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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Trying to Find the Rainshadow

After Fridays storm I knew my plans for the weekend would need to be quickly altered. Going over to the east side was out of the question. Piles of snow in the mountains. I-5 southbound on Friday afternoon...I think I could walk over the pass faster. A solid parking lot from Tacoma to down past Centralia.

The dry side and the wonderful area in the Columbia Gorge will have to wait.

But I need to find someplace where I could remotely feel protected from the tag end of the storm. Going over to Sequim and the rain shadow was out of the question given the delays in the ferry system. I could catch a rain shadow effect on the arc of Whidbey Island north to the San Juans so I headed north to my current favorite place, Washington Park. I vowed to explore someplace new so I added Deception Pass to my long day.

Driving along Hwy 20 I made a quick stop to collect the usual tulip field shots. They certainly did well in the weather and I am a bit disappointed that there is not a hint of sunshine to make these colors pop.

Washington Park seems to have survived the onslaught of the storm with only a few trees down. I arrived plenty early and made my way out to Green Point. This shoreline is known for its wildflowers. I wondered what would have become of them since it faces full open west right on the water.

The Shooting Stars, for all their delicacy , were magnificent.

Further along the road, the Fawn Lily were a bit rain sodden. I noticed far more Fairyslipper orchids than before. They were in abundance in their usual mossy grove.

I skirted along the south facing Serpentine slope and that is when it started. Snow pellets. I guess not as saturating as rain. So much for protection from the Olympic Rain shadow. I was again struck by how well the flowers, looking so delicate, stood up to the harsh weather of the previous 24 hours.

After passing through the open slope I re-entered the conifer woods. I knew that there was a possibility for Rattlesnake Plantain, an orchid, here. I slowed way down and really looked everywhere.

A tall stalk and bud caught my eye. I stepped a bit closer and then it popped out at me, a Chocolate Lily.

The nodding green bell blends in perfectly with the mossy slope behind it. But what a delight to see what the underside looks like.

I suspect I missed other specimens.

I was totally thrilled, this was a very much hoped for find, a first. I was back on the trail and within a few steps another flower captured me. At first glance I thought it was the Rattlesnake Plantain, but when I got up close, definitely not. A Spotted Coralroot orchid, another first find.

The sunlight filtering through the trees hit this one just right. Notice the raindrops, by now I was pretty damp.

One thing new in the park was the up-tick in bird song. I could hear kinglets, warblers of several kinds and finches all singing. Noticeably missing, however was the sound of Rufous Hummingbird in a large grove of Salmonberry. I heard in the recent weeks about some concern over the Washington population of this rather common hummingbird. No one has stated any thoughts on where their life cycle is failing. These birds are sturdy migrants North to Alaska from Mexico.

I was perfectly content with my visit to Washington Park and wondered what could possibly top it at Deception Pass.

Deception Pass SP is the most heavily visited park in the state. The biggest attraction is the bridge spanning Deception Pass. I personally think this is one of the most "scary" bridges around. Very narrow, VERY high up. There are people walking on narrow sidewalks on both sides. Usually the wind is pretty fierce. Motor homes seem to occupy more that their fair share of the two lanes.

I parked on the south side of the bridge and hiked up from there to Goose Rock. The distance is short and steep through conifer woods. Just the thing to rev up the energy. At the top the area is open and a bald scour. During the ice ages this area was left bare rock. Over time small amounts of dirt have built up. It is not sufficient to support trees like the woodlands below but mosses and grasses along with wildflowers flourish.

There were mats of Kinnikinnick with their pretty pink lantern. This was a widely used medicinal plant. It is a diuretic and was said to have some interesting effects when cut with tobacco.

I found paintbrush and Naked Broomrape, the purple flower. It is a parasite. There is a member of the genus in England that is parasitic on Scotch Broom. Pojar et al suggests we should intorduce that pretty flower here.!!! I agree.

I crossed the bridge to visit the small rocky island that divides the span. I could see trails wandering all over and through my binoculars got a hint that there was something interesting there.

Camas. The most abundant slopes of Common Camas I have seen so far.

I wandered all over and aside from the Camas and many other delights, I found a little bit of Sunshine

Oregon Sunshine

So many people are reluctant to venture out on trails like those on this slope. I am sorry that they might have missed the opportunity to experience the wildflowers up close.

I paused on the bridge to get the usual photos. It is hard to convey how high this bridge is until you get to see the ants on the beach.

and from the beach below you can appreciate the scope of part of the span. This is the south half.

I found this lady on the beach just looking for pretty rocks. Who needs a warm sunny day to enjoy. There were folks out with picnics (including bottles of wine) wearing down vests and jackets.

You just cannot stop loving the outdoors because of a little harsh weather.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely beautiful flowers, and photos. You have a true knack for taking a good picture. I enjoyed the view of the beach from the bridge, but, I don't think that you could get me on that bridge for love nor money.