Posts Tagged ‘Pyramids Trail’

Gorgeous Day on Middle Pyramid

The view from the summit was spectacular on this clear day. Looking north we had a clear view of Mt. Hood and even Mt. Saint Helens framed by Coffin Mountain (left) and Bachelor Mountain.

The view from the summit was spectacular on this clear day. Looking north we had a great view of Mt. Hood and even Mt. Saint Helens framed by Coffin Mountain (left) and Bachelor Mountain (right). Trappers Butte is in front on the left.

Cliff penstemon can live in the harshest spots and still look beautiful—much nicer than the ones in my garden, which wouldn't even bloom this year. Three-fingerd Jack is in the background.

Cliff penstemon can survive in the harshest spots and still look beautiful—much nicer than the ones in my garden, which wouldn’t even bloom this year. Three-fingered Jack is in the background, looking east.

After all the super hot weather we’ve been having, it was a glorious weekend, and I was thrilled to get back into the Western Cascades on June 12 with four friends: Nancy Bray, Ginny McVickar, Sheila Klest, and her friend Sherry. I’m going to be leading a short trip to Park Creek during the upcoming NPSO Annual Meeting, which our Emerald Chapter is hosting next month, so I had wanted to take a look at how things were shaping up in the area. I realized I hadn’t been to the Pyramids since 2010 (see Yellow Cliff Paintbrush Still at Middle Pyramid), so, since Park Creek is on the way to the Pyramids trailhead, I figured I could do both. None of my companions had been to the Pyramids Trail before, making it a special trip for them as well.

We really couldn’t have picked a better day. There were few clouds in the sky until late afternoon, and the temperature wasn’t too hot or too cool. As Goldilocks would have said, it was “just right.” The air was much clearer than it had been during the high humidity of the recent heat wave, giving us awesome views at the summit. The foliage was quite lush, and the flowers were also fabulous, with a great many things in their prime.

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Yellow Cliff Paintbrush Still at Middle Pyramid

On my very first trip to Three Pyramids, back on June 23, 2003, I discovered an unusual yellow-flowered Castilleja rupicola (cliff paintbrush). I mentioned this to Mark Egger, the author of the upcoming Flora of North America treatment of Castilleja, and he said he’d never seen one (click here to see Mark’s beautiful Castilleja photos). I’d been hoping to see it again some day. I also wanted to continue my quest to check out all the Dodecatheon pulchellum sites I know, so I decided a trip to the Pyramids trail was in order, and yesterday (July 9), Sabine and I headed up there.

Thunderstorms brewing over the High Cascades thankfully kept their distance.

Interestingly, the bloom season was almost the same as it was on that first trip. On almost every trail I’ve been on this year, flowering has been about two weeks later than “usual”— whatever that is these days. The weather was quite different, however. On my first trip, I remember the clouds were so low that for a few minutes, all I could see from my perch on the tiny summit was mist below me. It was quite unnerving, and I was so relieved when they lifted some before I went down—especially because it turned out I was totally disoriented and facing the opposite direction I thought I was. Yesterday, on the other hand, was quite hot, and while it was clear all around us, thunder clouds built up over the Three Sisters and Mount Washington as the day wore on, and we could hear rumbling all the way back down. Read the rest of this entry »

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