Thursday, May 30, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 93

Lake Washington Boulevard, Seattle, Washington

Published by Edward H. Mitchell (1867-1932) of San Francisco, California the picture is of the Lake Washington Boulevard that runs a total of 8 miles from the Arboretum at the north end to Seward Park at the southern end.  Mitchell was a prolific postcard publisher focusing on scenes mostly from the western United States.  The card has a divided back and required a one-cent stamp dating it to around 1900-1920.  The section of the road shown on this vintage postcard is by Leschi.  As seen on the card the most of the boulevard hugs the shoreline.  It is a scenic route and one popular among cyclists.  Originally, before automobiles were so common, it was conceived as a bike path .  Now it is closed to car traffic ten days a year for recreational use. 

There are several parks in the Leschi neighborhood.  Near here was once the end of the Lake Washington Cable Railway trolley line.  There was an amusement park that included a casino, gardens, boat rentals and a zoo.  The zoo animals were donated to the city in 1903 and the site was sold to the city in 1909 becoming one of the earliest parks.  Today the hillside shown as woods on the card is full of houses and condominiums, a mixture of old and new.

This area of Seattle was a former campsite of the Nisqually tribe lead by Chief Leschi.  The land was supposed to have remained in the hands of the Nisqually but in 1854 a treaty took away native lands and eventually led to an attack on the settlement in 1856.  Two of the settlers and many of the tribe members were killed.  The chief was held responsible and later executed by order of the governor of Washington in 1859.  Today Leschi Park has rose gardens and exotic trees, a rolling hillside and is well manicured.  There are pathways through the terrain, a tennis court, children’s playground, and restrooms. 

Another nearby park, Frink Park, had been a natural woodland park as early as 1883.  The City purchased additional land in order to connect Leschi and Frink parks.  Friends of Frink Park help to preserve the natural urban forest. 

Two other parks in the neighborhood, Ware Park and Powell Barnett Park have playfields and venues for music events. 

For additional information see:,_Seattle

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Skookum Flats trail and waterfall

Skookum Falls

We missed the hike last week so it had been two weeks and it was a good thing that this week the hike was easy and on a relatively level trail through the forest.  We started at 2200 ft elevation and probably did not climb more than 300 feet coming or going.  It was cloudy, sunny (very short period), and finally rain.  But fortunately we were back to the parking lot at the trail head by the time the real rain started so did not get too wet after all.

Trail through the woods

Located near Enumclaw, Washington, the Skookum Flats trail follows along the White River through the forest.   This is a nice trail with a spongy natural covering not gravel or hard packed dirt.  There was some mud in places and even standing water in others since it has been raining for several days but all in all not too bad.  The destination for us yesterday was a view of the waterfall.  That was a little more than 2 miles in and made for an approximately 4 mile round trip.  The trail continues for some distance further but we did not do that this time.  After missing a week it was about all my legs wanted to do anyway.  The cough that has plagued me for a couple of weeks or more did not help much either. 

One section of the trail was filled with downed trees.  It looked as if a huge windstorm had done the damage.  The logs had been cut to clear the trail area but the trees were still lying in tangled piles like giant match sticks all around.  It was very impressive.

Our eyes were looking for wildflowers and we were not disappointed.  I lost count of the numbers and varieties.  The highlight for me was finding a wild orchid growing in the woods.  So tiny only the pink color drew the eye to the two little Calypso orchids growing by the trailside.   The lens on my small camera is really not sufficient to do due justice to a small flower like this but one shot wasn’t too bad.

Calypso Orchid


This little orchid is sometimes called a “fairy slipper” since it is a tiny version of the larger Lady Slipper.


Coral root, just popping up not in full bloom

Vanilla Leaf

Miterwort or Bishop’s Cap

Pinesap flower – this will grow to about 12 to 18 inches high and have flowers. 

Wild Ginger

Wild ever bearing Strawberries


Monday, May 27, 2013

Union Bay Natural Area


The Urban Horticultural Center is part of the University of Washington and is located near the main campus here in Seattle.  In addition to the cultivated gardens there is a large natural area with paths that weave in and out of wetlands and grasslands along the bay.  This is not a forest path but more like open countryside.  It is a favorite destination for many bird watchers. 

At the junction of the paths is an information kiosk that almost always has a daily report of what birds have been spotted recently—anything from ducks, blackbirds, egrets, hawks, to the odd wanderer who dropped by unexpectedly like the rare Asian duck last year.  Along the way here and there are benches and if one sits still and listens a wonderful symphony of birdcalls can be heard.  Here are a few pictures from our afternoon in the Union Bay Natural Area.

Pictured above are some of the many turtles lining a log in the water.   Although they look small in the photo they are approximately the size of a dessert plate, not so small after all.

Yellow Iris

Closer view of Iris

A Wild Rose with a bee and one without. 

The bees were out and interested not only in these wild roses but the bumblebees were busy in the Lupine.

The photo has been enlarged several times to show the bright orange pollen sacs on the bumblebee’s legs.

A Bumblebee in the Lupine.

The Lupine here was slightly different than the Lupine at the Boeing Creek Park in Shoreline. 

The butterfly posed just long enough to get a photo before it flew away.  I think this is a Mourning Cloak butterfly even though it is not a velvety black color. The butterfly field guide describes the color as a deep maroon brown.  Looking closely at the leaf and stem it is possible to see some pearly egg sacs so it is likely that she was laying eggs when I took the picture.  Amazing.

This photo was taken from the small bridge over the stream.  The scene reminded me of Monet’s lily pads.  I am not completely sure but think this may be Ravenna Creek as it enters the bay.

One of several information boards along the paths.

Before the Ballard locks were completed in 1916 the water level of Lake Washington was higher so this area was under water.  Later a large section was a landfill garbage dump.  Today the land is being restored to wetlands and grasslands.  It is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tree huggers

We are extremely fortunate in the greater Seattle area to have a number of urban parks that allow city dwellers to step into the woods without having to drive miles and miles to do so.  One such park is located in Shoreline, Washington and is called Boeing Creek Park.  Originally the terrain made it difficult for logging so this parcel of land with its trees, creek and lake managed to escape the lumberjack’s saws during the days when so many of the old growth trees were cut down. 

There are at least two giant trees in the park.   We decided to give them hugs. 

A sign had been posted near these trees telling about the size and longevity of the Douglas Fir. 

There are several trails through the park woods.  One trail extends for 4 miles to the lake; however, we were just out for a stroll and did not go that far.  We did see the creek for which the park is named and enjoyed looking at a surprisingly large number and variety of wildflowers including Bed Straw, Foam Flower, Fringe Cup, Big/Large Leaf Aven and true wild or creeping vine Blackberries.  Two invasive plants, Scotch broom and Himalayan Blackberries were also plentiful.  I rather like the little pink flowers on the Stinky Bob plant but it is also a noxious weed and big clumps of it had been pulled out and piled along the trail for clean up.  Some of the salmon berries had already begun to turn color. 

Stinky Bob

Salmon berry

These Lupine flowers were attracting bumblebees.


From time to time I attempt to write a little poetry.  This poem was written a few years ago but it does seem to fit so I am sharing it.  No comments on the quality of the poetry, please.  This was written just for fun.

Old Trees 

There they stand
In a row
With long toes anchored
In the grass and dirt
Not quite ominous
Not quite friendly
Like a line of Ents
In a Tolkien myth.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 92

Mount Rainier and Reflection Lake, Washington

The postcard above is of Mount Rainer and Reflection Lake, Washington also known as Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.  It is what is referred to as a linen card.  Linen postcards were printed on a special type of paper stock and had bright colors called colorchrome making them an improvement over the earlier cards that were either black and white, sepia toned, or tinted and reproduced in color. 

The linen cards were printed between 1930 and 1944, some even a little later than 1944.  A few publishing companies used numbers and letters to identify their cards and this one does have a letter/number combination in the lower right corner of the border. The prefix, 6A, I think, means that the card was printed or issued in 1936. 

Indian Henry (1820-1895), whose native name was So-To-Lick, was known as a woodsman and guide.  He lived in both his native world and with the new white settlers.  The area shown on the postcard was one of his favorite destinations and later was given the name of Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground in his honor. He is listed as possibly being Klickitat or Yakama but he also lived with the Mashel bands who were a mixture of Nisqually and Klickitat.

The meadow is comprised of flowery glades, trees, and brooks.  It is a favorite with mountain backpackers.  Although he has been somewhat forgotten it is fitting that the place he loved so much is named for him.  His grave can be found at Mashel Prairie near Eatonville, Washington. 

For more information about him, his life and this area of the Mt. Rainier National Park see:

Friday, May 17, 2013

White River Rim

View of the river from the rim

Last week the hike was to Mud Mountain and the White River Rim trail near Enumclaw, Washington.  It is a park and has a big parking lot, two children's play areas, a nice, clean, flush toilet restroom (always a plus), and also a privy or outhouse about one mile from the trail head.  These details can be important when one is spending most of the day in the woods. 

There was a profusion of mostly tiny wildflowers in bloom, things like Lily of the Valley, Fringe Cup, False and Star Solomon’s Seal and others.  There were a few Salmon berry blossoms but also many berries had set already.  The Trilliums were finished blooming.  We saw, I think, 24 different kinds of flowers in bloom.  I took some photos but tried not to double up on those varieties that I have posted previously.  I am still learning the names of the plants, corrections are always welcome.  The day was just about perfect, mixed clouds and sunshine, not too warm, not much mud on the trail, and a river to sit by while eating lunch.   It was 5 miles round trip making it the longest hike to date for me to attempt.  We started out at 1300 feet and dropped down to about 1000 feet or less, thus the up hill elevation gain was approximately 300 feet.  Most of that was on the return trip after lunch so it felt like a lot more work than it really was.

Here are a few pictures --

 Fringe Cup

 Large leaf Aven

Lily of the Valley

 Hooker Fairy Bell

 Youth on Age

 Vanilla Leaf

 Twisted Stalk

Two large trees growing on a "nurse log" or downed tree stump.

 Foam flower

 Large or False Solomon's Seal

 Star Solomon's Seal

 Vine Maple

Bleeding Heart & Star Solomon's Seal

 Money Plant

 River Valley

 White River


Carpet of Lily of the Valley

Devil's Club with buds, almost ready to bloom