Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Seep


When I awoke on the first morning in the Steens Mountains I was greeted by a Brewer's Sparrow who was obviously bringing food to her young. Over and over she landed on a nearby fence with insects or grubs in her bill, then disappeared into the same sagebrush with the treat.

After a very slow, relaxing morning and a tasty hot dog roasted over a campfire and then an afternoon nap (the warm sun and cool breeze made me think I was at the ocean when I closed my eyes ... it was very relaxing) we set off downhill to a spot of green. I have always found the place where water appears at the surface of the land in the mountains to be a very magical place. I can see how they came up with stories of elves and fairies and pixies in Ireland where there are so many green rivulets on the hillsides.


As we approached we could see False Hellebore in flower over all, and bluebells in pink and blue by the seep. White-crowned sparrows were in the bushes at the edge of the moist grassy area.

Monk's Hood grew among the Hellebore.




White Bog Orchids grew in the saturated areas.


Within just a few hundred feet the soggy land turned to trickling surface water, and then a little channel meandering through the lush alpine Timothy. Monkeyflower grew in profusion by the stream.


There were both the magenta Lewis's Monkeyflower and the tiny yellow Dwarf Monkeyflower.


Another hundred yards and the stream was a waterfall, cascading over some harder rock that had not yet eroded. Ferns grew on the shady side of the stream, just feet away from the dry sagebrush land through which this water flowed.