2006-06-06 23:46:20.000 – Jim Salge,  Observer

Only found here…

Ken had mentioned in yesterday’s comment that there has been so little sun on the mountain of recent that the batteries on the temperature probes along the Auto Road have been unable to recharge. By the numbers, as the Observatory keeps track of sunshine minutes on the summit, we know that the sun had been out for just over 2 hours during the first 5 days of June. Yuck!

Today though, all that changed as a strong, albeit temporary, ridge of high pressure moved in clearing skies and finally drying out the air. In fact, as I begin to write this comment at 10PM, the view out the window still exists, illuminated by a still orange glow around the western horizon. The bright sun today felt great, and even though temperatures remained in the 40s, it seemed plenty comfortable to stroll about in a t-shirt.

As I am working nights, my afternoon stroll took me down to Lakes of the Clouds Hut before shift. The hut is open for summer, and the alpine flowers are nearing peak around the Hut, including the White Mountain’s own alpine flower, the Robbins’ Cinquefoil. This plant is only found in a small area near the hut, as well as small patch on the Franconia Ridge, and nowhere else on earth. The Appalachian Trail used to actually tramp right through this small site, until it was rerouted as part of a recovery effort that began in 1983. The recovery has been largely successful thus far, with the current population now exceeding over 14,000 plants. It was even recently removed from the Endangered Species list, one of only 33 species ever to have been de-listed! However, its ‘homesite’ remains federally protected, limiting viewing opportunities to the few trailside plants outside the protected area.

One of the staff at Lakes of the Clouds hut knew where one such trailside plant was growing, and fortunately it was particularly photogenic today! Amazingly this whole plant was smaller than a quarter; easy to miss…

The fact that this plant was less than a foot from the path though highlights the importance of being good stewards of the alpine zone, and remaining on designated trails above tree line, especially when visiting the alpine garden this spring. The greatest threat to this tiny plant remains human trampling, as it is to most of the fragile plants in the alpine zone.

For more information on the Robbins’ Cinquefoil, click here! or here! (scroll halfway down on this article)


Jim Salge,  Observer

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