Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Olympic National Park

On August 3rd we decided to take a day and get away to Olympic National Park, one of our favorite places.  We booked the earliest and latest ferries leaving Coupeville on Whidbey Island and returning from Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula and were in the park by a little after 9:00 am.  We stopped on the way for some pictures of the sunrise at Penn Cove on Whidbey Island..

We started the day at Lake Crescent, west of Port Angeles and on the northern end of the park andat East Beach we  looked for and found two orchids, the Stream Orchid or Chatterbox (Epipactis gigantea) and the Elegant Piperia (Piperia elegans).  Someone, probably a park employee, had taken a trimmer to  the Epipactis, leaving only a few spikes of flowers untouched.

We photographed them and the Piperia, taking several hours, since my wife is learning to use the macro lens and tripod, took pictures of lake and other items of interest and finally headed back east, looking for the Little River Road which runs from the area of the lake to the Hurricane Ridge Road.  When we found the road we drove it very slowly looking for another Piperia along the road.

We soon found what we were looking for, the Slender White Piperia, Piperia candida, but were a little disappointed because it was well past its prime though there were still flowers to photograph on the many spikes growing there.  Again, my wife, spent as much time as I did with macro lens and tripod taking pictures of her own, some of which turned out better than mine.

A fairly stiff breeze made photography even more difficult, but when we came to a more sheltered area, a dry south bank well covered with moss, we found our fourth orchid of the day, another Piperia, this time Piperia elongata, the Long-spurred Piperia.  There were quite a number of them, all growing as single plants and favoring the steeper areas of the bank.

After driving the rest of road and making several other stops for photos, we finally arrived at the Hurricane Ridge Road, and drove up it stopping at various locations to photograph two Bog Orchids that seemed to be everywhere, the Slender Bog Orchis, Platanthera stricta, and the Tall White Northern Bog Orchis, Platanthera dilatata var. dilatata.

We had been told by a friend that population of a natural hybrid between these two, growing in the ditches near the entrance kiosk, had been mowed by the Park Service and found it so, not a plant left of either parent or of the hybrid.  Thankfully, the ditches further up had not been mowed, but we only found the two parents and not the hybrid of the two.

We stopped often to take pictures both of the scenery and wildflowersmany of which were blooming.  We photographed Western Wallflower (Erysimium capitatum), Indian Thistle (Cirsium edule), Olympic Onion (Allium crenulatum), Elegant Lupine (Lupinus lepidus), White Water Buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis), and Mountain Heliotrope (Valeriana sitchensis).

The loveliest of all were the Avalanche Lilies (Erythronium montanum), which was growing everywhere at higher elevations.  We have seen these by the millions along the Obstruction Point Road which unfortunately was closed on this occasion due to the large amount of snow we receive din the mountains last winter.  These large white and yellow flowers are as delicate as can be imagined.

At the top of Hurricane Ridge we took more pictures and then proceeded on to the end of the ridge where we found our seventh orchid and fourth Piperia, a dwarf form of Piperia unalascensis, the Alaskan Piperia, the form named after its location (fma. olympica).  This we photographed as the fog rolled in and also took pictures of the Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum).

The wildflowers were in abundance along the trail the follows the end of the ridge and I also took photos of a dwarf form of the Columbian Lily (Lilium columbianum) and of the Spreading Phlox (Phlox diffusa). as well as pictures of a deer that wondered into the area and of the view from the ridge, often obscured by clouds, but all the more beautiful for that.

The day was foggy almost all day, but the fog made for some very interesting and unusual pictures, though the peaks were for the most part not visible.  We had a great deal of fun trying to catch some of these effects with our cameras, though they were not always successful.  Through the fog we also caught glimpses of a group of mountain sheep, but were not really able to get good pictures.

Stopping at the visitor's center on our way back we took more pictures there as the sun came out, and then headed down.  Near the top we found the Slender White Piperia once again, this time in prime condition and stopped for pictures, stopping only once more to take pictures this time of the saprophytic Pinedrops (Pterospora andromeda) which were growing on a woodland bank.

Arriving in Port Townsend with some time to spare before catching the ferry, we visited Kinsey Battery of old Fort Worden and lighthouses in Port Townsend and at Point Wilson.  We managed to get some pictures of each before catching the ferry and heading home as the sun set at the end of a very satisfying and relaxing day.
We can't wait to go again.


  1. Beyond breathtaking! I love your photography

  2. Appreciate the time you've taken to look through all the pictures and comment. Thanks!


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