Frustration, as on completion of tonight’s blog I find that somehow the first part of my report has been lost. It is also missing from the autodraft version, so here we go again! grrrrrr!!!!
We had earmarked two more Pediocactus locations for our morning’s pleasure, one some 10 miles from the hotel, the other a bit farther afield. We past the first location and decided to take a look there on the way back. Soon we became suspicious of our SatNav’s instructions. Earlier, Google Maps had suggested that the total mileage for the day would be 129 miles, while SatNav suggested that the distance to our first stop would be 155 miles. We suspect that SatNav only used US Highways, ignoring National Forest roads that would cut through the Fish Lake National Forest area. Switching the SatNav to ‘off road’ mode (i.e. as the crow flies) suggested that our spot was only 16 miles away. However we could see the significant hill that had to be crossed. We followed our instincts and disobeyed SatNav’s pleas to turn around and follow its much longer route. However, without detailed maps and SatNav showing an increasing distance on its route, decisions had to be made.
We followed Cliff’s suggestion to take a look around for plants where we were (S2515). I was not too sure as for the last hour we had not spotted any cactus in the terrain alongside the road – usually we would see Opuntia and Echinocereus from the road. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so after five minutes from parking the car, Cliff announced his first Pedio find of the day and I was left to eat humble pie. This turned out to be quite a densely populated area. Just as we repeated our observation that no other cacti occurred her, two small opuntiods were found. Does Corynopuntia occur here? Which one? What does it look like? [Note to self to check up the literature when I get home]
As we resumed our journey, we suggested that if Pedios occur on such unlikely locations, it probably occurred everywhere that we had been today and everywhere that we were going. To prove a point, Cliff pulled over at the next convenient lay by and we stomped up the hill overlooking a water reservoir – if possible this was an even less likely Pedio location – S2516. Near the top of the hill we decided that perhaps this area was not suited, but were surprised soon after, by a plant (Pediocactus simpsonii again) in flower hidden among the grass. Soon we found a few more, but only plants in flower – the others remained too well hidden.
Satisfied with our efforts we headed back to Torrey, passing the spot that we had earmarked earlier for a more detailed look S2517. On arrival at the coordinates SatNav was again confused, sending us 800 m on a non-existent track i.e. we ended climbing quite s steep hill on foot, although literature and our experience suggested that Pediocactus prefer a fairly level ground. On arrival at the top of our hill, SatNav wanted us to continue for another hundred meters, down a hill, now at a slope too steep to consider without special equipment. Disappointed, we made our way back to the car, but with the light now in a different direction, even though I was walking over my original footsteps there was another P. simpsonii in flower. And another and another.
With our cactus quota for the day now satisfied, we headed for the National Park where I recorded two stops: S2518 for plants photographed in the National Park and S2519 for the tremendous scenery that is Capitol Reef NP. We found quite a dense stand of Sclerocactus wrightiae (not to be confused with S. uncinatus ssp wrightii) where most of the plants were in advanced bud. As we need to drive past the park visitor’s center again tomorrow morning, we’ll pop in to see if the buds have now opened.
Another cactus found, this time in full flower was Echinocereus triglochidiatus, the Claret Cup Cactus. The trick was to find the best cactus with the option to photograph it with the park’s scenery in the background. Not as easy as you might think, considering the presence of telephone / electricity cables to spoil the view. Still, I think I managed to catch a few that will find their way into talks later this year.
We celebrated another successful day with a couple of Margaritas with dinner.