about 1700 meters (5600 feet)
Buckhorn Wilderness, Olympic National Forest
It's the end of the season on Mt. Townsend, and the Veratrum viride or Green False Hellebore has toppled over. Each stem is about 4' long. Only a few of those I saw had blossoms, and they were still upright. These were spotted at about 5000 or 5500'.
I was excited to find Thamnolia vermicularis, an arctic-subarctic lichen, growing on a sunny boulder covered in a variety of lichens and mosses at about 6000' on the slopes of Mt. Townsend. I've only seen this once before, on Mt. Zion.
Here are the pretty berries of the Smilacina stellata or Star-flowered False Solomon’s-Seal. The flowers are also beautiful on this plant. This was found at about 5500' in a shady section of the mixed conifer forest along the slopes of Mt. Townsend.
This bracket fungus was among the prettiest I've seen! I forgot to look whether the trunk was from a live tree or a snag. Each shelf was about 5-10" wide, growing about 4" from the trunk. They were growing about 6' from the ground in a shady mixed conifer forest at about 5000'.
The Saxifraga bronchialis or Spotted Saxifrage had bloomed some time ago, and the scrubby low leaves are turning autumn colors. This plant was growing on a boulder at about 6000' along the Mt. Townsend trail.
The Peltigera neopolydactyla or Frog Pelt along the lower portion of the Mt. Townsend trail was completely gray.
I saw four Olympic Chipmunks along the trail to Mt. Townsend. This one was so intent on gathering a piece of dried grass that it tolerated my presence on the trail.
I spotted just two plants of Geum triflorum or Old Man’s Whiskers gone to seed along the sunny slope of Mt. Townsend, at about 5500'.
I am puzzled by these plants that were growing in patches at the summit of Mt. Townsend. Some patches of gray leaves had no flowers at all, and looked almost like flaky lichen. Others had a few composite flowers of pinkish-orangish color, probably past their prime. Could they be Antennaria microphylla or Rosy Pussytoes? The thin, straight 4"-5" stems didn't have leaves, and the photos I've seen of Antennaria microphylla show little leaves.
This appears to be a Lycopodium or clubmoss, growing among other mosses and lichens on a sunny boulder at about 6000' on the slope of Mt. Townsend. The lanky stems were pointed down.
This 1 1/2" cream-colored butterfly with black and white striped antennae and little gray dots was stunning! It was feeding on a Douglas' Aster at about 6000', completely oblivious to my presence.
Not many wildflowers still in bloom on Mt. Townsend, but there were a few Lupinus arcticus or Arctic Lupine flowers, looking kind of stunted.
Here's Luina hypoleuca or Silverback Luina all gone to seed at the end of the season, near the summit to Mt. Townsend.
There was lots of Juniperus communis or Common Juniper growing low to the ground in the upper 1/3 of the Mt. Townsend trail, but I only found berries in a couple of locations. Where there were berries, there were many!
The flowers had bloomed long ago on these plants tucked into boulders at about 5500-6000' along the Mt. Townsend trail. Are they Heuchera micrantha or Small-flowered Alumroot? At this time of year the 2" leaves are turning autumn colors.
These small ferns puzzled us, with leaf blades only 2" to 5" long, and the bright orange-rust spore sacs that seemed to only be along the outer section of the leaves. They were tucked into corners of boulders along the sunny trail at about 5500'.
Growing near the summit to Mt. Townsend were many very low shrubs with a few brilliant yellow blooms, Dasiphora fruticosa (syn. Potentilla fruticosa) or Shrubby Cinquefoil.
I was excited to finally find a few Cryptogramma crispa or Parsley Ferns, tucked into boulders along the trail to Mt. Townsend, at about 6000'. These ferns with the taller fertile leaves are quite distinctive!
The Cornus canadensis or Bunchberry plants featured bright red berries along the shaded parts of the mixed conifer Mt. Townsend trail at about 5,000' to 6,000'. I love the flower in late spring, and its transformation to the bright red berries.
This Coral fungus is a lovely shade of apricot, growing near another patch about the same size, 2" high and 6" across, at about 5500'.
This was the only patch of lichen that looked like this along the trail to Mt. Townsend. Could it be Cladonia squamosa or Dragon Cladonia? It was a 6" diameter patch, growing at about 6000' on a sunny exposure among many other mosses and lichens.
These plants are past their bloom, so the lovely flowers have turned woody-like. I think they are Chimaphila umbellata or Prince’s Pine.
Here's an example of what Campanula rotundifolia or Bluebells-of-Scotland (I prefer that name to "Harebell") look like at the summit of Mt. Townsend. There were just a few growing along the trail, singly, never in huge patches like I've seen during the summer along other Olympic trails.
This appears to be Aster subspicatus or Douglas’ Aster, growing on the higher and sunnier slopes of Mt. Townsend in bloom late in the season. Each 5"-8" plant had multiple blossoms on a stem.
The Kinnikinnick was covered in berries, all shades of salmon and bright red and shaped like miniature apples.
The Anaphalis margaritacea or Pearly Everlasting was in full bloom along the trail, one of the most common plants in areas of full sun.
Yarrow was growing all along the trail at different elevations. This 4" plant near the summit was stunted from the elevation, and already turning autumn colors.
The Subalpine Firs along the trail near the top of Mt. Townsend are like Giacometti sculptures, tall and pointed so snow can fall off them. The surprise is finding the "skirts," low branches extending from the base of the tree to survive under a layer of snow all winter. This largest skirt was near the summit, where the trees stop growing.