Monday, June 21, 2010
The Last Weekend of Spring?
Or some semblance of it. Cliff Mass , in his blog, said Sunday was one of the "gloomiest" days in recent record. He explains the science here...
Saturday I climbed up to Red Top. My hope was to get mushrooms and see the Mountain Ladyslippers I have been watching unfold since early in the month.
Mushrooms were slim but I did find enough coral mushroom to put some away in the freezer and have some for dinner. Spring is still unfolding up high and the consensus is this is a very odd , very delayed season. It hailed while I was hiking. My new packpack is waterproof and my rain poncho works great.
I found my "staked out" lady slippers in full bloom and wandering along the road from them I found a grove with about 20 more, in varied states of bloom. What a treat, so elegant so exotic.
Sunday with the weather no more promising I ventured north to a place on Whidbey Island I read about in a guide book. My friend Ron Hanko has discussed orchids with me and mentioned a spot nearby. I decided to visit this park and perhaps visit the small park if my hunt was not successful.
The woods appeared to be a conventional lowland forest. I quickly noted, however, that there were trees here clearly in the 200+ year old range. They were huge, some easily needing four adults to circle the bottom with arms around. A group hug! The Salmonberry was setting fruit and all over in the woods I could hear song and chatter. I saw feeding Winter Wren and Hairy Woodpecker youngsters. I saw Rufous Hummingbird females squabbling over a particularly flower filled area. Even though the season seems slow, there was ample evidence of a bountiful nesting year.
I picked the first trail I came to and wandered along. I had no idea of where I was heading except to know the park was roughly on a peninsula and there was a trail circling it. When I came to a junction I took the trail that was named CCC. I assume that it was originally put in by the CCC ; Civilian Conservation Corps a relief program from 1933 - 1942 which put men to work implementing a natural resource conservation program. Most of the natural areas in this state were touched , in one way or another, by the CCC.
The center of the park appeared dominated by large trees, a lot of downfall and very little else. Or so it would seem. There was scant fern and greenery...
and everywhere Coralroot orchids.
Thousands of them. Most of them were Western Coralroot. Occasionally I found a Spotted Western Coralroot.
They are easy to spot in these woods. They grow in clusters, looking somewhat like tall red or slightly purple asparagus. Many of them were quite past their prime but it was still a wonderful thing to see.
Walking along I noted this plant. It stood out it was so pale. Simple. Elegant.
This is a Western Coralroot but a very pale and simply marked one.
I considered myself very fortunate to have found such a beauty and was totally content. I backtracked and chose a new trail. I found some Indian Pipe again, this time white. They are still just erupting from the ground.
At the next trail junction I chose straight ahead. Within 15 steps I saw it. I knew it was different. A close exam. I had heard about this flower from Ron. I had read about it, how it was once "lost" then recently rediscovered in a very few spots; mostly in the San Juans and on Whidbey.
Ozette Coralroot. It was a lone struggling spike.
What a thrill. So rare and standing right there near the trail. I wonder if those seeing it really see it when they are in the woods. I wonder how such a beautiful park so close to the busiest park in the state could be so empty. I encountered one person inside the park and it was not until I was walking out at noon that I passes two families.
Perhaps this isolation serves to protect the wonderful plants here. Perhaps having a peaceful place is a good thing. Part of me would wish that others could see and understand these wonders.
To celebrate I stopped at a place I had meant to for some time. Sweet D's Shrimp Shack! Drive up walk up and picnic tables around back. Serving all things seafood and a couple things that are not (alligator , Prime Rib, Pulled Pork )