Tiny Flowers In The Tundra Zone Along Tahoma
Ford and I got up early this morning to drive to Sunrise at Rainier (Tahoma). One to beat the heat, two to beat the crowds and three to beat the changing weather.
Meadows full of Lupine with a view I always love:
We headed to the Frozen Lake junction and I decided I wanted to go up to Burroughs. Burroughs is alpine tundra, a mix of what looks at first to be barren volcanic rock until you stop and look. Then all you see are tiny minature plants holding on. The flowers this week are amazing!
The trail pretty much just goes up and up. Till you pop out on the massive plateau that is Burroughs 1 at a shy 7200 feet. We saw lots of Mt. Goat fur caught in the bushes and leaves. On the way down we encountered lots of fresh goat poopies as well. Ah well! It seemed we missed the clan by only a few minutes as we headed back. They love the Burroughs trio to loiter on.
As we hiked up the flowers got smaller and more intense – some only an inch above the ground.
Showy Polemonium (Jacobs Ladder), Phlox family:
A not very good photo of Lyall’s Goldenweed, Sunflower family:
Many flowers covering the rocks, looking down at Skyscraper Pass. You can see The Wonderland Trail running high, with the trail to Berkley Park (Northern Loop) running lower.
Lyall’s Lupine, better known as Pacific Lupine. It is a tiny plant, hugging the ground – looking like a tiny version of Broad Leaf Lupine, as if it was shrunk to doll size. It thrives in the high tundra.
Rainier surrounded by tiny Lupine and Goldenweed.
On the plateau of Burroughs 1, Ford in the distance.
We walked along Burroughs 1, dropping down a couple hundred feet. With every step down the flowers changed and popped out more. The gentle slopes were robed in color. There was Phlox here, as well as Magenta Paintbrush.
My guess is Mt. Rainier Cinquefoil (Fan-Leaf Cinquefoil), of the rose family. It is growing out of the middle of a Lupine plant, not making it easy to identify!
The purple flowers are Alpine Aster, Sunflower Family. To the left is a plant I had always wondered what it was. Dirty Socks is its name, a member of the Buckwheat family. You see this little low plant often in the tundra and it does serve a purpose as it is very hardy. Just don’t go smelling it 😉
As the trail on Burroughs 1 starts heading down sharply, we came to the corner where the trail is quite exposed….and saw this snow crossing. Ford and I decided we really had no desire to cross it so we turned back and headed uphill. (Let us say this – this crossing does not have a good run out and I have no desire to slide onto sharp pointy rocks!) The trail here is part of the Sunrise Rim Trail. We noticed something I don’t remember from the last time. The far right of the ridge is black – I am guessing a fast moving fire hit?
Looking across at Rainier, with Glacier Basin far below:
Ford and I retraced our steps and at the top of Burroughs 1 and met a nice volunteer ranger. We chatted as we hiked down and went back to Frozen Lake where we had lunch in the rocks. Our lunch time entertainment was provided by the parade of foreign visitors who walked into fragile meadows at the trail junction there, as the ranger who was having lunch with us, chased them back out. Geesh. Not 1, 2 or 3 people doing it. I am talking 2 dozen or more idiots. The area is signed for miles with stay off signs. Usually on weekdays it is quieter and it was, stil…..I can take a lot, but when it comes to seeing the fragile meadows stomped….AGH! I think what is the worse is the people could see the ranger right there and then they broke the rules! Sheesh!
Ah well, besides that it was a gorgeous day – hazy but still blue skied with Tahoma so large in your eyes.
Up next…a review of our lunch!
PS: A great online resource for flowers at Rainier is here.