Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hoypus Point:  The North Fork Trail

Hoypus Point, Deception Pass State Park

Until now, I had hiked every trail but two in Deception Pass State Park.  This past week, I checked one of those off my to-do list, the North Fork Trail in Hoypus Point.  Setting off, I was not aware of the special treat that was in store for me.  Hoypus is criss-crossed by a maze of interconnecting trails.  To access the North Fork from Cornet Bay, this was my route:
Numbers refer to the Deception Pass trail map legend.  Based on the map, the hike would cover about 5.9 miles/9.5 km.

Deception Pass

When I set off, it was a bit chilly.  The Deception Pass Bridge basked in the early morning sun.

Common Cow Parsnip


Common Cow Parsnip

The giant Common Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum, H. lanatum) was blooming along Cornet Bay Road.  The umbrella-like flowers are called umbels and can be a foot across.  According to the Washington Wildflowers app, the plant is "named for Hercules, son of Zeus, a mortal of extraordinary power and size."  Hikers should avoid brushing up against the plant.  It can cause persistent and recurring rashes in sensitive individuals after exposure to sunlight.

Cornet Bay Road and South Trailhead
West Hoypus Point Trail

The South Trailhead off Cornet Bay Road links up to the West Hoypus Point Trail.

Enchanter's Nightshade

Next to the West Hoypus Point Trail, I found Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea alpina) from the Evening Primrose family.  It is just starting to bloom.  The genus is named for Circe, the enchantress from Homer's Odyssey.  Remember, she used potions and herbs to turn Odysseus' crew into pigs.

Little Alder Trail

During last winter, I found much of the Little Alder Trail under water.  Detours and rickety, makeshift boardwalks helped a little.  Since then, Eagle Scout Travis Morgan (.pdf) and his crew came and built elevated walkways of crushed rock making it possible for hikers to pass through with dry feet.  Packing in all that gravel must have been a chore.  I really appreciated this improvement.  The standing water has dried up now, but the wet trail sections are still soft and muddy.

North Fork Trail Junction

At the end of Little Alder Trail is the junction to Fern Gully (left) and my destination, the North Fork Trail (right).

Pacific Rhododendrons on the North Fork Trail

To paraphrase a line from a favorite movie, "Admiral, there be rhododendrons here!"  What a surprise it was to discover another native Pacific Rhododendron grove along the North Fork Trail.  Those who follow this blog will know this was a special treat for me.

Pacific Rhododendrons on the North Fork Trail


Pacific Rhododendrons on the North Fork Trail

I almost left the North Fork Trail to hike Shady Way (23) which is the only trail I have not yet explored at Deception Pass.  Had I done that, I would have missed these rhododendrons.  Fortunately, I decided to continue to the end of North Fork.  This stand is at least as large as the one at Goose Rock.  The terrain here is flat and the woods are more open than at Goose Rock making the plants easier to photograph.  I caught these rhodies just in time.  They are getting near the end of their bloom now.

Old Hoypus Hill Logging Road

At the end of the North Fork Trail, I pick up the Old Hoypus Hill Logging Road.  This section of the park was previously Department of Natural Resources land.  A sign indicates it was logged in 1984 and replanted with Douglas Fir in 1984 and 1985.  Besides young Douglas Firs, there are a lot of Red Alders revealing an early stage of forest succession.  The Alders will grow fast and drop their leaves every season replenishing the soil.  Eventually, they will die off to make room for the Douglas Firs, plus Western Redcedar, Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlocks.

Julie Trailhead

Up the road, I found the junction to the Julie Trail.  This was the way to the magnificent Fern Gully I wanted to revisit after first seeing it last winter.  Here, the Julie Trail should be renamed the Stinging Nettle Trail.  Fortunately, by holding my arms and camera over my head, I avoided getting stung.

Fern Gully

At Fern Gully, the summer-like lighting is a lot different now, but it is still awesome.  In every direction, as far as the eye can see, the forest floor is carpeted with shoulder-height Western Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum).

Orange Honeysuckle

Continuing along Hemlock Hideaway, I picked up the East Hoypus Point Trail at its origin.  Orange Honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) was blooming in sunny spots next to the trail.

Siberian Springbeauty
Siberian Springbeauty

Another common trailside wildflower is Siberian Springbeauty (Claytonia sibirica, Montia sibirica).  It's also called Candy Flower and Siberian Miner's Lettuce.

Douglas Fir

On the East Hoypus Trail, I stopped to pay my respects to Grandfather Douglas.  This Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is 7 or 8 feet (2-2.5 meters) in diameter at the base.  It is difficult to portray in a photo how massive an organism this is.  Its top was hidden by the overstory.  Standing near it, you feel the presence of an important life form.

Bigleaf Maple

Last winter, I posted some photos of the Bigleaf Maples (Acer macrophyllum) growing along the East Hoypus Trail.  Now their moss and Licorice Fern companions are drying up and going dormant for the summer.  Don't worry, they'll be back in all their glory again next winter.

Deception Pass

Back on Cornet Bay Road, I caught another glimpse of the Deception Pass Bridge, this time in midday light.

I have one more trail to go, Shady Way (23) here at Hoypus Point.  Then I will have hiked every one in Deception Pass State Park...  At least until they open the John Tursi Trail (.pdf) on June 4, 2016.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Shedding Light on LED's

LED Lighting
Image:  energy.gov
My first experience with LED (light emitting diode) lighting didn't go well.  I have a small desk in the living room where the laptop lives.  A 25 watt incandescent bulb in the desk lamp was just right.  It was enough light for working at the desk and it was pleasant in the evenings.  A couple of years ago it burned out.  I thought this would be a good time to try an LED.  By then I had already converted all of the other table and portable lamps to CFL's, but LED's had become the best lights to use for energy conservation.

I found a "25 watt equivalent" LED bulb at the hardware store, brought it home and installed it.  I felt good about it until I turned it on.  It was atrocious.  First, it was irritatingly bright, much brighter than the 25 watt incandescent it replaced.  And the light it produced was blue.  I mean really blue.  It was so unpleasant it didn't last ten minutes.  I replaced it with a "60 watt" CFL I had and later went shopping for 25 watt incandescents.  My LED conversion was put on hold.

Moving ahead to the present, there was a recent article posted at Vox.com about converting to LED's.  This got me thinking about them again.  The lower energy consumption is significant.  Then, after 27 years of life, the main light in the master bath burned out.  It was a 120 watt flood in a recessed light/vent fan combo fixture.  Time to go shopping again.

There was a time when buying light bulbs was a simple process.  Everybody understood what a 100 watt soft white light bulb was and what it meant.  With LED's, things are much more complicated.  The market isn't helping either.  My desk light debacle is an example.  It has become a confusing mix-mosh of lumens, and kelvins and A19 vs. A21, and where you can and can't use them.  Also personal preferences and sensitivities can come into play.  I knew I had to do some research.  Here's what I learned as a brief primer to explain the terms:

LED Lighting
Image:  Amazon.com
Lumen:  The amount of light produced.  From what I have observed, there is apparently no marketplace standard for watt equivalency.  A "100 watt equivalent" bulb is usually 1600 lumens, but can range from 1050 to 1600 by different manufacturers.  A lot of reading of fine print is necessary.  To my senses, a 1600 lumen LED is brighter than a 100 watt incandescent bulb.  The general equivalents are 40 watts-450 lumens, 60 watts-800 lumens and 100 watts-1600 lumens.

Kelvin:  The color temperature, appearance or warmth of the light.  "Soft white" is 2,700 to 3,000 K.  Again for me, I find 3,000 K lighting a bit harsh.  Even 2,700 K LED's are not as "warm" to me as an incandescent soft white, but they are acceptable.  Photographers will recognize color temperature as an expression of white balance.  In Photoshop, "tungsten" white balance is 2,850 K.  That blue-emitting desk light I bought was probably a "daylight" bulb at 5,000 K or higher.

Color Rendering Index:  This refers to how colors appear under different light sources.  This would be important in photography, artwork, healthcare and high fashion, but probably not in normal home lighting.  It never has been before, but you will find CRI designations on some LED lights.  The closer it is to 100, the better.  I don't pay attention to this number.

A19 vs. A21:  Standard light bulbs are "A-series" referring to the shape of the bulb.  In the US the numbers 19 and 21 refer to the diameter in eights of an inch.  An A19 bulb is 19/8 or 2.375 inches in diameter.  This becomes important with larger watt-equivalent bulbs.  Incandescent bulbs produce a lot of heat which is wasted energy.  LED's save energy by producing much less heat, but there is still some heat generated.  If it builds up, the circuitry can be damaged.  The larger A21 bulbs dissipate more heat and are used for 100 watt-equivalents and up.  You need to make sure an A21 bulb (2.625 x 5 inches) will fit where you want to put it.

E26 Base:  This stands for the regular "Edison," "standard" or "medium" 26 mm screw base on light bulbs.  There is nothing special about it.  Don't let it confuse you.

Dimmability:  Some LED's are dimmable and some are not.  This should be specified on the label.  If the fixture has a dimmer switch, make sure the LED you're putting in it is dimmable and doesn't make humming noises.  From what I have read, there are still a few problems with dimmable LED's, so the technology may not have yet caught up to market needs.

Lamps with 3-way switches work exactly like incandescent bulbs, 2 clicks on, 2 clicks off.  There are 3-way LED's available.

Fixture Compatibility:  If there wasn't enough complexity already, here is some more.  For table lamps or any kind of open fixture where the bulb is exposed to the air, this is not an issue.  For recessed fixtures, enclosed fixtures and outdoor lighting, there may be specifications.  Check the labeling.  This is another area lacking market standardization and the information may be hard to find.  Again, I think this has to do with heat dissipation.

LED Lighting
Image:  Amazon.com
Now, I needed a 120 watt flood light replacement for the master bath.  The local stores had nothing to offer.  In fact, I notice that some local retailers don't seem to know how to present LED lighting to the market.  They are not helping to simplify and explain the complexities either.  Selections might be limited.  Why would a store even stock that awful blue desk light I bought?  I would consider it a specialty item rather then for the mass market.  They probably didn't know any more about LED's then I did.  A light bulb is a light bulb, right?

As usual, my next stop was Amazon.  Here I quickly found something that appeared to be suitable:   2700 K, check.  1400 lumens, OK.  Appropriate for my bathroom fixture, yes.  120 watts of light in a 17 watt flood, perfect.  I ordered it.

When I got it installed, I noticed it was brighter compared to the incandescent it replaced.  Also, I was accustomed to stepping out of the shower into the warmth generated by the old light.  That was gone now and i missed it at first.  That's the whole point, of course.  All that heat was wasted energy.  I got used to not having it.  I consider this tangible evidence of the energy being saved.  I was happy with this light.  My second LED conversion attempt was a success.

LED Lighting
Image:  Amazon.com
Now that I'm armed with new knowledge, my entire upstairs, bedroom, bath and study, has been converted to LED lighting.  I calculate 1170 watts of equivalent lighting is now being delivered by 163 watts of power.  That would theoretically be an 86% decrease in power consumption.  Of course this would depend on which lights are actually on and for how long, but you get the point.  Not bad.  I am now starting to work on converting the main floor of the house beginning with those lights that are used most.  I am not yet incandescent-free, but that is the goal.

Tip:  I have determined that 60 watt-equivalent LED's at 800 lumens are perfect for all of my table lamps.  I think 100 watt-equivalents would have been too bright.

I believe converting to LED lighting is a worthy effort.  It just should not be necessary to put in the time and study that I had to do.  If converting to LED lighting is desirable for energy conservation, then this must be made easier for consumers.  Most people will not take the time to do research in order to purchase a light bulb.  Plus, the market won't accept lighting that is more costly, and also turns out to be harsh and irritating.  This could postpone or even prevent widespread acceptance of the technology.  My own first experience is an example.  In the meantime, let me try to simplify the process with a short checklist:
  • Brightness:  Remember 40/60/100, 450/800/1600 lumens or look for watt equivalents
  • Appearance:  Just go for 2700 K for normal home lighting
  • For a dimmer switch, be sure the bulb is labeled "dimmable"
  • Compatible for location (indoor, outdoor, dampness) and fixture (recessed, enclosed)
Now you won't get LED down the primrose path like I was.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Deception Pass Rhododendrons 2016

Pacific Rhododendron

This will be my fourth spring visiting and photographing the wild Pacific Rhododendrons in Deception Pass State Park.  For National Wildflower Week, please enjoy this gallery of pictures from the 2016 season.  Click or right-click the photos to view them full size.

Pacific Rhododendron

The Pacific or Coast Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum) is the Washington state flower.  It grows in isolated pockets on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, on the Olympic Peninsula, and of course, at Deception Pass.  Its total range includes southwestern British Columbia and Vancouver Island, south through western Washington and Oregon into northwest coastal California.  At Deception Pass, you can find them along the Lower Forest and Southeast Summit Trails on Goose Rock.

Pacific Rhododendron


Pacific Rhododendron


Pacific Rhododendron


Pacific Rhododendron

These are understory shrubs that grow in mature coniferous forests.  This habitat can create special lighting and composition challenges for photography.  You can expect deep shade, bright sun, or worse yet, the high contrast of both.  Nature doesn't always give you a clear shot either.  There's frequently other stuff, like trees, growing there and getting in the way.

Pacific Rhododendron

Above, I had assumed all the Deception Pass rhododendrons were on the south slope of Goose Rock.  This year, I was surprised to discover this pair of shrubs blooming on the Discovery Trail near the Highway 20 underpass tunnel.  This could mean I have yet to find even more in other sections of the park.

Pacific Rhododendron


Pacific Rhododendron


Pacific Rhododendron

From my observations, Bumble Bees appear to be the primary pollinators.  This is also the case for the cultured rhodies growing in my garden.  I attempted once to grow a Pacific Rhodie in the yard.  It was no match for the root weevils that made quick work of it.  This was nature telling me they belong in their native environment where their natural defenses can be deployed.

Pacific Rhododendron


Pacific Rhododendron


Pacific Rhododendron


Pacific Rhododendron

I have been a rhododendron gardener for more than forty years.  Visiting these wild, native plants has become a yearly tradition, almost a pilgrimage.  I still find every visit a thrilling, even startling experience.  These are large, beautiful shrubs covered with bright pink and magenta blossoms.  They are completely out of character in the dim light and dark palette of the forest.  Such a spectacle simply doesn't belong there.  Yet there they are in all their glory giving us a few weeks of magnificent beauty.

Pacific Rhododendron

Friday, May 6, 2016

National Wildflower Week:  A Kukutali Collection

Western Starflower

Western Starflower (Trientalis latifolia)

For National Wildflower Week, I have gathered a collection of photos taken on Kiket Island in the Kukutali Preserve.  This is an undeveloped, natural area managed jointly by the Swinomish Tribal Community and Washington State Parks.  These photos were all taken yesterday during a single hike of about 2.5 hours.  I have worked hard to correctly identify them.  If you spot an error, please let me know so I can get it corrected.  Except as noted, all are natives to the northwest interior of Washington State.

In addition to the wildflowers, the entire island was alive with the humming sounds of bees.  This music was the perfect accompaniment for the visual treats I would discover on the hike.

I have chosen the Western Starflower to open the post.  It could well be considered the floral mascot of Pacific Northwest forests.  Wherever you explore woodlands in the region, you will find this little trailside companion.

Nootka Rose

Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)

The Nootka Rose is named for the indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth people (mispronounced "nootka" by Europeans) of British Columbia.  In biology, the names nutkana or nootkatensis generally designate species of the Northwest Coast.

Wood Rose

Wood Rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)

The Wood Rose (a.k.a. Dwarf Rose, Baldhip Rose) is our "other rose" distinguished from the Nootka Rose by its size.  If the flower is less than an inch across, it's a Wood Rose.  If greater than an inch, it's a Nootka Rose, which can be 3 inches (8 cm) across.

Salal
Tall Cinquefoil

Black Twinberry
Thimbleberry

Clockwise from upper left:  Salal (Gaultheria shallon), Tall Cinquefoil (Potentilla arguta). Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorous) with pollinating friends, Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata)

Also called Bearberry Honeysuckle, each of the pairs of Black Twinberry flowers will produce a black, shiny berry paired as "twins."

Orange Honeysuckle

Orange Honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa)

Oceanspray

Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)

Just starting to bloom now, these large shrubs with creamy white flower clusters will decorate our roadsides and forest understories through the summer.  The flowers will fade to tan and later brown and remain on the bush through the winter.  This fading may be the source of the name "discolor."  It is also known as Creambush and Ironwood.

Woodland Strawberry
Trailing Blackberry

Left:  Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Right:  Trailing Blackberry (Rubus ursinus)

Ready for dessert?  As far as I know, Trailing Blackberry is our only native blackberry.  Anything else you come across is an introduced invasive.

Rattlesnake Plantain
Black Twinberry

Left:  Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia)

Right:  Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata)

Rattlesnake Plantain is a member of the Orchid family apparently named for its leaf pattern.  There are no rattlesnakes in western Washington (unless brought here by someone), but whoever named the plant had apparently seen one.  They are common in dry, closed-canopy forests.  I have never found one blooming.


Unknown

Speaking of orchids, this flower resembles the Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata).  See the examples here and here.  These flowers, however, are totally lacking either spots or stripes as identification.  Could this be a sport or hybrid of some sort?  I am hoping someone can help me identify it.  It was growing next to the North Trail under a closed canopy in deep shade.

Saskatoon

Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Also known as Western Serviceberry, this is one of our most beautiful native shrubs.  The Saskatchewan city is named for it.

Pacific Ninebark

Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)

This one is just starting to bloom.  The name refers to the peeling bark on mature plants.  It is a nice, drought-tolerant shrub in the garden, but I can tell you, the deer love to chew on it.

Common Horesetail
Common Mullein

Field Mustard
Herb Robert

Clockwise from upper left:  Common Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) introduced, Herb Robert, Stinky Bob (Geranium robertianum) introduced, Field Mustard (Brassica campestris, B. rapa) introduced

Common Horsetail is an ancient, primitive plant that does not produce flowers.  It is so ancient, in fact, it was probably trod upon by dinosaurs.

Herb Robert (or locally Stinky Bob) is a Class B noxious weed in Washington State.  It should be pulled up wherever it is found.  It has become so rampant and widespread, this may be a lost cause.  It apparently releases chemicals (.pdf) that suppress other native plants around it facilitating its spread.  It is displacing native understory plants in closed-canopy forests.

Vine Maple

Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)

I had never noticed the tiny flowers on Vine Maples before.  The winged fruits on maples are called samaras or samarae.

Small-flowered Alumroot

Small-flowered Alumroot (Heuchera micrantha)

A summer bloomer, I usually see this growing on sunny, stone cliff sides.  This one was growing in dappled shade from the stony bank next to the main road.  You can buy varieties of this plant in nurseries under the name Coral Bells.

Nootka Rose
Nootka Rose

Orange Honeysuckle
Tall Cinquefoil

Clockwise from upper left:  Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana) with pollinating friend, Nootka Rose shrub as we see it trailside, Tall Cinquefoil with friend (Potentilla arguta), Orange Honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa).

I have discovered how much I enjoy finding, photographing, processing and sharing photos of our local wildflowers.  I hope you enjoyed the post as much as I did putting it together.

For further reading and information:

The UW Burke Museum Herbarium

The Oregon Flora Project

Washington Native Plant Society

Washington Native Plant Lists, Skagit County

Washington Native Plant Lists, Island County

Native Plant Society of British Columbia