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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Monday, May 31, 2010

Today Is Brought To You By The Color "Green" and the Condition "Wet"

I didn't want to face the freeways of with holiday travelers so I stayed close to home today. I had a task at work so after a brief tour of duty, I paid a visit to Cougar Mountain Park in Issaquah.

An abundance of green generated by the abundance of wet. It started raining when I got there and into my walk, it started pouring.

The kind of rain my coat cannot resist. I would have stayed longer but I draw the line at the soaked bra stage.

Wet Monadelia fidelis

dripping Salmonberry

sodden Bleeding Hearts

Running waterfall, they abound here

Mucky path

A possible shelter

Faithful Friends, waiting for a third and going to make the best of it.

It was really quite nice

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cage Match : Tweedy vs Bitterroot

I have spent the last two days truly meandering around.

Saturday morning I headed over to Blewett Pass and checked out a trail that climbs the ridge up to Red Top. It was at Red Top last Summer that I encountered a puzzling plant that lead me to Flickr. From there I have ventured out into the world of blogging and am now pondering the possible purchase of a nice camera.

It is a sickness I tell you.

Blewett Pass is just waking up from the late snows. The roads are open but not real good yet. I suspect the best will be in about three weeks. I hope to get up and find the flowering plant that created these interesting seed pods ; Washington Twinpod.

I poked around the greater Leavenworth area and remembered when I was driving home via Hwy 2 that there was a glorious bloom of Tweedys Lewisia up on some rocks along the highway. I have never seen these plants close up and my friend Ron Hanko reported about them on his blog last week. When I read his blog entry I imagined him scrambling up on the rock face to capture his images. I figured why not.

I doubled back and while trying to decide where to pull off looked into the woods. From the far side of the road I could see large boulders inside the woods adorned with flowers.

I could not believe my luck. I pulled ahead to a parking lot near a picnic area and walked back. It was an easy scamper into the woods and onto the large boulder. I am pretty sure these were the flowers Ron captured as well.

Such bold flowers with subtle color.

Like blushing butter ; cream yellow a hint of rose. They have nice bold leaves too. All of this growing on a hand full of soil and mosses, loosely attached to a massive boulder.

I immediately thought about what I had often read, there are those that consider this Washingtons most beautiful wildflower. Is it? Does it really compete with another Lewisia , Bitterroot?

I decided today that I would hike up the Boy Scout Trail at Ray Westburg and come down Rays trail. I wanted to see if the Mariposa Lily's were starting to bloom. The Boy Scout Trail heads up the ridge through a deep re-entrant (canyon/ gully) which has a fair number of Ponderosa Pines inside. There were a lot of flowers blooming today, certainly more than I have ever seen here.

The Boy Scout trail joins Rays trail about 2/3 of the way up the ridge. It had obviously rained overnight and it was certainly not warm. Even though there was a lot of buckwheat blooming, I can count on one hand the butterflies I saw. Later next month you can come here and be surrounded by butterflies, particularly the Blues. I did capture this Common Ringlet.

At the top I thought I would wander out to the road. Once you reach the top the environment changes to hard lithosoil and a mix of rocky and grassy areas. On the final bit of climb I decided that it might be fun to hike west a ways and return to my car by hiking down slope cross country using stock trails made by elk deer and cattle.

I am so glad I decided this. Along the road and in most of the open areas I found patches of Bitterroot. One open rocky area pulled me in and here there were hundreds of buds and flowers. I crossed the area and headed for some trees. I picked up an old road that has been closed and started descending. The road switched back and came to an end but the hoof stock clearly show they cross regularly. These animals must go down slope for water and there are no regular streams or pools up top.

I followed a narrow track across a very steep face and up over the ridge. I knew I was two ridges over from Rays trail and I was thrilled at the solitude. There were wonderful flowers and I even had a few bird encounters. I could hear a grouse calling and every once in a while "baby bird in nest" begging sounds.

It was interesting to see that almost every large tree had a skirt of pale green Miners Lettuce around the base. This small green plant is tasty and I cannot resist nibbling some when I find it. It is sweet fresh and "green" tasting. I might be convinced there is a bit of fresh corn flavor as well.

There were several stock trail intersections and I knew the general direction to follow so I let that be my guide. I gained a new ridgeline and instantly saw that I was above the Boy Scout Trail canyon. I had a man pass me this morning heading in and he took the high trail to gain this ridge. The trail itself was still created by and for hoof stock. Everywhere plants blooming including more Tritelia than I have ever seen.

It was in concert with the Larkspur and Lupin to make sure every tone of blue was painted today.

I noticed an open rocky area and walked near. I saw Bitterroot here, an unexpected surprise. I admired the little plant and turned to proceed and stopped dead and gasped

then laughed with glee.

A large rocky area covered in Bitterroot.

Hundreds of blooms, uncountable number of buds just breaking through.

Oh they were magnificent.

And I have my answer. They are amazing and beautiful! Hugging the dirt and pushing aside rocks. Braving sun and wind to bloom in what appears to be unwelcome hard crusty soil.

I will accept the Tweedys Lewisia is a beauty of the woods, but Bitterroot...

They are so grand they have a mountain range named after them!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Orchid Society Field Trip

I received an invitation a week or so ago from Ron Hanko to attend a field trip with the Washington Native Orchid Society. Over the last year I have shared photos, comments and information on native orchids and wildflowers with Ron. He is a highly skilled photographer of orchids and has taken his art to the field. He captures amazing photos of all our native plants and freely offers help on finding elusive and rare species.

Visit his Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/ronaldhanko/

I had a good window of opportunity to be gone from work Friday so I jumped at the chance. The best part about group field trips is the chance to meet new people, share knowledge , learn about new locations. In the case of the elusive orchids, I am trying to learn about how they fit into the environment and how to see.

I allowed 2 1/2 hours to get to the town of Plain, north of Leavenworth. I needed every minute of it, arriving exactly at 10am. I have never been in this area and the road from Leavenworth was slower than I anticipated.

After a release form was signed we jumped into our cars and headed out of town. I doubt we went more than 1/2 mile when we pulled over , parked and headed up a minor trail that climbed the ridge line. It was forest service land, but there was not a sign or mark to show that this was anything but a local path.

Our leader pointed out what looked like three white asparagus spears sticking up from the ground. We left the trail and moved closed to see the spike of Phantom Orchids. There pure white orchids will be blooming in a few weeks.

We could easily find Coralroot spikes, also not yet in bloom and the leaves of Rattlesnake Plantain which will bloom later in the summer.

We went back down the trail and cut in. Here was the fabulous prize of the day...

Clustered Lady's Slipper , Cypripedium fasiculatum. The are rare and tiny. The plant does not stand more than four inches high and the flowers are barely one inch across. Like many orchids, the flowers nod, so their faces as turned away, further hiding their presence. Mixed in here were Mountain Lady Slippers, not yet in bloom. Four different genus / five different species in one location.

A roll of bright lime green colored tape was produced and small strips were laid on nearby plants to warn us of the presence of an orchid and to watch our step. As we carefully moved about we found more and more of these lovely flowers.

Most of them were greenish and buff, but one specimen was a lovely red, another a deeper brownish purple.

Also present were Blue Anemone, also called blue windflower or Oregon Anemone. They were so fragile and appeared to be near the end of their bloom. When I got my pictures into the computer I marveled at the lovely detail contained in one inch of flower.

We moved on to Leavenworth and paid a visit to Derby Canyon Natives http://www.derbycanyonnative.com/ a fantastic native plant greenhouse. There was a stunning array of penstemon and Lewsia which made me long for a garden. I am not sure these species would do well in western Washington but there were certainly species that would, including our native Blue Iris ( I took these pictures last weekend in Ellensburg)

and many of the fruiting shrubs. I held back on taking pictures but could not resist taking a picture of a blooming Prickly Pear. The ones I have seen in the environment this year have not had their show on.

From the nursery we carpooled up Derby Canyon. Here were were able to see Purple Trillium. Unlike our Western trillium with their showy prominent flower, the Purple hides its blossom in a canyon of leaves. The flower itself seems to hide inside its petals withthe petals drawn up and over. A pretty shy plant to be sure. In this environment there appeared to be ash of some kind on many of the plants. That is the fluffy white stuff in this picture.

We walked up the road a ways and climbed up a hill. There on the edge of the trail a lone Lyall's Mariposa Lily was holding on. This poor lily was pretty worn and was thought to be the only one blooming at the time. There were many in bud on the hillside and Ron managed to find another that had just opened. It was fresh and white as can be.

There was a new species of larkspur, Thin-petaled , to notice and everywhere they hosted these wonderful emerald green beetles. I am not sure what type they are, perhaps pollen beetles. I have a query on ID, Please ( Flickr)

I love capturing bug images. They can bet pretty tricky. There were so many beetles I had ample opportunity to capture some fun images.

This spider on the old Lyall's Mariposa has a fly

Ron's wife, Nancy found this stunning beetle for me.

The day was too short and although I would have loved to spend the night and noodle around, I am on call and the list of things to do at work this weekend is long.

But I have a new place to return to , perhaps Memorial Day Weekend. The Mountain Lady Slippers and the Phantom Orchids would be a great treat. I will be joining the Society and look forward to their next trip on the Olympic Peninsula. Ron gave me some tips for orchid locations on Whidbey Island . One of them is just up the way from the horse show venue I have spent so many hours at over the last 10 years.

Too many places, so little time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Old Girl

In Native lore Mt St Helens is a woman, Loowit.

She was fought over by Wyeast (Mt Hood)
and Klickitat / Pahto (Mt Adams)
Stories of these two rivals throwing fire and rocks at each other certainly tells of the geologic history of the area. In the book I, have Mt St Helens is the beautiful maiden who didn't act up.

A hole in the stories, since she certainly did and still does.

My pictures from July 2007

You hike starts in the woods at sunrise. Here you are just exiting and getting a look at the land to the west.

And begin climbing
And stopping to see where you have been. A good picture of new flows from 1980

The clouds come and go quickly here

The last 300 yards are like steep sand dunes

Like I said, the clouds come and go

Dome and steam

The west wall with the last of the ice

True summit


Mt Rainier about 50 miles north. Peek a boo visit

The easy way down

Ash everywhere

Thisw is the video I remember the most. This clip is from a broadcast 5 years ago with some footage I did not see in the original broadcast.


and from NASA