Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Near Greenwater and Mount Rainier

July 25 was our weekly day out and we decided to drive all the way to the Greenwater area near Mount Rainier.  We left home at 3:00 am and arrived at our destination at 7:00 am after stopping on the way for breakfast and coffee and after negotiating some very rough Forest Service roads.

first view of Rainier from Enumclaw

One of the plants we were looking for is protected and the location secret, so we are not allowed to be any more specific as to our destination, but having arrived we hiked two different trails, one for orchids and one for scenery and then took many more pictures along the Forest Service roads on our way out.

It was a good day for orchids.  We found nine species and an additional color form of one of the species.  One of these was not yet in bloom and another was nearly finished blooming with so few flowers that we did not even bother to take pictures, but it was one of our best days, nevertheless.

The first trail was lovely, following a brook and lined with lupines.  It was early in the day as well and the dappled light through the trees made for very pleasant hike.  We found five orchids on this trail including the rare Lady's Slipper we had come especially to see.

The Brownie or Clustered Lady's Slipper is small, rare and not very showy but in this location it was abundant, with many new seedlings as well as mature plants in flower.  It is this plant especially whose location we are protecting.

Brownie Lady's Slipper

We also found the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis here, not yet in bloom, the Slender Bog Orchis, and the Heart-leaved  and Northwestern Twayblades.  We did not find the Broad-lipped Twayblade, though that was one of the plants we had especially come to see.

Heart-leaved and Northwestern Twayblades

Giant Rattlesnake Orchis

Slender Bog Orchis

The other trail took us to much higher elevations and some fantastic views of Mount Rainier.  There was still snow along and on the trail and the mosquitoes were quite bad as a result.  The trail was a wildflower paradise, however, both in the trees and out in the more open areas.

snow along the trail

We saw Glacier Lilies, Pasque Flowers, Monkey Flowers, Lupines, Asters, Indian Paintbrush, Towering Lousewort, which we had not seen before, and many others.  The Glacier Lilies were blooming where the snow had just melted, but the others were in more open and warmer areas.

Glacier Lily

Arctic Lupine

Towering Lousewort or Wood Betony

Leafy Fleabane

 Monument Plant

Slender Paintbrush

 Showy Jacob's Ladder

On our way out we photographed several other orchids that we had seen along the way, the Green Bog Orchis, more of the Twayblades and Rattlesnake Orchis, a forest floor covered with Western Coralroots, and the Slender White Piperia.

Green Bog Orchis

Heart-leaved and Northwestern Twayblades

Western Coralroot

Slender White Piperia

Other treasures were some Morels which we collected for eating later, both Pinesap and Pinedrops.  These unusual plants are saprophytic, growing without leaves or chlorophyll in the litter on the forest floors and standing out on account of their color.

Pinedrops and Pinesap Flowers


 Unidentified Mushroom


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lake Elizabeth

On our way to Spokane a few days ago (one of our many trips there to see our handicapped son), we drove through Stevens Pass (Highway 2) and went up to Lake Elizabeth near Skykomish in the North Cascades.  This little mountain lake is a wildflower paradise, but the forest service road to the lake has been washed out for several years requiring a hike of six or seven miles each way.  The road is now repaired and the lake more easily accessible.

Driving up to the lake we found several wildflowers including the Great Hedge Nettle and a Swallowtail Butterfly which we followed around for photos before he finally flew away.  There was no one about at the lake, though there was a folding chair out by the lake and we did about two-thirds of the trail around the lake up to the north and northwest ends of the lake where the trail runs out in a tangle of fallen trees and very wet and muddy seeps before heading back.

Great Hedge Nettle

Bunchberry and Columbia Windflower

Western Tiger Swallowtail

We also explored the sedge mat at the edge of the lake, looking for a very rare and tiny orchid, Chamisso's Orchid, that has been reported from the area but which we have never found.  We did not find it this time either, but did find four other orchids, two tiny Twayblades, the Northwestern and Heart-leaved Twayblades, one Coralroot, the Western, and one Bog Orchid, the Northern Green Bog Orchis.  The first two were everywhere, the others not as abundant as at other times.

Unidentified Mushroom

Unidentified Sedge

Northwestern Twayblade

Northern Green Bog Orchis

Western Coralroot

Western Heart-leaved Twayblade

We also found both at the lake and along the road, growing with the Bog Orchid, one of our favorite wildflowers, the Elephant-head Lousewort.  This was near the end of its blooming season but we still managed to get some photographs of its unusual purple flowers before heading back down the road and on to our final destination, having enjoyed a wonderful break from what can otherwise be a rather long and tedious journey.

Elephant-head Lousewort