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



  1. Ah me I have not got back to this place. I remember how daunting the FS road was. The first trail to the south has some wonderful mountain panorama to the west. many marshy areas I suspect could be good all through the flower season.

    The piperia is interesting in you photo. I am not sure I have ever observed the strong pairing /twining as you see in the photo. Makes for a very interesting composition.

    Friday is blue moon. I am going to try for Thorp, the Ray Westberg, for some rising moon photos.

    1. Sounds really cool to do the Ray Westberg by night. Have to try that sometime. And, yes, the FS road by Greenwater was daunting and that is putting it mildly, especially in a minivan and not a 4w-drive.

      You are also correct about the Piperia. The other plants of this species that I've seen have quite a different appearance from these. Maybe should have an expert look at the photos.

    2. Hi Ron,

      I loved the waves of the “Monument Plant” photograph—it feels rather psychedelic right now (maybe I need to get another cup of coffee). I imagine I am a bug and I am confronted with the swivels and spirals –it begins to feel like a playground slide in all directions!

      That blue of the “Showy Jacob’s Ladder” is darling. I am always looking for blues and never getting enough of them –this blue is radiant as I imagine a newborn baby’s blue eyes are at first opening at his mother’s face.

      That “Unidentified Mushroom” has such etiolated stalks and very elegant umbrellas. The “Morel” looks like a stubbed out cigarette.

      I also like that noxious bug on the “Slender Bog Orchis” –I don’t know how you get your bugs to “pose” for you. They are all such good models!


    3. Thanks, Julie, for your great comments. You've picked my favorite pictures out of the lot, including two of my wife's, the mushrooms and the Showy Jacob's Ladder. It is amazing how the color blue draws attention. Quite rare in the world of flowers (no blue orchids) it is probably the most prized color of all.

  2. You found some gorgeous flowers to shoot!! Nice scenery, too =)

    1. Thanks, my friend. We never know whether to concentrate on the flowers or the scenery, there never seems to be enough time to do justice to both.


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