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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ring The Bells!

The start of the wildflower season!

My friend Ron sent me a note the other day asking about flower stops along the way east to Spokane.  He wanted to find Yellow Bell , Fritillaria pudica.  I suggested some Central Washington spots, like Moses Lake south to White Cliffs at Hanford.  As an afterthought I threw in the area burned by last years fires from Cle Elum to Ellensburg. Ron said said he was itching to start the season and I have to agree; it has been a long Winter.

I have already visited Washington Park to check out early signs of Fawn Lily and Calypso.   The only flowers out and about were the Blue-eyed Mary and Prairie Stars.

When I saw the glory that today's weather was going to be I made mental plans to run over to the burn area and see what was going on.

I traveled Hwy 97 east from Cle Elum through the area that was devastated by fire last summer.  This fire burned from the junction of 97 and Hwy 10 east to the edge of Ellensburg.  It sparked other fires to the north and lightning fires near Wenatchee came south to meet them.   

Along the Hwy 97  there is little in the way of developed land.  An old farm shows what this area once was.

Most of the area is now range land with pockets of small hay farms.  The fire scorched trees show that the land all around this place was burned and these old buildings spared.  In the upper reaches there is little but scorched rabbit brush and pines, but on the ground, greenery carpeted with Gold Star, the first flowers of the season.

All around leaves are pushing up through the burned ground showing that there will be a bounty of Lupine  Balsamroot and Desert Parsley before long.

I decided to pay a visit up Reecer Creek Road.  I know this road from bird-watching days and it is always good on the upper slopes for wildflowers.

This area north of Ellensburg has been slow to support houses.  Old abandoned tracts of land, filled with sage and Rabbit Brush use to dominate.  Now there are small ranchettes with hay and horses.  It is big open view country.  

As I reached the upper half of Reecer Creek Road, I was reminded that the fire burned all the way over to this area.

But all around the ground was lush and green.  The fire probably revitalized this ground.  I slowed way down and rolled down the windows.  Meadowlark singing; that lovely, lonesome, wandering song.  Killdeer, Snipe, Brewers and Red-wing Blackbird.  I heard them all.  Overhead pairs of Rough-legged Hawk, pair after pair in flight, reminded me that these birds love this open country.

Soon a glimpse of yellow that was not Gold Star.  YELLOW BELL I shouted.  One of the reason I favor the "early bird in the middle of no-where" approach to nature study is that you can make those sudden stops along the roadside and not block traffic.

This three blossomed beauty was a real prize!

The area to the west of this roadside is fenced of and well marked to not trespass.  One can clearly see, however, the whole field is a carpet of leaves coming up of goodness knows how many flower species.

Before long it will be glorious.

I drove up to the first parking for Table Mountain and here at elevation snow persists in the shaded areas.  The ground is dry and dull, as if the blanket of snow was pulled off but the Earth does not wish to wake up yet.  It did yield a wonderful view away to the tip top of Mt Rainier.

Dagger-pod and Sagebrush Violets completed the days flower inventory.

I didn't drive Hwy 10 back to Cle Elum to complete the fire circle.  I am sure in two weeks it will be prime.

When I arrived home, I sent a note to Ron, hoping that he and Nancy might be able to catch this route on their way home.

I am content.  It is about 70 degrees out and the Ice Cream Man is across the street at the park playing music.

Next weekend the Spring Fling continues.


  1. Its so pretty..:)
    Happy Spring and an joyful Easter

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  2. Spring is on its way. I hear new birds singing outside. I, of course, have no idea who they are, but I know they are letting me know that spring is on its way.

  3. Great post, Marti. As I said in an email, we made it up Reecer Creek Canyon, but not all the way to Lion Rock. Lots of burned out areas, but a ton of wildflowers and a lot of Yellow Bells further up.

    Northwest Orchid Society show is on this weekend at Sky Nursery in Shoreline (Aurora St.). I'll be putting in my display. Don't know if you can make it but I'll be there most of Saturday.

  4. Glad for the ID on the flowers. We saw the Dagger Pod as well but didn't know what it was and couldn't find it in our references. Lovely little thing.

  5. Marti, are Tronson Ridge and Harney Meadow up the Reecer Canyon Road? We're headed for eastern Washington in a week and need some places to visit. Thanks for your comments.