Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summit Lake - Cascades

Summit Lake

As far as I knew Summit Lake was just outside the capitol forest and not much of a hiking destination.  Ah, but there is another Summit Lake in the Clearwater wilderness near Mount Rainer.  I rarely venture out of my beloved Olympics due to the cost of gas and family obligations and my dislike of driving in heavy traffic.  Today I did not have to drive and I had wonderful company to hike with.

Hookeria moss grows in big patches next to the trail
We started our hike about two hours earlier than I normally leave my house and this was after a two hour drive!  The road to the trail head was rather rough but people were making it up there in their cars.  I however, would not choose to subject my car to that kind of punishment.  Jeff donned a pair of flip flops for the hike.  I wore boots because I was expecting lots of snow.

The trailhead is at 4,400 feet and the hiked topped out at 5,770 feet.  It felt strange to have to do so little work to reach such a high elevation.  I’m so used to the Olympics that though they are not very tall, rise straight out of the sea and don’t have many roads going through them.    With just a few exceptions, to reach 5,700 feet in the Olympics you really have to work! 

I’m not used to this kind of elevation and I could really feel the effects of the thin air during the last bit of the climb.  Once we reached the lake we climbed up to a rocky knob above the lake to eat lunch and take in the views. 

What a view it was!  We could see the Olympics, and Cascades, Seattle and Tacoma.  Jeff said that when the light is right you can also see the ocean from up there.   I don’t recall ever looking down onto Tacoma and knowing it.  I think Tacoma is hidden behind Green and Gold Mountain (in Kitsap County) from my normal vantage points in the SE Olympics. 

We saw seas of avalanche lilies.   Green Usnea and black Bryoria lichens coated the old growth hemlocks, I think I saw some Letharia lichens too.  I found a large patch of Hookeria moss.  I also found some yet to be ID’ed aquatic liverworts.  I found a large patch of what I think will turn out to be the  Lophozia incisa liverwort.  It certainly was interesting to go look at bryophytes in a new area.

After lunch we made a circle around the lake and then we quickly hiked back down to the trail head.   At the trail head cold beers were passed around.  What a fun little tradition to have a beer at the end of the hike!  On the way home I was treated to chips and an ice cream cone.  It was a very pleasant day!

When I got home I was  greeted by  two sinks full of dishes, a hungry child, a broken dryer and a clogged toilet.  All the problems other than the broken dryer were quickly resolved.  Now I’m ready for a nap!
The temperature at sea level is 85 degrees.
6.5 miles with 1,300 feet elevation gain
I'll add more pictures after my nap

Slime mold

Glacier lilly

Map Lichen

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