Showing posts from July, 2014

Pass Lake in Summer

Just five minutes from my home, Pass Lake on Fidalgo Island sits next to Highway 20 on the way to Deception Pass.  It's the first major feature in the State Park that southbound travelers will encounter.  The highway drops low and edges right up against the lakeshore.  It feels like driving at the same level as the water surface.  The lake is a popular catch and release fishing hole, but most travelers pass right by it.  In my opinion, they are missing one of the special places to explore in Deception Pass State Park. Last winter I hiked the Pass Lake Loop Trail  for the first time.  I discovered a rain forest along the Ginnett Hill Trail which branches north off the Loop Trail.  I decided to return and see what they look like in the summer.  I arrived early in the morning and found Pass Lake veiled in fog.  The rising sun created an incandescent glow above the water. First a little geography:  From the summit of Mount Erie, this is the view southwest towards Pass Lake. 

Spurge Laurel

Last week, I returned to Ginnett Hill in the Pass Lake area of Deception Pass State Park.  Recall when I visited back in January  I discovered a Kingdom of Moss .  That was the middle of winter.  Now I was curious to see what I would find there in the middle of summer. Back in January I noticed a plant I didn't recognize.  It was attractive, rich green and healthy looking with shiny leaves.  It was an evergreen that really stood out among all the wintering forest vegetation around it.  I looked through my books but couldn't find it.  This trip I was curious to see if I would catch it blooming.  Maybe that would help ID it. Again, there were no flowers on this visit and I was still not able to identify it.  I didn't have enough to narrow down an internet search either.  I tweeted a photo to Washington State Parks ( @WAStatePks ) to see if they knew what it was. The response I got from State Parks was both quick and helpful.  It was also emphatic, on the order of

Skywatch Friday:  The Neighborhood

This is a view of my South Fidalgo Island neighborhood from the summit of Mount Erie  looking southeast.  I come up here every once in a while to take this same picture.  I keep hoping to find a moment when the air is free of haze.  This one from June is one of the best.  When it is very clear, it is possible to see Mount Rainier from here more than 100 miles/161 km away.  But not this day. The closer body of water is Lake Campbell.  Beyond is Skagit Bay, the northern-most reach of Puget Sound.  The bay is bounded on the left by Fidalgo Island and on the right is Whidbey Island.  The small islands in the bay, left-to-right, front-to-back are Kiket, Skagit, Hope and Goat Islands.  Does anyone know if the little island in Lake Campbell has a name?

Native Plant Gardening:  Yarrow

I had a perennial bed next to the driveway that never did well.  It tended to look weedy to me.  If it got rained on, the taller plants would droop over.  The spectacular color display I expected and the butterflies never materialized.  I think the soil, weather, location and whatever were just not right for this type of garden. In February, 2013 I ripped out the perennials and replaced them with native plants and shrubs .  Since then, I have been gradually adding new plants to the bed whenever I have been able to find them.  This included a clump of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) .  This wonderful native flower has turned out better than any of the non-native perennials that I had there before. Yarrow grows wild all over the area.  All it seems to need is bad soil and well drained to dry conditions.  I have a lot of both.  Most of the wild flowers I see are white, but along my road and nearby Highway 20, I see plants with pink flowers.  Apparently, they also come in red.

The Ghost Plant Trail

One of my discoveries in the newly opened Kukutali Preserve is the Ghost Plant (Monotropa uniflora) .  I had never seen this plant growing in the wild.  It also goes by the name Indian Pipe and Corpse Flower, but I like Ghost Plant the best.  It is appropriate for a pallid, colorless plant with a translucent quality. The new North Trail on Kiket Island rises into a closed canopy coniferous forest.  The center section of the trail levels off and this is where I see Ghost Plants growing in profusion.  It seemed appropriate to give the North Trail a nickname, the "Ghost Plant Trail." A closed canopy of Douglas and Grand Fir lets in just a bit if dappled sunlight here and there.  The forest floor is covered with mosses, Western Sword Ferns, Salal, Snowberry and a myriad of small plants. The Ghost Plant is parasitic meaning it derives benefit at the expense of another organism.  It contains no chlorophyll and thus cannot produce its own energy from sunlight.  Ins