Plants of the Olympics

It's been a while, I know.  I've been back to the farm for a few days now, running irrigation over the weekend and working with our mini youth crew on Saturday to catch up the week's tail ends.  But for the most part since I last wrote, I've been in another world.

I stayed six nights in Olympic National Park in Washington state last week, surrounded by cathedral trees and peaks, beautiful souls, and clear glacial melt rivers.  Also small biting flies, the heaviest pack I've ever attempted to carry, and sore hot spots from so much weight.  There were many challenges to such a long trek, and we ended up cutting out a long, elevation-crazy loop that would have led up into another watershed and along high alpine lakes.  Instead, we decided to take it easier, do a day hike up to one of the passes, take time to relax and bask in the sunshine before it sank over the Enchanted Valley's high borders and cast a sun shadow across the lowest part of visible blue sky.  

Photos forthcoming from one of those classic disposable cameras.  In lieu of them, I'll share this list that we came up with our final night on the trail (and added to the following day a bit).  I tend to be the most knowledgeable about plants when hiking with friends, and it was a huge relief and joy to be with a couple people who knew so much more than I did.  We encountered and admired the new-to-me plants bistort, parrot's beak, cobra's head, and Alaskan yellow cedar, and remain stumped about the identity of several more that none of us were familiar with.  It's a modern rarity and refreshment to be stymied like that, to remain in wonder about questions we don't yet know the answers to.  

Even with the plants we could identity, it was a reminder of how much time and attention it takes to really get to know a plant (or anything, for that matter!).  My days of rushing around town and the farm, scurried faster in the height of the season, will hopefully be a bit more attentive, patient, and aware than before I dipped my hat (literally) in the Quinault.

Two of my companions and fellow plant geeks are doing awesome farming projects up in Port Townsend, WA.  Check out Lacey's Sweet Seed Flowers and Logan's Heartwood Nursery for more inspiration.

Berries we ate and/or saw:
Huckleberries (red, blue)
Thimbleberries
Black cap raspberries
Salmonberries
Strawberries
Salal


Meadow plants:
Parrot’s Beak
Cobra’s head
Bunchberry
Bistort
Arnica
Delphinium
Spirea
Yarrow
Fireweed
Valerian
Columbine
Tiger Lily
Penstemon
Stachys
Starflower
Monkey flower
False Hellebore
Paintbrush
Stonecrop
Pearly Everlasting
Cow Parsnip
Lupine
Mystery flower (Aconite?)
Agastache?
Mugwort
Anemone
Mystery fern with two forms: Parsley fern?
Mystery stone-crop like white flower at glacier
Avalanche lily
Meadow rue
Mystery lily
Purple Thistle
Campanula
Heather
Douglas aster
Meadow asters

Woodland plants:
Coral root
False bugbane?
Dock
Nettles
Sworn Fern
Deer Fern
Lady Fern
Maidenhair fern
Bracken Fern
Vanilla leaf
Prunella
Plantain
Cleavers
Horsetail
Sweet cicely
False lily of the valley
False solomon’s seal
Oxalis
Queen’s cup (low blue fruit)
Goat’s beard
Baneberry
Silver leaf
Duck’s foot
Viola
Buttercup
Scouler’s Corydalis
Bleeding heart
Hooker’s fairy bells?

Trees and shrubs:
Alaskan Yellow Cedar
Western Red Cedar
Douglas Fir
Western Hemlock
Alder
Vine Maple
Cottonwood
Big Leaf Maple
Sitka Spruce
Manzanita
Willow
High elevation spruce?
White pine?
Fir?
Red Elderberry
Stink Currant (the big mystery one)
Devil’s Club
Cascara?
Yew?

Others:
Lungworts
Liverworts
Mosses
Grasses
Konks
Mushrooms
Lipstick Lichen (cladonia)
Usnea

Animals:
BEAR! Thursday morning at the river
Bear scat
Bear scratches on trees
Elk tracks
Elk antler
Elk scat and pee
Chipmunk
Mouse
Paper wasp nests
Hornets
Bumble bees
Flies!
Horseflies
Mosquitos
Butterflies- orange, white swallowtail
Small brown snake
Woodpecker
Hawk
Hummingbirds
Robins
Duck or grouse?
Juncos
Swallows
Gray bluebird
Fisher/king fisher