We went camping Friday night/Saturday, to Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area. This was an important stopping point on one of the branches of the Oregon Trail because, as you might guess, there is a spring there. We took the camper, and had a nice relaxing afternoon and evening, and I got to go birding the next morning. Emma was having a grumpy morning, and didn't go on the morning walk. She bugged Shaun instead, and I got to bird by myself!
Didn't see any new birds, but got great close looks at Townsend's warblers and western tanagers, to name the most spectacular ones. I also saw tons of new wildflowers, like
smooth yellow violet (Viola glabella)
Mountain false lupine (Thermopsis montana)
Blue anemone (Anemone oregana)
striped coralroot (Corallorhiza striata)
Calypso (Calypso bulbosa)
I was excited about the Corallorhiza striata, because it was new for my Life List. I've seen lots of calypso before, but they never fail to enchant.
We left the campground around 11:15, in two contingents. Shaun rode his bike to Pendleton, about 25 miles, and Emma and I drove the car and met him there for lunch. Then we all went back to La Grande together.
Emma and I stopped off at a Scenic Overlook on the way, and great googly, was it scenic!
This is roughly midway between the campground and Pendleton, in the Blue Mountains, at the top of a ridge. It's sagebrush shrub-steppe, and stuffed full of wildflowers. Sagebrush ecosystems are stunning in spring.
Arrow-leaved balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)
Sulphur lupine (Lupinus sulphureus)
Large-flowered triteleia (Triteleia grandiflora)
Hairy balsamroot (Balsamorhiza hookeri)
Larkspur (Delphinium sp.)
Mule-ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis)
onion (Allium sp.)- a very cool one with flat leaves, so numerous it turned the hillside scree areas pink
Woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum)
It was so incredibly beautiful. The silvery gray sagebrush sets off the dark firs and bright wildflowers perfectly.
Emma and I were talking about how the pioneers traveling in wagons came through this area a long time ago, and how it took a really long time to travel then because they couldn't just drive in cars. She wanted to know if they had any little girls then, and what they looked like. I said that they did have little girls, and some of them probably looked a lot like her, but they didn't wear jeans and t-shirts. They had to wear dresses and sunbonnets, and went barefoot a lot because shoes were expensive. She looked around and told me she didn't want to go barefoot because "the rocks and prickers are pokey, and I'm glad I have shoes" but she did take off her sweatshirt and, by herself, made herself a "sunbonnet."
"Now I'm a pioneer girl," she said.