Monday, August 12, 2013

The North Cascades and Eastern Washington

We travel about once a month across the mountains to eastern Washington and to the Spokane area.  The photos that follow are from a trip we made the first week in August.

We left very early in the morning before sunrise and traveled through North Cascades National Park following the North Cascades Highway (Highway 20).

I made the first stop near Diablo Lake overlook just before sunrise while my wife was still sleeping to see if the Hooded Ladies'-tresses Spiranthes romanzoffiana, were blooming there.

Most were finished but I found a few still in bloom and took photos of the best of them.  Near the top of the pass, however, we began to see them everywhere and at the peak of their bloom.

They are usually found in open and damp meadows and that is where we found them, more than I have ever seen before, but many of them were very tiny plants.  All were covered with dew.

In the same areas but usually in the ditches we found another orchid still in full bloom at these high elevations, the Tall White Northern Bog Orchis, Platanthera dilatata var. dilatata

Growing with it we also found the Slender Bog Orchis, Platanthera stricta.  It was everywhere, but most of the flowers were showing signs of age.  We did take some photos, however.

We found what we thought were a few plants of the natural hybrid of these two bog orchids, the Estes Rein Orchis, Platanthera x estesii, but they were too far along to tell for certain.

At Washington Pass we stopped for nearly an hour and explored the trails at the overlook there with its spectacular views of Liberty Bell Mountain and the surrounding peaks.

Over the mountains we followed the Columbia River south and made several stops, one at Beebe Springs Natural Area, an area where the native tribes harvested Camas bulbs and reeds.

The sculptures there are by a native artist, Smoker Marchand and we took quite a few pictures of them also, a good place to mention that many of these photos are my wife's.

We also looked for a rare orchid in the same area but did not find it and spent quite a bit of time photographing the butterflies instead, the Field Crescent and the California Hairstreak.

Leaving the Columbia, we traveled across the farmlands and coulee country of eastern Washington, stopping to take pictures of old buildings, and of the wheat and hay harvest.

Traveling home the next evening we stopped to take pictures of a spectacular sunset, the last of the photos we would take on this trip.


  1. magnificent journey. I have not seen these sculptures before.

    I wish I had days and days to travel these roads all over SE Wa.

    1. Hi Marti,
      Wouldn't that be great if one had the time for it. The more we travel through eastern Washington the more we realize how much beauty is there and how much there is to see.


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