I took off from work about 2pm, and got to the trailhead about 3pm. It was 86°F. Decided to take the "easier" way up, and do the loop clockwise starting with the Augspurger trail. (Hey, the last hike I'd been on - just four days earlier - it had just snowed! Definitely not acclimatized to this heat/humidity stuff yet.) Going this way stretches out the nearly 3000' of climbing over about a mile farther. In retrospect, I might've rather have just "gotten it over with" and gone straight up. Oh well, now I've gone up all three different
Coming into the upper meadow from the north, my first impression was that I'd beaten the peak by a good week or more. Yeah, there were a good number of flowers out, but probably 3x as many buds ready to burst. But as I worked my way over towards the summit cutoff, it was looking more and more colorful. Not much but nondescript little yellow flowers at the summit. Unfortunately, there was barely a whiff of a breeze, so I was joined there by hordes of flying things - and most of them lacked feathers! Didn't dally.
As I descended towards Puppy Dog, the hillsides really started popping! And they just got more and more colorful to the bottom of the upper meadow. It's really only the last few hundred feet that aren't at peak yet. The lower (much smaller) meadow by the log bench is actually starting to look a little raggedy. I'm thinking that if you get out there anytime in the next week, you'd not be disappointed.
Opening Shot: What you really want to know, right? Taken near the bottom of the upper meadow.
Blooming lupine is really all below 1000' still. It's only budding up above.
Lots of this stuff (something related to peas?) also along the lower trail sections.
EDIT: Western Sweetvetch (Hedysarum occidentale)
Took numerous opportunities to admire Wind Mountain on the uphill. Thermometer was saying mid-90°'s now!
These little guys (I should know by now?) are fairly abundant on the darker forest floor.
EDIT: Columbia Windflower (Anemone deltoidea)
Starting to think all the floral fireworks along Augspurger Trail made that a good choice!
EDIT: Pacific waterleaf (Hydrophyllum tenuipes)
Nearly to the upper meadow, I encounter the oddest little exoskeleton, still clinging to a balsamroot!
No idea what this is, either. <shrug> Kinda cool, though.
EDIT: Coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus)
In retrospect, lots more flowers of all sorts on the Augspurger Trail. (Again, no ID?)
Breaking into the upper meadow, phlox was the most abundant flower immediately in sight. Lots of it, right now, at the north end.
And yes, there were some very vigorous patches of balsamroot, too!
Looking over at Mount Defiance, there seemed to be very little visible snow. Actually saw more on Greenpoint.
Maybe 11 shots making a 260° pano at north end of upper meadow.
Only isolated patches of paintbrush.
As I approached the summit cutoff, I was joined by a very friendly raven.
The raven seemed at least as interested in me as I was in it. We spent a few minutes just scoping out each other.
As Hood came into view, my thoughts were with the climber who collapsed that cornice the day before.
Another obligatory volcano shot.
And we now return to the reason you're reading this far!
I think this is from that little spur trail that leads into the woods below and to the east of the summit.
Still lots of room in these last few hundred (vertical) feet for more flowers to erupt.
Lots and lots of juvenile blooms, too.
Approach to the summit cut-off.
Actually a good number of chocolate lilies, but they were easy to overlook with all the other color out there.
"Take my picture!", it said.
It took me a really long time to get down to Puppy Dog!
As Mayhem would say, "BAMMOLA!"
Just another pano.
Dunno if that's a bird or a bug flying in the background there.
Might be one of my more favorite ones, this fine day.
See how far away Puppy Dog still is?!?
Those little yellow guys are what blanket the summit.
Had to take the "mixed bouquet" shot when it presented itself. Colors other than yellow were fairly uncommon.
Some dude heading up after I'd come down.
Closer-up of same dude, to give an idea of flower density.
In descending order, my favs are lupine, paintbrush, and balsamroot - exactly opposite what I found.
Lots of yellow above, had to sneak in some more red down here.
Of course, there were a few other oddities (like this big-headed clover), too, if you kept your eyes peeled.
The trees on Dog are so photogenic, too. (Yeah, another fav.)
Meanwhile, I finally saw Starvation Creek Falls for the first time!
Trail down through the lower portion of the upper meadow.
As good as the lupine was to be, this day. Next week, maybe?
And then, yeah, it was just down through the forest for a good ways.
More color in the lower meadow, but prime balsamroot was definitely harder to find.
The lighting was sort of fading out on me, too, at this point.
So, eventually I hear the sound of a train, and I'm "back in civilization" again.
EDIT: Lancaster Falls
I see these every day now, but not so often from above. How about that surface sealant? <grumble>
And finally, "How about that!"
EDIT: No worries! The space that's signed is just big enough for a bus stop.
Just a totally great afternoon in the woods, all in all!
About 8 miles and 3000' EG.