The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

Deer Ridge Trail

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It’s spring. And we’ve got the hiking bug. Not that it ever goes away, it just settles down for the winter a bit.   I chose the Deer Ridge  hike for a few reasons:  1) it’s not raging popular and we wanted some quiet  2) the guide’s promise of views  3) a chance to peer into the Gray Wolf River Valley and scout the rhododendrons.

All were achieved!

It was a beautiful hike and much, much steeper than I’d anticipated. We put in a good effort for about three miles up when we decided to turn back. One could con’t on and meet up with Grand Ridge. That would make a great (and long) shuttle hike.  It was a beauty of a hike with peeks into the mtns and green, deep valleys that slice and scoop across this gorgeous place.

The lower portion of the trail (before the steepness started, just the thing to soften one up before the grunt-work begins) was lined in Pacific Rhododendrons getting ready to pop their pink flowers.  I’ve never seen such a large concentration of them.

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Spring wildflowers are enjoying a wet spring. Here’s the Western Trillium. I vaguely remember these in the woods where I grew up back in MN.  They grow like mad in this climate.  Consulting my plant bible, the Plants of the Pacific Northwest book by Pojar and Mackinnon, I learned these guys have an oil-rich appendage that ants love to grab and carry back to their nests to feed their larvae.   In turn, the ants put the seeds in “rubbish piles” and hey!  Instant dispersal.  Bleeding heart and wild ginger also spread via ants.

The petals may turn purple-tinged as it ages.

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Here’s the sweet, delightful little Calypso Lily AKA Fairy Slipper.  The floor was heavily dotted with these in spots. Apparently they smell sweet. Next time I’ll kneel down to enjoy. Be cautioned that the plant’s attachment to its roots is very delicate. They will break off if tugged slightly which kills the plant.

A real treat, the Fawn Lily, spreads by corms.  There are two thoughts to the origin of its common name. It’s leaves have a mottled (fawn like) green coloration (tough to see in my photo) and the leaves look like two little fawn ears.

And spread it does!  Just look up this hillside.

And along the trail:

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Wild strawberries:

The red flowering currant, done blooming at lower altitude, is in full bloom up here, 3,000+ feet above sea level.


Lichen and a ground-covering plant:

A well-earned view appears after the trail meets a knoll. It was breathtaking.

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Pete promptly napped.  He falls asleep in seconds. I worked on my niece’s little sweater.  The pattern is called In Threes and in Tosh Vintage. Candlewick is the color. More on that later.

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A happy clump of manzanita and Oregon grape soak up the sun on this knoll as it’s rocky and sun-exposed.

img_9464Manzanita was a familiar site in CA. I was surprised to see it up here.  Its flowers, a pretty pink, turn to red berries. The wood is hard and smooth, reminding me of Madrona trees.

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More twisting up more steep trail gained another peek-a-boo spot where we could sit on a little outcrop of rocks and peer waaaay down into the valley and across to the mountains.  One very large raven provided a complex and vocal  aerial show.  It was quiet. So quiet. Excepting the Gray Wolf river below, the birds and the breeze in the trees.

A small panno:

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The diversity of flora in these mountains just floors me.

It’s been an unusually warm spring. There will be more hikes to share.

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