Saturday, July 27, 2013

Central Cascades, Blanca Lake Hike

Left: View of Blanca Lake Looking Toward Columbia Glacier; Right: Topology Map Showing the Switchbacks in the Trail
View of Blanca Lake Looking Toward Columbia GlacierTopology Map Showing the Switchbacks in the Trail
We are off with a bang with this season’s hiking. Two in two weeks. Today, we hiked to Blanca Lake. This was a great hike for several reasons. First, the climb through the old-growth forest was magnificent. The undergrowth was much more scenic (plant-wise) than last week’s Goat Mountain’s first few miles. Second, the setting around the lake was spectacular. Third, a lot less nibbling insects to speak of, again, compared to Goat Mountain. Negatives of the hike? Crowded. Going up we passed and got passed by a few folks. Going back down, we met a lot of folks coming up to spend the night.

The Washington Trails Association page for Blanca Lake calls the water “cobalt”. It’s more a glacial blue as you can see from the photos here. The lake water comes from the Columbia Glacier.  Water exits the lake with Troublesome Creek. We crossed the creek at the logjam by taking our shoes off and carefully picking our way across. Watch out for the sharp stones and sticks if you do this. A pole to steady yourself helps. One couple, with the aid of a pole, carefully found a dry path across the using just the the logs.

Length: 7.5 miles round-trip.

Duration: Just under 6 hours. We left the trailhead at 9:30am and arrived back at 3:15pm. We went about 2 mph. We sat down at the lake at 12:30pm for lunch and left the lake at 1:30pm to head back.

Elevation Gain: 3,300 feet. The trailhead is at 1,300 feet and the highest point is at 4,600 feet.

Location: Central Cascades, off of US 2.

Some of the flowers and shrubs we could identify:

  • Marsh Marigold, Caltha biflora.  Photographed in a very wet area near Blanca Lake.
  • Jeffrey Shooting star, Dodecatheon jeffreyi. Photographed by the shore of Blanca Lake.
  • Twinflower, Linnaea borealis. Twinflower is technically a shrub. Spreads by runners.
  • Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis
  • Dwarf Bramble, Rubus lasiococcus
  • Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa
  • Foamflower, Tiarella unifoliata
  • False Solomon’s Seal, Simalcina racemosa (berries)
  • Queen’s Cup, Clintonia uniflora
  • Prince’s Pine or Pipsissewa, Chimaphila umbellata. A myco-heterotrophic plant, one that gets all or parts of its food from parasitism upon fungi.
  • Western Coralroot, Corallorhiza mertensiana. Another myco-heterotrophic plant. 
  • Single-Flowered Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora.  Another myco-heterotrophic plant.
  • Cauliflower Mushroom, Sparassis crispa. Apparently, these fungi are found in old-growth only.
  • Red-belted Polypore, Fomitopsis pinicola

Left: Linnaea borealis (Twinflower); Right: Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry)
Linnaea borealis (Twinflower)Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry)

Left: Caltha biflora (Marsh Marigold); Right: Dodecatheon jeffreyi (Jeffrey Shooting Star)

Left: Sparassis crispa (Cauliflower Mushroom); Right: Fomitopsis pinocola (Red-Belted Polypore)
Sparassis crispa (Cauliflower Mushroom)Fomitopsis pinocola (Red-Belted Polypore)

Left: Simalcina racemosa (False Solomon’s Seal) Berries; Right: Close-Up Chimaphila umbellata Flower (Prince’s Pine or Pipsissewa)
Simalcina racemosa (False Solomon’s Seal) BerriesClose-Up Chimaphila umbellata Flower (Prince’s Pine or Pipsissewa)

Left: First View of Blanca Lake on the Trail; Right: View of Blanca Lake Looking Across the Logjam on the Lake that Leads to Troublesome Creek
First View of Blanca Lake on the TrailView of Blanca Lake Looking Across the Logjam on the Lake that Leads to Troublesome Creek

Left: Tiarella unifoliata (Foamflower); Right: Chimaphila umbellata Flower (Prince’s Pine or Pipsissewa) Flowers
Tiarella unifoliata (Foamflower)Chimaphila umbellata Flower (Prince’s Pine or Pipsissewa) Flowers

Left: Rubus lassiococcus (Dwarf Bramble)?; Right: Sambucus racemosa (Red Elderberry)
Rubus lassiococcus (Dwarf Bramble)?Sambucus racemosa (Red Elderberry)

Left: Monotropa uniflora (Single-Flowered Indian Pipe) Coming Up Through the Forest Floor; Right: Corallorhizza mertensiana (Western Coralroot)
Monotropa uniflora (Single-Flowered Indian Pipe) Coming Up Through the Forest FloorCorallorhizza mertensiana (Western Coralroot)

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