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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting Up and Going

Saturday was forecast to be a great sunny warm day. It was one point shy of "the event of a lifetime" on the Puget Sound Scale. The first 75+ day of the year, on a Saturday after what feels like months and months of dreary rainy weather.

I wanted to get up and out early because I planned to climb Bandera, a solid 1000/1 hike. The slope of the upper mountain is south facing and in solid unrelenting sun (when it is out) I feel if you are not up in that area before 10 you are really going to suffer

and we cannot have that.

When I got to the parking lot of the trail head at 830 I could tell there were many like minded folks. It was full. I even encountered some folks coming down on the early part of the trail through the woods.

I was instantly pulled up short as I noticed a tiny plant by the trail. I knew instantly what it was, even though I had never really met it in real life. Hours of turning the pages of my field guide and my current interest in orchids and other saprophytes has me really primed to see these delights.

This is Heart-leaf Twayblade. The plant no more than 3 inches high, the flower, perhaps 1/4 inch across.

a dainty native orchid already fruiting.

While I was looking and photographing a couple stopped and chatted. They asked me my destination and said they were heading for Mason Lake via a different trail. I had heard of this trail and they asked if I would like to join them.

I took them up on that offer and had a very nice sociable hike with them. The route was through a thick woods paralleling a creek that was running quite heavy.

The ground was mostly boulders, moss and a clear open understory.

I was in saprophyte heaven! We quickly encountered newly erupting Coralroot orchids. I suspect, judging by the colors I could see so far, that they are Western Coralroot, like I encountered Friday night. I pointed them out to my companion and told her that she needs to return in a month to see the full effect. There were hundreds along the high bank. It made me wish to leave the trail completely and see what was further in the woods

After explaining the orchids to her, she mentioned that she had seen Indian Pipe before and I said that yes, that was an elusive saprophyte as well. I had never seen it! It was not but a few steps up the trail when she pointed to a spot where tree roots erupted out of the slope bank. "Is that Indian Pipe?"

It was! Like everything else in this high elevation, just getting starting in their growth cycle.

It was a nice climb, with some added snow in the footing higher up. It felt like we reached Mason Lake in no time. It is stilled iced over.

We sat for a long hour while having lunch and were quickly joined by Gray Jays. These sassy birds are also known as Camp Robber or Whiskey Jack. They know hikers mean food and I don't know of anyone who can resist their charms.

For the return we made our way down via the main trail to the Bandera cut off. That high trail is for another day. Along the way we encountered the magnificent window open to the south

This is zoomed in, I think Mt Rainier is about 35 miles south from here.

I am off today for a field trip to Eastern Washington with the Native Plant Society. It is another glorious day.


  1. That tway-blade is beautiful! And, how cute is that grey jay? Do you have blue jays there, also. They're just as porky and sassy as the greys.

  2. Like your new format - sounds like a great hike. My wife and I did Manastash Ridge and Chiwauku8m Creek Thursday and Friday and hope to do Thunder Creek or Cascade Pass in the N. Cascades on an overnighter this week.

  3. It's so interesting to learn from you about all the exotic plants growing in the Washington rain. I found out that Lewisia Tweedyi is not native to Sweden. The one in the photo was from seeds and it didn't -- I don't know what this is called: Make any new plants, for lack of better words.--Inger

  4. Louise, we have jays that are blue called Steller's Jay. They are sassy ( like all Jays) and a very dark blue to black. They have a fancy do-wop crest and are expert at sizing up peanuts and loading them into their crop. They mimic Red-tail hawk calls to scare other birds away from feeding stations.

    Ron I did Chiwaukum last weekend and the creek was wonderful. Lot of Tweedy still. I only found one forlorn coral root and a sprinkling of Fairyslipper.

    Inger The Tweedys Lewisia didn't propagate/ germinate. How sad. The trip I took today it was the featured flower. They love rough open rocky ground but we also found it in more gentle soils. We only find them in a very small area of the state.

    I found out today that there is some thought that the Tweedy's is not a true Lewisia so the argument over which is the most beautiful Lewisia is settled. Bitterroot is the most beautiful and Tweedys is the most beautiful something else ( when scientists get that settled)

  5. Ron thanks for the comment on the format. i saw the offer of new templates and was apprehensive . This template does not seem to allow a center placement of photos, which I prefer, so I have to go figure that out.