Postcard from Mt Rainier

Have been having some glorious weather in Washington State’s national parks, much to the surprise of the locals who reckon a “run” of fine weather is a rarity, even in summer (rains a lot in these parts). We’ve had beautiful clear days to view Olympic National Park, Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens.

Spent the night at Paradise on the slopes of Mt Rainier – arrived in bright sunshine but by 7pm the cloud was rolling in. Oh well. But next morning was bright and clear again so we went for a pre-breakfast walk to nearby Myrtle Falls and the ‘alpine meadows’, although the top of the latter track was still snowed in.

Delighted to see glacier lilies and avalanche lilies, both among the first wildflowers to bloom. Erythronium grandiflorum (glacier lilies) are found from southwestern Canada to New Mexico and because they’re among the earliest to flower come up through the snow. The deep bulbs have been consumed by native people in the past but these days mostly provide food for bears, deer, squirrels and other animals.

glacier

A glacier lily with the snowy slopes of Mt Rainier in the background. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Glacier lilies appear to like it a bit higher, while avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum, their common name coming from their profusion and colour, as well as the fact they flower in avalanche season) grow with them and a little bit further down the mountain.

avalanche

Avalanche lilies make a pretty sight on the springtime meadows of Mt Rainier. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Their natural range is a bit more restricted, the plants being found from Vancouver Island to northern Oregon.

We feel blessed to have seen both these bulbs in full bloom.

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2 thoughts on “Postcard from Mt Rainier

    • Hi Catherine – I saw avalanche lilies flowering in a glorious mass (hence another reason for their name, I guess), but in other places here and there. The glacier lilies weren’t as thick, but we were still fairly early in the season. In the alpine meadows a bit higher up on the mountain, there were certainly more glacier lilies flowering together than in the slightly lower fields where the avalanche lilies were in full swing.

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