Showing posts from April, 2013

Rhodie Update

I was back in Deception Pass State Park this morning to check on the wild rhododendrons.  I had seen a little color in the buds when I was there on Friday .  The turbulence in Deception Pass caught my eye as I crossed the bridge.  I hiked out onto the span to get this photo.  The shadow of the bridge on the water is cast by the morning sun.  The headlands beyond are Lighthouse Point and Lotte Point in the northern section of the park. The Lower Forest Trail at Goose Rock is prime rhododendron country.  While they enjoy the Northwest rain, they do not like to grow in damp soil.  Sitting at the edge of the Olympic Rain Shadow , annual rainfall here is probably similar to my yard, about 20 inches/51 centimeters.  Some of that will never reach the ground.  It will be caught in the canopy and evaporate back into the air.  Then the Rhodies will have to compete with the trees for the portion that does reach the soil.  The mycorrhizal fungi around their roots will assist them

Pacific Rhododendron

I had a big day today.  For four or five years, I have been on a quest to find the wild rhododendrons growing in Deception Pass State Park.  I knew they were there somewhere, but I could never find them.  Finally, I tweeted @WAStatePks and just asked.  They told me exactly where to find them and also sent a link to an updated trail map . The Pacific or Coast Rhododendron ( Rhododendron macrophyllum ) is the Washington State Flower .  Nevertheless, it is a relatively rare shrub in the state.  Olympic National Park and this grove in Deception Pass State Park are two of the few spots where they can be found growing wild.  Just like in the garden, rhododendrons love to grow in the understory beneath Douglas Firs, Western Hemlocks and Western Redcedars.  Here they will get just enough dappled sunlight through openings in the canopy. Macrophyllum means "big leaf" and I understand now why they have this name.  Many of the leaves on these plants were more than a foot long.

Goose Rock

Today, I visited one of the highest points on Whidbey Island,  Goose Rock in Deception Pass State Park .  Looking southwest from the summit, the Olympic Mountain Range can be seen across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Also visible is the Whidbey Naval Air Station on the left and Cranberry Lake in the park on the right.  We have seen those power lines  here before. Several interconnecting trails crisscross the Goose Rock section of the park.  Start in the parking lot at the south end of the bridge.  The trail head is actually under the bridge.  For an easy morning hike to the summit begin by following the Goose Rock Perimeter Trail.  Veer right on the NE Summit Trail.  Then return to the bridge on the steeper NW Summit route.  These trails are wide and comfortable and well marked with signs.  As an alternative, continue on the Perimeter Trail into Cornet Bay to view the wildflower meadows.  Here, the trail will narrow to a foot or less wide along the steep hillside.  Being

Hidden Nature

There are wonderful things to see in the Pacific Northwest.  This includes big trees, mountains, beautiful scenery, grand man-made structures and fascinating wildlife to mention a few.  There are also interesting details that might be hidden in plain site.  Here are some things I found hiking the Bowman-Rosario Nature Trail  in Deception Pass State Park that might be easy to miss. The trail skirts the cliff side along the north shore of Bowman Bay.  Much if it is carved into solid rock.  The rock face along the trail may be covered with plants, mosses and lichens.  The gray leafy structure in the photo is most likely Peltigera membranacea a variety of Dog Lichen.  Lichens are symbionts and fans of Star Trek Deep Space Nine will know what that means.  Remember Jadzia Dax?  Lichens are fungi that have incorporated algae into their body structures.  The algae photosynthesize and provide nutrition to the fungus.  The fungus, in turn, offers the algae protection and a structure in wh

Skywatch Friday:  Moonshot

Temperature 43.7° F, Dew Point 42.1 °F, Barometer 30.01 in, Wind Calm, Humidity 94% Monday, April 1, 2013 06:45 AM:  For Skywatch Friday, at the break of dawn, a waning gibbous moon shines in the southern sky over Skagit Bay, South Fidalgo Island, Washington USA.