Sunday, August 3, 2014

Naches Peak Loop

Mt. Rainier

The naturalist class we are taking through the Mountaineers consists of four lectures and four field trips.  Our final field trip yesterday was at the Naches Peak Loop trail, partially in the Rainier National Park and partially in the William O. Douglas Wilderness.  The trailhead is on Highway 410 at the summit of Chinook Pass, elevation 5400 feet.  The hike took us up to 5800 feet and back down. 

The first small lake or pond we came to where there was a salamander

The 4-mile round trip winds up through meadows filled with a profusion of glorious wildflowers at this time of year.   The trail passes by 5 little lakes, has views of the larger Dewey Lake as well as glimpses of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.   As sometimes happens in the mountains we had interesting weather during the day, everything from thunder and lightning, hail, sleet, rain, and clouds to bright sunshine with lots of heat.  Two weeks earlier there had been snow on much of the trail.  This day we encountered a snowfield of about 100 feet across just above the trail and saw several children playing in the snow.  Unfortunately, there were hordes of bugs all along the loop so even though I liberally applied bug repellent I am still suffering from mosquito bites today. 

This was a smaller group than the other field trips making it easier to gather around to listen to the leader explain about the things we are learning to recognize and identify.  

It is a popular trail and was a Saturday equaling lots of people enjoying the outdoors so our small class group going along slowly looking at things was often passed and sometimes joined for a little ways by the curious.  

Dewey Lake, seen in the photo above, is the largest of the lakes along this route.  This was taken looking back from the upper trail.

Magenta Paintbrush, Lupine, Arnica, Valerian, Bistort

Avalanche Lilies

The two flowers I had most hoped to see were Avalanche Lilies and Bear Grass.  The unusual four lilies on one stem seen above was a special treat.  We did see hillsides filled with these delicate small lilies.

The Magenta Paintbrush ranged from deep intense color to paler pink and one was white.

Corn Lilies also known as Green False Hellebore.  These can get quite tall, 3 to 7 feet.


Pink Heather, Magenta Paintbrush

 Mop Heads (Pasque Flower) 

Bear Grass

In several places the hillside had been covered in Bear Grass

A chipmunk playing hide-n-seek

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