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Tag Archives: North Cascades

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.

The girls and I drove up the bumpety bump Harts Pass road yesterday and enjoyed a brief respite from the intense heat dome that has kept our afternoon and evening temperatures above 100° F. Sixty degrees at 7000′ was incredibly refreshing. On the way up, we saw mountain goats at their traditional salt lick. They are pretty shaggy looking this time of year.

We met some people walking up the road to the lookout with skis. They were planning to ski down the backside of the mountain! The snow fields are pretty small already so it was a short run.

The mountain views were incredible and the flowers were just lovely. The snow recently melted up there so the wildflower peak is yet to come.

The girls and I drove a few miles out of Winthrop in hopes of finding the Lewisia tweedyi wildflowers. They have a narrow habitat and bloom early and I usually miss seeing them in this generally busy time of year. But since I am not as busy as normal, I made sure to get out and see them. According to my wildflower guide, Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, ‘they grow in rocky slopes or cliffs at low and mid elevations only in the Wenatchee mountains in Washington and adjacent British Columbia. This rare plant is named for its discoverer, Frank Tweedy, a government railway surveyor working on the Wenatchee Range near Mount Stuart in 1882.’ These are not the Wenatchee mountains so perhaps, in the next revision of the book, that can be expanded to include the North Cascades.

After getting my fill of the flowers we skirted the Forest Service trailhead (all USFS facilities are closed but trails are open, if that makes any sense at all) and walked about 7 miles, round trip, through an old burned area with a nice creek and plenty of opportunities for the dogs to get a drink and cool off. There were more wildflowers along the trail including my first of the year fairy slipper orchids. It was a beautiful day.

Well, what do you do when your dog has her sixth birthday? Get some friends and go for a hike! If you’d ask Sky, she probably would have voted for a lake but it was Saturday and the lakes were busy.

It was a new trail for us and we were all impressed with the flowers, the views, the pollinators and the huckleberries. It’s one we will do again.

Red Molly joined us for a lovely hike in the mountains earlier this week. The weather was darned near perfect – sunny and warm but not too warm. It is a dry hike so I carried water for the dogs. There is one spring just off the trail about 1/3 of the way up and Luna knows where to find it. It’s generally more of a mud hole but this time it held a little bit of running water.

Views were outstanding and the flowers are just starting at that elevation (6500 up to 8200 feet). Ladybugs were abundant. I don’t know why they converge at high elevations. I have observed them at this mountain top several times over the years as well as at other places in the Cascades. There are many kinds of ladybugs (technically a beetle, not a bug) and many of them are convergent. I have no idea what they are eating up there and when they will leave for more friendly habitats. I do know that later in the summer, they won’t be there, based on my observations which are not science-based at all. Is anyone studying them?

Here are the birds I saw on this hike: Dusky Grouse, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Clark’s Nutcracker, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskin, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Savannah Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Western Tanager.

I like this hike. Here is the trail in the fall.

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