Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A flowery day along Ingalls Creek

I used to make an annual May trip to hike the Ingalls Creek Trail. I remember the wildflowers to be one of the best shows I could find in the Cascades early in the year. As the long wilderness valley climbs from 2000' toward 4000' it allows you to see flowers of all seasons. When balsamroot and lupines are blooming in late May at the lower elevations, you reach far into the valley and find Glacier Lilies, Western Trillium, and many other early blooming species where spring is just waking up. And all of this along the thundering roar of Ingalls Creek which drains massive mountain ranges on both the north and south sides. Birds fill the trees along the valley bottom, but you can't hear them - the creek is too loud! But pausing and watching for a moment reveals all of the grosbeaks, tanagers, chickadees, and the list goes on. But the real show is at your feet.

(above: Glacier lily; flowering Kinnickinick; Hooker fairy-bells; Fern-leaf desert parsley; False Solomon seal)
For whatever reason, I had not hiked this trail for likely 12-13 years after having hiked it annually for at least five years in a row. A recent return visit, hiking 5+ miles up the valley, has me now knowing I'll never let that happen again! What a show...flowering serviceberry and chokecherry bushes/trees, deerbrush ready to blow out its fragrant flowers, lupines, red and yellow paintbrush (yellow ones I sure don't see very often around here), arrowleaf balsamroot, prairie-star flower, hooker's fairy bells, calypso orchids, larkspur, western trillium, glacier lilies, false solomon seal, vanilla leaf, three species of desert parsley including lovely areas of fern-leaf desert parsley, yellow violets, and more...all blooming at once! It was a fiesta of color and fragrance. Oh, and a brief hailshower, some rain, and one lovely female common merganser flying up the creek, all made for a wonderful day with a friend.

(above: Ballhead waterleaf; Ingalls Creek at creek-side and a fun rock art by previous bored hikers :) )
It has been a long cold spring, but even nature will push through and let spring and summer get here eventually!

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