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Tag Archives: mountain ash

After a long hot summer of smoky skies and temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees and major public lands closures, our world is beginning to return to normal. The smoke is mostly gone and the forest fires are nearing containment. Temperatures are moderate and sometimes there is a feeling of fall in the air. No one is complaining about these changes. We still worry about covid and masks and who is vaccinated or not but that is all out of our control.

Since Luna can only tolerate short hikes on cool, preferably cloudy, days we have to pick and choose where and when we go. This four and a half mile hike was quite pleasant and the sun gave way to mostly overcast skies so she could enjoy it. Sky was ecstatic to be out in the woods with a lake as our destination. She also enjoyed picking her own huckleberries. I did too, only picking as many as I could eat along the trail. Luna was happy to smell all the smells and drink from small streams. She doesn’t seem to get in front of the camera much anymore. I will have to work on that.

There were a few flowers – fireweed, gentian, pearly everlasting, asters – and lots of mountain ash berries as well as the huckleberries. Some of the fireweed had aphids and if you look close, you can see the ants ‘farming’ the aphids. Quite a bit of color after our dreary summer. It was a relief. Also, lots of ferns, devil’s club and a few mushrooms, most past their peak.

My uncle invited me to join him for a hike to Rainy Lake in the North Cascades earlier this week. He wanted to search for interesting mushroom species and walk his dog and oh, he asked if I wanted to bring a cooler because he and his friend were having such a good crab season! How could I turn down any of that?

The weather was unseasonably cool for early September but here in the mountains we should expect that. The forested trail was pleasant and there were numerous mushrooms. His dog, Chopper, found lots of sticks that he urged us to toss for him. Sky liked swiping his sticks and Luna was busy looking for chipmunks. Waterfalls poured into the lake from the remaining snowfields far above us. The cloudy skies reflected in the water made it look dark and ominous and the breeze and a smattering of rain drops didn’t help much so we returned to the trail. In addition to the non-edible mushrooms we found a few boletes that Bill took home for supper.

After he filled my cooler and we had a cold drink we headed off in our opposite directions. As I drove back I decided to try for another lake. It’s only a two mile trail to Cutthroat Lake and an easy one too. Last fall it was Sky’s first real hike as a tiny puppy. It’s hard to believe she’s a 62 pound dog now. Where does the time go? Along the trail I passed the sight of a huge winter avalanche that had buried the place with broken trees. Luckily the Forest Service found the resources to clear a path though the devastation. I ran into friends near the lake and we had a nice visit. Cutthroat and Rainy Lakes are similar with cliffs lining much of the shoreline. On the way back I had the good fortune to see a pine marten! I don’t know how rare these little cuties are but this is only the second one I’ve ever seen.

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