Friday, July 24, 2015

The Plant That Saved My Camera

A beautiful member of the Family Ericaceae, the White-veined Wintergreen, at approximately 7,500' elevation near the summit of Grizzly Peak.  My colleague, Dr. Joan Parkin, and I live on opposite sides of Grizzly Ridge and Mt. Hough.  Her view of this mountain range from the northern edge of Indian Valley is quite different from the view from Quincy Junction Road.  We have talked for a couple of years about wanting to hike to the top of Grizzly Peak, the tallest peak in the range, and try to locate the mysterious (to us) Devil's Punch Bowl.  We finally did it today, and I have lots of photos to share.  But, for now, before I get a good night's sleep, I need to tell you about this little wintergreen.
We were on our way down from the summit, heading to a place in the woods where we had parked.  It was getting late, and we were beginning to get back into "check your watch" mode, when I saw this pretty little plant at my feet.  We had hiked downhill about a half mile from the peak where we had eaten lunch.  I bent down to consider a taking a photo, when I remembered that I already had decent photos of this species in my files.  Suddenly, I realized my camera was not around my neck, and not in my backpack.  I had left it hanging from a tree branch where we had lunch.  As the kids say these days, OMG!!!  Had to make a quick decision.  We really needed to get back to town, but I couldn't leave my camera there.  I contemplated going home, then making a quick trip back up there to get the camera, but knew that if I left it there overnight it might have been a goner.  So, I left Joan and her dog by the Wintergreen, and quick-stepped my way back to the peak to get my camera and returned to continue our descent.  If we'd gotten back to the car before making this discovery, it just might have been too late and too far to consider going back to get it.  So, that's how this Wintergreen saved my camera, just by being there.
By the way, the Ericaceae are variously known as the Wintergreen Family, the Heath Family, and other names, and contain such unlikely members as Manzanita, Madrone, Pinedrops, Snow Plant and Prince's Pine.

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