Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shooting star

Saw these neat flowers near a stream while I was out riding my mountain bike in White Ranch open space park yesterday so I had to take a picture, even if it is just cellphone quality. According to Mariska, who knows a lot about native plant botany, these are Shooting Stars. Aptly named I think.

Shooting Star

White Ranch is a superb place to go mountain biking as long as you don't follow the guide book's recommendation to go up boring Belcher Hill trail where you'll be riding a wide fire road queued up behind a 100 other bikers. Take off from that trail as soon as you can on Whippletree and take the South branch of Longhorn up. You'll see 1000's of Mouse Ears, Larkspurs, Paintbrush and such. A little later in the year there are loads of sunflowers. Then at the end of Longhorn go right on Shorthorn which hugs the side of the mountain and goes through wooded areas with lots of flowers, wildlife and mushrooms. When hitting the North branch of Longhorn go left (up) and you'll see the little stream these flowers are next to. I usually go up to the upper parking lot, loop back to Maverick and then go down on the North branch of Longhorn, which is superfun and sometimes even scary to ride down. Then cross another stream all the way at the bottom and climb out through a very plush looking field of Poison Ivy (has a lot beebalm mixed in in late summer) and a big patch of white violets (don't know what the are really called, but you can see them here in a shot from Apex park). If I have a lot of time, I will often go all the way up to the top of Belcher hill after reaching the upper parking lot and go down Mustang trail which crosses a little stream many times. Then I go back up and hit Maverick again. If you follow these routes you will see very few other bikers and be immersed in nature all the time.

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