Nome Creek Wander

Nome Creek Wander

On Saturday, a small crew of a couple of kids and parents from Team Ascension and I headed to the White Mountain National Recreation Area to explore the hills above Nome Creek. It must have been a fun hike since it didn’t feel like we went far, but my step count was over 31,000 when we returned to the parking area. I haven’t been using my GPS or watch to track distances in a while, but that would be roughly 13 miles with my gate. Our route was only about 9 miles, so I must have wandered quite a bit while looking for flowers.

We had another gorgeous day. The air got a little warm at times in the sunlight, but there were just enough clouds, a calm breeze, and an occasional drizzly to stay cool. There was also plenty of snow on the ground for kids to throw at you or rub on your head.

Crossing Nome Creek
“My feet are cold.”
Second stream crossing

We followed the Nome Creek Trail for a little over a mile before breaking from it and heading uphill. When we started, the sky was blue in all directions, but clouds slowly formed overhead to the north and east.

The wildflowers were plentiful in the valley while the ground foliage was still in the process of green-up. Near the water, there were many specimens of dwarf willows (primarily Salix arctica), western roseroot or ledge stonecrop (Rhodiola integrifolia), yellow thimbleweed (Anemone richardsonii), nakedstem wallflower (Parrya nudicaulis), and dwarf marsh violet (Viola epipsila). Away from the water, Narcissus anemone (Anenome narcissiflora) was the dominant blooming species, along with numerous willows, sedges such as Bigelow’s sedge (Carex bigelowii), arctic sweet coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus), and alpine azaleas (Kalmia procumbens) in the rockier areas.

Western roseroot or ledge stonecrop (Rhodiola integrifolia) – I need to do some work in identifying some similar species and subspecies in this genus
Nakedstem wallflower (Parrya nudicaulis)
Crossing the tundra near where we broke from the trail
Alpine azalea (Kalmia procumbens)
Starting uphill
Snow break

Not far up the hill, the terrain transitions from wet and spongy tundra to firmer, rocky alpine tundra. The walking gets substantially easier on the steeper slopes. The wildflowers quickly transition to alpine species like woolly lousewort (Pedicularis lanata), northern kittentails (Synthyris borealis), white arctic mountain heather (Cassiope tetragona), blackish oxytrope (Oxytropis nigrescens), arctic stitchwort (Cherleria arctica), numerous berries, pincushion plant (Diapensia obovata), eight-petal mountain avens (Dryas octopetala), and snowdon lily (Gagea serotina).

Valley view
Narcissus anemone (Anenome narcissiflora)
Arctic stitchwort (Cherleria arctica) – I need to update this article as this moved from genus Minuartia
Heading into the hills
Snowdon lily (Gagea serotina)
White arctic mountain heather (Cassiope tetragona)
Woolly lousewort (Pedicularis lanata)
Heading up the talus slope

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The girls and I continued uphill to make a short loop around a ridge, descending into a different valley to return to the trail. I had hoped to find some arctic primrose (Primula pumila), which is another early bloomer that I know grows in this valley, but I didn’t spot any yet. The woolly lousewort was everywhere. I tought the kids that the root is edible and tastes like a carrot and they were quick to dig a couple up and eat them. Confirmed. They do taste like (dirty) carrot. Might be worth washing first.

Digging up Pedicularis lanata
Woolly lousewort (Pedicularis lanata) with its carrot-like root
Northern kittentails (Synthyris borealis)
Our last view up the Nome Creek Valley before crossing the ridge. Clouds were starting to take over the blue sky.
Spot the other two hikers descending from the hill
Looking in the opposite direction. That’s Mt. Prindle in the background and the Tor outcroppings are the windchimes (my hiking info guide).
Descending the ridge
Heading down into the valley
Crossing the snow
You just can’t call it a day until somebody falls in the mud. I feel a little bad for taking this phot when she was asking for help getting unstuck. But not really bad.

This turned out to be another great hike to wrap up my weekend! I now have a backlog of wildflower ID photos that I need to write up, so I’ll be working on those articles for the rest of the week. Check here for the complete photo gallery from the day: Gallery – June 1, 2024.



Female catkin of one of the many dwarf willows with bright red styles and stigmas

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