I put a guess up on iNaturalist and my guess was wrong—I figured it would be—but someone with more insect knowledge suggested Darkling Beetles, Family Tenebrionidae. Maybe I’ll investigate further soon.
Mitre Peak–We came to Fort Davis from Alpine via Tx 118 and this peak was a stunner from the road as we drove by and I noticed a sign for a county park (I believe) as we passed by. I had wished we’d had time to stop in and thought we might make a trek back but we didn’t have the time. It was easily an identifying geographic feature in the distance as we hiked around the next several days.
So, identifying the plants on our hike wasn’t as terrible as I was imagining. And that’s thanks to iNaturalist. Without books for that region or a decent online source it surely wouldn’t have been as easy and would have been much more time consuming. It’s actually become a bit fun to try to figure things out more than I have in the past and I usually wouldn’t have bothered for an area I wasn’t familiar with.
I started with narrowing down the plant, say ‘Ferns’ and then selecting the county, Jeff Davis, and seeing what had already been identified. That helped greatly and I was able to narrow some plants down to exact species and others I couldn’t decide between species so I left it as a genus and then someone, multiple someones on a few of them, came through and put the species in. You gotta love citizen science and other fellow nerdy people who are willing to help identify things! On the Asters I originally put Asteraceae and happened to figure out the threadleaf groundsel by clicking around on entries around the area that we hiked, in particular the area where I’d found the plant, and there it was! The same happened with the ephedra but someone else listed a particular species and I didn’t think it necessarily was that species so I left it at genus—that sufficed for me.
As for the hike, it was a great! For some reason I hadn’t really thought out my attire that morning before we left Kerrville, and was a bit concerned to be hiking in jeans if we went any kind of distance, but they ended up being fine. We oohed and ahhed at the vistas, the plants, all of the scenery was so new and interesting to us that we were constantly curious about everything. The hike wasn’t strenuous and as you can see Forest was having quite a ball climbing on rocks and heading down the trail. He was in his element!
The woman running the gift shop had said we might run into a herd of Aoudad sheep on the back side of the mountain but no such encounter occurred. A few other people were hiking because it was the weekend but it wasn’t crowded by any means. I kind of wonder how many people visiting Fort Davis and the state park know this little park exists. I’d love to return some day to hike the other areas and to explore the rest of the botanic garden.