We live on the eastern end of Evergreen, where the "good soil" is and farm crops thrive in spite of the rolling hills. Half a mile west is the big hill where the sand barrens begin along Wolf Creek and a whole different set of plants thrive -- the remnants of the old sand prairies and jackpine - oak savannahs.
Here are the photos taken today, June 10, 2015 along Evergreen Av with a few thrown in with a tour north and east to make a loop out and back. The trip was spiced up by me getting in and out to take photos and in the process transferring 3 ticks to Margo including one that bit in deeply. The Hyundai transmission was acting up and so kept having to put it in low to get it to move, sort of exciting and worrying with the trip back on the sand dune roads and no cell phone reception on the barrens. Margo gets worried about things like bad transmissions and empty gas tanks. She worries me more than the car ;-)
|Spiderwort, a lovely blue plant with a stem that is full of juice. It has to be cut and put in water quickly to preserve its upright stature.|
|Yellow hoary puccoons are all over, here with some spiderworts and sumach shrubs. 20 years after the road was widened, the sand is only gradually being covered by plants.|
|It is hard to show the extent of the flowers--sometimes they string along in groups for 1/2 a mile or more and rarely are there stretches with no wild flowers.|
|Hairy vetch grows wild. Farmers planted it in their sandy fields as a nitrogen producing legume that the cows liked and built up the soil. It grows in many of the old fields naturally.|
|MIles of wild phlox plants all along the way|
|Many tiger swallowtail butterflies and a few monarchs fluttering around|
|Margo spotted this somewhat rare foxglove (digitalis) plant that is not only pretty, grows in blowsand, but is the source of the heart medicine too.|
|Wild columbine is quite pretty. We always sucked the little bulbs on the end for a taste of sweetness|
|Fred Parker hung himself at this location (Parker's hill). The original part of the cabin was his home. He was found hanging in his barn (no longer here). He was despondent over his inability to stay sober. Late 1930s. Mom and my grandparents knew him well and tried to help him quit drinking. Booze was available from the bootleggers who even though liquor was legal by the 30s, continued to make it so buyers could avoid the high taxes. The prohibition probably created as many new alcoholics by the local production of liquor as it helped.|
|All along the sandy ditches, big mounds of sand are dug out by badgers trying to dig out pocket gopher tunnels. They seem to be successful as they keep at it.|
|The Evergreen school has been purchased and refurbished. Looks about the same as when Mom attended back in the 1930s. There was a horse shed where Mom could park her horse for the day with hay to munch on.|
|Orange hawkweed in the school yard --first of the orange flowers. Next will be the butterfly weeds-- spectacular types of milkweeds.|
|Probably 2/3 or more of the land is publicly owned -- County, State and even 4000 acres by the Town of Sterling. With fire control and tree planting the prairie turned fields became forests and now are harvested in great amounts for oak firewood, aspen paper pulp and pine logs. We see double trailer trucks hauling load after load from sunup to sundown all year long except for a brief spring period when road weight limits are imposed.|
|Most of the sand barrens roads are just sand leveled openings on square miles (with various routes to avoid streams). No gravel and difficult to drive on -- if you stop someplaces you sink into sand just like on the beach and need to jack up your car and put brush under the tires to get going. So unless you have high clearance and 4-wheel drive it is safer to stay on the paved and graveled roads.|
|A ladder 100 feet up the side on top of Fox Ridge, another 100 feet above the river -- a birds eye view of the countryside.|
|A great deal of logging going on. Many oaks are dying from oak wilt and cut for firewood, some pulp for paper, some logs for lumber and I imagine other uses too.|
|Low growing prairie roses are ubiquitous|
|Lupines thrive in the sand. As legumes they take nitrogen from the air for their own use and build up the soil too. They have a very deep taproot and so are almost impossible to move. The seed pods spring open when dry flinging the seeds about.|
Mom lived with her family on the barrens during the 1930s. Dad spent a few winters trapping there in the later 30s. Grandpa Carnes and two brothers homestead 160 acres each out there long ago and tried farming but moved on. Great Uncle Clarence Carnes and his girls took over the Sunrise Ferry and ran that from about 1909(when Grandma and her brother Elza Carnes ran it) until it floated away in the early 40s and never ran again.
So when I go out there, I still hear the stories from Mom, from Dad, from my grandparents and great grandparents and the several dozen of the family who tried living there but gave it up.
It is a large area and I don't know most of it. It probably is time to do one more search for the yet undiscovered John Maidment treasure within a mile of the Sterling Tower (mostly gold and jewels from his noble family in England...) Or to see if there really is a car with two internal revenuer's buried pointed nose firs a mile from Evergreen....