Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lake Serene

Our July excursion with the Washington Native Orchid Society was to Lake Serene where we looked for a rare native orchid.  Lake Serene is a popular hike near Stevens Pass, the pass which Highway 2 follows through the Central Cascades.  The lake lies at the foot of Mount Index.

We did not find the orchid we were looking for but the hike was worthwhile and the lake as beautiful as we remembered from a previous hike.  The trail takes one on a round trip of about seven and half miles with an elevation gain of 2002 feet, not overly strenuous, but a good hike.

There were not many wildflowers blooming along the trail, but we did get pictures of Goatsbeard, nearly finished blooming, of Copperbush, a shrub related to Rhododendron and Azalea, and of Tolmie's Saxifrage.  The Saxifrage was photographed near the rock face pictured above.

The weather was cloudy and threatened rain when we started, but that changed.  The first part of the hike was in heavy forest, but eventually the view opened up and it was obvious, then, that we were above the heavier weather that we had experienced at the trailhead.

On the way up we had some views of Bridal Veil Falls.  There is a side trail up to the falls but we did not have time for it on this hike. I've included an older picture of the falls which really should not be missed on this hike, and we later regretted not taking the time to see it.

At the lake there are wonderful views of Mount Index and of the lake itself.  There were a lot of people at the lake, especially on a huge rock that extends into the lake.  Many were swimming and diving from the rock, but the water was incredibly cold and we stayed dry.

Past the rock we scrambled over the boulder filed at the foot of Mount Index and past the melting snow to the far end of the lake.  There were a lot of wildflowers blooming in and around the boulder field and at the edge of the lake, several that I had not seen before.

The wildflowers I photographed were Western Trillium, Tall Mountain Shooting Star, Stika Mistmaiden, Subalpine Lupine, Merten's Saxifrage and Bird's-beak Lousewort, pictured in that order below. 

Finished with our scramble, and with the sun now behind the mountain, we headed back and found that the valley was now free of clouds and the whole area below was visible, the valley, Ragged Ridge across the valley and the mountains of the Wild Sky Wilderness, a part of the Central Cascades.

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