Saturday, August 26, 2023

8/26/2023 - CHAPTER 1: of the book, THE DIVINE VISIONS of NATURE FROM THE FOOTHILLS of TIMPANOGOS ... including WARNINGS OF CAUTION that CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE!

CLICK FOR:  HOME PAGE 
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Now let's get to what will be my 3rd....

 
El texto esta en ingles, pero LAS FOTOS EN ESPAÑOL!
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CHAPTER 1
A CRIPPLE'S CONTRIBUTION to HUMANITY BY 
NEVER GIVING UP.......WITHOUT A GOOD FIGHT 
and 
SHARING THE WONDERMENT of NATURE

INTRODUCTION

This effort actually began as sort of a 
PERSONAL JOURNAL
documenting my efforts to overcome being a cripple, and building my faith 
by focusing on what I had begun calling 
"VISIONS of NATURE"
from my years of exploring the High Uinta Mountains. 
In that effort and sharing it I was thanked many times by grateful friends, some 
who directly thanked the effort of sharing with saving their lives.

That experience had me deciding for my personal benefit to record this experience 
that I would be able to enjoy during my twilight years, but also share with others to 
also bless their lives.  So I begin by introducing the effort to any who might be interested
 and pray it will be a blessing for you  as it has been for me.
*****
I have to begin by reviewing just a little for any who are new to my story....
....otherwise my mini-hikes in the foothills will be laughable to real outdoorsmen 
and outdoorswomen. 
Best to know, "I am a recovering cripple, as more than 3 years ago...in 2020...after a botched back surgery, my right leg died or went into deep sleep making it useless.  Then with a fall or two I couldn't walk and was confined to bed."   

As I laid there in bed the muscles in my legs began to disappear shockingly with just bone left reminding me of holocaust victims, so I went to work doing every kind of exercise I could think of beginning with isometrics all the time in bed. This was basically tightening the muscles of  different body parts and holding  each one  10 to 30 seconds and then repeat, then on to the other leg, arms, abdomen, chest and entire body as I couldn't let happen to my body, because of disuse,  what had happened to my right leg.

  My main focus was on the dead leg, so importantly I would push hard with my legs on the cabinet at the foot of my bed, holding it, then again, and again trying to force the dead leg to wake up.  Eventually one leg at a time....at  least first trying to  teach my dead right leg to stiffen so I would hopefully be able at least to stand up.  

I figured it would get my circulation going better, help my blood pressure problem that at times was dangerously out of control, keep my muscles from atrophying and disappearing, prevent all my organs from also going to sleep, and  keep from losing all my strength. 

 Then using my good left leg to help lift the dead or sleeping one as well as with my hands moving it through the movements to remind it what it was supposed to do....so I worked at forcing my dead leg to hopefully come alive and keep up with the rest of me.

In the middle of that giant struggle I had to be taken back to the clinic  groaning continually with pain in a wheelchair loaned to me by my good friend Garth Norman, with Jesse, my son,  pushing me.  They were shocked exclaiming,     "That's not what was supposed to happen!" 

Then X-rays, and an MRI followed and then being wheeled again in the wheelchair.....with  constant pain,  to the hospital for an emergency surgery with my continual pain that moved me to the front of the line.   

After the surgery Jesse took me home and he and Nephi, another son,  literally carried me into my little house (I'll show you below).  The procedure helped some, but it still took me  more weeks of  intensive exercises in bed in my tiny mobile home first achieving being able to maintain that leg stiff so it wouldn't collapse ....otherwise I would immediately fall as the leg had no strength....like it was actually dead. Then I finally got outside with walking canes and  then  a walker my daughter Mahana brought me. She also came daily to change my bandages, bring me treats, and always a more than welcome smile.

Jesse and Nephi were incredible during those difficult weeks and months doing things I couldn't quite do for myself yet..........some disgusting tasks, but never a complaint.

Jesse went to work while I was totally shut-in building a porch at my entrance with a ramp that had a railing that has been a blessing.  He, Nephi and Mahana doing unending things to help, as well as Marcia "Nita," another daughter helping with critical visits and special food I needed.....all being  life savers.... for which I'm most grateful.

 NOTE:  By the way  the two or three  who visited me....were shocked to see my tiny 7'x11' home...a picture of which I'd best insert below for the rest of you. In my Mountains of the Maya book, I tell the story with some detail, how this all happened. 
One visitor prior to me becoming a cripple was a wealthy friend who was embarrassed with what he was seeing, and with grim determination blurted out,  
"How can you live this way?"
What he was really saying was likely, "Aren't you embarrassed to live this way?"  I tried my best to explain that a simple life is what I actually believed in, especially now being alone after having lived for 35 years among needy Mayans where he had visited us once and went through the Great Earthquake of 1976 that killed 25,000 Guatemalans.
  
I went on to explain that most of our 35 years there we purposely lived a simple life not out of reach for our Mayan students and employees if they accepted the Good Life Principles we taught and were willing to work hard for a better life. I should outline briefly what those principles were so you won't misunderstand:
1.  Cleanliness in all aspects of living...using a special system we invented to convince them of the invisible world of microbes.
2.  Proper well balanced nutrition...again convincing them of its importance with a special system we created.
3.  Live in a healthy, cleanable house & homesite.
4.  United families, parents loving children, children loving parents.
5.  Education for all...young and old.
6.  Hard work, but learn how to work more effectively.
7.  Once achieving the Good Life, share with others.  

It warms my heart now....most of them calling me  Papa Cordell,  as it worked pretty good and today they are property owners, live in their own healthy homes in their own community...and have smart phones, all being my friends on Facebook, so in many ways I achieved my objective as today they are all better off than me that doesn't embarrass me in the least, rather gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling....that some of you might understand!
The Valparaiso community today that I personally surveyed, measured, drove the stakes, organized legally, and helped each have property and their own home they worked and paid for.
  
Apparently I didn't convince my wealthy friend as I never heard from him again.

But, once my challenge of becoming a cripple began, I must say that my simple 
tiny home has been a blessing and key element of my survival 
as when needing to sit up,  slide down to the end of my bed to use a portable toilet Jesse got for me, stand up,  get some food, or take sponge baths, and eventually a shower...no matter what...  there was always something to grab onto to help pull me up, or move me along.   And,  having lost most of my balance....especially when closing my eyes to wash my face, or dry it, pull a t-shirt over my head, etc. I would instantly begin falling, but I couldn't really fall as in every direction close by there was a wall, a cabinet, or something to prevent a deadly fall.  

 I have lived in it since 2013, during the cold months parked alongside Jesse's home in American Fork and with all my glitches since 2020 pretty well permeantly parked at Jesse's place.


   From it I have managed the Guatemalan Foundation at no cost as a 50 year volunteer until 
retiring it on its 
GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY in 2017  
which I celebrated alone 
 with a Hot-fudge sundae at McDonalds....
... and then I went to work writing a book about my 
"Impossible Dream" in the Mountains of the Maya.
My tiny home has also been my office from which I managed  my HIGH UINTAS PROJECT, 
writing a two volume book that came to be known as 
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE HIGH UINTA MOUNTAINS....
....which has now been divided into two books as seen below available in paperback or hardcover on AMAZON.COM 

Each about 370 pages in large format (8.5" x 11.5") with wonderful color reproduction of the more than 1,400 color photographs and topographical maps of each Trailhead area, as well as the history, the legends, and the survival stories and why many were lost, but also my 8 survival experiences and why I survived, as can all who pay attention and learn the lessons I share.  Many lives have been saved with the guidance given for backpacking, and hiking and enjoyment enhanced. 
The second book on the right is a guide for an incredible 856 mile auto-loop tour of the High Uinta Mountains.  All those who have done this rave about the experience that shows the Uintas equal to or better than many National Parks. 

 Now a 3rd...this BOOK about the VISIONS of NATURE.

 So, back to NEVER GIVE UP.....EASILY....... you've maybe heard too much, so let's change it a bit with: 
 
NEVER GIVE UP.....WITHOUT A GOOD FIGHT!
I was forcing my dead right leg to keep up with the good left one.
  Gradually it began to work, and I even learned to drive my car tucking the dead right leg back under my good one, and driving with my left leg.....grateful for an automatic transmission!
  
The funny part of that was on my first venture out with the car.  My boys, Nephi and Jesse, noticed the car was gone and began worrying....A LOT....and waiting for me.
  
On my return THEY TOOK THE KEYS AWAY FROM ME,
 like as though I was some rebellious, untrustworthy teenager! I finally showed them I could do it safely and got my keys back. Now, a few years later I'm back to driving normally with both legs as my efforts finally worked and 
MY DEAD LEG CAME ALIVE!

A major part of that was when my good friend Paul Edmunds, one of my wonderful 400 customers from when I gratefully worked from 2009 to 2012 for LORIE PAULSON at Reams Supermarket in Springville....  
......but Paul gave me a  "Luxury style walker," and  in the summer of 2022 I  began going on hikes..... gradually increasing the distance from American Fork, and months later finally getting up to 
Lone  Peak High School in Highland (9 or 10 miles roundtrip), and then....
I  decided to do the  HALF MARATHON  DISTANCE (13.2 miles) all the way to Alpine and back.      NOTE: From 1994 to 2007 I had done 14 consecutive half marathons in Guatemala's  famous Coban International Half Marathon competing with the Kenyans and other international stars until reaching 72 and not able to make more trips to Guatemala to supervise Foundation projects because of lack of funds....so no more Half Marathons.........UNTIL 2022!

           During the night before attempting to go all the way to Alpine and back,
I dreamed of doing again the International Half Marathon in Coban, Guatemala and ....
......I FINALLY BEAT THE KENYANS DOING IT WITH MY WALKER!  
 
NOW BACK TO REALITY....
The next day...of MY HALF MARATHON WITH MY WALKER.... was a hot day the temperature getting up to 96 degrees, and I'll confess it took me all day.....at least 6-7 hours!  On the return along the North County Boulevard (a divided highway) I was stopped by two police cars who said that they were getting 911 calls from motorists  about...
... an old guy with a walker on the highway that 
maybe needed saving!
Apparently I didn't look too good,  but I assured them I'd make it home alright.
Then two beautiful young ladies, one in a Mustang convertible, stopped to save me. It was her, in an attempt to get me into her car, who told me it was 96 degrees!   WOW,  was it sweet talking to them  but.....
.... I was one strong 86 year old guy, thanked them and finally made it home by myself with my virtue intact!

I was finally building muscle again, and then moved to the parks on grass with no aids, 
learning to walk like a baby, in the beginning with the help of 
my infant Guardian Angel, TED...
.....you'll see TED again below a few pictures when we get to the hills where we are inserted  in the foothill montage of my 2023 efforts to 
NEVER GIVE UP....WITHOUT A GOOD FIGHT! 
 Part of that was TED teaching me  to fall like a baby so I wouldn't  kill myself and learning to get up again with no gadgets to help me! 
NOTE: 
 With my misaligned spine you see below.....my spine surgeon told me  a fall would kill me, and gave me strict instructions to use trekking poles if hiking in the hills.
.......then to climbing stairs with a railing on the south side of the American Fork Fitness Center, where the stairs face south and the snow would melt quickly......
Always in the beginning with my little buddy TED!

I hope all you friends know Ted is a fun figment of my 
imagination who I haven't seen yet....but maybe he's
there as I couldn't have made so much progress by
myself!

Eventually I graduated from the 7" stairs seen above to 11" stairs at the American Fork Amphitheater that even in the warm months I would often do every other day alternating with hikes in the foothills.

Then, when the weather was too cold in the winter  
  or snowing I discovered  the.... 
.......INSTACARE 5 floor building..
...with a drinking fountain, restroom and soft chairs on every floor, as well as a snack bar near the pharmacy.....also of course with all the EMERGENCY SERVICES NECESSARY for an old guy maybe pushing himself too much! 
WOW, WHAT A WONDERFUL BUNCH of FREE EXERCISE
MACHINES....ALL OF THEM THAT HAVE HELPED SAVE MY LIFE.....for an even 
BETTER DAY IN THE FUTURE!
There I enjoyably and safely persisted with my preparations for 
SPRING IN THE FOOTHILLS 
 and when Spring 2023 came,  off to...... 

Behind the beautiful trees of Pleasant Grove we see  
THE FOOTHILLS OF MOUNT TIMPANOGOS  
 coming alive with Spring and we see here
  the fairly restricted area I mainly focused on during the summer of 2023.  Below you see me all over using the previously hated trekking poles that I always said were for wimps!  
NOW LOOK WHO THE WIMP IS ........


If he can't hike without trekking poles, he needs Ted, his guardian angel, 
to take him by the hand to walk!

In this montage I show two of my 2023 triumphs getting to the VALLEY VIEW SPOT going up the front of the hills, rather than the easy, safe way going up the canyon and switchbacking to the SPOT as I did for my first time in 2023 
represented in this Chapter 1.  
Chapter 2 will be built around  going up the front of the mountain the "LONGEST but SAFEST WAY."  
Chapter 3 will feature "THE HARDEST...and MOST DANGEROUS WAY but SHORTEST."   
Chapters 4 and 5  will be built around other hikes up the canyon and switchbacking to "THE SPOT," spiced up by my every-other-day shorter trips just in the foothills I did all Spring, Summer and Fall  to keep alive.
Chapter 6 
will be built around my last hike to the VALLEY VIEW SPOT ending the year in style on December 31st going up the canyon and then at the SPOT waiting for sunset pictures with which the book will conclude. Once those photos were taken I had to head down as quickly as possible...all the way with no rest.... as I had to get through the dangerous stretches, like the "ROCK & ROLL" with enough light to do it safely, and then made it to the Trailhead by  dark with my hands almost frozen to my trekking poles as I had not started that hike intending to do the SPOT, so had no gloves!
Here is the first in the series I took on December 31st with me peeking at the camera.....I kept it up until the sun was out of sight, then headed down...FAST...
....you know FAST for a recovering cripple!
  
All hikes with my Nikon camera and special 18mm x 400 mm lens producing over 5,000 photographs....likely the best collection in existence of the foothills of the Wasatch.....what's maybe missing I will do my best to get during the 2024 season. 

I'll admit all my hikes are done carefully and VERY SLOWLY and SAFELY as a fall could kill meActually  going slowwith the  STALKING PACE,  blesses me.......my physical complications and age bless me even more by forcing me to go even slower which makes possible SEEING the STUNNING  WONDERMENT of NATURE I want to share with all of you.

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I will level with all that in my hikes I experience constant back pain.......and other complications of being in my 88th year...but all made not only bearable and possible but something I look forward to as I am blessed being able to recognize inspiring beauty and fascination...in flowers, plants, trees, insects, animals, reptiles  and in the rocks & lichens as well as in the skies with their incredible clouds and wonderful sunsets...so I never tire of doing this at least every other day in the hills and canyons—the other day on stairs. NOTE: By 2024 I have had to do the hike in the hills every day...when temperature was above freezing, and on bad days at Instacare.
otherwise my blood pressure gets out of control scary, back pain worse and once 3-4 days of "resting"  had both of my legs beginning  to die with no feeling,   brought on two mini-strokes and for the first time since 16 years old when I experienced an NDE and shouted 
"I'm a dead man,"  I actually 
felt like it  was the end and I asked myself,
"IS THIS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE WHEN ONE IS DYING?"!
But I learned my lesson that I have to keep moving 
EVERY DAY or DIE!  

So, in spite of the pain, I exercise daily.... every day in 
FOOTHILLS OF MT. TIMPANOGOS!

 THE PLAN   
I began  early in the Spring documenting with photos each plant as they spring 
to life,  then follow their development to blossoming, and continue  to the unique 
process of reproduction...some plants with spectacular systems I'll show you
 with some...meaning....."the whole story" on a few, good detail on many and 
magnificent conclusions on all.
I will show briefly that whole process for a lot of plants, 
with more emphasis on  extraordinary plants that quite literally are...... 
....STUNNINGLY SPECTACULAR and INSPIRING....

.....BUT HARDLY ANYONE NOTICES! 

 Perhaps because you're low on testosterone,  don't have a long zoom lens 
or you concentrate more on making long hikes fast like 
MARATHON BACKPACKERS
....wanting to set a record or quickly get down to 
ARBY'S..."where the meats are!"

NOTE:  A good level of testosterone, for man or woman, will help you have 
a better mood, and enhance your ability to recognize and appreciate beauty..
..yes in the opposite sex, but also in the  
beautiful VISIONS of NATURE, and even in the 
CHAOS OF NATURE! 
So, if you don't recognize amazing beauty in what I'm going to show you, 
you need a good dose of 
ANDRO 400 Max, or equivalent!
Just in 2024 AMAZON now offers this effective product and 
now an even more potent Booster

ONE MORE NOTE on THE PLAN
As the 8-9 month period (March to December) progresses there will be need of adding updates to some Visions of Nature with identifications, further evolution and developments, as well as medicinal & nutrition information, all of which will be included as I get it online, and then in the final BOOK.
*****************************

NOW to the "DIVINE VISIONS" 

To begin, I must say that the foothills of Timpanogos and of the Wasatch Mountains, in many ways are 
desert environments.
 That gradually changes as you get into the canyons and their creeks, and get higher and higher.  I will  comment  as much as necessary, expand when needed, but mostly let the photographs speak for themselves in what will  actually be my THIRD BOOK....or my 5th including the two now on Amazon in late November!

It will be an online book, at the end converted to an  eBook, likely to have 6 chapters with page numbers....the last couple finished online  after the season is over with the evolution of most plants going to sleep with their last gasp of life in the foothills until next Spring.  
 I will then convert that into a printable book version with page numbers......the link to download it to your computer might cost a donation to access ..and if you want it printed you can take it on a thumb drive to COPYTEC  or your favorite printer, or maybe we'll get it on Amazon too.
The FINISHED ONLINE PRINT VERSION will be  a large format version downloadable....quite expensive to print due to many hundreds of color photos.  But at least one will be printed as
 I'm old school and need that 
ONE....FOR ME
 to thumb through and be continually inspired  when I........GET OLD needing to remember all the hundreds of awakening moments on my hundreds of therapy/hikes in the FOOTHILLS OF TIMPANOGOS! 

NOTE:  The color pictures will not be the tiny ones most reference books of  recognized organizations have in their FIELD GUIDES to WILDFLOWERS. The final print version will be large format, 8.5" x 11.5" as are my other books. I might even try FOR ME 11" x 13" as is photographer Willie Holdman's wonderful book, TIMPANOGOS.
 
With that "FOR ME" it will likely occur to you that this whole effort is 
actually selfishly FOR ME....to keep me alive... which is true as it actually began 
for me like a personal photo/journal,  but I sincerely hope 
it will be enjoyed 
by many and be life saving for a few others as 
has been 
the case with my HIGH UINTAS books, and with the  ...
..MOUNTAINS OF THE MAYA book  that describes 
saving thousands   
 with the potential of much more than that in the long run!

NOW
LET'S GO HAVE SOME FUN!  


 Do you recognize the plants I'm walking among?

I'll feature them later, but one is  critical for survival of one mammal species in most of Utah..

..and one becomes perhaps the.....
....MOST  SPECTACULAR FLOWERING PLANT IN UTAH with a STUNNING FLASH of BRILLIANT,  
AWAKENING COLOR....we'll see later in the Fall!

************

SPRING BRINGS ON NEW VIBRANT LIFE!

With a wisp of green in the foothills we see the first flowering plant I noticed....but 
you have to look closely or you'll miss it.  
It is in the dead center of the picture below..
....photo taken on March 16, 2023

But, also visible in the above photograph are tiny red/orange leaves of a plant that is first and last to germinate in the foothills. I perhaps should have started my VISIONS with this tiny, but beautiful plant and wildflower, but its blossoming comes a bit later and goes unnoticed.
It is called Redstem Filaree  or Stork's Bill.   
We will learn about it in just a moment.

NOW BACK TO THE FIRST  REALLY IMPRESSIVE  BLOSSOMING
on April 15, 2023
...one year later...
THE BEGINNING of this still UNDENTIFIED WILDFLOWER
Almost a year later, from early in  February 2024 I have been searching every other day the area where on April 15, 2023 I photographed the blossoming of this so far "mystery plant,"  and finally found one tiny plant large enough to notice....seen below.

Following is a series showing the plant's evolution to the first signs of a blossoming today February 26th.




Today, February 26, 2024
Below is a shot from waist high with the above plant beginning to blossom in the upper right corner, another bottom middle, and a 3rd left middle.  This will give you an idea that this is a tiny plant....... 

.......but with a very exotic,  wonderful leaf structure.  
I will post here when the blossoming reaches it's peak.

 The seed pictures taken on May 22, the plant's life cycle being about two to three months.  It doesn't last very long, but you can see the stunning flowering center of it below.

The flowering of the plant photo below was taken on April 15 and for this report was enlarged a great deal.

Soon the entire plant is gone.
**************

 In this desert-like environment it's so no surprise to find...
..PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS....
.... the first, and so far the only cactus I've found in the small section of the hills I worked with in 2023, and did my best to follow its development.  In 2022 I missed the blossoming as I've learned it happens real fast and is then gone. 

It blossomed on June 8th

The reason in past seasons I have missed this development is because the blossoming happens literally in two days, and in two days the flower was withering away and gone.  
So in most of the plants followed, it required me making the hike every two days.  Other Plants took sometimes all summer to go through their development...one or two of them are in September finally in those key final stages...blossoming & reproduction, like the  wild Western Ragweed!

Below is seen  a bee happily burried in the pollen of one of the cactus flowers. 
I think he's winking at us.


After these two there were two more blossoms, plus new....what we
 might call "ears"  like seen below that were beautiful to begin with,
 then soon blended in with the whole community of CACTI.


Compare the ending scene below to the original and you'll realize
 there was a lot of change even though very slow.

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NOW TO TWO WARNINGS...LATER ANOTHER

With the desert, or foothills in mind best mention that at the Grove Creek Trailhead there is a warning sign about.... 
RATTLESNAKES.  
I'll incorporate it into the following montage, but mention, that in the foothills of Timpanogos I haven't seen a live one yet.  I have seen the sloughed off skins blowing around in the winds, as they shed their old skin after the warmer weather has them coming out of hibernation....usually here in the month of May. 
But in the early summer on the road entering the Grove Creek Trailhead parking lot I got the following photograph of one, we see below run over by a car or two.  So there is reason for the warning sign, and to
be careful....ALWAYS!

NOTE:  I should have collected this specimen for closer examination, as it's coloration could mean that it was a Gopher snake, that I report on in Chapter 3.  I needed to find a triangular shaped head, and importantly rattles on the tail.  It was pretty messed up, but I could have made a better identification.

 YET, THE WARNING ABOUT RATTLESNAKES IS VERY VALID, 
so read on. 


MY EXPERIENCE WITH RATTLESNAKES

As I have reported in past posts, in my youth in Provo, in mid-May one year I climbed Little Squaw Peak and as I neared the summit all of a sudden one struck at me from the left, then one from the right. There was no rattle as when changing skins they are blunted, blind and will just strike at anything that frightens them.

 I have experience with rattle snakes having worked in my youth for two summers as a hunter and trapper for a University of Utah Wildlife program connected to the Army's Biological Warefare work at Dugway Proving Grounds in the West Utah Desert and captured and had in cages several rattlesnakes, so I had learned to be be careful.  
Those first two didn't get me, nor the 3rd, 4th or more before getting to the summit, where in the middle of small scrub oak brush there was another one!  To say the least I was even more cautious as I headed down.

Also back in my youth I found and captured a small rattlesnake on the trail to the Y.

About 8,000 people a year are bitten, with 10-15 deaths.  So, be cautious and if bitten, get medical attention quickly.

Sweetwater, Texas claims the largest "Rattlesnake Roundup" but Arizona has the most venemous snakes--19 out of  the 20 varieties in the U.S., but the largest rattlesnake is the Eastern Diamond Back Rattlesnake, the largest recorded was 7.9 feet long, weighing 34 lbs. There are 34 species of rattlesnakes, Utah with 7 varieties, most of which are in southeastern to southwestern Utah.  The ones we have in most of the western half of the state are the Great Basin Rattlesnake--which looks like the one in my picture above.  

 Alaska has no snakes.
*******************

Below the YUCCA PLANT  of the deserts
 with a fascinating, but almost tragic history as we'll see in the pictures. 
The Yucca is a desert plant with over 50 different species, but is a perrenial plant  that can be grown in pots for indoor use lasting for about 5 years.  Outdoors in full sun it can grow for more than 20 years.


As some of you might remember from last year, this plant had a tragic history, but in past years it had reproduced two other plants well see below and, in spite of the enemies almost totally destroying them, they reproduced a number of live plants we can see spread around the parent plant.

The continuing drive to reproduce......was it successful?


Aphids take over. 
 There are predators, maybe the tough looking one above/left and enlarged below.....

........ and the Lady Bugs,  that eat the aphids, but the good guys are far and again ougunned by the APHIDS!


Around the base of this plant I all of a sudden noticed a dangerous insect.......

 THAT WE SHOULD ALL BE CAREFUL WITH. 
Something tiny and black caught my eye around the  base of a Yucca plant 
and I clicked off a quick shot with my camera in full-zoom range.....

I was lucky to get the following good picture in perfect focus making possible enlarging the picture as seen below.

The BLACK WIDOW SPIDER, that 
we all know is poisonous. It didn't come after me, rather scurried away out of sight. Researching it Google gave me  the following:  In rare and extreme cases, black widow spider venom poisoning may lead to seizures and even death, but death generally doesn't occur in healthy adults. Young people, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to serious complications and death from a black widow spider bite.    One report I have says out of 2,500 bites only 4-8 people die each year...

... so your chances are pretty good to survivebut 
ALWAYS BEST TO SEEK MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IF BITTEN.
MORE INFORMATION:
from:
https://a-z-animals.com/blog/see-rare-footage-of-a-black-widow-spider-capturing-a-snake-in-its-sticky-web/

Black widow spiders have a deadly reputation. Their scientific name is Latrodectus which comes from the Latin word “latro,” meaning “bandit,” and the Ancient Greek word “dēktēs,” which means biter.

So, their name translates as “bandit who bites!” The name black widow comes from the fact that females sometimes eat males after mating.

BELOW IS A PICTURE OF A TUNNEL SPIDER WEB 
that is what the HOBO SPIDER, Utah's 5th largest spider, does making  
funnel-like webs. I have not seen which spider does this in our foothills.


In Chapter 4  I will report, with a good photograph, about UTAH'S LARGEST SPIDER the

DESERT TARANTULA

I will wait until Chapter 4  because that will begin to cover the AUTUMN SEASON, when you have the best opportunity of seeing one as it is the mating season when they let their guard down some with sex on their mind....and I did get a good photograph of one in Grove Creek Canyon on October 13th. 

JUST BE CAREFUL IN THE HILLS, and/or AROUND YOUR HOME!
......so, somehow in spite of the aphids the plant produced a few seeds that sprouted this year and have a chance of growing up to keep the species going.  Apparently the aphids only attack the flowers.

Maybe next season I'll take with me on a hike  a spray bottle and help the plant fight off the aphids with a little poison!

The beautiful flower deserves a chance to reproduce!

MEDICINAL  QUALITIES

healthline 

Tells us:

Yucca offers numerous health benefits and is often used medicinally. Parts of the yucca plant can be incorporated into your diet. It can also 
be used topically to treat skin conditions or wounds. Most commonly, yucca is taken as a supplement.

My season ended with the following picture with little whispy threads all around that we can see come off the edge of the mature leaves. 



I'm not sure what, if any purpose these have.  You'll have to Google it, if interested. 

UPDATING February 26, 2024,

 as I was hiking today off trail I found a 2nd YUCCA plant....about a quarter of a mile from the first one. It is a very healthy plant, with one offspring growing next to it. 


 I'll follow it this year and maybe help it a little to fight off the aphids.

***********

WESTERN YARROW 
was the next plant that came alive visibly impressive...



.......and eventually evolved to the blossoming stage.

 Numerous tribes in North America used yarrow for a variety of ailments. The crushed plant was applied to wounds and burns. The dried leaves were used as a tea to soothe colds, fever, and headache.  The Navajo considered it to be a "life medicine", chewed it for toothaches, and poured an infusion into ears for earaches. One of the most widely used medicinal herbs, yarrow tea was taken for stomach problems, fever, and restful sleep. It was made into poultices for treating rashes, swelling, eczema, and spider bites. Popular in European folk medicine, yarrow contains flavonoids, plant-based chemicals that increase saliva and stomach acid to help improve digestion. Yarrow may also relax smooth muscle in the intestine and uterus, which can relieve stomach and menstrual cramps. Yarrow may reduce skin and liver inflammation, which could help treat skin infections, signs of skin aging, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  

WOW!  It "MAY" do a FEW GOOD things, or

 perhaps....EVERYTHING?

NOTE:
 One of the supplements I take to have a strong immune system is DEFENSE Plus, which lists Yarrow extract  as one of the ingredients. 

It usually is white, but pink also is common....


Below we see it late in the summer in its reproduction stage.


Interestingly this same plant is sprouting again on September 15th 
as we see below.....

.....and in mid-November new sprouts were dressed with the colors of Autumn......beautiful little VISIONS of NATURE.


This was one of those lucky shots by being in the right place at the right time....and SEEKING...........
A GENUINE DIVINE VISION of NATURE


***************


THEN TO A NICE PLANT with a BEAUTIFUL FLOWER
but...
DEADLY NAME:

FOOTHILL  DEATH CAMAS

NOTE:  I previously called this plant Meadow Death Camas, but further investigations reveal it is most likely Foothill Death Camas.  Both plants are very similar and all the following information is correct.  The entire plant of both varieties are DEADLY if eaten!

THIS PLANT HAS KILLED MORE PEOPLE THAN ANY OTHER PLANT IN THE WEST AND NORTHWEST!

GERMINATION....SPROUTING NEW LIFE

on February 23, (2024) in an area at least a quarter of a mile from the ones photographed last year. I'll keep an eye on them to see if this poisonous plant is eaten by deer or elk in its early stages as happened last year.  Food for these large mammals is much more abundant this year...so far resulting in them not hedge trimming the sagebrush as they did in 2023.


This is an early spring plant coming to life as we see on the left, while the reference books say Death Camas comes to life later. Whatever variety I've photographed in our desert-like foothills it is a dead ringer for the pictures on the internet of the Death variety, the deer and elk are still around that early in the season and one or the other or both seem to like it (2nd picture).   Apparently in the early stages they are not affected by it at least I've found no dead animals.  a few plants survive and develop into a beautifull flower that  eventually produce seeds. 
Let's enlarge the flower so we can appreciate its beauty more.

There is another Camas that is not poisonous:  COMMON CAMAS
But its flowers are almost always blue and the pictures I've found are somewhat different than our foothill variety of Camas.  I have never seen here Common Camas, nor another variety called Blue Camas.  Death Camas flowers are always white, and that's what we've got in our foothills.....A WARNING TO BE SAFE as explained in....
...... a GOOGLE SEARCH that reveals: The entire plant is highly toxic and fatal to both humans and animals. Poisoning symptoms include profuse salivation, burning lips, mouth numbness, thirst, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, slow irregular heart beat, low blood pressure and low temperature, difficulty breathing, coma, and death.

All parts of the Death Camas plant contain a steroidal toxin called Zygacine. Eaten in small amounts, Zygacine causes stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Swallow too much of it and the toxin in Death Camas will trigger varying degrees of paralysis and only rarely death. There is no cure for Zygacine poisoning.

Medicinal Uses
The Mendocino, Montana, Paiute and Okanagon Indians made a poultice of mashed bulbs of death camas applied to rheumatism and to painful bruises and sprains that would be deadly if eaten.  The Common Camas bulbs were eaten by the Native Americans, and the mountainmen.

......and THE SEEDS seen below.

***********************
The next.......a tiny plant with a 
TINY FLOWER.
  Do you see it below?  
I'm not kidding, there is a flower there.....by the rock in dead center!  My trekking pole inserted for size perspective.  If you like to hike fast....you'll never see this beautiful jewel!
Zooming in....
.....picture taken on June 22nd, but I've photographed  filaree from April all the way to November, even December & to February 2024.
It never really stops....except when eaten by deer or me for my salads as I'll show you later.  
Zooming in we see the tiny flower at the end of reddish branched stems, all very low to the ground. It is called FILAREE,  sometimes called AFILARIA and  is one of the earliest to bloom.

.....and as late as October I still see once in a while one of these tiny flowers, like the one below I photographed on September 13th....
In this picture we see the "fruit" that bears the seed, and some expert thought it looked like a stork's bill, thus some publications call it 
REDSTEM STORK'S BILL

And, on October 18th this tiny beautiful plant 
is growing again and producing again a wonderful 
VISION of NATURE

Today, November 22, in the middle of a more than month 
long period this plant is coming up all over....again, and now 
in November its leaves are showing the brilliant colors of Fall, 
with the newer plants shrinking in size to make a very fine 
unique 
VISION of NATURE

That's a small .22 caliber casing above giving you a better idea of the size of the tiny plant sprouting on November 4th.  As you see below the progression of the flower, remember we are dealing with a very small flower about  1/8" in diameter. 
This one on November 6th is determined to reproduce with a new flower, shown below on the same date from a better, closer angle.
And below zoomed in to my maximum.

NOTE:  Such pictures should carefully be taken using a tripod, but I have to take all of them on the fly. I do the best I can using knee pads to get down on the ground and  steady myself with my trekking poles, and here and there I get lucky as you will see sprinkled throughout this book. Thus I'm  able to share unbelievable  
VISIONS of NATURE 
seldom if ever seen by lovers of the outdoors....unless you hike with a magnifying glass....and knee pads! 


In this  series of new photos taken ...

.... on the 21st of December still growing......so there will be another picture  a bit later.

The FILAREE  is the first plant to germinate in the Spring, and the last in late Fall.  The stork's bill fruit when moistened begins to twist working the seed into the ground.

We zoom in on the center so you can see the beautiful green leaves of this tiny, but wonderful plant, which leaves I today mixed half and half with my lettuce/tomato salad and Thousand Island dressing, and it was delicious!  
 
EDIBILITY?
Young leaves of the plant we see above are edible and were used by the Indians or Native Americans. 

 By tomorrow evening, THANKSGIVING, we are to have snow, and I will make at least one more hike to the foothills to show what affect the winter has on the determination of this plant and others to reproduce and 
NOT GIVE IN....EASILY

So,  on December 5th  I was in the hills again, and took this picture of  Filaree  showing signs of more blossoming flowers and seeds......so it looks like I've got to go again and maybe again.....to see how this beautiful scene plays out. 

All the pictures below were taken between December 7th and 15th, so this little fellow is pretty resistant to cold  and the short days. 


Now in December with snow up in the high country I'm seeing signs
 of deer and elk down in the foothills and very close to the Trailhead.
Like the hoofprint of a small elk we see below.

And below we see the lush green leaves of Filaree are being nipped
 off by deer, and likely rabbits, as well as by me.....mixing them with
 my salads.




THE LARGEST REDSTEM FILAREE PLANT....
.....I've seen so far in this area is seen below, at least 12 inches wide.  I was tempted to have it for my evening salad.....and later sorry I didn't as you see one picture below.
Above picture taken on December 26th

Then below on December 31, after deer and rabbits had their fill.

And below nearby on December 26th, covered by snow on December 31st. 


In Chapter 5 I'll show the very last pictures 
of others of our DIVINE VISIONS of NATURE
 and what winter does to life in the 
FOOTHILLS of TIMPANOGOS 
and its vegetation and wildlife.

Autumn colors are becoming more and more dominant 
and beautiful to bid us farewell until the 2024 season when I will start earlier than in 2023.....in fact whenever the temperature IS above freezing, I will be on the trail. 
***************
Below we see another pretty flower and plant quite different than our previous one. This one blossomed quite early in May, and very quickly disappeared......I've only seen it in  one small area of the foothills.  I'll keep a closer look-out for its development in 2024 as the fruits were egg-shaped nutlets that were used by some tribes as decorative beads.


...it is LEMONWEED  or  YELLOW PUCCOON


Native Americans made a tea from its roots to stop internal bleeding.  Shoshoni women drank the tea everyday as a contraceptive.  
Some tribes used Lemonweed as a charm to bring rain, while others believed that it would stop thunderstorms.
**************************

WHAT WILL THESE BEAUTIFUL LEAVES DEVELOP INTO?



Have you guessed what well known plant this is?  The picture below
is a dead give-away!


It's the OREGON GRAPE.
There are at least two main varieties, first: 
TALL OREGON GRAPE with leaves that always have spines and
 are shinny as seen below upper right;  
then, the  DULL OREGON GRAPE without the extreme shinny leaves.
The berries make good jam, jelly and wine.  Juice is quite sour, but with enough added sugar it tastes like grape juice.
The Flathead used root tea to aid in delivery of the placenta,  Crushed plants and root tea are antiseptic and antibacterial, and used to heal wounds.  Leaf tea taken as a contraceptive, and used to treat kidney  and stomach troubles, rheumatism and loss of appetite.
CAUTION
The National Standard Dispensatory lists many uses, but also warns that an overdose can be fatal.

HEALTH NOTE:  
One of the supplements I take to have a strong immune system is DEFENSE Plus
which lists Oregon grape root as one of the ingredients. 

In September I got the following photos of beautiful new sprouts of DULL OREGON GRAPE

And, in early October another beautiful sprout....

And at the end of Novcmber.

ENOUGH OF THE DULL OREGON GRAPE, 
let's finish with some 
TALL OREGON GRAPE 
with its shiny leaves, pictures taken early in  the season:

And below Tall Oregon Grape at the end of the season.


You won't find this beautiful plant in the foothills, 
but have to head for the creek and canyon with its shade of bushes and trees, 
and cooler temperatures of higher elevations . 
 
We will include in this 2023 report some of the plants and wildflowers of the CANYONS of the FOOTHILLS....not just Grove Creek Canyon, but also a few from the next canyon south,  Battle Creek Canyon of which I'll also give a little history in chapter 3, and in Chapter 5 a short segment on Dry Canyon that is between Battle Creek and Provo Canyons.
********

Along the creek  that has flowed all summer, and likely will continue until winter..
......let's check out the beauty there, but...
 ALSO LEARN ABOUT ANOTHER DANGER WORTH UNDERSTANDING

For this I'll go to my  "LEAVES"  folder and without much comment  
show you some 
real delicate beauty and see if you can pick out any of them that are dangerous, or poisonous.

We'll see and learn about this beautiful plant later.




As we will learn there is one plant that  has 3 leaves per stem like this beautiful plant you might want to have in your living room, or out around  the patio, I'll insert at the end a photo of this plant in late September with spectacular colors. The above photo  taken on May 22nd, and of the others  of the same "3 leafs per stem" plants taken at about the same date.  






Again three leaves per stem!




Again....three leaves per stem!

Above at the tip, this one has three leaves, but differs as it has leaves along its stem.

Do I see again  three leaves per stem?


WONDERFUL & UNIQUE


Fascinating....we'll get to it  later, but no 3 leaves per stem....

...... but below?
And  last from Battle Creek Canyon one of at least 3 photos 
I've taken there of a similar plant, photos taken on July 3rd.  
Notice this one is again characterized by clusters of 3 leaves per stem
 and is a beautiful plant . 
SO WHAT?  

NOW IN ADDITION to BEING WOWED 
by just a few of the unending variety of  beautiful....
LEAVES of the CANYONS, 
LET'S LEARN SOMETHING THAT WILL SAVE US
 A LOT OF SUFFERING....
...maybe not pain, but ITCHING and sleepless nights!



Four of the pictures from Grove Creek Canyon 
(in this section they are #5, #12, #17, and #19) 
and one from Battle Creek Canyon  (#22  of the 22 photos) are the dreaded....
....POISON IVY .....
.....we see above. I have enlarged in the collection of leaves each of previous ones with bunches of 3 leaves per stem that were Poison Ivy. They are among the most "admired" of the leaves......so remember "good looks can be dangerous" with leaves, or with the opposite sex....but of course...... not always 
So let's learn just a little about Poison Ivy that is among the 
7 poisonous plants in Utah,
but it is the one that will quickly cause a blistery rash on your skin, with an itch that will make life difficult for a few weeks.

I know because I'm now in my 3rd week with it, the first two especially difficult at night....... more than once making sleep impossible ALL NIGHT!  Let me quote from an internet reference that begins giving credit and where I found it:

https://a-z-animals.com/blog/beware-of-these-dangerous-plants-that-grow-in-utah/

7. Poison Ivy

  • Scientific Name: Toxicodendron radicans
  • Common Name: Eastern poison ivy
  • Plant Description: Poison ivy is famous for its 3-leaf clusters, small yellow-green flowers, and white berries. The shape and texture of poison ivy leaves can vary between dull or glossy and smooth or toothed. Plus, this dangerous Utah plant’s growth habit can be both climbing and shrub-like. Poison ivy produces its flowers in late spring through summer, and its leaves turn yellow-orange and brown in the fall.
  • Mature Height: As a climbing plant, poison ivy can grow up a tree or other nearby structure to 75 feet high or more.
  • Habitat: Trails, roadsides, forest edges and clearings, and other sunny woodlands
  • Toxic Parts of the Plant: Avoid all parts of poison ivy plants.
  • Symptoms of Plant Poisoning: Touching poison ivy can result in an itchy skin rash, redness, swelling, and blisters. Eating poison ivy could lead to stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and damage to the esophagus, kidneys, and other organs. Also, burning poison ivy plants can cause throat discomfort and difficulty breathing from inhaling the smoke.

Most people know about the dangerous plant growing in Utah called poison ivy. But did you know that the allergic reactions caused by touching poison ivy could lead to anaphylaxis? This hypersensitive condition can cause the throat to close, the tongue to swell, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness. And the symptoms of anaphylaxis could come on within minutes from poison ivy poisoning.

So wear protective clothing on your nature walks through wild and beautiful Utah vegetation, just in case you accidentally touch or brush against some poison ivy along the way.

Toxins in Poison Ivy

The poison ivy plant protects itself from predators by releasing a toxic oil when the leaves are touched or disturbed in any way. This poisonous oil is called urushiol, and it’s hard to remove from the skin unless you use anti-grease soap formulated to dissolve oily substances.

Urushiol contains a mix of allergenic compounds that are also found in poison oak and poison sumac plants.

******************************* 

NOTE:  Now, with this on your mind, best go to the internet and look for this article that deals with the 7 poisnous plants in Utah and then research also Poison Sumac.  

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
In my personal autobiography 0-22 years I call My Checkered Faith & Works Journey that is Part 1 of my book , except for the first Part, is about my LIFE IN THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MAYA. On page 17 I tell the story of my first camping trip as a Boy Scout in California's Bay area.  I had not been told anything about Poison Oak, which has the same oil on its leaves as Poison Ivy, and Poison Sumac, which is urushiol oil that  causes the allergic reaction. 
You can check that out if interested, but it boils down to me getting into it real bad....in fact my entire body was covered. For a month I couldn't put any clothes on, followed by another month before venturing out into the world. NOTE:  As difficult as my present minor experience was, it had me wondering.... 
....how I ever survived having my entire body covered with it? 
But, from then on I was immune until moving to Guatemala 19 years later where  there is a plant that can grow into a tall tree called AMCHE or PALO BRUJO ("A Witch Tree"), that is  beautiful with handsome long pointed oily leaves (urushiol oil), like Smooth Sumac leaves (that are not poisonous) that I will add to this report next below.  I soon learned there that I had lost my immunity with the effect the same as Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac.

What I just had was some spots on one leg, other patches on my arms and upper body, and a lot on my lower back (around the protruding bone centering my misalighned spine), but I kept up with my hikes and normal activities, the difficult part being not able to sleep  well at night. 

  I soon realized what was happening,   washed all my clothes and bedding that maybe still had some of the oil, and I bathed with Cutter Poison Ivy Scrub to remove any oil residue and keep it from spreading.  To relieve the itch and help dry it up I used Calamine Lotion mixed with it Hydrocortisone Cream, and Walmart's Anti-itch Cream (basically Benedryl & zinc acetate). I finally went to a Dermatologist who told me to stop using all that stuff and prescribed Betamethasone Dipropionate Ointment.   I did as instructed and went through an entire night not able to sleep. By itself it didn't seem to help at all.
 So, I went back to my mixture, adding to it the Doctor's prescription, and began doing real well, and  by the mid-third week almost totally well.  Now, about four weeks have crept by and I'm not using any medication anymore. 

SEARCH FOR THE CULPRIT 
 I went through my leaf photos and tagged the ones among them that were Poison Ivy, but I couldn't recall having come close enough to touch any them.  I was cautious with  Poison Ivy  and carefully avoided touching them or brushing up against them.
  
But, I obviously had carelessly gotten into Poison Ivy without noticing.

Today I went down along the creek where I had photographed Poison Ivy, and re-photographed the now extensive growth of the beautiful but dangerous plant, pictures below:  




Below we see berries with seeds, so we can expect it to spread next year, along with 
even more extensive Poison Ivy in Battle Creek Canyon
so we all have to be careful....or
learn the hard way!


When I took these pictures just a day or two ago, I was extremely careful to not get close as I remembered a friend from California who was so allergic to the poisonous oil that every Spring even being extremely careful and not even getting within sighting distance  of Poison Oak, he would get the rash real bad anyway.  The last I heard he was going through an immunization program to hopefully solve this problem, but we moved to Utah then and I never knew what happened. 
 
But since going back to get the above pictures I was mentally weak and immediately imagined and felt itching all over!  And now, three or four days later I do have small patches of rash in a couple of places....from who knows where?????

For the end of this report I have acquired through my Guatemalan contacts photographs of the plant down there with the same oil which causes the same rash, and will show you pictures of 
AMCHE or PALO BRUJO!

************
BACK TO POISON IVY  IN GROVE CANYON
On September 11th I was determined to make it further up the canyon to look for, and photograph the plants near the trail and hope that a few might notice to avoid trouble.  I'll confess that my hikes have got shorter and shorter this summer because my back pain has greatly increased, that forced me to not do a hoped for overnight backpack in the High Uintas, but I had to do the Grove Canyon hike  to locate other patches of the poisonous plant to help all be careful. So, below is what I found...and it was a lot... going up the canyon along the creek:
This is just up the hill from the Trail Head parking lot. From here a trail goes down to the south and just before getting to the creek on the left a short 5-10 yards you begin seeing a lot of Poison Ivy, pictures already shown.  I'll insert just two below that you've seen already.  The first one below is beginning to show signs of Autumn.


From here, a month or so later on September 18th, we look over towards the creek 
and find a big patch that is beginning to show the shades of Fall....



And as FALL progreses......

I'll end this area on the left of the trail with photos taken on October 1st.


 And, another shot of the fruits that sort of look like tiny white pumpkins.

We return about 10 yards to the trail coming down from the galvanized cover, and see a trail that goes down west paralleling 
the stream, and immediately see more Poison Ivy as seen below...


Back to that galvanized cover, we go up just past the first turn, and as we continue on the right is an open area looking down on the creek.  Go to the 2nd open area and  you will notice a number of small Poison Ivy plants,  seen below.  These small plants are not doing as well as the others as they are up from the creek on the edge of the road in full sunlight.  I suspect they got started when there was shade here, perhaps from the downed Gambles oak tree we see below.

Remember one dominant characteristic of Poison Ivy is three leaf clusters at the end of each stem that has no other leaves.


At this point the trail heads left up the canyon, with the road going a short distance to the diversion dam  where water is taken out in a burried pipe for the potable water systems that make Utah Valley a center of growing population and flourishing industry. Looking back we see below a portion of all of that as well as Utah Lake.  

Now, following the road towards the small diversion dam, on the right we will soon notice there are a lot of Poison Ivy plants all with quite large leaves, which I hope we can note in the following photos of the 4 or 5 that I took up there. 


 
And as we get into Fall, Poison Ivy is one of the first to begin its brillant change of colors.....photos below taken in mid-October.




We then come to the diversion dam you see below and 
I'll climb up behind it and show you what I found.

At the  very top of the dam to the left we immediatly begin
 seeing Poison Ivy. I'll insert a few pictures below. 


Here we are seeing apparently the climbing variety.
To Follow the creek upstream, or downstream, there will most certainly be more Poison Ivy, so be aware, and be careful.

Here also I'll insert the FALL colors from of the same Poison Ivy plants....

Yet on September 30th, in protected areas, plants continued 
to resist the color change as seen below.

But soon in October FALL began to show its beautiful colors 
in the same scene below picture taken on October 22nd.




WOW....ARENT THEY BEAUTIFUL!

In this phase the leaves don't have the shinny, oily leaves, 
so danger for us is reduced.  
I even have some dried leaves in my home, and I haven't 
been affected, but best BE CAREFUL!


In a moment we will return to this spot above the dam where
 I found for the first time in all my years of hiking the foothills
 a new quite unique plant that inspired the creation of 
something that didn't exist in my youth, but now is part of all 
of our lives!

From the diversion dam we backtrack to take the trail that goes
 up the mountain through the "Rock & Roll Area," and then you 
come to the two rocks right in the middle of the trail.  The 
picture below is up the trail looking down on those nice "resting rocks."  
The fringe of low green vegetation on the left in the above  picture 
is Poison Ivy. 
A close-up below of part of it.  BEAUTIFUL LEAVES!

Next, up the trail a bit off to the right in at least three areas Poison Ivy is mixed in with dead wood and other vegetation, and is quite recognizable.


Then we come to the big turn where the trail begins a long switchback up the mountain. We see that point below where a 
trail goes down to the creek and then continues up along the 
stream.
Close ahead where the trail begins to descend towards the creek, 
on the right is a whole garden of Poison Ivy.  Interestingly in 
the exact spot of the first picture below, early in the season 
before the Poison Ivy plants sprouted, I rested and had my 
lunch there.  Next year I will carefully notice when the plants 
come alive and how quickly they develop.  

Poison Ivy plants produce a white/slightly yellowish fruit with
 seeds that will multiply the plant for next year.  


From that first point, I continued up the trail along the creek 
and found Poison Ivy all along the trail, both sides and in 
places where hikers not knowing what to avoid would certainly 
get some of the oil on their legs or clothing.  Early in the 
season when the leaves are shinny with oil is when there is 
the greatest danger.   Below are a few of the many photos I 
took up that trail.


In several places there were Poison Ivy plants right in the 
middle of the trail. 


The tall plants on the left with long woody stalks at the end 
of which are clusters of three large leaves are also what we 
are looking for, as well as the low to the ground green ones,  
all are Poison Ivy.
It might be a bit hard to distinguish Poison Ivy from all the 
other green vegetation. To help a little, let's zoom in some on 
the tall plants.  Then hopefully to help a little more, let's erase 
as best I can all except the Poison Ivy.


That was a pretty rough Photoshop job, and I actually erased some of the Poison Ivy, but I think you'll get the point that there is likely more of the poisonous plant than we might have thought.  BEST BE CAREFUL as we learned is also necessary with
RATTLESNAKES and BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS. 
To end this section around the diversion dam  I'll insert a late September Poison Ivy  photo with the colors of Fall below the dam right along the road.

*********************
Before leaving the subject of POISNOUS PLANTS, I'll insert below a picture and information about the Guatemalan plant--ACTUALLY THE "AMCHE"  TREE, that I have mentioned and which oil on its leaves is the same as for Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac
The leaves are like the leaves of Smooth Sumac we see in the next section, but here are the poisonous AMCHE plant/tree in Guatemala.....a rough picture I'll insert below.....
For the above picture, I'll insert information in Spanish from the book I'll identify below,  along with information from that book about what actually is a large tree.  I have even seen some use it for fence posts that then sprout creating a formidible barrier for those who want to.....like rustle cattle.




In the first few days of October I received from Guatemala photos and a short video of AMCHE or PALO BRUJO from my friend and brother, 
Federico Veliz
He came through again helping me with photos and the video. In thanking him let me say a word or two about him.
He is now in his 48th year cooperating with me, 42 years through the Guatemalan Foundation, as a volunteer  and my brother, in projects among the needy Mayans in Guatemala
Here he is in 2016 at a Foundation sponsored event for Christmas. In my Maya book he is featured as one of the TWELVE STRONG who contributed the most to the Foundation's 50 year history.  He was described therein as 
"THE VOLUNTEER of ALL VOLUNTEERS!"

Now to a couple of  photos of AMCHE or PALO BRUJO, along with a short video: 

Above we see the beautiful leaves, somewhat similar to Smooth Sumac leaves, as mentioned. 

Above we see in the center an Amche tree that grows tall and straight, below with a close-up of a large trunk.  In the photo above we see on the left a young Amche tree with the leaves visible at the top. 

You will see in the video small Amche plants that are being cut with a machete, the plants handled by the fellow who apparently has no fear of suffering an allergic reaction with a blistery rash that is intensely ichy as I have explained from personal experience:  
First as a 12 year old Boy Scout completely covered by it that had me out of action for 2 months.  But, that resulting in acquiring immunity that apparently the man with the machete had
 
My 2nd  encounter was 19 years later when living in Guatemala and I tested myself  with a small spot on my arm and learned I had lost the immunity and suffered immeasurably as a flea bit me right on the rash....small but resulting in the most intense itch I can imagine. 
 
My 3rd experience was a couple of months ago in the middle of summer 2023.
  
HERE'S THE VIDEO FEDERICO SENT which will work if you are online.

I just had a long telephone chat with Federico who tells me he is immune to the effect of Amche, then mentioned the young man in the video handling Amche with no fear, saying,
"They have a secret weapon against Amche!"  
He then described what the Mayan/Poqomchi Indians believe:  
"They take the person exposed who thinks he feels he is getting it, or someone who has got it, and go to the Palo Brujo, and say to it, 
'We are friends and my son who got too close is sorry and from now on will be your friend, and is accepting his punishment now!'"  
All the while during the sort of prayer, or chat the person exposed and with the rash, or thinks he's getting it, is being whipped with a branch of Amche!   They swear it works!
*************
I send my thanks again to Federico for the innumerable ways he helped make our work extremely effective among the Mayans in Guatemala.....and he is still doing it with this Amche info but also in projects among the needy he and I are still doing.

MIL GRACIAS, FEDERICO, por seguir tu dedicacion en las Montañas de los Mayas!

**********************************
NOW ON TO ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL PLANT WITH IN PART A NAME OF A POISONOUS PLANT POISON SUMAC, and WITH A BEAUTIFUL LEAF REMINICENT OF POISON AMCHE or PALO BRUJO FROM GUATEMALA.

SMOOTH SUMAC
Which is NOT POISONOUS! 

 
In spite of the name this beautiful plant is not poisonous to the touch.... 
 


.... and the fruit/seeds are even edible, but make sure and do some research on them 
before having them for lunch. Below are close-ups of them.




......and into the Winter.

By mid-October SMOOTH SUMAC ends the season with additional gradual more impressive flashes of color.



The leaves are like the leaves of the poisonous AMCHE plant/tree in Guatemala...pictured below 



....and the name, sumac,   POISON SUMAC, seen above   
but SMOOTH SUMAC is not poisonous.   
NOTE:  Poison sumac is considered the “most toxic plant in the country.” However, on a positive note, it's also much rarer than the others. It only grows in super wet areas, like bogs or swamps along the Mississippi River, etc.. 


**********************
Now BACK ABOVE THE DIVERSION DAM to meet a new plant seen below I mentioned finding in my investigations of Poison Ivy. In some respects it seems to be related to the thistles, at least in the appearance of the flower-head, but totally different with nothing else like the thistles....
 I spent hours searching my reference books and my  investigations first thinking I had the GREAT BURDOCK, but further searching indicates it is the COMMON BURDOCK plant.  
I found it in shade  along the creek in the rocky creek bed, above the diversion dam,  where there was a lot of Poison Ivy. 
It is originally from Europe but somehow brought to America through BC and Alberta, Canada and then south to Colorado and the U.S. 
NOTE:  During the late fall, someone riped up this nice plant that had a quite large and old root system, and it eventually died.  I'll insert two  pictures below.


I've found quite a few other plants in nearby areas, but none as old
 and well developed as this one.  Next season I'll add on what
 develops.  


This flower is about as ....
....FASCINATING & UNIQUELY BEAUTIFUL...
... AS A FLOWER COULD BE...
Previously I said it was....

..... a new quite unique plant that inspired the creation of something that didn't exist in my youth, but now is part of all of our lives....
....the hook of the bur-like flowerheads, seen above, and below  inspired the invention of 
VELCRO.

A few days later I revisted the BURDOCK plant and photographed some flower heads that will soon teach us about their reproductive system and collected a couple of the drier or more advanced flower heads to dry at home and and add to my collection of seeds from the more important foothill wildflowers.


....but I also kept my eyes open and began noticing small plants coming up we see below, and....


....others  in various stages of development, and realized that in my file of "unidentified new plants" I had pictures of the BURDOCK plant in their early stages of development.  


I doubt that the season will be long enough for them to develop, but I've now got more plants I have to check on every few days.

We have noticed that with the hooks of the burrs on the flower head, 
the plant easily collects whatever the wind brings close, like we see below with a lot of hair.
But, we'll end with a relatively uncontaminated flower head 
which is a beauty to behold.

Below we see the REPRODUCTION STAGE it taking all summer 
for the burr to be dried up......



.......and the seed separated from the burr.


BURDOCK is another plant that has the reputation of solving many problems, almost like another "CURE ALL" but caution should be exercised with those having low blood pressure, women who are pregnant, and  children.  
DO YOUR RESEARCH TO LEARN WHAT IS KNOWN. 
***************

NOW TO THE ALSO UNIQUE FAMILY OF 
THISTLES
with the well earned reputation for its sharp spines, but also
 with a beauty that can't be denied.

Above and below we first see beautiful examples of the 
UTAH THISTLE.....








.....and then the darker ones that are the
CANADIAN THISTLE









Below we see a beautiful series of the
MUSK or NODDING THISTLE







ARE THISTLES GOOD FOR ANYTHING?
Native thistle provide important habitat and food sources for native fauna. The nectar and pollen of native thistles are incredibly valuable food sources to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.  Many insects feed on the leaves, stems, flowers and seeds, while some songbirds also feed on thistle seeds. These nectar sources help support pollinators year-round, and can help to increase yields for many valuable crops.

EDIBILITY OF THISTLES
Believe it or not some of the thistles are edible, especially the roots, leaves and stalks.  It gets quite involved, so best let me refer you to a good place to learn about this from the following site on the internet https://foragerchef.com/edible-thistles/

FORAGING AND COOKING THISTLES

*********************************

Now a quite unique and very different
variety of 
THISTLES

The 
RUSSIAN THISTLE 
that becomes TUMBLEWEED.  It is not native to the U.S. but is a summer annual native to southeastern Russia and western Siberia and was first accidentally  introduced into the United States in 1873 by Russian immigrants as a contaminant in flax seed in South Dakota.

  It is now found in every state but two:  Alaska and Florida.  We'll learn more about it later when at the entrance to Grove Canyon it turns into tumbleweed.....WHICH CAUSES A LOT OF TROUBLE IN SOME PLACES......like we see below, I believe in New Mexico.


IF YOU ARE NOT IMPRESSED WITH RUSSIAN THISTLE, 
LOOK  BELOW AT THIS GLIMPSE OF SOME  OF ITS  BEAUTIFUL STAGES....there will be more...






During the summer the Russian Thistle finally grows to maturity,
 and then dries up, the wind tearing it loose from its roots, and
 converting it into
TUMBLEWEED

Below on January 8th we see this Russian thistle got snowed in and frozen to the 
ground before the wind  could blow it lose from its root and so far isn't a
TUMBELWEED!

***************


And, to end the season in early October new thistle  plants are sprouting.....we'll see if they survive the winter and have an early start next Spring.


*****************

NOW TO WHAT WE CAN CALL MOST OF UTAH....
......DESERT COUNTRY  
with a very important dominant plant....

Our desert SAGEBRUSH is in some respects the salvation of our foothills and Utah deserts, as well as being an important food for deer in the winter time.  Deer are not grazers, as are elk, rather browsers, meaning their food is mostly tree/bush leaves, sprouts and bark,  and in the Spring our sagebrush looks as though it had been carefully pruned by the browsing mule deer. This year with record rainfall the sagebrush and other plants of the foothills are the greenest I can remember.  My past experience has me associating with sagebrush jack rabbits like in the West Utah Desert, but so far in our hills I've only seen cottontails, like in the above picture.
I will have in Chapter 4  a detailed report about SAGEBRUSH when it is the last to finish its reproductive phase, it being THE FIRST & LAST, and  explain why experts call it 
"THE MOST IMPORTANT PLANT IN THE WEST"
I will also show  some INTERESTING
LOOK-A-LIKES.  
************
NEXT OF IMPORTANCE IN THE FOOTHILLS  IS  THAT GREEN VEGETATION WE SEE ON DISTANT HILLS.
Most just call it    SCRUB OAK but its real name is
GAMBLES OAK



It is often more like a bush, or at best a thicket of small trees, but under the right conditions it can grow quite large as we see below.


I love to use its rough beauty for outdoor picture frames like the one below with one of my favorite High Uinta Mountain scenes.  

With hiking, and backpacking becoming increasingly more difficult, I might just get a few tools and go back to work doing this again.


Of course Gambles Oak produces acorns as seen below.  They are an important storable food for deer, squirrels, mice, voles, rabbits, raccoons, red foxes, badgers, etc. They drop to the ground and are easilly accessed by all the mammals mentioned. 


Just as Gambles oak comes to life after the Maples, it is also among the last to begin showing signs of Autumn, the below picture taken on October 8, 2023.  

Below at the higher elevations, as the Maples begin to fade, we see a slight yellowing of the vegetations around them which is scrub or Gambles Oak.  

Since this is  an online book, I'll insert another picture here to complete the cycle for Gambles Oak..

*****************

There is
ANOTHER of the DECIDUOUS TREES  
that come alive in the Spring, actually  ahead of the Gambles Oak, and adds splashes of color to our canyons and foothills as we see below and are among some of the first to add their beautiful Fall colors.


It will be one of the first to add touches of brilliant yellow/green color to our foothills and lower mountains. 



Seeing its beautiful leaf we should all know what we are talking about, especially those of you from CANADA as its likeness is the flag of our neighbors to the north who are now 
not able to keep quiet singing,
 

 
O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!



Along the creek below we see it growing quite tall, and I'm sure those from Canada, and also from Guatemala, recognize that we have here in Utah a different species, adaptable to our more desert climate and doesn't produce syrup for our pancakes or waffles. In fact in Guatemala we had a quite tall variety that I would use in home construction as it was more resistent to termites, as well as another variety that was really different with a twisted grain that made splitting it and making firewood almost impossible.  I gave it a nick-name "GAMUSA."


Towards the end of September the 
ROCKY MOUNTAIN MAPLES  
are the first to begin showing off for the Fall season with brilliant colors decorating the foothills.

We can see above that the Gambles Oak hasn't began yet its
Autumn coloration. but a little later it begins as we see below. 

We note just a tinge of yellow overcoming the Gambles oak.

NOW to end this PART 1.....
......WITHOUT SO MUCH COMMENTARY.....
....LET'S ENJOY a few more of my  UNENDING......
VISIONS of NATURE
First for a moment moving away from the hills with glimpses 
up the canyon all the way to what I call 
THE VALLEY VIEW SPOT.

Beginning at the Trailhead at times with some of my cherished ...
....HUMAN VISIONS of NATURE!

And one showing us guys how to warm up for a great hike!


Just a 100 yards or so above the Trailhead on the trail going up the canyon I happily find a plant  I just identified...December  3rd...an invading type of plant with tiny beautiful blue and sometimes pink flowers at best 1/8th of an inch...it is the...

 BIGTRACT VERBENA, Verbena bracteata,

It wasn't in the Audubon Society Field Guide to WILDFLOWERS, nor in any of my reference books, but I found it finally  at 

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

It lists many species of the plant in all the western states, with 5 for Utah. Some have pink flowers as you will see below. It is sometimes called 
PROSTRATE VERBENA


..I'll enlarge below for you to appreciate better
 and then zoom in


Remember that we are dealing with a tiny flower...just a blue dot... smaller than 1/8th of an inch, and here it looks more like 1/16th".

Continue below to see it like you have never seen it before.


WHAT GOOD IS PROSTRATE  VERBENA?
In some areas it is considered a noxious weed, but it could be used as a more than interesting groundcover.
GOOGLING it we get the following: 
Some people apply verbena directly to the skin to treat poorly healing wounds, abscesses and burns; for arthritis, joint pain (rheumatism), dislocations, bone bruises (contusions), and itching. Verbena is also used as a gargle for cold symptoms and other conditions of the mouth and throat.




At:  https://www.rxlist.com/supplements/verbena.htm 
we get the following

Verbena is used for sore throats and respiratory tract diseases such as asthma and whooping cough, and for heart conditions such as chest pain (angina) and fluid retention due to heart failure.

Verbena is also used for depression, hysteria, generalized seizuregallbladder pain, arthritisgout, metabolic disorders, “iron-poor blood” (anemia), fever, and recovery after fever.

Other uses include treatment of pain, spasms, exhaustion, nervous conditions, digestive disorders, liver and gallbladder diseases, jaundice, and kidney and lower urinary tract disorders.

Women use verbena for treating symptoms of menopause, irregular menstruation, and increasing milk flow, if breast-feeding.

Some people apply verbena directly to the skin to treat poorly healing wounds, abscesses and burns; for arthritis, joint pain (rheumatism), dislocations, bone bruises (contusions), and itching. Verbena is also used as a gargle for cold symptoms and other conditions of the mouth and throat.

In combination with gentian root, European elder flower, cowslip flower, and sorrel.


Following we see the final days of its growth cycle.



Including the production of seeds.




************************

Above one of the dozen or so varieties of grasses, 
and we have already been introduced and warned about the 
Black Widow spider. 
There are small harmless spiders too....
....here seeing the hatching of  many of the smallest!


 

In Chapter 4 
we will meet perhaps the largest of the spiders
that might seem a bit scary to some of you, but I promise it will be interesting.  

Below, as we hike Grove Creek Canyon we meet the blossoming of the
PUSSY WILLOW

Here we are dealing with a shrub-like plant that has both male and female plants.....best for me to quote from https://www.bbg.org/article/what_are_pussy_willows_anyway

What Are Pussy Willows, Anyway?

Pussy willows are dioecious, meaning there are both male plants and female plants. Only male plants produce the fuzzy flowers. Home gardeners may be disappointed if they wind up with a female tree, but the flowers on female plants are equally funky—they just look more like greenish [or yellowish] hairy caterpillars. Look for both blooming over the coming season.

When the flowers mature, you will see scores of yellow stamens emerge to cover each catkin. A tiny clump of pollen stands at each end. Wait even longer, and you may also see pale green, strappy leaves unfurl from the leaf buds. At this point, your willow stems will be in full spring growth........
This is another of many that I've got to watch more carefully next season and hope to observe all the periods of evolution and add to this online book, but I must say what we observe above is spectaular to say the least, and 
Wow, what a beautiful way to go about reproduction!

WHAT'S PUSSEYWILLOW GOOD FOR?
Googling it we find a long chain of possible uses.  We can begain with the bark containing salicin, which is converted withint the body to salicylic acid.....or Aspirin, and was used by Native Americans to treat fever, headache, coughs, and used for treating inflammation and arthritis related conditions. 
In China it was used for all of the above, as well as for jaundice, skin problems and toothache.   
Additionally its wood was used for basket making, crates, furniture and traditionally it's been the preferred wood for cricket bats.
Oh, and there's even a pychological use as in some cultures it has been inspiring and symbolic of humans' capability to withstand hardship, and difficult emotions.....and is therefore seen as representing  
SURVIVAL and a SYMBOL OF REBIRTH! 

**************
NOTE:
Now below another example of  my learning process...

WHITE DESERT STAR 
This is actually a very tiny flower about 1/2 inch wide at best usually growing very low to the ground in thick masses in  very arid portions of the foothills.  It blossomed quite early in the season and was gone quickly.  At this point in my project I hadn't learned about the "asters" being identified by overlapping leaves or bracts under the flower head and so didn't look for that....but will have to wait until the 2024 season to confirm this identification and will then add more information, like edibility and medicinal uses. 


 It would seem that it was named more for how it
 looks once through its life cycle as we see below once the seeds were gone leaving star images.
 The seeds, each with their own little parachute, have already been carried far and wide by the wind.
NOTE:  I will wait until positive identification in 2024 to give edibility and medicinal benefits & cautions.  With a positive identification on a white aster and its benefits, see Chapter 4 down towards the end.  
**********
 
NOW ONE OF THE INCREDIBLE TREES...
At one spot in the canyon where I always rest a bit because of a perfect square boulder right in the middle of the trail, mentioned in the Poison Ivy report, I noticed in the tree off to the side something I hadn't noticed before, looking closer I saw something unique and readied my camera for a real treat....
...... and moved in  enough to begin being.... 
WOWED.....
....by another of the trees whose reproductive system is like
CLIFF ROSE, we'll see in our next chapter.  
Feathery plumes  are produced with a seed on each.  The plumes help the seeds get spread around by the wind.  
In Battle Creek Canyon,  one canyon south there are several other varieties of trees that have a similar system....we'll get to in a later chapter. 



....and above,  down the trail, a plume with seed that the wind has carried about 50 yards away from the mother tree.

Below we see the same tree still has a few seeds left to celebrate NEW YEARS 2024!
 


We are now switchbacking up from the canyon 
and soon will be at the 
VALLEY VIEW SPOT 
for a needed rest for this old guy, but first...
....ONE MORE SPECTACULAR 
VISION of NATURE!


High up above the canyon we all of a sudden see a strange plant
 that has no leaves, but going through a thicket of them....
......OUCH! 

The  plant doesn't look too "SPECTACULAR"..... 
....one of several  plants I've photographed with no leaves, 
but zooming in it's flower is  a 
LEGITIMATE VISION of NATURE  
                    It begins with an ominous looking flowerhead with a                       hint of yellow that soon bursts into  impressive greatness!                                                                    
This is the YELLOW STAR THISTLE native of 
Europe that somehow got to the U.S. and is spreading in the dry western areas like Utah.  There are places where thickets of this plant makes hiking very painful.....unless you have tough cowboy chaps on. 
Last of all the REPRODUCTIVE phase with a couple of pictures below after most of the seeds have dispersed.




 Farmers don't like Yellow Star Thistle as it is damaging to livestock in a number of ways.
 In many areas, like California it is considered an invasive, noxious weed for man and his livestock.
Econologically it is beneficial to bees, butterflies and birds.
For honey producers with bees where there is  a lot of it.......it is a blessing producing a unique and superior honey with 
Yellow Star Thistle honey named 
the "champagne of honeys"
by the staff at Food and Wine magazine

In the Foothills of Timpanogos I've only noticed isolated plants in a few areas so.....no problem here...yet.
***************** 

MADE IT....AGAIN, 6 TIMES THIS SEASON 
which I'll sort of use headlining each CHAPTER. 
Let's just say for Chapter 1, that this hike was the first of the season 
going up the canyon and switchbacking up to the....
....VALLEY VIEW SPOT
I'll have to confess that as the season progressed getting up here by the 5th time was....
..... getting harder as my misaligned spine hurts all the way and I have to rest about every 50 yards or sometimes every 10 yards and lean on my trekking poles for a minute or two....and then continue as.......
....I CAN'T GIVE UP.....EASILY, 
WITHOUT A FIGHT!
 
It seems to be getting worse and it feels like I need to get a....
"NEW SPINE SPECIALIST!"
 So far I've outlived all of them, my first one died of cancer, 
my last two.....Colledge & Bacon,  both incredible doctors and human beings, but now retired.....
......but I'm NOT RETIRED.....
 and NEED ONE AS I'LL HAVE TO ADMIT MY HIKES ARE GETTING SHORTER DUE TO INCREASED BACK PAIN! 
I have to confess right here, that was the main reason 
for not meeting my goal of an overnight backpack in the High Uintas this summer....
....but don't count me out for 2024!
Note: I have an appointment in October with a 
new spine guru and hope he can help the miracle to continue...
......maybe even an overnight backpack in the Uintas in summer 2024 ...
when I will be working towards  my new goal of being useful 
as I work towards my 89th  year & maybe my 4th BOOK!

BUT, I WAS GREATLY BLESSED AGAIN..
....with the help of the Lord and my Guardian Angel Ted.....
....FOR MAKING IT TO THIS WONDERFUL SPOT 6 TIMES THIS SEASON TO SEE AGAIN...
"The Valley of our Lady of Mercy of Timpanogos"
as named in 1776 by Fathers Escalante & Dominguez, 
who came up the "Old Spanish Trail" from Santa Fe, New Mexico 
to the Uinta Basin, and then on to 
UTAH VALLEY, 
calling it, 
"..... the most pleasing, beautiful and 
fertile site in New Spain.” 
 The Timpanogos Indians were called "fish-eaters" because  a major source of their food was from Utah Lake that then had clear water teeming with abundant and large native cutthroat trout--no carp!  The "fish- eaters"  had a friendly relationship with the Catholic priests who promised to return and establish a Mission.  But, they were never seen again.  
Can you imagine how different the Utah territory would be if they had of kept their promise?

END OF CHAPTER 1
***********