Saturday, May 31, 2014

Whistle Lake, Anacortes

Up at 6 am with a long drive north to the Anacortes Community Forest Lands where we met at 9 am with the rest of the Happy Hiker’s group at the trailhead to Whistle Lake and Sugar Loaf.  There were 16 people in this week’s group with 10 deciding to go on to Sugar Loaf (a 6 to 7 mile round trip) and 6 preferring to walk around Whistle Lake (a 4 mile round trip).  All the printed and on-line information said there was a privy at the trailhead but when we got there we couldn’t find it.  As it turned out it was a ways down the trail at a junction where several other trails connected rather than where we parked the cars.  The entire park is crisscrossed with numerous trails so a map of the area is essential.  The trails are numbered and there are adequate signs to keep hikers on the right course.  Dogs on leash, bikes, horses and hikers are permitted but no motor powered vehicles are allowed.  

This is a casual congenial hiking group of mostly retired folks with people able to proceed at their own pace.  We meet together and then head off usually in small groups with some turning back before others.  At the end of the day a check is made to make sure everyone is accounted for but other than that it is not as regimented or organized as the Mountaineering activities.  

A group of us decided to go around the lake instead of hiking the longer distance to Sugar Loaf but upon reaching Whistle Lake some decided that was far enough and agreed to turn back.  However, they later walked further beginning at the end of the lake loop but not going entirely around.  The two of us continued on around the lake.  We could hear a noisy group of people on the far side of the lake and soon began to smell smoke.  No campfires are allowed in this park so we wondered where the smoke was coming from.  When we stopped for lunch we saw a group of teenagers or young adults on an island in the middle of the lake.  They did have a campfire and so the mystery of the smoke was solved.  They were the source of all the noise we had been hearing too. 

This is a woodsy forest trail with parts of it rocky, muddy and steep, trekking poles are a real asset and sometimes a necessity. The total elevation gain ended up being approximately 500 feet but it was up and down like a roller coaster and not just up.  We heard many different bird calls but only saw a hummingbird, a woodpecker and juncos.  Some of the flowers we have become accustomed to seeing were not in evidence but there were several different kinds that we had not seen in such numbers or in a few cases not at all yet this year.

One of the surprises was Indian Paintbrush.  We saw this orange variety and also a deeper red-orange type.

There was a lot of wild or Nootka rose like this example.  Nootka rose has large flowers and lots of thorns; the Bald Hip rose has fewer thorns and smaller blossoms.  Both have a lovely perfume.

The beautiful little Twinflowers were everywhere.  We were able to look inside the flower of one plant to view the delicate two-toned interior.


Oregon Sedum also known as Stonecrop is a succulent plant we found growing in patches along the rocky edges of the trail.  In places along the rocky lake bank we saw the Paintbrush and Stonecrop growing side-by-side.

We had not previously seen this type of orchid, called Coral Root, growing in many places or in groups of so many plants. 

 Two view of Whistle Lake from the around-the-lake trail

One small pond to the side of the trail was filled with water lilies.

There were a few trees and branches down here and there along the trail but they had been cut and the trail was free and clear. 

Some of the downed trees were very large and already had ferns growing on them.  The fallen trees and old stumps often become nurse logs and homes to new young trees and plants.  

At this time of year there are lots of flowers in bloom so we hope to see more when we go out the next time.  The naturalist class through the Mountaineers is making me look closely at everything and that takes time but makes the hikes interesting and enriching.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 144

 The Francis Berry Home, Lincoln Homestead Park, Springfield, Kentucky

The postcard above is a Natural Color Reproduction – Curteichcolor Art Creation (Ektachrome by Brock).  The card below is identified as a Natural Color Card by W. M. Cline Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee with the photographer Frank Shannon.   The building is one of several at the Lincoln Homestead State Park open between May and September. 

Interior of the Berry home

These two postcards show exterior and interior views of the home where President Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, lived during her courtship with Thomas Lincoln and where they were married in 1806.  The house is located in Lincoln Homestead State Park just north of Springfield, Kentucky.  The home belonged to a family with the name of Berry where Nancy worked as a seamstress before she married.  A memorial to Nancy is seen at the right side of the upper card. 

Nancy Hanks was born 1784 in Virginia, now West Virginia, and died at age 34 in 1818 most likely from milk sickness.  Milk sickness was a condition caused by ingesting milk from cows that had eaten the poisonous white snakeroot.  Many people died of milk sickness especially in the Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee area where the plant is known to grow.  She also suffered from Marfan’s syndrome and some historians think she may have died as a result of that disease or from consumption as she was described as tall, thin and sickly looking suggestive of a wasting type sickness.

Not much is known about her other than she lived with her grandparents until her grandfather died when she was 9 years of age.  She stayed with her mother, Lucy Hanks, and stepfather, Henry Sparrow, for a short period of time and then was adopted into the home of her mother’s sister, Elizabeth Hanks and her husband, Thomas Sparrow.  She was known as Nancy Sparrow during those years. 

The interior scene on the second card shows the room where it is believed that Thomas Lincoln proposed to Nancy in front of the fireplace.  They were married here in 1806. She and Thomas Lincoln had three children:  Sarah (1807-1828), Abraham (1809-1865), and Thomas Jr. (1812, died in infancy).  The family lived in what was then Hardin County, Kentucky until 1811, moving to the Knob Creek Farm, and in 1816 they went to Spencer County in southern Indiana to homestead at Little Pigeon Creek Settlement.   Nancy’s aunt and uncle, the Sparrows, with whom she had lived as a girl also moved to Little Pigeon Creek. 

Abraham helped his father to make his mother’s coffin by whittling wooden pegs that held the planks together.  He was 9 years old his sister, Sarah, was 11 when their mother died.  Thomas Lincoln remarried the next year to a widow, Sarah Bush Johnston, who had three children.  Thomas had also taken in the Hanks children left orphaned after Elizabeth and Thomas Sparrow died about the same time that Nancy passed away.  This doubled the size of the family and caused some financial hardship. 

Nancy is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery (also called the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Cemetery) on the grounds of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial near what is today Lincoln City, Indiana.  The memorial is a National Historic Landmark. 

For additional information, please see

Thursday, May 22, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 143

Fort Harmar, Marietta, Ohio

While in Marietta, Ohio earlier this year we crossed the bridge to what was originally Harmar where this early fort stood.  Today this is part of the town of Marietta.  The postcard is another in a series published by David Shelburne-Shelburne Films for the historical documentary “Opening the Door West”  and available at the Campus Martius Museum in Marietta.

Fort Harmar was built in 1785 by John Doughty (1754-1826).  He was the American military officer who also oversaw the construction of Fort Washington in 1789 on the Ohio frontier.   Fort Harmar was shaped like a pentagon and was situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingham rivers directly across from the Picketed Point Fort featured in a previous postcard Thursday.  The fort was abandoned and later demolished as the development of Marietta expanded.  In 1789 it was the site of the Treaty of Fort Harmar between the United States and several Native American tribes. 

The fort took its name from Josiah Harmar who was influential in the founding of Marietta and had been one of the officers at Fort Harmar.  Even though the village of Harmar has been annexed into the town of Marietta it is still referred to as Harmar and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The footbridge across the river for pedestrians and bicyclers was built next to the rail bridge that is no longer used. The footbridge was interesting because while certainly sturdy enough it is not level nor straight.  Growing near the shoreline and partly in the river were several Silver Maples that can be partially seen at the right side of the photo below. 

Wiggly footbridge 

Sign by the Harmar rail bridge

Harmar historic buildings

Sign by the Masonic lodge in Harmar

Looking across the river from Harmar to Marietta.

For more information:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Latourell Falls -- Columbia Gorge

In addition to the Multnomah Falls featured on a postcard post last week we visited five other falls on the trip to the Columbia Gorge:  Latourell, Bridal Veil, Wahkeena, Horsetail and Starvation Creek. 

The Latourell Falls are located in the Guy W. Talbot State Park.  The highway passes nearby and it is possible to see portions of the falls from the road.  There is a parking area near and it is only a short walk to see the falls that drop straight down from an overhanging cliff.  Most of the other falls break part way but Latourell does not.  It is also an example of columnar basalt formations.

As we walked down the pathway toward Latourell Falls we saw other people along the way looking upward.  When we looked up this is what we saw –

Latourell Falls, Columbia Gorge, Oregon

Ever since we signed up for a Mountaineers class on the natural world we have become even more aware of all the plants and animals.  Some flowers we saw included Larkspur, Oxalis, waterleaf, Bleeding Heart, violets and wallflowers.




The drops of water on the leaves came from the spray of the falls.  Along the sides of the pathway were lush green plants some with flowers.

Bleeding Heart



For a little more information about the falls see:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 142

 Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Here are a couple more postcards from the recent trip to the Columbia Gorge in Oregon.  We stopped at several waterfalls including the impressive Multnomah Falls featured on these cards.

Both cards are Impact photographics postcards designed in the United States and printed in Korea.  The photographers for the lower card are listed as Craig Tuttle, Steve Terrill and Virginia Swartzendruber.  The photographers for the upper card are Adam Jones/Donita Delmont, agent.   

The upper falls drop 542 feet and the lower falls come down 69 feet for a total of 621 feet making Multnomah Falls among the top waterfalls in the United States for distance down.  They are very impressive and the water noise is loud.  There is a trail up to the Benson Footbridge but it was closed due to a rock slide that occurred in January of this year and damaged the bridge walkway.  The bridge was named for Simon Benson who financed the construction in 1914.  Benson donated the land with most of Multnomah Falls and also gave Portland land that included another waterfall, Wahkeena Falls.  The year round source of the water for Multnomah Falls is underground springs from Larch Mountain, Spring runoff from the mountain snow pack and rainfall. 

The Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company donated the land at the foot of the falls with a stipulation that a lodge be built there.  The lodge was designed by A. E. Doyle and built in 1925 of local stone and today has an information center, restaurant, gift shop and a snack bar.  We did go into the gift shop where I purchased the cards but we did not go into the restaurant located on the upper floor of the lodge that is supposed to have spectacular views of the falls.  There is a viewing area just outside the building that also has wonderful views.  The falls are so long that it was difficult to get a good picture with my small camera but here above is one. The lodge itself has been entered in the National Register of Historic Places. 

There is a Native American story involving the falls called the “Princess Legend.”  The tale tells of a terrible sickness that threatened the Multnomah people.  An old medicine man told the people that the sickness would only leave if a maiden threw herself from a high cliff on the Big River to the rocks below.  When the daughter of the Chief saw that her lover had become ill with the disease she went to the cliff and jumped to her death.  The story continues by saying that today when the breeze blows through the water and a stream separates from the upper falls then the mist takes the form of the maiden in token of the Great Spirit’s acceptance of her sacrifice.

For more information see:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

West Fork Foss River -- Trout Lake

What a difference a few miles can make.  The trail to Trout Lake along the West Fork of the Foss River, near Stevens Pass, Washington in the Alpine Lakes Area was nothing like the East Fork Foss River Trail.  

Even though it was a warm, sunny day there were still a few small patches of snow and not nearly as many wildflowers blooming yet however we saw hundreds of Trilliums again, yellow stream violets, Coltsfoot, and Bleeding Heart but not much else.  No Calypso orchids at all.  The trail composition is entirely different also.  This trail was rocky composed of small gravel to fairly large stones that made walking more challenging.  As the photo above shows it was more open terrain with less undergrowth between the trees.  The elevation gain was approximately the same; about 500 feet, starting at 1600 feet and ending at 2100 feet, with the first section of the trail relatively level then a steep incline going up to Trout Lake.  It is classified as an easy hike with a round trip distance of 3 miles. 

We noticed this long waterfall on the hillside some distance away and zoomed in for photo.

There were a few trees down and one very large tree that had fallen directly across the trail so we had to climb around it.  The space beneath was not big enough to crawl under and the log was too large to try and climb over.  Fortunately others had done the same thing so there were footholds on one side of the bank.  I think we were too busy trying to navigate our way around it to remember to take a photo.  At another spot we looked up to see where more than one avalanche had started and come down bringing rocks and trees with it along with the snow.

This extremely large tree Bob is standing next to must be ancient.  There are not many old growth trees like this one anymore. We estimated that the tree is about 10 to 12 feet in diameter and about 200 feet tall.

While the East Fork trail had probably 10 or 11 streams to cross the West Fork trail only had two wide but shallow ones to walk through and one new bridge over the main river.  At one of the shallow water crossings we saw a little brown spotted frog that we tentatively identified as a Pacific Treefrog.  The frog was so well camouflaged it was hard to see. 
We also saw a chipmunk and several different butterflies.

Can you find the frog?

Trout Lake is like a picture book mountain tarn.  As we sat on a log to have our lunch it was so quiet we could hear birdcalls, rushing water, even the wind blowing on the water made little sounds as it rippled.  We only saw two other people all day. 

Trout Lake

Large groupings of Trilliums were common along this trail.

Narrow but non-scary new bridge

Views of the river from the bridge

Mourning Cloak butterfly

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

East Fork Foss River

 Trail head

The trail to Necklace Lakes on the East Fork of the Foss River, near Stevens Pass, Washington was our hiking destination.  We did not plan to hike the entire distance but only about 2 or 3 miles, have lunch and turn back.  The trail is mixed soft leaf-covered dirt and rocks with several small streams to cross and one branch of the river large enough for a bridge.  A good portion of the trail is relatively level but there are some steep places too.  The elevation gain was about 400 feet (1600 to 2000).

At this time of year we expected to find some early flowers and hoped to find a Calypso orchid or two.  Much to our delight and surprise there were possibly thousands of Trilliums in bloom and we counted 85 Calypso orchids but since we did not start counting orchids right at the beginning there could have easily been 100.   As a result we spent a lot of time getting down and up taking photos, a friend calls this “belly botany,” and as a consequence did not go as far along the trail as originally planned.  Nevertheless, it was a very pleasant hike, cool but not raining and peaceful as we were the only people on that particular trail.  We heard several birds and saw a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers who flew away before we could get the cameras out.


 Calypso Orchids

This one below was all white instead of pink-purple.

Although not that high off the ground this was one of the scarier looking bridges that I have crossed.  There were gaps in between the cross boards and it slanted in a precarious manner.

Next time we will do the West Fork of the Foss River trail up to Trout Lake.