We started at Mowich Lake, following the advice on the Mount Rainier Spray Park Trail page and the WTA’s Spray Park page. We intended to hike up to Spray Park and turn around, but we ended up wandering toward Observation Rock. We never made up to Observation Rock (8,364 ft); we turned around at 7,200 ft at the edge of Flett Glacier. The Spray Park hike puts at 75 total hiking miles this summer over 7 substantial hikes (minus the jaunt to Hidden Lake). Our annus mirabilis for hiking.
Flora and Fauna
In the first part of the hike, which is filled with trees with occasional sun, we saw the following:
- Ochotona princeps - American Pika. Spotted around the Mowich Lake parking area.
- Corydalis scouleri - Scouler's Fumewort Flowers. We are going to guess that this plant honors the Scottish naturalist, John Scouler (1904 – 1981) who visited the Northwest in 1825.
- Lycopodium clavatum - Running Clubmoss with it’s handsome sporophylls.
- Mycena strobilinoides – Scarlet Fairy Helmet found in needle beds and moss.
- Cladonia sp. – Cladonia, a moss-like lichen with “tube-like” structures.
- Pterospora andromedea – Pinedrops
After we arrived in the Spray Park meadow we saw:
- Gentiana calycosa - Mountain Bog Gentian in the Spray Park meadows.
- Potentilla flabellifolia - Fan-Leaved Cinquefoil
- Tofielda glutinosa - Sticky False Asphodel with its reddish flower buds.
- Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric, the quintessential toadstool. What is agaric? From Wikipedia “An agaric is a type of fungal fruiting body characterized by the presence of a pileus (cap) that is clearly differentiated from the stipe (stalk), with lamellae (gills) on the underside of the pileus.” The specific epithet comes from the Latin musca for fly and is based on a history of its use as an insecticide when sprinkled in milk.
As we climbed higher into Spray park we saw:
- Saxifraga tolmiei – Tolmie’s Saxifrage. Honors William Frasser Tolmie (1812 – 1886). Also accessible from Mowich is the Tolmie Peak trail.
- Empetrum nigrum – Black Crowberry.
- Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii – Dwarf lupine.
- Lagopus leucura – White-tailed Ptarmigan. This ptarmigan was very calm; he didn’t seem to scare easily from his meal of crowberries.
- Cicindela sexguttata – Blue Six-Spotted Beetle. This is the first time that we ever saw this beautiful beetle with a big set of mandibles. The generic name comes for the Latin cicindela, “glow –worm in Pling the Elder” [ZooKeys 245: 1-1722 (2012) p. 310]
- Melanoplus femurrubrum – nymph, we think.
Length: 12 miles roundtrip.
Duration: 10:07 left trailhead, arrived back at 5:35pm. About 7.5 hours.
Elevation: Started at 4,000 (Mowich Lake), turn around at 7,200 (estimated), near, but well below Observation Rock (8,364 ft) at Turn around point from Garmin: N 46°, 54.559", W 121° 48.424" or 46.9093, -121.8071.
Location: Mt. Rainier -- NW - Carbon River / Mowich, Mt. Rainier National park.
Left: Mycena strobilinoides; Center: Pterospora andromedea – Pinedrops; Right: A handful of forest berries including Streptopus amplexifolius (left, red), Clintonia uniflora (middle, blue), and Rubus pedatus (right, red)