Tim Ernst is talking about finding rare wildflowers and windy conditions this week! You can read all of Tim Ernst’s Cloudland Cabin Journal entries at this link
. Tim Ernst’s home page is at the following link
. Here is a great clip from his journal this past week.
04/28/10 I think my lovely bride has gone too far. She signed us up to have the cabin tested in a wind tunnel, and it is blowing at 40mph+ outside tonight! I always cringe a little bit when I see “wind warning” on the local news – we always have wind out here, so that means we will really have winds! It has come on all of a sudden tonight and sounds like a big storm is approaching, but it is all clear out.
Not sure what got into me this morning, but I decided today would be a good day to load up the car and go for a hike – just for fun with absolutely no work on the agenda! I convinced my lovely bride and her parents to come along too. Oops, I take that back – I did have something in mind – I wanted to measure a bunch of the new yellow lady’s slipper orchids that I found last week to see which species they are. We actually have four lady’s slipper orchid species in Arkansas, including three yellow varieties. The size of the slipper is one of the factors needed to determine the ID – there is a “small” yellow and a “large” yellow, plus a new species that has not been included in previous wildflower guidebooks for Arkansas, the Kentucky yellow lady’s slipper.
We made the mistake of stopping at the little bakery at Pelsor to grab a snack. Both ladies ordered homemade “Hillbilly” sandwiches – I say mistake because Pam’s dad is on a diet and I can’t eat yeast, so we both had to stand there and watch the two delicious sandwiches being made, and then had to endure all the noises being made as the girls ate them in the car! I had a fried apple pie that was simply wonderful though, so that helped!
This special population of rare wild orchids that I found last week is out in the middle of nowhere, and is one of the largest populations in the state, in a county that is not listed as having any lady’s slippers – so, a significant find. We all started seeing the bright yellow slippers long before we reached them, and then more, and more, and more. Before we knew it we were completely surrounded by the rare flowers, and just kind of awestruck by it all. It was Pam who noticed some movement back in the shadows of the deep woods – there was someone out there, coming right at us, and she was packing a big GUN, YIKES! She had a little camera too and was there to photograph the orchids, something she has been doing for many years. The gun? Well, I didn’t ask, but I figured it was for snakes – or for someone she thought might be trying to harm the flowers. We had a great conversation – she was a grandma in her 70′s but still getting around well, and had no issues being all alone out in the wilderness on such a fine spring day. She was quite knowledgeable about wildflowers as well, and when I said something about the showy orchis I had found nearby, she took me on over to a pair of leaves that were just coming up out of the ground – sure enough, they were showy orchis too!
We also visited a nice waterfall, found some wild garlic, oh yes, and found THOUSANDS of other wildflowers – they were all over the place! This has been an exceptional year for wildflowers in Arkansas. Spiderworts. Mayapples. Wild geraniums. Lady’s slippers. Shooting stars. Even blooming trees like redbuds and dogwoods are still hanging on – and the dogwood blossoms were GIANT this year, oh my gosh! Same goes for the mayapples – have you seen them lately? HUGE! I took a snapshot on a hike I took late this afternoon and could not believe how many plants had big flowers on them. Let’s hope the fruit and veggie crops are as good!
Oh yes, the lady’s slippers. This population turned out to be the endangered large yellow lady’s slipper. Most of them measured about 1.5 inches long. I hiked on down to the population of lady’s slippers that we have near our cabin this evening and measured them as well, and they are all just a little larger but I don’t know if they are the Kentucky species or just large regular large ones – I have a photo sent off to the wildflower expert, Don Kurz, for his opinion. I want to be able to photograph all four species this spring or next, so if you know of a patch or individual small yellow lady’s slippers, or especially the pink/showy lady’s slipper, please let me know.
Courtesy of Tim Ernst. You can read more on his Cloudland Journal at the following link.
Weekend Hiking Forecast:
Showers and thunderstorms are again likely on Saturday with highs in the upper 60s to low 70s across the area. If you have any outdoor plans on Saturday make sure to bring the rain gear. Sunday is looking like a great day with some morning clouds giving way to a partly cloudy sky by afternoon. Highs will be in the low 70s.
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