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Alpine Flora Around Mt. Baker National Forest

                                                   Mt. Shucksan in the mist

A few days ago I took another trip to the Mt. Baker National Forest but this time there was less snow and the trails were partially cleared. We were able to access the Table Mountain trail from the parking lot at Artist Point. Several plants and shrubs were out that just a few weeks ago were deep under snow. Also different from my previous diary on the mountain, was that it was cloudy or misty, or whatever one wants to call visible water vapors at 5,000 to 10,000 feet.

On the way up to Artist Point there is the obligatory stop at Picture Lake that on clear days is the foreground for classic photos of Mt. Shucksan, said to be the most photographed mountain in the country. The mist rolled in and out so if one waited, you could see the lake and wild flowers.  Along with lots of huckleberries just becoming ripe, the Red fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) was out in all its splendor around the lake.

                                                Fireweed along Picture Lake

I think I also might have found the bridge to nowhere from Alaska with Huckleberries along the side.

On up the road a couple of miles past the ski area to Artist Point parking lot, we found several Table Mountain trailheads that were all under snow just three weeks earlier. The grandkids of course took off up the steepest one.

                                                        Table Mountain

Along the trail there was lots of newly exposed flora such as these heathers. Both Red (Phyllodoce empetriformis) mixed in with an ample array of huckleberries,

                                          Red Heather with Cascade Huckleberry

and White Heather (Cassiope meretensiana),

                                                         White Heather

The fern below caused some debate. After considering that it might be some miniature version of Alpine Lady Fern, I finally decided that it is more likely Fragile Fern (Cystopteris fragilis). The photo in my field book even has the picture of it sitting under the same type of rock shown here. If people more expert than I have another idea, please comment and help with identification.

                                                         Fragile Fern

The saxifrage (Saxifraga tolmiei) were also plentiful along the trail, interspersed amid the rocks.

                                                       Saxifraga Tolmiei

Clumps of Mertens Rush (Juncus mertensianus) sprang from the rocky slopes.

                                                           Mertens Rush

And something that I have yet to identify although it is fairly wide spread amid the rocks. I am thinking that it is some type of moss but cannot get any more specific as to species. Help anyone?

                                                       A moss of some type?

I remain fascinated by the rock formation and variations on these mountains. I particularly like the formations that were prominent on this hike. I believe these are examples of platy jointing probably a result of some volcanic andesite extrusions into ice fields. The rapid cooling assumedly causes the platy features.  

                                                         Platy jointing

And finally on our way down the mountain we spotted a couple of delightful Ravens (Corvus Corax) who were kind enough to pose for a few photos at the entrance to the White Salmon Day Lodge.


  1. Ronk

    Come along on a hike with my kids and grandkids as we poke around in the rocks and scree of the Cascade Mountains.

  2. princesspat

    Wherever possible I like to use PNW native plants and rocks in our garden, but digging up rocks and stacking them to make walls was work for our younger years. Now that work was done we have a native garden with the fun of using container plantings for color and variety.

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