hours of daylight.  However, he forgot about the millions of other little blood suckers: mosquitoes.

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Sunset in the Little Missouri

Storm approaching in the Little Missouri National Grasslands

A storm approached our dispersed camping spot in the beautiful Little Missouri National Grasslands in North Dakota.  If you followed our adventure getting stuck in the mud the last time we camped in the grasslands, you can imagine we were a little bit nervous about getting stuck again.  The big difference is this time we expected only about 10 minutes of rain instead of the 4-hour downpour last time.  And we didn’t have to leave for another 2-3 days, so there’d be plenty of time for the grasslands to dry out before we’d have to drive out.

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I’m Likin’ the Lichen

Lichen (pronounced “liken”) is a living, symbiotic organism typically found on rocks and is composed of a fungus and an algae.  The fungus anchors the lichen to its rock or tree host.  The algae feeds the lichen through photosynthesis, converting carbon dioxide into carbon sugars.  Both partners gain water and mineral nutrients through rain and dust from the atmosphere. 

Lichens are very important in nature because they eventually break down rock to form soil in which larger plants can grow on rocks and cliffs.  Lichens can also serve as food for some animals such as deer.  We like lichens because they are beautiful examples of natural rock art. 

The lichen above was found in Colorado National Monument, Colorado.  Following are more examples of lichen that we’ve seen on our trip and where we found them.

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