Each trip was distinctly different from the other.
Last weekend was to see a specific orchid. Truly that! The Phantom Orchid is simply that , a rare and elusive plant that blooms inconsistently. You cannot count upon it being at the place it bloomed last year. The Phantom is totally without chlorophyll and makes use of an intermediate fungal hyphae ( underground fungal threads) to connect itself to the host plant.
The venue was a stunning private home on the Olympic Peninsula. The owners had a wonderful home in the woods and had worked hard to preserve the second growth forest around their home. It was here they found the Phantom Orchids and to the knowledge of our leader, this is the only known spot on the Olympic Peninsula where this flower is currently known to bloom.
We were given ample opportunity to view and photograph the two flowering spikes. The freshest spike had grown up inside some greenery which produced a twisted, convoluted stem. The white blossom, as white always is, a challenge for my little cameras.
Sorry this image is so small. Somewhere along the line I lost my original image and could only salvage this from my Flickr account.
But I was thrilled to see this lovely thing and visit such a nice couple who clearly care about the world around them.
Plus needing to pass through Kingston, I stopped at Mora for ice-cream. Simply the best ice-cream shop ever. This picture is from last month when I hosted a little traveler called Rhiney. There is something deliciously decadent about walking on the ferry on the hottest day of the year and riding across to have ice-cream for dinner.
Yesterday was a different type of trip. Lake Elizabeth, outside Skykomish is in the far northeast corner of King County. For years the little lake could be driven to but a land slide took out the road about three miles from the lake, requiring an approximate three mile hike in. I had read about the lake but had never been. When I saw that there were plans for this trip, I knew this would be the opportunity to visit a new place in the company of friends.
I got off to a bad start in messing up on the written directions to the starting point. I encountered two train crossings in my misadventure and had to stop at the train crossing each time, putting me further behind the rendezvous time.
Worse was that each crossing stop was for the same train. A long slow train. But I got to the start and was happy to see some familiar type vehicles. I started up the trail across a bridge that had "road closed " sign. I figured my group was just up the way by about 1/2 hour or less.
I encountered a fire truck simply parked. It seemed strange. There were, however many pieces of heavy road construction equipment along the road. They were trying to do work on this road but personally I wonder if it is worth it. I think I counted at least four landslides that have impacted the road and taken good chunks of it away. You could see parts of the hillside want to slide down in the future. I figured that the water truck was a precaution around the heavy equipment, should all the work spark some fire.
But later I met a ranger simply standing with supplies and a radio near his truck. It turns out there was a spot fire high on the ridge above us. I could clearly see the column of smoke rising from a place at the base of a cliff. In talking to the ranger , he said they figured it was someones poorly left campfire. It had been smoldering for several days. I heard helicopters later on and found out on my return that they had dropped firefighters into the high spot along with equipment. The fighters would camp for several days working to put down the fire. The helicopters would drop supplies as needed. On the return hike I could hear chainsaws working high on the ridge.
As I hiked along I counted the mile markers placed by the county for the road workers. Doing the math I had to wonder where the lake was since the trip schedule said this was about a seven mile (total) hike. I had already done about 3 1/2 and there was nothing but a running creek. I eventually crossed what was the original landslide that took out the road several years ago. I knew my hike was going to be longer than advertised.
I caught up to my group and the leader said that the original bridge crossing was not supposed to be the planned starting point and that today's hike would be longer than anticipated. OK I am game for anything. The weather was fine, there were a lot of butterflies to try and photograph. The only thing more frustrating than trying to identify butterflies (I find it very challenging) is photographing them.
I believe this is a Hydaspe Fritillary , Speyeria hydaspe.
This is Phoebus Parnassian , Parnassius phoebus. They were everywhere and totally frustrating to capture.
This pretty Garter Snake offered a lot of opportunity to take a picture.