Friday, May 31, 2013

The Chuckanuts

On Memorial Day, May 27th, son Edward and I decided to go hiking.  We had a fund-raising breakfast in the morning so could not go far and decided that we would hike in the Chuckanut Mountains south of Bellingham.  We decided to start out on the Fragrance Lake Trail, a trail that my wife and I hike earlier this spring, and thought we would hike beyond to the top of and along Chuckanut Ridge.

The day was overcast and threatening rain but the hike up to Fragrance Lake was relatively dry.  We found some Coralroots, both Western Spotted and Striped along the trail, though the latter were nearly finished and took the time to photograph them and stopped to take a few photos at the end of a side trail to an overlook as well.  The San Juan Islands were visible but only just.

We found only a few other items of interest, among them a centipede that emitted a sweet odor when touched and that we later identified as the Cyanide Millipede which actually emits cyanide to deter predators.  It was hard to photograph on the dark trail since it never stopped moving except when curled up.  Along with it we photographed some mushrooms and fungi.

By the time we reached the lake it was starting to rain and though we hiked around the lake and up beyond it, we soon gave up since the day was so miserable.  Even the day my wife and I hiked the trail it was not as wet as this Memorial Day.  My wife and I had hiked in a misty drizzle but this was real rain and we were back at the car by noon and headed for one more stop and home.

The other stop was a shale cliff that Edward had visited with a geology class.  There are in the cliff huge fossils of fern fronds, what appears to be whole tree trunk turned to coal and numerous fossils of the leaves from deciduous trees.  We took photographs which turned out much better than I expected, admired the fossils and headed for a coffee shop to warm up and for home.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lake Padden and Padden Ridge

Lake Padden is in a popular recreation area south of Bellingham and in the Chuckanut Mountains.  The lake itself is of little interest to me, since the area around it is little more than a city park, but to the southwest of the lake, between it and Interstate 5, there is a wooded ridge whose trails I hiked the afternoon of May 24th.

I found several native orchids, the Western Spotted Coralroot and the Striped Coralroot, and found a few Western Fairy Slippers as well, one of which I photographed.  The ridge was one of the best sites I've found for Striped Coralroots.  I found some yellowish plants there but not the yellow-stemmed form I hoped to find.

There were not a lot of wildflowers blooming beside the orchids.  I photographed three, a very pale Pacific Bleeding Heart, the Pacific Waterleaf, and the Leafy Mitrewort.  I also found one Fly Agaric mushroom and some that I believe to be White Chanterelles, but I am not very good at identifying mushrooms and stand to
be corrected.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Orchid Hunting in the Leavenworth Area

May 16 and 17 I visited the Leavenworth area to do some orchid hunting and visited five locations in two days.  As is always the case, I found much more than native orchids to photograph though I did find plenty of them also.

One of the orchids I found was the Western Fairy Slipper.  I found them a a higher elevation and they were at the peak of their bloom with some very nice clumps of them to be found as well including a double-leaf variety (they ordinarily have just one leaf).

I also found a few plants of the Clustered or Brownie Lady's Slipper, the smallest and rarest of our native slippers.  I looked for them in another location as well and did not find them, though they had been reported there.

The Western Spotted Coralroot was also at its peak, but I did not find it either at another location where I had seen it previously.  I suspect, however, that what I had previously seen was the ordinary and not the western variety of this species.  The ordinary variety blooms later.

At three locations I found the Mountain Lady's Slipper getting ready to bloom, but they were not yet open.  One of the locations was a new for me, but a friend had told me they were there and I finally found them.

One highlight of the trip was not an orchid but a Lewisia, Lewisia tweedyi, the Mountain Rose.  They were also at the peak of their bloom season and in several locations were everywhere to be found.  This has to be one of our most beautiful wildflowers.

Another wildflower I saw in bloom for the first time.  On other occasions I had always been too late and had found only seedpods.  This time I found it, the Brownie Peony, in flower though only a few flowers were left.

Naked Broomrape, a leafless and parasitic plant without chlorophyll was also blooming.  It is only a few inches tall but its color always makes it stand out and It was found where expected in wetter locations where it parasitizes Sedums and Saxifrages.

Other wildflowers were the Arrowleaf and Serrate Balsamroots, the latter quite rare, Western Trilliums (mostly finished blooming), Hooker's Fairybells, Wood Violets, Upland and Menzie's Larkspurs, Harsh Paintbrush, Shrubby Penstemon, and Lyall's Mariposa Lilies.

Saw a lot of mushrooms and fungi as well, most of which I am completely unable to identify.  One is a coral fungus, probably  the Crown-tipped Coral and another a cup fungus, but beyond that I do not know.  If anyone is able to help with ID's it would be much appreciated.

The day was overcast and there were not a lot of opportunities for landscape shots, but these are a few that I did take of Chiwaukum Creek and Derby Canyon, two of the places I visited and to which I hope to return shortly.