We have been members of the Washington Native Orchid Society for several years now and go on as many of their field trips as we possibly can. The first outing of 2010 for the WNOS, an outing we did not miss, was to Anderson Lake State Park on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula.
The excursion was scheduled for Saturday, April 24th, and the day was bright and beautiful. My wife and I, however, were up before daybreak and drove to Edmonds, north of Seattle, where we caught the Edmonds to Kingston ferry to the Olympic Peninsula. We had planned on taking the Keystone to Port Townsend ferry but waited too long to make reservations.
The ferry ride was uneventful and after getting some breakfast in Kingston we headed on, stopping first in the historic town of Port Gamble for some photos. Port Gamble is a small, unincorporated community on the northwestern shore of the Kitsap Peninsula. It is a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist destination and a very beautiful little town.
No one was about in the town except a maintenance worker and so we got our photos and went on, making a couple more stops along the road for some other pictures of an old barn and of the countryside. The drive across the Kitsap Peninsula is a beautiful drive and so we did not hurry, but still arrived at Anderson Lake well ahead of the others.
Anderson Lake is a small lake used mostly for boating and fishing. They had an algae problem there and so the lake had been closed for fishing for several years and had only just reopened. Since it was the first day of fishing season the place was packed even at that early hour. We decided that while waiting for the others we would do a little hiking on our own.
We followed one of the trails away from the lake and into the woods. There we found Trilliums blooming and a lot of mushrooms and fungi as well. It had been quite wet the weeks before and the mushrooms seemed to be everywhere. We took plenty of pictures and wandered back to the lake and to the meeting spot just in time to catch the others.
The hike was around the lake and we made out way through a lot of mud and around a lot of fishermen to the south side of the lake where we found what we had come to see, the Western Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis. For pictures and a description of the difference between the Eastern and Western Fairy Slippers see: http://nativeorchidsofthepacificnorthwest.blogspot.com/2010/07/calypso-bulbosa.html
We did not find a lot of Slippers, only a few scattered here and there in the wooded hills on the south side of the lake. What we did find that interested me even more than the slippers, was a saprophyte that grows only on the roots of Salal plants and that looks like yellow pinecones sticking up from the ground. These are known as Vancouver Groundcones (Boschniakia hookeri).
We also found a few stems of a saprophytic orchid, the Spotted Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata var. maculata. For other pictures and a descriptiono f the different varieties of this orchid see: http://nativeorchidsofthepacificnorthwest.blogspot.com/2010/08/spotted-coralroot-corallorhiza-maculata.html . The plants we saw were the typical brown-stemmed form.
On that same south side of the lake in open areas on the hills we found the Chocolate Lily, Fritillaria affinis growing in abundance, though the plants were nearing the end of the their flowering cycle. Finishing our hike around the lake we headed for the car and the long ferry ride and drive home. All in all, a very worthwhile trip and one we hope to make again.