Friday, August 6, 2010

Lake Elizabeth

Platanthera aquilonis (found in 2009)

Saturday (July 30) on our way home from Spokane, we hiked with the Washington Native Orchid Society to Lake Elizabeth near Skykomish, Washington.  My wife and I had hiked there last summer looking for a very rare Bog Orchid, but had not found it, though we found several other orchids.

Lake Elizabeth

A year ago we had been able to drive up a Forest Service road to within a couple of miles of the lake, but this year we found to our dismay that the road was completely blocked off and that we were face with a hike of over six and half miles each way.

The reason, apparently, was that the Forest Service was working to reopen the road, which had been closed by a washout in 2007, but it looked to us to be an almost impossible task to open the road all the way to the lake, since there were now numerous washouts and one place where the creek had begun to undermine the road.

The road followed Money Creek, and was not overly strenuous, but we were under time pressures, and though we did reach the lake were not able to spend as much time there as we would have liked, but had to leave early and make our own way back to our vehicle.

Money Creek

The day was partly sunny and quite warm, and we noticed immediately that everything was much drier than the previous year.  There was not a lot of variety in the wildflowers, therefore, though the butterflies were out in force and we manged to get pictures of some of them, properly identified, I hope.

Mormon Fritillary (Speyeria mormonia)

Clodius Parnassian (Parnassius clodius) -below also

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars
(these are not native, but have been introduced to control undesirable weeds)

We also saw a Garter Snake sunning itself and it posed for pictures and did not move until I touched it and then it disappeared into the weeds along the road.  We also saw a tall yellow composite in flower that was covered with small orange and black caterpillars.

The only orchid we found on the way up was the Slender Bog Orchid, Platanthera stricta.  Wherever we found wet spots we found this orchid growing, some plants very small and few flowered and others very robust with many flowers.

Spider on Platanthera stricta seed pods
(taken by my wife)

We also found growing near the lake itself a shrub with beautiful orange-red flowers that one of the members identified as a rhododendron, but which I later identified as Copperbush.  We were able, too, to find some Salmon berries which were ripe though they were only beginning to ripen.



At the lake itself there is a trail all around the lake, but because the road has been closed for several years, this once popular location was barely negotiable in spots.  We too the trail toward the south side of the lake first, but found our way blocked by fallen trees and brush.

We did find on that part of the trail some Elephant's Head Lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica) nearly finished blooming along with Spirea and in one drier location a single plant of the Indian Pipes.

Elephant Head Lousewort and Unknown Bog Plant

Mountain Meadow-sweet (Spirea splendens)

There were also several other plants in that area that I was not able to identify and two orchids, the ever present Slender Bog Orchis and the Sierra Rein Orchid (Platanthera dilatata var. leucostachys).  After photographing these we turned back and headed the other way down the trail which was more accessible.

Listera cordata var. cordata fma. viridens and Listera banksiana

There we found three orchids, the Northwestern Twayblade, Listera banksiana, the Heart-leaved Twayblade, Listera cordata var. cordata, and the Western Coralroot, Corallorhiza mertensiana.  We also found the Western Coralroot in its pale colored form, a whitish yellow with very little of the purple color of the normal form.

Two color forms of the Western Coralroot

Corallorhiza mertensiana fma. pallida (below also)

(taken by my wife)

Because we were in a hurry on our way out, we stopped only a couple of times for pictures, once to photograph the leaves of a maple that were beautifully variegated, and at the end of the hike a few pictures of Money Creek.


  1. Fabulous scenery and wildlife, plants and flowers.
    Who needs the hustle-bustle of the city?

  2. This is why we spend as much time as we can in the summer hiking and exploring and this is a place we visit nearly every year.


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