Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Water! (tree following in July)


We’re having a wet summer here in normally-sunny Wyoming.  Field botanists sit in soggy tents, waiting.  Fire lookouts sit in their towers reading book after book in fog, mist and rain.  Impassable dirt roads stay impassible as plants grow, bloom and go to seed, unobserved.  I come home to a yard that's a jungle and too wet to mow except that … 

This no longer applies.  I’m retired.  But I haven’t forgotten.

Those memories were vivid this morning.  I needed to check my tree, as the monthly gathering of tree-followers is upon us.  But it was raining again.  So I rounded up my anorak, inexpensive camera and field assistant, and headed out.

I hoped with all the rain there would be water in the dry canyon where my willow grows.
Willow Canyon is upstream from the notch on the right skyline.
Sure enough – in the normally dry wash about a quarter mile below Willow Canyon, a creek was flowing out toward the prairie (above).  Further upstream it ran over limestone outcrops. The drought-tolerant plants in the cracks had their feet in water.
Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) in shallow water – barely visible as slightly darker limestone.
Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa) had its head just above water.  The creek must have been higher earlier … there's debris hanging off the flower head.
The field assistant was extra happy with the pools.
I reported the exciting news and soon additional recruits arrived.
We reached Willow Canyon – the creek was flowing there too.  Fortunately it wasn't raining, but I still had to wear my anorak because the mosquitos were so thick.
Willow is on the left – the slightly shorter tree against the cliff, between two junipers.
The willow grows where a side drainage meets the canyon, sending water down off the rim.  In fact, this side drainage was providing all the water for the creek below.  The main canyon upstream was dry.

There was even a sizable pool at the base of the willow.  Today this looks very much like willow habitat!
Willow nook a month ago.
Willow nook today.
The little waterfall was well hidden.  But I climbed around just east of the willow and recorded singing water falling from sky to pool.
video

North of the canyon we followed the creek downstream to the rim.
The creek runs over limestone pavement.
Getting close – bright green patch between two junipers upper left is top of willow.
Looking for kitties in the lush canopy (this is the American pussy willow, Salix discolor).
The creek at the canyon rim.  But it doesn't jump off here.
Instead, it runs into a crevice to become the waterfall below.

How nice that Nature provides such interesting things to ponder!


You should!  Read more about tree following here.

24 comments:

  1. Love the 'plip' of water at the end of your little film - with the mesmerising sound of running water.

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    1. Thanks, Lucy. Credit for the plip goes to iMovie, and lucky timing!

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  2. Such a nice post! I'm sure it must get tiresome, all that rain, but it's a good break from the normal dry. The willows look sated.

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    1. You're right, Tina ... the rain is a good thing for sure. Plants are looking great this year. But a break would be nice for us humans ;-)

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  3. Enjoyed this post --- so that is how they are getting their water. I'll head over to the follow a tree link now.

    And by the way, I just love your new assistant, and that tail :) !

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    1. Thanks, Lola. will you join us in following trees? I know your reports would be interesting!

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  4. Love the scenery! So different from what we have here (Mississippi). In what part of Wyoming do you live? I have a friend who is from Newcastle.
    Happy Tree Following!
    Lea

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    1. Thanks, Lea. I live in Laramie, in the southeast part – 250 miles south of Newcastle.

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  5. Are you sure you are not in Ireland? Looks like the edge of the Buren.

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    1. Dan, you read my mind. I think of the Buren when I walk the pavement east of town. I've seen photos and a friend has encouraged me to visit for years now. One of these days ...

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  6. What a great landscape, I really enjoyed reading this post - thank you.

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  7. It looks just wonderful - minus the mosquitoes! But I'll wish you a little sunshine all the same :) It's fun to think of microclimates in time... and the plants that rely on them!

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    1. Thanks, Amy. Looks like we might get some sunshine this weekend :-) I wonder if water is stored in fractures in the limestone ... if it's beneficial longer than we might think

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  8. What a mix of weather! That limestone pavement is particularly spectacular, and I love your tree following companions. Here's to the willow ... may it flourish. We were at Sutton Hoo yesterday among the burial mounds, and after 2 weeks of sunshine (with rain, cloud etc. thrown in), it looked like a parched brown landscape ...

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  9. I love these mini adventures if yours.
    I had to do a double take when I saw that image of your field assistant on the path - at first I thought it was a little pinto pony!
    Love the "plip" too, and the limestone pavement.
    I wonder how often Willow Canyon has running water, and whether it was once wetter than it is today? Climate changes so much.
    Delighted your tree was so refreshed this time. It's always wet where I live so we take green for granted.
    All the best :)

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    1. sb, I also wonder how things have changed over the time that willow has been there, maybe it got established during a series of wet years. And maybe there's a reservoir of sorts in the fractures in the limestone that keeps water around for awhile.

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  10. It's a lovely open landscape. Despite rain and mosquitos.

    So far our summer has mostly been rain and mosquitos too so I know the feeling...

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    1. I think so too, Erika. We're lucky to have this public land so close to town.

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  11. Looking good! I certainly enjoy your tree trek every month. The highlights of your journey are so interesting!

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    1. Thanks, virtualhorizon, for joining the treks ;-) and for your encouragement.

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  12. Welcome to a land of wet Hollis, I hope yours does not last as long as ours, great for your willow though, it is looking lush, Frances

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    1. thanks for your wishes, Frances. It looks like the wet weather is tapering off a bit: sunny mornings and late afternoon thundershowers, more the norm. Hope you get see some sunshine too.

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