Monday, August 2, 2010

Heliotrope Ridge

Large Purple Monkeyflower (Mimulus lewisii)

On Wednesday, July 29, 2010, my son Edward, a friend, Judah, and I hiked the Heliotrope Ridge Trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The trail, which is near the town of Glacier, is a very popular hike and usually very busy.

We had an early start and did not see too many others on the trail going in, but it was quite busy on the way out. The trail runs a little over three miles through the woods to a ridge overlooking Coleman Glacier and west face of Mount Baker.

We found several orchids on the way up, including both the green and red forms of Listera cordata var. cordata, the Heart-leaf Twayblade, a tiny little orchid about six inches tall. We also found the Northwestern Twayblade, Listera banksiana.

Listera cordata var. cordata

Both these orchids are small and easily missed, Listera banksiana being only a little larger than the other species, though we saw many plants of each species.

Listera banksiana

The only other orchid we saw was Platanthera stricta, the Slender Bog Orchis, easily identified by its narrow straight lip and its inflated spur, both visible in the picture.

We had to cross Kulshan Creek once and Glacier Creek several times and took quite a bit of time at the falls of Kulshan Creek to take some time exposures. Several of the crossings were a bit difficult because of snow-melt from the warm weather.

Along the way we stopped for a brief break, a drink and some dried fruit and nuts and were immediately visited by the Gray Jays or Camp Robbers looking for a handout. We fed them peanuts from our hands and Edward even put some peanuts on his head and allowed them to land there.

At the ridge-top we took pictures and enjoyed the fabulous scenery for a while, before heading back down the trail a little way and then up a side trail, the climbers' route to the top of Mount Baker.

This route leads to a very high ridge above the timberline, to even more spectacular views of Mount Baker and to alpine meadows filled with wildflowers and in this case numerous butterflies, one of which I was able to photograph and believe to be Edith's Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha).

Up the trail

Silky Phacelia (Phacelia sericea) and Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius)

Down the Trail

Edith's Checkerspot

Sitka Valerian (Valeriana sitchensis)

A pink form of Davidson's Pentstemon (Penstemon davidsonii)

Indian Thistle (Cirsium edule) opening

We did not go all the way up but hiked about a mile to the top of the ridge where we enjoyed the view, photographed some of the wildflowers and played in the snow, before heading back to the car and home.

Note: eight of these pictures were taken by Judah and Edward, the pictures in the larger format by Judah.

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