Last weekend I took a weekend excursion to Mt. Rainier National Park. It's a two-hour drive from Seattle. Mt. Rainier is the tallest volcano in the US outside of Alaska and has the world record for highest average snowfall (641 inches). One cubic mile of ice rests permanently on the mountain. For comparison, the entire world consumes about the same amount of oil each year.
Most of the park is covered in snow most of the time. In this land of extremes, many plants have only a few months to raise a family between the time that last year's snow melted and next year's snow begins.
|What is this?|
Starting out in the forest, moss-lined creeks and waterfalls were a common sight. Progressing upward, ancient groves of Douglas fir gave way to the stunted stands of Noble firs and alpine meadows.
The fiery Indian Paintbrush lit up the landscape.
|Castilleja aka Indian Paintbrush|
|Lupine (unknown species)|
As we progressed further up the mountain, we ascended past the treeline into a land of arctic tundra where permafrost keeps all but the hardiest plants from growing.
|Not sure what this one is|
|Or this one|
|Arctostaphylos sp. (possibly uva-ursi?)|
|Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly everlasting)|
|Poor huckleberry bush|
And here's one when we were about 2/3 of the way through. The Anaphalis plant is now fully engulfed in the water.
Well that about does it for this post! If you have not been to Mt. Rainier, it is definitely worth a trip. Sunny summer days are the best time to go to enjoy the incredible views but watch out for the hoards of tourists. And if you're lucky, you just might see a bear.