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 FaunaIn 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
- 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.
- 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 depressula – Dispirited Tiger Beetle. (Thanks to reader cicindela who pointed this out.) This is the first time that we ever saw this beautiful beetle with its 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.
StatsLength: 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: Cladonia sp.; Right: Lycopodium clavatum - Running Clubmoss
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)
Corydalis scouleri - Scouler's Fumewort Flowers
Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric
Gentiana calycosa - Mountain Bog Gentian with Insects
Left: Tofielda glutinosa - Sticky False Asphodel; Center: Potentilla flabellifolia - Fan-Leaved Cinquefoil; Right: Aster alpigenus submerged in water
Pedicularis - Lousewort and Castilleja - Indian Paint Brush in Spray Park
Lagopus leucura – White-tailed Ptarmigan and Empetrum nigum – Crowberry
Cicindela depressula – Dispirited Tiger Beetle in Spray Park. Thanks to reader cicindela who pointed this out.
Left: Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii – Dwarf lupine on pumice and scoria; Center: Melanoplus femurrubrum?; Right: Saxifraga tolmiei – Tolmie’s Saxifrage
Left: Mount Rainier from Eagle's Cliff Lookout; View from Spray Park Looking North
Left: View Looking Up Flett Glacier Toward Mount Rainier with Echo Rock; Right: View Up Flett Glacier Looking Toward Mount Rainier with Observation Rock
Left: View Toward Ptarmigan Ridge West and Tillicum Point; Right View Northwest from Spray Park
Left: View from Below Observation Rock, looking north over Spray Park; Right: Echo Rock
Left: Ochotona princeps - American Pika; Right: Topo map showing the start and finish of the Spray Park hike