Nature Notes

Vol. V July 25th, 1927 Summer Season No. 4


Seven horses, bearing three ladies, three gentlemen, and one ranger-naturalist, left the corral. The naturalist was included through the courtesy of the organizers of the trip. Mounted somewhat uneasily on a self-confident horse, a species of wild animal with which he is none too familiar, the writer surveyed, with hasty glances, the plants of the trailside. The way led through the lily fields of Paradise Auto Camp down into the forest below. We were going south at the rate of a thousand miles a minute. That is, we were going down into a region of vegetation so different from the alpine trees and lily fields of Paradise Park that a southward journey of a thousand miles on the level would have scarcely made a greater change. In ten minutes we dropped from the erythroniums, buttercups and anemones of the high meadows into the region of rhododendron, vanilla-leaf, and salmon-berries. Then we "struck bottom" at Narada Falls and started climbing again.

Here the virtues of the horse were fully appreciated. In a short time we were at Reflection Lakes. A series of fires, from the lakes to the low country of the Cowlitz river, has swept away the forest cover, but has left some compensation in the marvelous flower fields which bloom early in the abundant sunshine. Here was demonstrated the truism that if you would travel swiftly, don't invite a naturalist to be your companion. Blossoming beds of red and white heather, elephant's trunk and duck-bill louseworts, shooting-star, and potentilla nearly wrecked the party. A patch of a rare laurel, Kalmia microphylla, called for a special visit, with much mounting and unmounting and tying of horses.

Down to Lake Louise we finally went, and here the naturalist demonstrated his rare absent-mindedness by losing his hat on a telephone wire. Thus delayed, the party hesitated over a decision: should we take the shortest route home, or visit Faraway Rock. We took the longer way, and were mighty glad we did. On the steep, treeless hillside of Mazama Ridge, exposure to the afternoon sun has brought out a wealth of flowers. From a distance the blue patches of lupine, white of valerian, and cream of squaw grass stand cut. Close at hand one finds lousewort, pentstemon, and stonecrop: green, red, and yellow in the order named. Small white pines, Sitka alders, and, to tell the bitter truth, even garter-snakes, taking advantage of the warm conditions prevailing on this hillside, are found above their normal habitat. At Faraway Rock itself one finds, in a patch no larger than a city lot, marsh, meadow, and dry rock conditions. A list of the plants growing on Faraway Rock would read like a botanical book, for here are combined all the possible living conditions, coupled with a superabundance of sunshine.

Leaving Faraway Rock the party climbed up into the winter again, making several thousand miles of northing, by the vegetation-meter. Then back to Paradise Park and late spring. The writer sincerely hopes the horse is not as stiff as he is.

By S. B. Jones--Ranger Naturalist.

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