It is a Hogwarts/Where's Waldo challenge. The woods changes so much at this time of year that from week to week nothing looks the same. I swear that what I saw last week must be right here! Plants don't just pick up their roots and walk away! And then, after peering at the ground for minutes at a time, I look up and have no idea where I am. It is not the wilderness, I can quickly orientate myself in the world, but I swear that things move just like the stairs in Hogwarts!
This has happened to me several times in the last week. I went looking for the Small Yellow Ladyslippers. I know what patch of land they are on. I know they are near the west edge. It is only about an acre of swampy land. I looked for an hour. Then I saw the faded yellow tape that I had placed on a branch above them last year. If I hadn't seen that I never would have found them again! Then, just a day later, while trying to show them to someone, I walked right by them again. I had to stop and look all around, and there they were, behind us! The blossoms are less than an inch long and a few inches off the ground.
The other hard to find flower I went looking for was the Early Yellow Coralroot. I knew where I had found them last year. So I went, step by step, between the steep hillside and the tamarack bog. I had to look where each foot landed, for fear that I would step on them. They grow on a thin pencil like stalk, about 5 inches tall. Each blossom of this orchid is less than 1/4-inch tall, with several of them stacked on the stem. I finally found one! I took numerous photos, being careful that my gigantic self didn't smash others in my enthusiasm. Then I took note of the surroundings, even snapping photos of what was on both sides of me. I wasn't going to lose these flowers! Then I continued about 20 feet along and found another stalk! After more photos, I turned back as the way was becoming harder to push through and I didn't want to cause damage to other plants in the area. I looked for the first one again. Nope. It was gone. I even put my feet in my tracks so I knew I was in the right area. Still no orchids. The next orchids I will see blooming are the Showy Lady Slippers. Huge and pink, really hard to miss. But I am sure I will walk right by a bunch of those too!