Pacific Rhododendrons Today

North Beach Trail, Deception Pass State Park

I was back in Deception Pass State Park this morning to check on the wild Pacific Rhododendrons.  As usual, the journey begins on the North Beach Trail.  Once again, I was joined by Jerry who also came on the hike last Friday.  Jerry is from Texas but he lives here now.  He has become fascinated with our Pacific Northwest nature scene and how different it is from what he is used to.  He is like a sponge learning everything he can about this part of the world,

Discovery Trail, Deception Pass State Park

We left the North Beach Trail to head up the Discovery Trail.  This archway under Highway 20 serves as a gateway to the rhododendron grove.  Even without the rhododendrons, this is one of the prettiest hikes in Deception Pass State Park.  Visitors will pass under some enormous Douglas Firs in this old-growth forest.

Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum)

We spotted many more blooms beginning to open on this visit.  As the buds begin to open, a flash of bright magenta makes them easier to locate.

Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum)

These buds are about half opened.  I would give them another four or five days before they are completely open.

Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum)

Another blossom about half opened, this one along the Goose Rock Northeast Summit Trail.

Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum)

Some dappled sunlight manages to reach the plants through the canopy.  Viewed from underneath, they appear to glow.

Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum)

This trio of blossoms was growing over our heads.  Pacific Rhododendrons can exceed 25 feet/8 meters in height.

Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum)

I had to shoot through the leaves to photograph this blossom.  As they open, the deep magenta buds will become a clear pink color.

Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum)

This is what the buds look like before they begin to open.  There is just a hint of pink apparent.

North Whidbey Island from the Goose Rock Summit

We continued on up to the Goose Rock summit once again.  The views from the top are the rewards for a vigorous climb.  This is the view looking south-southwest towards Oak Harbor and the Naval Air Station.  The Olympic Mountain Range is in the background.  The mountains are about fifty miles from where we stood.

I am planning my next visit for Monday, May 5th, 2014,  Several of the buds should be fully opened by then.  If you want to join me, we'll meet in the North Beach parking lot at 9:30 AM, or thereabouts.  I'll head straight over after my haircut, so I might be a tad late.  Enter the park through the main entrance on Whidbey Island and follow the signs to North Beach.  The road ends at the parking lot.


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