Saturday, June 4, 2011

Snow Mountain Ranch

We've been getting around.  I was scheduled to speak for the Oregon Orchid Society on the native orchids of the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday evening, May 17th.  We decided to leave a day early and get some hiking in and so left home Monday morning of the 16th and drove to the area of Yakima, Washington, and to the Snow Mountain Ranch, part of the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy, and an old ranch site.

The place had been recommended by our good friend, Marti Anderson, who had been there recently and reported the evidence of a fire (  We found the same thing and were a bit disappointed, as she was on her last visit, by the sparsity of the wildflowers, though we had a very nice hike up the ridge.

The site is typical of the area - rather dry with few trees except in the folds between the hills and wherever there is water.  The day was dry, though mostly overcast, with evidence of recent rains and some of the trails were quite muddy, but we were prepared for that and took our time hiking the trails and exploring the area while looking for wildflowers.

After beginning our hike near the stream that flows at the bottom of the ranch we passed Balanced Rock and headed up the Wildflower Trail.  Evidence of the recent fire was everywhere in the burned sagebrush, fence posts and bare areas that had not yet recovered.  We saw few others until we ended the hike when it seemed as though everyone had decided to go hiking.

The main wildflowers we saw were the Large-flowerd Brodiaea, what I believe are the Kittitas Larkspur and the Silvery Lupine, and the ever-present Arrowleaf Balsamroot.  Interestingly, the Brodiaea on the west side of the ridge were mostly pale blue to white in color while the Brodiaea on the east side were a very dark blue, as the pictures below indicate.

Some other wildflowers were Fleabane (I am not sure which one), Douglas' Buckwheat, Common Clarkia, Gray's Desert Parsley, Gairdner's Penstemon, what I believe to be the Rosy Balsamroot, and Modoc's Hawksbeard.  The Giant-head Clover were mostly finished blooming, but the seedheads were still quite attractive.

We were very much attracted by the way the flowers grew in and through the sagebrush, especially the Showy Phlox, if I have it identified correctly.  Hiking aback along the stream once again, we managed to get some pictures of the Red-wing Blackbirds that had come out as the weather gradually improved and the sun began to break through.


  1. Lovely shots. I just discovered this place yesterday and had a wonderful few hours birding. Two highlights: watching a pair of Bullock's orioles building their nest in a Garry Oak and discovering long-eared owls with one juvenile.

  2. Great, Clare. I'm envious. We saw neither when we were there.


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