Friday, July 13, 2012

Dog Mountain

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.

Phantom Orchids

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.

Poison Oak

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

Forktooth Ookow

Wild Rose and Beetle

Columbia Windflower

Scouler's Valerian and Lupine


  1. Isnt it a wonderful place???!? I didnt get down this year and dont see myself getting out in the next two weekends.

    but it was nice tagging along with you here

    1. This is now one of our favorite places, Marti. Incredible hike and incredible orchids. Our only regret was the fact that the views were so restricted by the cloudy weather, but that just means we have to go back.
      We did the Old Blewett Road on the way home from this weeks travels - Oregon Coast, California Redwoods, orchid hunting in the Siskyous, Cobra Lilies, Crater Lake - but did not find the Cyp. montanums (where on the road did you see them?).
      Perhaps the c. montanums were already finished. Did find Piperia unalascensis, Platanthera dilatata, Washington Twinpod and Scarlet Gilia as well as lots of butterflies.

    2. didnt think to get a GPS on the montanum. They were high on the roadside slope , on the left hand side going up.

      At Dog Mt I like going up the Augspurger Trail and coming down Dog. The coralroots on Augspurger were really nice, and there was good phantom there as well. So many they made me laugh out loud with delight.

      I visited just after July 4 last year and many of them were past, though the Phantoms were prime. Only found one Striped, so you obviously hit it on the golden weekend.

    3. Going up from the north or the south? We must indeed have hit it just right at Dog Mountain. What a fabulous hike that was, and so many Coralroots. They truly were everywhere.


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