September 19, 2010

East Meets West, Spearfish, South Dakota

The cold weather persisted last night and into this morning, with an icy fog sitting over the campground. The weather channel said the weather was supposed to be sunny and warm, with a high of 72 degrees. Well, at 10am it was still foggy and 41 and I was doubting this forecast would come true.

We were going to do a hike to the top of a mountain in the Black Hills, but didn't want to if we were going to be freezing up there, so we waited for the fog to lift. While waiting, I wandered the nearby nature trail following Spearfish Creek and noticed something really interesting; The Black Hills are where East meets West ecologically. It also has a major influence from the north.

In addition to Ponderosa Pines and other plants associated with the Rocky Mountains, there are eastern plant and tree species along the creeks, such as elm, green ash, box elder, eastern cottonwood, and ....

Poison Ivy (Turning red for the fall). Remember, Leave of Three Leave It Be

In addition, I heard that unmistakable call of the Blue Jay in the trees above.

In addition, the Black Hills has a healthy dose of boreal species more commonly found in northern Canada. Paper Birch and White Spruce live in these forests. The nearest White Spruce live some 500 miles north. These boreal species were isolated here after retreating south during the Ice Age.

Well, the sun did come out at 11am and it got all the way up to 78 degrees, so I'll be posting separately about the spectacular Spearfish Canyon and the nice 7.7 mile loop hike we did to the top of Old Baldy Mountain.

It's amazing though how quickly temperatures can change in the midwest!

No comments: