It’s summer still, barely. At this latitude (a little over 47 degrees north) in late August, we’ve already gone from a peak of sixteen hours of daylight at the summer solstice, to about fourteen hours and losing minutes by the day. Headed towards Christmas, and barely eight gloomy hours, alas.
But it’s still summer now, and while I thought I was going to be too late this year for my annual wildflower pilgrimage to Sunrise on Mt. Rainier, happily I was not.
It was a gorgeous day. It was only supposed to get to 59dF at Sunrise’s 6400 foot altitude, but it went well into the sixties. It was also supposed to be overcast most of the day, and I suspect it was at sea level, but since Sunrise is on the east side of the Mountain, there was plenty of blue to go along with the gray.
Because I was late getting up there this year, I even got to see two new-to-me kinds of wildflowers, a yellow spire called rainiera , and two varieties of the sadly-named lousewort, which are much prettier than the name would make you think. The smaller white lousewort looks from a distance, almost like a cream-colored lupine. The taller lousewort is lemon yellow. Both are in the same genus as one of my favorite flowers, elephantella.
Asters were everywhere, and lupine was still blooming in great blue pools. I love lupine, especially the variations of color from almost white to dark reddish and bluish purple. This time I saw one with stripes, which I haven’t seen often. The phlox was all but over, but there were a few patches still blooming. The yellow daisy arnica was still going strong, as was the paintbrush, from almost pink through red to orange. The other usual suspects, bistort and pearly everlastings, were still out, too.
The Mountain played hide-and-seek with the clouds most of the afternoon, but I did get some good glimpses as I walked the almost three miles of one of my alltime favorite trails, down the service road past the backpacker camp, and around by Shadow Lake.
The fog began to roll in as I climbed into my car. Altogether perfect timing. I’m so glad it wasn’t too late for wildflowers.
Where is your favorite place to go wildflower hunting?