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Friday, August 19, 2011

Fruit Loop

Last weekend was one of those where I was stuck in a rut and lacking in oomph.  I could not get enthused about driving far to get to hike venues so I suck close to town.  I hiked Saturday up to Annette Lake, just west of Snoqualmie Pass.  It was a sweet sturdy climb with not many people about.

I found a new species of orchid (for me) and my friend Ron helped identify this as a Pad Leafed Orchis.

There was still snow on the edge of the lake.  Many areas have been hit much worse than this and are still a challenge to access.  Here the way was smooth.

Sunday I wanted to try and get another hike, close to home.  I looked at Tiger Mountain and decided that the inviting Tiger RR Grade loop fit the bill.  10 miles up across and down.  The across part was said to be the old rail bed for the logging camps that thrived in the late 1800 early 1900.

As I hit the trail I quickly noted how many shrubs and bushes were in berry.  AH HA! I thought, my monthly Scavenger Hunt photo list has "fruit" as one of the topics.  I knew then I had a whole forest of possible subjects.  Here they are.

Dull Oregon Grape , Mahonia nervosa.  Some people say this makes good jelly.  The flavor is so-so.  I have never been one to can, given my usual failures with strawberry jam.  I hate to see what I come up with using wild berries.

Salal, Gaultheria shallon.  Prized by native peoples the fruit was pressed into blocks and given as favor to honored friends and guests.  Here the fruits are very big and very ripe.  The flavor is OK and I see how it could make a good flavorful jam.  The seeds are huge and part of its prized nature is that it took much effort to gather enough.  Along with the Oregon Grape, it dominates the woodlands of the west side of the mountains.

Red Elderberry , Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens, has burst into berry.  Flavor, bitter.  I can taste the quality you find in alcohols.  I know some people make wine with this, but the more flavorful Blue Elder is for jam and wine making.  Blue Elder is more common on the east side of the mountains.  Here Elder grows well over 10 feet high and is the most common of the middle canopy shrubby bushes.

One the mountain side every opening , creek bed and clearing was dominated by Elder.

In the wet areas you meet with Devils Club.  Oplopanax horridus.  My plant book lists almost a whole page of ethnobotany comments.  This plant is a fierce plant with limbs covered in spines.  It is related to gensing and its medicinal use varied from arthritis to diabetes.

This is the horridus part of the name.  The spines can grow to three inches.  They could be used to make dye and were also used as fishing hooks.  Some peoples even used the spines to make tattoos.

I pity the person sent for harvesting these wicked plants.  I ducked under one that was arching across the trail

but did not duck enough.

After climbing up the Poo Poo Point *** trail, the loop was to continue north across the face of the mountain. 

This is a Vine Maple that was split by a falling log.  The tree continued to thrive and indeed was huge.  The moss covered limbs snaked out and arched over the trail.  I have to return in October when the color comes on and take in this sight.  It might even be worth coming up to in the snow.


I could not resist fruit of another kind.  The fruiting body of fungi is not bountiful right now, but this little cluster on a stump was fun to capture.

I was happy with the railroad grade trail but then it turned bad.  For a signed and named trail it had not been maintained.  I was pressing through shrubbery growing across the trail right in my face.  I did encounter one mystery fruiting subject along this way.  It took a bit of noodling about to come up with the tentative diagnosis of Baneberry, Actaea rubra.  I am glad I did not sample these big bright berries.  My book has BIG BOLD WORDS about how highly poisonous this plant is.

The trail was narrow, mucky in places and with the overhanging brush I quickly decided that I best turn back.  The only plus of slugging along this path for as long as I did was finding this in the mud at my feet.

Kitty Paw Print.  BIG kitty paw print.  Cougar.  (Puma to my Peru friends)  My first encounter of any kind here at home.

After turning back and reaching the trail junction I checked my pedometer and saw that with 5 miles down I might as well have my lunch break and go back the way I came.

On the way down I found a few more fun fruits.  Along with the common Salmonberry and the native Trailing Blackberry, I was happy to find these fun looking berries.  False Lily of the Valley, Maianthemum dilatatum.

Rosy Twisted Stalk , Streptopus roseus.  The fruits are huge, about the size of a small olive.  They were hard subjects as the branches hug the ground and the berries swing at the lightest touch.

For me, the prize of the day was the abundance of Red Huckleberry, Vaccinium parvifolium.  Many people find this a fine fruit for eating.  It has never impressed me for flavors but I do admit the ones here are better and juicier than what I usually find.  I will save my harvests for the Blue and Black species found at higher elevations.  I will attack the Kendall Katwalk for those.

Thank you to all the happy pollinators who bring the bounty to the woods for all its citizens to dine upon.

Including me!

***Poo Poo Point.  The Poo Poo was the steam whistle that communicated, in sound, the directions for skidding raising and moving logs via the steam engines and hoists.  Out on this point is was audible in the valley floor and along the mountain.


  1. What a berry, berry nice trip! Though, I think seeing that cougar print, when I was on foot and so far from civilization, might have spooked me a bit.

  2. NOt very far from civilization at all

    Pertty much right in Issaquah. You can access the PooPoo Point trail from Issaquah High School.

    We have a lot of preserved forest on the edges of this city in both diretons. It is the west end of the Mountains to Sound Greeway along I-90.

    We had a Cougar killed trying to cross I-405 in Bellevue, just about 10 miles west of this forest.

    Right in the middle of the city.

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