Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Skookum Flats

After the Naches Peak Loop mosquito hike Bob decided to try and find a place without so many bugs hence a return to Skookum Flats near White River, in part of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.   The day was warm, as almost all the days have been this summer, but the trail was in a deep forest with plenty of shade making it comfortable.  And best of all—no bugs or so few we didn’t notice them.  Not one nasty mosquito bite by the end of the day.

We did not expect to find many wildflowers but were pleasantly surprised to find a few really special plants after all.  One of the most startling things was the color of the river.  Now I think I know why it is called White River.  During the spring the water is clear, blue, normal colored but in summer it changes to a white gray because instead of snow run off it is now fed almost entirely from melting glaciers and bringing with the water ground rocks, sand, pumice, dirt and silt.

The trees are beautiful, some huge, a mostly conifer forest comprised of cedar, hemlock and fir but also some deciduous trees like maple and alder. 

Here are a few of the flowers we saw . . .

Indian Pipe

We saw Indian Pipe last year and I thought it was such a strange interesting plant.  It is part of the Heath family and likes to grow in shady forests.  Quite often we have found this plant growing in bunches.  So if we discovered one clump like this one above it was likely another clump would be nearby.

Rattlesnake Plantain

Rattlesnake Plantain is an orchid with very tiny green-white flowers.  Once we noticed this plant we looked about to see if there were others and there were.  I had not seen it in bloom before. 

Western Coralroot

Another first, this Western Coralroot looks a lot like the Spotted Coralroot we have come across before but it does not have the little red and white spots on the flowers.  It is another belonging to the Orchid family.

Bull Thistle

Bull Thistles are weeds but the flowers are so pretty and showy I couldn’t resist adding it to the list. 

We did not expect to find this Penstemon growing at the lower elevation but here it was.  Part of the Figwort family there are several different kinds of Penstemon.


One of the few Bunchberry plants we saw this one had already set its bright red berries.

There was one place along the trail where these brilliant scarlet mushrooms (or toadstools) were growing.  So far I have not found an exact match so I don’t really know what they are but since they are red they are probably not edible and choice.  They are tiny and rather cute though.

This was a 4.5 mile hike round trip with a 300 foot elevation gain.  The trail is mostly dirt with one rocky section mid-way.  We saw a handful of other hikers and one mountain biker who was traveling with a couple of dogs.  We usually hear more birds and only saw one chipmunk scamper across the trail. 

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