Recap: Wildflower Walk & Wine Tasting

With Naturalist Jeanine Moy, June 10, 2018

 Naturalist Jeanine Moy identifies sun-loving lithophytes.

Naturalist Jeanine Moy identifies sun-loving lithophytes.

On the brink of summer, a trip up a mountain can mean a trip back in time. Many flowers that have bloomed and gone to fruit on the valley floor are still in full glory above 5,000 feet. This was the case for our Wildflower Walk & Wine Tasting event on June 10. As we unloaded at the Grizzly Peak trailhead it was as if we’d travelled back to April again. We knew we were in for a great day of botanizing.
    As expected, the trail was lined with interesting and beautiful native wildflowers. Our expert guide, Jeanine Moy, helped us to put all of these species into context by sharing useful natural history information along the way. We were all excited to find some very healthy striped coralroot (Corallorhiza striata), an orchid that gets its energy from mycorrhizal fungi instead of photosynthesis. Another interesting sighting was the western trillium (Trillium ovatum) whose petals had turned dark pink and nearly translucent. These flowers fade from bright white to deep pink as they mature, seemingly signaling to pollinators that their services are no longer required.
    Jeanine also shared ethnobotanical information about the species we found. From the potent, spicy root of the wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) to the edible camas bulb (Camassia quamash) to the yellow pine pollen that coated the trail, it seemed that we were surrounded by plants with nutritional value. Many plants hold medicinal value as well, such as the Lomatium whose root produces a latex that has antibacterial properties.
    The forested scenery quickly changed as we made our way toward the scenic vistas at the far reaches of the Grizzly Peak trail. Grizzly Peak is in the recently expanded portion of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and encompasses an area that burned in the Antelope Fire of 2002. As we looked out over the landscape, we saw the life that had returned in the 16 years since the fire punctuated by the burnt snags that stood like statues. A lush carpet with patches of larkspur, fiddleneck, seablush, paintbrush and more covered the area that was barren not long ago. The stark contrast between the blackened fire-scarred trees and the pastel rainbow of wildflowers told a story of rebirth.
    As we made our way back down the trail, we were sad to leave the cool, calm forest, but we were looking forward to our next destination - wine tasting! We headed back to civilization with our sights set on Belle Fiore Winery. We kicked some of the dirt off of our boots before finding a seat on the patio. The manicured lawn wasn’t quite as interesting as Grizzly Peak, but we had botany bingo to keep our minds active. Soon, the table was full of flights of wine, which we sampled and savored with delight. As the wine slowly disappeared, we reflected on what a wonderful day it had been. Wildflowers, wine, and great company on a gorgeous day - what more could you want?

Photos and text by
Heather Wilson
Hike and Learn Coordinator