After spending a the morning of June12th at Catherine Creek, we debated what to do. There had been some sunshine in the morning, but the day grew progressively more gray and wet. We had planned on hiking the Dog Mountain Trail to look for Phantom Orchids there, but wondered about heading north towards Ellensburg and Leavenworth where we intended to spend the next day. We finally decided to try Dog Mountain and that proved to be the right decision, though we did not get much of a view of the Columbia River from the top of the mountain on account of the clouds and mist.
We were thrilled to find Phantom Orchids (Cephalanthera austiniae) everywhere along the trail, even though this species is usually quite hard to find. In addition we found the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis (Goodyera oblongifolia)beginning to send up spikes and Coralroots of every kind in bloom, including both the ordinary form of the Striped Coralroot (Corallorhiza striata) and the Vreeland's variety of this species, and including a number of different varieties and forms of the Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata). Just seeing all these unusual orchids was a treat but several of them were new to us.
Striped and Vreeland's Striped Coralroots
Western Spotted Coralroots
Giant Rattlesnake Orchis
The woods were misty and dark and rather spooky and the trail was very wet especially on the downward journey. It was also quite steep, gaining nearly 2400 feet in the two and half miles to the top. My wife took a picture of the walking sticks that other hikers had picked up along the trail and left at the end of the trail. We enjoyed the hike, however, both for the orchids and other wildflowers and for the few views we did get of the Columbia River and gorge, though on a clear day Mount Hood and Mount Adams are both visible, as well as Mount Defiance across the gorge in Oregon.
We had to be very careful, or at leasty as careful as we could to avoid Poison Oak which was everywhere. There were signs warning against it, using the little rhyme, ""leaves of three, let them be." I believe the first picture below is of this plant, and, if it is, we certainly saw a lot of it, especially in the drier areas. Thankfully, neither of us were affected even though we both were down on the ground frequently for pictures of native orchids, wildflowers, insects, spiders, and whatever else we could find. It may be, of course, that neither of us is affected by the irritants in it, true of about 15% of the population.
Columbia Lily Seed Pod and Spider
There were a lot of wildflowers in bloom, especially on the wetter side of the mountain, Lupines, Balsamroots (nearly finished blooming), Indian Paintbrush, Columbia Lilies (I did not get a good picture), wild Roses, Ookow, Columbia Windflowers, and Scouler's Valerian, and what I believe is Woolly Vetch, a non-native, though quite attractive with it's two-toned flowers. As always these are identified to the best of my ability and I welcome any corrections. Finished with wildflowers and the hike we returned to the car just in time to avoid a downpour, and leaving Dog Mountain we headed east and then north.
Balsamroot, Lupine and Indian Paintbrush
Wild Rose and Beetle
Scouler's Valerian and Lupine