Friday, October 17, 2014

Mount Rainier Area

I made two trips to the area north of Mount Rainier in July, a four hour drive plus a long drive up a very rough Forest Service road.  I was looking for one of the two native orchids I had not seen, a rather insignificant green-flowered orchid that is quite rare in Washington.  The first time I went on July 24 the weather was very wet and though I found the orchid the flowers were not open.  I went again on July 31st in better weather and found it in bloom.  I also did the Rainier Overlook trail at that time and took some early morning photos of the mountain and the surrounding peaks.

On July 24th I did stop for a few photos of the area on the way up the Forest Service Road.

I also photographed a few wildflowers, including:

Cascade Aster,

 and (I believe) Jeffrey's Shooting Star.

I did photograph a couple of orchids other than the one I was hunting:

Northwestern Twayblade,

Slender Bog Orchis,

Clustered Lady's-slipper (finished blooming),

and Western Spotted Coralroot.

When I went back a week later, I found the orchid I was hunting,

Broad-lipped Twayblade.

First, however, I hiked the Rainier View trail and watched the sunrise along the trail.

Rainier comes into view at the end of the trail,

with the surrounding peaks,

and even Mount St. Helens in the disatance.

There were some wildflowers blooming yet at these elevations,
including Cushion Buckwheat and Scotch Harebells.

Then it was the hike back and the trail to see the orchids.

And a few more wildflowers along the way,

a Penstemon, so hard to identify, probably the Small-flowered Penstemon,

Oregon Catchfly

and Bronze Bells or Mountain Bells.

A new orchid and several new wildflowers, plus Mount Rainier make for a very good day indeed.


  1. Hi Ron,
    Beautiful post! I had no idea, that the place is so rich in orchids. However it seems they are blooming rather late up there.
    From now on this is the place of all the places in the northwest, that I want to visit the most. I know Mt. Rainier only from the views from Seattle and from passing it by plane. It really is an imposing mountain. Outstanding area and beautiful pictures.
    As for the Twayblades: I saw all kinds of them in Yoho and Banff NP, but was not able to identify them, as they were past bloom. Maybe you remember. If you want, I point out the places, where I found them, since you seem to be in the general area every now and then.
    Thanks for keeping up the nice posts. Makes me dream and long for those distant and remote places of natural beauty.


    1. Hope you are well, Martin. Rainier is indeed rich in orchids and also other wildflowers, but as you say, they bloom later because the elevation, though in my opinion that's an advantage since it lengthens the season for many species. I wanted to take you there last summer but it was really too early for the orchids. Perhaps some other time. We are seriously considering climbing Rainier or doing the Wonderland Trail (93 miles and all the way around Rainier) one of the next few summers.


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