Friday, June 3, 2016

Early Summer at Natural Bridges: Owachomo Bridge, Armstrong Canyon

Narrowleaf Yucca plants send up their flowering stalks near Owachomo Natural Bridge.
May has turned into June at Natural Bridges National Monument, and an uncommonly (though quite appreciated) cool and moist spring has shifted to some hot, dry days.

Owachomo Bridge panorama.
So it's time to get acclimated to high desert summer weather. I load my REI daypack with four liters of water instead of just two. I'll only be down in the canyon for a few hours, but more is better, and the faster I drink it the lighter my pack becomes. Plus, I like to keep one liter in case I meet someone that hasn't brought enough and is in heat distress. You never know.

Owachomo Bridge from Zeke's Bathtub, an almost perennial pool in Armstrong Canyon.
The temperature on this glorious early summer afternoon won't exceed 80 Fahrenheit, but compared to 70 and below it's a good transition toward the 90s. 

Cliffrose (Purshia mexicana) in bloom at 6,500 feet.
Cliffrose - Purshia mexicana - are at peak bloom here at 6,500 feet. Visitors from lower desert elevations are delighted to find they get to see them and inhale their fragrance a second time this year.

I walk down the short trail to Owachomo Bridge. Then underneath the thin long span, to look for new shots from below it. The sky is classic southeast Utah: deep blue, low in haze, with pearly cumulus clouds for a fantastic accent. 

Narrowleaf Yucca (Yucca angustissima) leaves and flowering stalks.
The springtime wildflowers are quickly fading with the increased temperatures and long days, while the late spring to early summer blooms are enjoying their peak. 

Narrowleaf Yucca blooms.
Once again I photograph some more Narrowleaf Yucca - Yucca angustissima - in bloom. The tall (waist high to chest high) flowering stalks that have grown fast as corn are open on many plants, while some are already done. 

Narrowleaf Yucca blossom closeup.
Representing the yellow spectrum of wildflowers at this time of the season are Stemless Woollybase, Thrifty Goldenweed, and Common Hyalineherb. 

Stemless Woollybase - Hymenoxys acaulis
Thrifty Goldenweed (Haplopappus armeroides) in typical clumps.

Uinta Groundsel (Senecio multilobatus)

Common Hyalineherb (Hymenopappus filifolious), with its long wispy flower stalks and small blossoms.

No rattlesnakes seen on this hike, as usual. I've only seen two here in a year and a half.

Armstrong Canyon, from the trail downstream from Owachomo Bridge.
Photo Location: Natural Bridges National Monument, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg