I found this little bouquet of leaves and flowers last month along the Superior Hiking Trail where the trail approaches Bean and Bear lakes from the west. It was on a rocky, south-facing slope. I'm no superbotanist, but the plant stuck out to me right away. It was different from the other, more luscious spring flowers. And it was in an unusual habitat, the superheated accelerated blooming environment of exposed rock. The circle of broad leaves right at the ground (the "basal rosette") is typical of arctic disjuncts and other flowers adapted to dry conditions.
When I got back home, I looked it up in my trusty Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers. It was a Saxifraga virginiensis, or Early Saxifrage. It turned out that I had seen it before...twenty years ago along the Canadian shore of Lake Superior. I write in the margin of the field guide the first time I see a flower, and right there were my notes from June 1989.
I added the findings from this year.
Oh, and just for fun I got on the PLANTS database. Here's the distribution of this fine flower in Minnesota:
Besides the great views of Bean and Bear Lakes, making that little nature connection was the highlight of the hike. I am a total nature geek.