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Continued from the previous page.

With all the grand vistas to mesmerize hikers above treeline on both the Mt. Healy Overlook Trail and the path along the ridgeline, it's easy to miss Mother Nature's smaller wonders. I took these photos of some of those details along the way -- interesting flowers, alpine plants, mushrooms, ferns, tree bark and burls, birds and small mammals, rock formations, individual rocks, etc.

I'll show you some of those on this page, beginning with botanicals.


Today there weren't as many flowers low in the boreal forest and up on the tundra as there were in the upper forest and sub-alpine levels where there was more sunshine. I'll identify the plants I know.

I took these photos along the Taiga Trail at the lower elevations:

Northern Grass-of-Parnassus AKA Bog Stars

There were lots more wildflowers closer to the end of the first mile and beginning of the second mile, where the trees were thinning out and more sun was available to the plants.

The fireweeds were the most colorful and prolific this time of year. I was surprised to see a patch of them up on the ridge. I showed several photos on the last two pages with fireweeds in them.

Above and below:  fireweeds (autumn is imminent when the top buds open up)


Alaska wild rhubarb

Some leaves are a bright red or orange. I don't know if they turn those colors as fall approaches or if they are like that all summer:

The plants in the background are horsetail ferns.


Labrador tea

A type of Potentilla, I believe

I saw both familiar alpine plants and ones that were new to me in the tundra. There were very few wildflowers but lots of colorful leaves.

I like these medleys of different leaves, berries, and lichens:



I haven't seen yellow lichens like this before.

Lichens make interesting patterns on this rock.


I know less about geology than botany but I appreciate interesting rocks.

I took a couple dozen photos of unusual rock formations and colorful individual rocks, mostly up on the ridge. Here are some of them:

This rock figure (an "inuksuk") caught my eye, even though the trail doesn't go up to it.



The most colorful rocks were on the rise I called "Gold Hill" because it looked gold from a distance in comparison to the other rocks on the ridge. There were a variety of colors of rocks embedded there and nearby:

The hill looked especially golden from a distance, glinting in the sun.


Having fun with shadows . . .





The layered rocks in the next photo were closer to the spot where I turned around:

Oddly, some of the individual rocks around that formation were cylindrical and looked almost like those I've seen in petrified forests:

This is another rock from that area. It's one of several with an unusual shiny white "coating" that might be some sort of quartz-like rock conglomerate:

Here's "Healy-henge" again, the formation where I turned around:

(What? You've never given your own names to places??)

When I turned around I noticed this unusual rock formation facing east. The segment of the rock that I've shown here reminds me of some sort of crouching animal looking over Nenana Canyon:

Maybe I was getting a little punchy by then. I saw that rock after having the pleasure of meeting the next little fella (or gal).


This was one of the few two- or four-legged creatures I saw on the ridge. It lives in a burrow near the spot on the lofty saddle about 400 feet from where I turned around. It was standing up when I first approached:

I stood quite still to take this and another picture, talking softly to it from about fifteen feet away. I moved on as it watched me.

A few minutes later I came back and saw this critter even closer to the trail. I don't know if it was the same one or a mate/friend:

I was a little disappointed not to see any larger animals besides rodents, marmots, and birds today but this critter brightened my day. I can't imagine what strength it takes to survive the long, brutal winter in Alaska at over 4,000 feet elevation -- even if (s)he is underground in a cozy burrow.

Next entry:  the trail to Horseshoe Lake

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil