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Monday, July 11, 2011

Dog Mountain

This last weekend I seized the opportunity to get away overnight.  I have consistently put off going to Dog Mountain but knew this was the last great opportunity for this flower season.

Dog Mountain is about 55 miles east of Vancouver right on the Columbia River.  It is a popular hike and the huge bonus is the spectacular views and great wildflowers.  Unlike other areas of the Cascades that are still snowed under, this mountain is snow free right now.  I saw some pictures from the 4th of July weekend on Flickr and I knew I had to make a visit a priority.

I needed a place to stay so I took a look at Google Maps.  I spotted a landmark reference for Sandhill Cottages so went to their website.


A restored 1930's era Auto Court. 

Totally charming, I was hooked.  I called and they had a unit open so I grabbed my stuff and drove smack into I-5 Friday afternoon bogged down traffic.

Stupid stupid stupid why didn't I go via Yakima?  Somehow I convinced myself that traffic at 215 could not possibly be as bad as traffic at 315.

Well it took 2 hours to get to the other side of Tacoma, about 45 miles.  A total of 5 1/2  hours for the usually 4 hour drive.

But Oh look what greeted me.  A funky little cabin that reminded me of the cabins at the ocean so many years ago.

Beadboard walls!  Super comfortable bed!

The bathroom shower fixture was directly overhead.

The little porch, the wood was worn and raw.   Boy did that take me back to childhood.  I stepped carefully and did not need needles and alcohol for splinter surgery.  There was a slider on the porch and it was nice to sit and read just enjoying being outside.

They had chicken and you could buy fresh eggs and coffee, beans roasted on site.

No radio , no TV ( but WiFi no problem)

It was perfect.

But the little kitchen area took the cake.  A Crosly Shelvador, something I have never seen before.  A refrigerator with a sink and 2 burner stove top.  All in one unit.  To my dismay I assumed that cooking utensils and dishes were provided, they were not. 

Next time I will be prepared.

I got up early the next day and drove to the trail head, arriving before most of the crowds.  My Wildflower hike book mentions that Phantom Orchids were possible here and suggested that the Ausperger Mountain Trail is the best way up and then come down Dog Mountain trail.  I heeded Professor Kruckbergs advice.  I grabbed a walking stick since I knew Phantoms likes to grow under and associated with low shrubby plants like Salal or Oregon Grape.  This trail area is filled with Poison Oak so I was needed my stick for safety.

The trail got underway with a nice sloping climb.  It was persistent but not bad.

There were fabulous views out from the trees of the Columbia River and the mountains to the west.  I was not having a lot of flower or bug action and I was disappointed that the Rattlesnakes seemed to be sleeping in.

But what greeted me when I entered a stretch of piney woodland... I still cannot wrap my brain around.

Phantom Orchids

Not a few, not some

Hundreds.  Hundreds of the RARE Phantoms.  The hillside was littered with them.  Occasionally there were clumps that looked like bouquets.  It went on and on and I was giddy with the thrill of it.

I was so distracted as I walked along that I misstepped right off the edge of the trail, giving my upslope foot a scary twist.  My ankle and instep are still puffy.

But oh the views.  Oh the flowers. 

That is Mt St Helen's.  I was up there a year ago.

Mt Hood, in Oregon, plays peak-a-boo

I am looking ahead to the last bit of this climb.

Bugs were surprisingly few.

Lupin and Paintbrush

I think this bee was snoozing.

I didn't see the pretty beetle on this Larkspur, it was far too small.  I regret the timing, the green metallic sheen would have been awesome.

Wild Ginger, on of my favorite flowers.

The perfect lunch spot.  The lookout point on "Puppy" a little mountainette next to Dog.

The route down was slippery with little stones and I am so happy I came up the way recommended.  I was the only one going up the trail when I was on it.  Beating the heat of the day was key, though here the winds are very persistent so overheating was not an issue.  Coming down the trail I encountered still more Phantoms on the trails.  Overall I encountered seven different orchid species in bloom, one a variant I had never seen before; an "immaculata" Spotted Coralroot.

Getting back to my cozy cabin I spent the afternoon reading, sipping coffee, fresh roasted in the office

and still trying to wrap my mind around the magnificent bounty of Phantoms.

I was higher than these clouds!


  1. The flowers, Marti, the flowers you have. It just blows me away, every time I read on of your entries.

  2. Absolutely fabulous post, Marti. I am envious and will have to try to get down there next week, but we are up in Alberta now - 15 different orchids yesterday and today including one new, Coeloglossum viride var. virescens.

  3. Marti, how do you fix and eat the corals? We were going to take some last time we were out, but weren't sure what to do with them.

  4. harvest into paper or cloth sack,

    trim and shake out as much dirt as possible in the field

    rough chop and saute in 50/50 olive oil and butter. They are pretty soft so they break down quickly and yield a lot of water

    I use in pasta and scrambled eggs

    the residue water olive oil and butter, if any , can be frozen and used as a flavor enhancer in just about anything, soup stew etc.

  5. Marti,

    We won't make it Saturday. We have family in town and I don't dare leave, though if I could sneak away, I would.