Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wildflowers at Mt. St. Helens

Wildflowers on Johnston Ridge Trail at Mt. St. Helens
     I had to go to Portland yesterday, and so on my way home I visited Mt. St. Helens.  It was a beautiful day and the detour to the highest viewing point of the mountain--a place called Johnston Ridge--is only about an hour off the freeway.  There is a trail from the Johnston Ridge Observatory which is a very easy trail at the top of the ridge and there were a great many different kinds of wildflowers on the trail as you can see from the picture.  The most spectacular of these were what are commonly known as Indian paintbrush, the orange flowers in the picture.  At times on the trail there were Indian paintbrush almost as far as the eye could see.  Indian paintbrush's botanical name is Castilleja, but I don't know the exact species these were.  According to what I have read it is partly parasitic on the roots of nearby grasses.  You commonly see it at high altitudes in the Cascades at this time of the year.
     There were also a great deal of a blue flowered plant which is in the foreground of the image, but I do not know what it is.  I also saw a lot of lupines and a few penstemons. 
     This whole ridge was in the blast zone from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and it is interesting to see the vegetation return.  In addition to this vegetation, there were humingbirds way up there, busy feeding on the penstemons and also a lot of swallows.
     This was the second time I have visited here since the eruption, and it is a relatively uncrowded place with good roads and facilities.  I would recommend it as a good day trip.

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